Thursday, January 10, 2019

Netflix's Punisher 2: The Beginning of the End?

Now that Netflix has axed "Daredevil", "Luke Cage", "Iron Fist" and "The Defenders", one would presume the same fate awaits "Jessica Jones" and (you guessed it) "The Punisher". So much for that fruitful, adult-based, Marvel miniverse...

It's remarkable, therefore, that the latter received a 13-episode sequel, premiering Friday, Jan 18. I'm particularly pleased that Jon Bernthal is back as Frank Castle. He's a riveting actor and one of the huge reasons why "The Walking Dead" earned our devotion. 

On the other hand, I wasn't as pleased with the solo series' concept. My heart went out to its beleaguered veterans, but the theme's execution (making them look so stressed, fickle and unstable) felt wrong...unpatriotic. 

Nevertheless, we at least witnessed the creation of Castle's main antagonist, Billy Russo, aka Jigsaw, played by Ben Barnes, who's back for Season 2. That can only be good. Alas, Ebon Moss Bachrach's Micro has bowed out, but (thank goodness) Jason R. Moore's empathetic Curtis Hoyle re-enters, and there's Deborah Ann Woll, Amber Rose Revah, Floriana Lima, Giorgia Whingham and Alexa "Man in the High Castle" Davalos (who was also Bernthal's "Mob City" costar) to compensate with some hardy, feminist eye candy.  

Season 2 also presents John Pilgrim, the Mennonite, played by Josh Stewart. The Mennonite is culled from veritable Marvel sources and for this track, acts as its wacky, Christian fundamentalist. That probably means ample Christian bashing. If so, I'd rather pass. Then again, the character does appear to exude an intriguing air of anguish, which should play well off Castle and Russo's. We'll see...

Unfortunately, with there being little or no chance of a Season 3, it's hard to get excited about this one. Whether good, bad or somewhere in the middle, "The Punisher: Season 2" should've been something to embrace for its long-term prospects. Sure, it's still worth a watch (how could any Marvel fan turn a blind eye to it?), but no matter how one slices it, this follow-up feels like a misconceived title steered solely by default. Bloody shame...

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