Oh dear. Ugh, did you see that? With the eyeballs? Jeez. God. Oh man. What? Oh yeah, there was more to the episode before that.
In this penultimate episode, the gang’s all here now. Castle, Lieberman and Madani against the clear villains of Rawlins and Russo. For anyone invested in the plot, it is certainly satisfying to see everyone on the same page now, distraction free—even though I found it strange that Frank Castle wasn’t in handcuffs. This is the “smart” way that Micro has been arguing for, though we see soon enough that Frank still plans to take his own approach.
The sting operation that results is brief, by short and suspenseful. The use of gas canisters felt downright sadistic, and Micro having to pass by his family with a lack of emotion was difficult to watch, as necessary as it might have been. We feel the panic of his family as it descends into chaos… but in this quick sequence, two things didn’t sit well with me. First off, it appears that a light nudge was enough to knock out the goddamn Punisher. Second, I cannot believe that any single person watching this actually believed that Micro was shot and killed in that fashion.
It reminded me more of the rushed fake-out death of Pepper Potts in Iron Man 3, and couldn’t even hold a candle to the emotional fake-out of Loki in the painfully average Thor: The Dark World or the brutal (but still fake) takedown of Nick Fury in Captain America: The Winter Solider (jeez, the MCU does this a lot, don’t they?). Yes, I get that it worked, but poor, poor Sarah Lieberman had to witness her husband “die” not once, but twice. Talk about traumatizing.
But enough picking on that. The real heart and soul of the episode had to do with Frank’s journey to this point. Tied up with few options, and driven by nothing but his lust for revenge, Frank is ready to accept death. The power dynamic between Castle, Russo and Rawlins is complex and quite interesting. Castle harbors anger towards Russo’s compliance with the killing of his family, but Russo still has some respect for Castle, wanting an “easy” death for him compared to the brutal, near-animalistic nature of Rawlins, who plans to make Russo his fall man.
Desire comes into play for Castle and Rawlins—the usually collected Agent Orange seems to get off of beating and torturing Frank, and meanwhile a near-death Frank thinks back to the last time he made love to his deceased wife (I guess he does miss sex, as Micro asked in an earlier episode). It was a bit silly at times, juxtaposing and match-cutting between the two images, with the sexual memory resembling a fantasy sequence from The Big Lebowski and the torture more like something from 24. It isn’t subtle at all, but it gets the point across.
And all of this builds up as the episode progresses, with Russo giving Frank a chance to get his personal revenge, Rawlins unleashing all and attempting to assert his power over the other two (“You serve me! You’re a tool, you understand? Just like [Castle] was,” the total psycho yells at Russo). But Rawlins loses all of his power the moment Frank Castle in unleashed from his restraints, offing Rawlins with multiple stabbings and some eye-gouging. He has left the fantasy of his wife and has committed full-on to violence and vengeance.
As Micro holds the Punisher, Frank barely utters the episode title, “Home.” Is it the physical, Punisher-cave place that they are in, his memories of his deceased family, his alliance with Lieberman and Madani, or his urge to commit violence that acts as “home?” If only we had another overt Big Lebowski fantasy sequence to tell us.
4.5 Milky Eyeballs Out of 5. Messy sting operation and silly sex fantasies aside, this was a great contained character story, and the death of our (probably less-important villain) was quite a satisfying, if not extremely disgusting sight.
- I do not think any MCU scene has had this much blood.
- The bromance between Frank and Micro has been shaky through the series, but their moment at the end was somehow touching and very much earned.
- I had a bad feeling that Anvil was going to execute that random hacker, who had more lines than I expected her to get.
- Going back to the ending with Micro, as much as I appreciated that moment, why did he need to come with DHS then?
- Boy, I can’t wait for the news media to try to explain the death of Rawlins.
- We officially need a moratorium on fake-out MCU deaths.
All right, dear MCUEx readers—time to wrap up this bad boy tomorrow with the season finale.