Nicole Rivelli/Netflix
November 17, 2017 at 12:00 PM EST

Marvel's The Punisher

TV Show
Action Adventure, Comic Book Adaptations
run date
Jon Bernthal, Ebon Moss-Bachrach, Deborah Ann Woll
Marvel Television
Current Status
In Season
We gave it a B

What’s interesting about The Punisher so far is how divorced it feels from the other Marvel/Netflix shows. Sure, Karen Page (Deborah Ann Woll) pops up in this episode to help Frank find Desi Micro, but that’s really the only connection to anything that’s come before. Compare that cameo to a scene in which Dinah and Sam walk through a park and Dinah opens up about how surreal it is to come back home. Back in NYC, “people obsess over things that don’t matter,” she says, noting how quickly people move on from things. You think she’s going to point to The Incident, a.k.a. the Chitauri invasion in Avengers that gets name-dropped on all of these shows, but instead she brings up 9/11. It’s an odd yet interesting note that, along with the entire episode itself, reminds us The Punisher is going for a more grounded tone and might be concerned with more than just bloated superhero thrills: It wants to explore how violence affects and changes a person.

PREVIOUS: The Punisher series premiere recap: ‘3AM’

“Two Dead Men” opens with Frank riding a ferry past the Statue of Liberty and flashing back to a time when he made this journey with his children. As moody wannabe Johnny Cash acoustic guitar noodling plays underneath, Frank remembers losing it when his son excitedly brought up the fact that he was returning to Afghanistan to “kill hajis.” The message is clear: The violence weighs heavily on his soul. From the ferry, he heads to a diner where he has his first encounter with Micro (Ebon Moss-Bachrach). “You’re not the only ghost in this town, Frank,” says Micro, who calls Frank on the diner’s payphone and leads him to an envelope containing a phone and a DVD.

The DVD contains a video of Frank’s unit torturing an Afghan investigator named Ahmad. If that name rings a bell, it’s because Dinah is investigating his death at the moment and is having a hard time. In order to get around Carson’s attempts at blocking her investigation into Ahmad’s death, Dinah arranges for her new Homeland Security squad to have a training session at Anvil, a private military contractor owned by Billy Russo (Ben Barnes), one of Frank’s old squad-mates. After the training session, Dinah strikes up a convo with Billy, but Carson interrupts her before she gets a chance to ask him any real questions about what happened in Kandahar.

We know that whatever happened in Kandahar has Frank worried that he’s responsible for his family’s deaths, which is clear from his pained conversation with Curtis (Jason R. Moore). He confesses to Curtis that his unit was involved in interrogation and assassinations. “It wasn’t war, not like we knew it,” he says. “Truth is, Curt, I was past caring.”

In order to find this mysterious Micro, Frank turns to Karen, who ends up being conveniently useful. It turns out that a conspiracy theory-obsessed journalist pitched a story to the Bulletin a few years back about David Lieberman, a.k.a. Micro, an NSA analyst who started leaking information and was killed while evading arrest. (Obviously, we now know what Micro meant when he told Frank he wasn’t the only ghost. Clearly, Micro faked his death.) Ellison decided not to run the story, however, because our Homeland Security friend Carson Wolf asked him not out of fear it would ruin his investigation. Ellison gives Karen the story, and she cautiously passes the information along to Frank. Like most people, she’s worried he’ll kill David. (Next: The Punisher does some punishing)

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