Spoilers for The Punisher ahead.

After arguably one of the best opening episodes in the history of the Marvel Cinematic Universe on Netflix, The Punisher powered ahead in “Two Dead Men,” an episode that features a cat-and-mouse chase between Frank Castle (Jon Bernthal) and Ebon Moss-Bachrach’s David Lieberman — or Micro, as he’s better known.

Leading up to the show’s debut, one of my biggest worries was if Jeph Loeb, showrunner Steven Lightfoot, and company could turn Frank Castle into a protagonist we could sympathize with and just not make a thirteen episode bloodbath.

From the beginning of episode one, the show’s been busy laying the groundwork to make Frank somebody and could sympathize with and “Two Dead Men” continues to laying the necessary groundwork through the means of flashbacks that feature his family.

Of note, this episode features a flashback in which Frank is traveling to the Statue of Liberty prior to his deployment.  He’s educating his kids on the history of the iconic American landmark when his son mentions his father going overseas to kill terrorists, dropping a racially-charged slang term in the process.

In a rare fit of rage around his kids — or that we’ve seen so far — Frank grabs his son angrily and never tells him to say that ever again.  I thought this moment was especially poignant, even more so when compared to the moments we see in the PTSD support group.  While a few of those soldiers are the stereotypical “shoot-em-up” right-wingers who think they know the Second Amendment by heart, the moment by the Statue of Liberty gives us a look into Frank’s personality, and it’s moment the shows that Frank appreciates humanity — he’s not just some guy that loves to blow people away with his vast repertoire of guns.

Carson Wolf (C. Thomas Howell) mets his untimely end in this episode — a move I thought was pretty refreshing as he was a puke from the get-go.  But as The Punisher is a heavy user of Arrow-style flashbacks, I’m sure we’ll see Wolf more as we dig dipper into the connections between Frank, Micro, and Kandahar.

Final Verdict:

4 Forced Karen Appearances Out of 5.  I’m enjoying the show so far.  They’ve giving us a Frank Castle that’s a character who’s bigger than his guns and for that, I’m thankful.  While I thought the Karen Page (Deborah Ann-Woll) appearance in the episode felt rather forced, I’m interested to see how involved in Frank’s antics she gets over the course of the season.

One-Shots:

  • Frank’s stopping at nothing to kill those who wronged him and were part of the death of his family members.  The scene with Wolf was brutal, but goes to show the lengths at which Frank will go to accomplish the mission at hand.
  • We begin to scratch the surface of Moss-Bachrach’s Micro in this episode.  He’s set up recording in his house so he can keep tabs on his family — who apparently think he’s been killed.
  • The cat-and-mouse game between Frank and Micro was great.  Both of the men are highly intelligent and strategic individuals so it’ll be interesting how on Earth they’ll be able to work together.
  • I love the screw-The-Man tones to the show.  It comes down to the classic vigilante debate — killing is wrong, yes.  But what if said vigilantes are killing off horrible, horrible people?
  • Totally digging Dinah’s tenacity.  If I had to guess, I’m thinking she’ll end up on Frank and Micro’s side before this is all said and done.
  • We’ve now been introduced to Billy Russo, who has a normal face.  Will we see a scenario in which it gets mangled and he picks up with Jigsaw moniker from the comics?  Or is that something for season 2?