After getting shades of Russo’s true colors, we finally learn the reasoning behind his assholery: he’s way into deep in the conspiracy and doesn’t want to lose his money. Uh ok. That’s a pretty underwhelming motivation for Frank’s nemesis which I feel like they could have really deepened. The silver lining that I see with this is that Ben Barnes can play assholes really well. Having him unhinged is the best thing they can do for this character.

Much of this episode is dedicated to Frank and Micro’s quest to find out the true identity of this Agent Orange which doesn’t exactly work for audiences because we already know who Agent Orange is. Wheel-spinning seems to be inevitable on this show. This arc would have been served better if they hadn’t revealed Rawlins to audiences earlier. Thankfully, this entire plot is given a really cool payoff near the end where Frank infiltrates a military compound, only to witness an old man get his freak on. What ensues is one of the more creative “shootout” sequences in the MCU. The wiggling lasers were a fantastic touch.

Fans of the comics know Frank’s stance against harming law enforcement. It usually is a no-no for the Punisher to go out of his way to put down cops and soldiers (unless he knew they were dirty as hell) and in this episode, they make it a point to explore that particular element. As someone who lives in a country where vigilante killings are starting to become a horrifyingly regular thing, it’s interesting to see someone like Frank live by a code of sorts, even if it still happens to be a violent one.

And as always, it’s Lewis Wilson who provides the most compelling subplot in this show. His suicide attempt in the face of the comfort of civilian life and his father’s love is disturbingly real. He’s gone from aiming a pistol at his father to building homemade bombs. This isn’t going to end well for him. I’ve read comments saying this whole subplot feels pointless because of how independent it is from the larger arc but to me, it works perfectly. It brings up potential notions of how Frank would respond to such a lost cause. Plus, I’ve been a longtime advocate of somewhat standalone subplots/episodes in the Marvel-Netflix world.

The allegories in this show are so fascinating, especially the ones relating to Muhammad Ali. Curtis Hoyle names his goat Cassius, Ali’s name IRL, who gets inhumanely abused by the military for their own sake. Lewis and his dad watch an old Ali fight and have a discussion about the dynamics of civilian life for a veteran. Frank briefly speaks about the loyalty behind serving. Aside from being one of the GOATs (get it?), Ali was known for being a conscientious objector during the Vietnam War. He was given a lot of shit for refusing to fight for a war he didn’t believe in.

VERDICT

3.8 out of 5 ballgags in the mouth. I’m not too keen on how the A-plot and its evil players are turning out to be but the themes this episode tackles is straight up fire.

ONE-SHOTS:

  • “God in heaven.” “Not exactly.” I laughed way too hard at that line.

  • Frank should have taken that second shot at Rawlins. Bulletproof glass can only get so bulletproof.

  • Russo’s knife came out of nowhere! Who knew he was a fan of Assassin’s Creed?

  • I love how Micro and Frank find time to properly prepare food in the midst of their violent itinerary.