Frank strives to protect a teenager caught in a sinister conspiracy while doing whatever it takes — and then some — to end Russo once and for all.
Netflix unleashed the latest live action portrayal of The Punisher in 2017, after his acclaimed role on Daredevil. Netflix quickly ordered a second season, which has arrived at a curious time for the company’s Marvel slate. Three shows – Iron Fist, Luke Cage, and Daredevil – have all been cancelled, while plans for another season of The Defenders are unlikely. So, fans are likely anxious about Frank Castle‘s future.
Fortunately, if this really is the end, then The Punisher‘s second season is a solid, albeit flawed, way to go out.
The new season begins with Frank (Jon Bernthal) travelling the country, after defeating Billy Russo (Ben Barnes) a year ago. He seems to finally be at peace – and with a new love interest to boot. Unsurprisingly, things go haywire, and Castle has to go back into action. This time, he is joined by a mysterious girl named Amy (Giorgia Whigham), who has unknown ties to a group of enemies, while he deals with the return of Russo.
If that sounds like a lot, it’s because it is. The Punisher juggles two major storylines this season – Russo’s return, and the rise of new villain John Pilgrim (Josh Stewart). Unfortunately, the storytelling yields mixed results. Russo’s story is very interesting, and seeing characters deal with him is always thrilling to watch. On the other hand, Pilgrim is a largely uninteresting villain, and his story makes the season drag quite a bit.
Speaking of which, you know those pacing issues that plague a lot of Marvel Netflix shows? They are out in full force here. Once again, we have a 13-episode season that drains as much story out as possible to justify its length. While that works sometimes – Daredevil season three never felt long despite having the same number of episodes – it doesn’t work here. Iron Fist had the right idea by going down to 10 episodes for its second season. I wish The Punisher did that. Fortunately, the second half is a lot more interesting, as the action picks up and story progresses.
While the storytelling isn’t the best, the season is elevated by a strong cast. Bernthal is once again phenomenal as Frank Castle. To this day, he is one of the most perfect casting choices in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. One scene in particular rivals Castle’s monologue from Daredevil season two in sheer emotion.
As for the rest of the cast, Amber Rose Revah is another MVP as Dinah Madani. Madani is clearly damaged by the events of season one, and here, she is a real force to be reckoned with. Barnes is amazing again as Russo, and his storyline here makes him even more of an unpredictable opponent. Whigham is really good, Curtis Hoyle (Jason R. Moore) is always a delight, and Floriana Lima‘s Krista Dumont is a highlight. Josh Stewart does his best with John Pilgrim, but iffy writing brings the character down.
Action is another highlight on The Punisher. This season, the fights are once again brutal, well-choreographed, and thrilling. Season one didn’t hold back in terms of violence, and season two has a similar amount of gore. Other technical aspects – cinematography, score, etc. – are all well done. The last scene in the finale is so good, it makes the entire season worth it.
In conclusion, The Punisher delivers a pretty good second season. While it suffers from bloated storytelling, the cast and action sequences keep it from being a disaster. It isn’t as great as it could have been, and it absolutely isn’t as good as its first season. However, as the (likely) final season of Jon Bernthal’s Frank Castle, I’ll take it.