We gave it a B
Marvel's The Punisher
11/17/17 - 1/1/70
- TV Show
- , Comic Book Adaptations
- Jon Bernthal, Ebon Moss-Bachrach, Deborah Ann Woll
- Marvel Television
- In Season
- genre new
- Action Adventure, Comic/Graphic Novel
If there’s one thing you can count on when watching a Marvel/Netflix series, it’s that you’re going to get a “The Plot Is Moving Too Quickly, We Need To Sideline Our Hero” episode — an hour that slows down the season’s momentum. Unfortunately, I must report that’s exactly what “The Judas Goat” is; however, a last minute twist makes this a necessary episode. Although one wishes they could’ve found a more exciting way to build to that reveal.
PREVIOUSLY: The Punisher recap: ‘Gunner’
Frank is in rough shape after last episode’s trip to Kentucky, and David’s novice-level (at best) medical skills aren’t doing the trick. Seeing no other option, David turns to Curtis for help, so Curtis follows Frank to the bunker and helps patch up the multiple wounds he sustained while out in the woods. As Curtis works his medical magic on Frank, you start to realize, “Oh god, Frank is going to be bedridden, or at least close to it, for this entire episode, right?”
Speaking of a bed, that’s where we find Dinah and Billy when we check in with them in this episode, on day two of their new whatever-this-is between them. Unfortunately, whatever-this-is gets derailed before it can pick up much speed once Billy discovers Dinah’s huge file on Frank. Naturally, Billy feels like she was just using him; Dinah doesn’t say she wasn’t and actually responds to this confrontation rather coldly, telling him to put on his pants because he looks ridiculous.
But Dinah doesn’t have time to think about that once she gets to work. Sam tells her that Gunner was found dead on a mountain in Kentucky, so the two of them venture out into the woods to examine the scene of the shoot-out. It doesn’t take long for Dinah to realize that (a) Gunner was with someone else out there, who was also wounded, and (b) Gunner and his buddy were attacked by a covert hit squad. They find some blood, which obviously turns out to be Frank’s.
As Frank recovers in David’s lair, he observes David as he watches the feed from his family’s home and can’t do anything as his family continues to suffer. On the feed, David’s son punches his sister after she tells Sarah about the stolen skateboard. It’s hard to feel any lingering resentment toward Ebon Moss-Bachrach for Girls‘ insufferable Desi in moments like this because his wordless performance conveys Micro’s pain and longing to be with his family.
Later on, Frank, in a surprising move, opens up to Micro about how he can still see his wife whenever he closes his eyes, and the two of them share their memories of Thanksgiving with family. Unfortunately, this relative peace is disrupted by the fact that Billy has started calling for Frank over the radio waves, using his code name, which is curious because he doesn’t actually know that Frank is alive, right? (Next: Lewis gets in trouble)
Well, at least, that’s what he tells Dinah when he meets with her next. Dinah tells Billy that Frank is alive and asks for his help in finding him because she’s worried Frank is going to get himself killed going after this Kandahar business. Billy’s first stop after their meeting is to Curtis, who claims he didn’t know Frank was alive, which is obviously not the truth. Curtis immediately tells Frank that Billy knows he’s alive and is searching for him. Obviously, David and Frank are cautious about reaching out to Billy, but David says Frank should talk to him if he trusts him.
So, Frank has a very cold meeting with Billy out by the waterfront. Billy offers to give Frank a new identity working for Anvil abroad, “doing what he does best.” After the meeting, Frank drops the by the Lieberman household to apologize to Sarah for missing dinner. At first she’s pissed, but she eventually invites him to have a glass of wine; he says no but sits down to chat anyway. Sara opens up to Frank about what’s been going on at home with her son, and Frank assures her that he thinks things will start turning around for the family soon. The subtext being: He and David are going to tear down this conspiracy so David can return to his family. It’s clear that this little comforting chat is all for David’s benefit because Frank saw how much pain David was in earlier. Obviously, David mournfully watches this conversation, fighting back tears as his face inches closer and closer to the screen. He can’t connect with his family, but he can jealously and longingly watch Frank do it.
Lewis is also looking for a connection. He believes he’s found it with O’Connor, standing outside a courthouse handing out flyers about protecting Second Amendment rights, but he’s wrong about that. O’Connor leaves Lewis hanging in the wind when a cop arrests him; later, Curtis bails out Lewis and tells him that O’Connor has been lying to him about his service record. It turns out O’Connor never actually served in Vietnam.
Naturally, this upsets Lewis and he goes to confront O’Connor at his home. The moment he shows up at O’Connor’s door, you know this can only end badly, and it does. The two of them get into a fight, and Lewis ends up killing O’Connor, stabbing him multiple times in the gut with a knife. All of that anger he’s felt since coming home is unleashed on O’Connor’s body. Although it’s still largely disconnected from everything else in the show and just took a melodramatic turn, Lewis’ story line remains pretty powerful and continues to comment on how the government fails veterans once they return home.
As the episode ends, Billy joins his men as they get ready to board a boat, which raises the question: Why is Anvil traveling by boat instead of air? Is there some kind military thing I’m missing? This didn’t really click with me. Anyway, let’s get to the good part. When Billy realizes Frank isn’t going to show up and take him up on his offer, he returns to his car. You expect to see Dinah waiting inside, but she’s not there; Agent Orange is! This last minute reveal explains why Billy started looking for Frank before Dinah told him she knew he was alive. Honestly, we should’ve known Billy was in cahoots with Agent Orange the moment Frank told David he was certain Billy had his back.