I admit I got deeply into The Punisher when the show came out. We watched the first several episodes in one sitting and ultimately got through it all in 3 days over the course of 1 week. There was a lot to like but for me, there were plenty of problems which culminated in an ending I did not appreciate, enough so that I ended up not liking the show. I would not likely watch it again.
- The Punisher himself, played by Jon Bernthal, was amazing. He has a great voice for it and portrayed the character in a haunting, dark way. He can do more with his eyes than some actors do with their whole bodies. Every moment he was on screen, I appreciated his efforts. Without him, I firmly believe this show would not have been watchable.
- The violence tended toward hyper brutal but believable. It looked like it could happen, not like the crazy martial arts of Daredevil or the over the top beat downs delivered in the Avengers style movies. This stuff was harsh. People getting wrecked by sledgehammers or stabbed multiple times…it definitely worked in the world with The Punisher running around in it.
- Most of the side characters weren’t annoying. In so many TV shows there are at least two or three people you have to forgive the show for because they are so damn annoying. The Punisher avoids this for the most part, with the occasional character sucking then coming back to having a purpose and providing an interesting addition to the show.
- The main story itself was fairly good and did a great job of tying in what you learned from Daredevil Season 2 with The Punisher. I liked the villain because he was definitely a hard person to ‘catch’. The twists were okay and worked for the most part, even if a few of them were a little obvious.
What went wrong:
- Minor technical details being missed. A great example is when The Punisher catches a guy and starts torturing him. He shoots him in the leg. The guy escapes and gets the gun away from Frank. While holding it on him, he reveals some of his involvement in the plot. Then, he pulls the trigger and it’s revealed the gun is empty. This presents a lot of problems:
- The gun’s slide would’ve been back if he expended the last round and even with the guy screaming in pain, it would’ve been hard NOT to notice Frank putting the slide back forward.
- When the guy gets the gun, it’s pretty obvious when a weapon is empty. He was holding a Glock and it should’ve held at least 15 bullets. They have some heft to them and he should’ve recognized the weapon wasn’t ready. This seemed like a couple of stupid problems for an otherwise pretty smart show.
- Sparing Jigsaw. By the time he decides to spare Billy, Frank has executed so many people, someone asks ‘You killed 35 people?’ to which he quips ‘That they know about’. He’s knifed people brutally, gouged out a man’s eyes, beaten him to literal pulp and shattered men with a sledge hammer. Frank is literally uncompromising and they’ve set him up this way since Daredevil. I call TOTAL BS that he would spare Billy at the end, especially considering how many times he promises him he’s going to watch him die and how Billy wronged him.
- Forgetting it is a comic book show and trying to be real then makes it easy to call BS when they go back to being a comic book show. A great example is the sheer horrifying punishment Frank takes. He’s shot, brutally beaten with broken parts puncturing lungs and he’s back out fighting the next day (this is at the end. Earlier, he does require 24 hours of recovery after being shot with an arrow). Thing is, he ain’t supernatural. Some of the other people in the show need days to recover from injuries so it’s kind of interesting that they use injury as an odd plot challenge.
- Frank’s a mentally ill character who happens to be a bad ass. After talking to a friend, I’m willing to accept that he’s going to make a LOT of bad decisions. That said, I don’t really buy that this dude, who survived what he did in war, would make some of the poor choices he does. He’s stated he wants to die but at least I got the impression that he wanted to kill the bad guys more than he wanted to be killed himself (or else he would’ve just shot himself in the face). So why does he put himself in situations where he is being blasted, even in bulletproof vests?
- The Ending: The Punisher goes to a support group and talks about being scared. I wanted the Punisher to get out of town and find somewhere else to ply his trade. Not get help. Sure, they set it up for Season 2 with Jigsaw (which is part of my problem, see above) but it should’ve directly linked up with Frank doing what he does best. Not seeking therapy.
All around, my feelings about the show may be nitpicky. This was the Marvel show I wanted to watch the most. I binge watched Daredevil Season 2 to get to this point and while I enjoyed it throughout the experience itself, by the end, I found myself no longer liking it and, in fact, being disappointed. There were lots of great things here but all around, it suffered from too many episodes (it should’ve been 8 with a lot of cut out fluff) and too much sitting around/recovering.
Ultimately, though the main villain got wrecked in a pretty horrifying way, I did not feel satisfied with how it played out. I cannot recommend it after watching it but I can also understand why folks would forgive my complaints above and enjoy it.
I’d love to hear your thoughts and see what you thought.