The Punisher recap: 'Resupply'
One of the biggest surprises in The Punisher‘s first few episodes was its sense of humor. Sometimes it’s intentional (like a bystander peeing his pants out of fear), and other times it was probably unintentional (like how both Karen and David’s first instincts were that Frank was about to kill someone). Coming into this series, I wasn’t expecting to laugh as much as I have been, because the trailers were incredibly grim and made the show look like it would vacillate between two kinds of scenes: Frank brooding and Frank shooting. However, there’s been very little brooding. While I think “Resupply” is a dip in quality compared to episodes 2 and 3, it is the funniest one we’ve had yet.
The main source of humor in the episode comes from Frank’s quest to find guns. The dude needs his guns, and he’s pretty pissed a lead David gives him doesn’t pan out. David tells him that Marvel/Netflix-verse journeyman Turk (Rob Morgan) is expecting a huge weapons shipment from the Greeks, so Frank pays him a rather aggressive visit at the top of the hour. As was the case in every other Marvel/Netflix show, Turk is mainly a source of comic relief. “Do you believe in God, Turk?” asks Frank as he holds a gun to a kneeling Turk’s head. “Right now, I want to,” replies Turk in a line that made me laugh out loud. Unfortunately, Turk ended up not receiving a shipment from the Greeks, so the only gun he has to offer Frank is a pink rifle someone wanted to give to their daughter as a sweet 16 present, an amazing sight gag that stands out amid the show’s washed-out colors.
“You want to go up against Agent Orange with a pink Ruger and no ammo? Is that what you want to do, Lieberman?” asks a frustrated Frank when he returns to Micro’s layer. Frank’s anger over not having any guns is so funny because guns are such an important part of the character. In the ’90s, Marvel was publishing four Punisher books, one of which was called The Punisher: Armory and was basically gun porn. So the fact that he’s so unnerved about not having the weapons he needs to take on Agent Orange makes sense for him. That being said, this plot is also funny because it’s very clear that this is a stalling tactic. On a broadcast network show, a resupply would’ve taken it up the first act or two, not the entire episode. But, look, I appreciate the show for giving me something to laugh about because it provides a nice break from the episode’s heavier material (which we’ll get to on page 2).
As was to be expected after episode 3, Frank and David’s reluctant partnership brings a lot of humor to the episode, too, because when Frank isn’t yelling about not having any guns, he’s scolding David about not cleaning his gun and his guitar being out of tune. However, their Odd Couple relationship isn’t just there for laughs. The show is already digging into what makes these men different. Unlike Frank, David isn’t accustomed to violence. He doesn’t clean his gun, because it’s only there for show. Moreover, his moral code is a bit more flexible than Frank’s in that he’s willing to just buy guns from criminals, whereas Frank prefers to steal them from criminals because he refuses to fund their criminal endeavors.
Things get awkward between Frank and David when Sarah calls Frank and asks him to drop by to sign some form she needs to give her insurance in order to get her car fixed. David is clearly uncomfortable with it all, but he tells Frank he won’t find him guns until he helps Sarah out because he doesn’t want Frank making her life even more difficult. (This is probably his way of dealing with the guilt over turning her into a single mother of two). So, Frank goes to see Sarah and ends up having a sweet bonding moment with her daughter, who is the designated fixer of things in the house. It’s a testament to Bernthal’s skill that he can sell Frank as both a berserker killing machine and a father figure. (Next: The Fast and The Furiously Punishing)
Dinah and Sam also have guns on the mind. Before his death, Wolf was tracking the aforementioned Greek weapons shipment, and in the wake of his murder, that duty has fallen to Dinah. Obviously, Dinah is more interested in investigating Wolf and Ahmad’s deaths than these guns, but a friend/superior from Washington pays her a visit to deliver a thinly veiled threat: Keep your head down, ignore the Wolf and Ahmad cases, and work normal Homeland Security cases, or lose the job. So, a frustrated Dinah turns her attention to setting up a sting operation with Sam for when the guns finally arrive in port.
After some hacking, Micro learns of Homeland Security’s operation, so Frank starts working on getting what they need to steal the weapons before Homeland gets them. First, they’ll need rides. So Frank attacks and murders some gangsters who were in the middle of torturing some nameless guy who works in a garage that houses fancy sports cars. This is one of two moments in the episode where it feels like the show is trying to keep the budget tight. Instead of seeing the fight, we only hear it, and the camera remains trained on the frightened and bound garage worker’s face. (He pees himself because he thinks a grenade Frank brought is going to explode right under his feet.) Once the fighting’s done, Frank and David, who hung back while Frank tore through the criminals, steal two cars; Frank takes a red Mustang because “always buy American.”
Amidst this rush to find guns, it’s surprising that the series actually takes the time to consider what it means to actually pick one up. After watching Frank in action, David has second thoughts about going out in the field with Frank because he can’t stomach this violence. When he was searching for Frank before, the likely violence was merely theoretical, but now that they’re working together, David has to confront the actual reality of what he’s about to do, and it frightens him. In order to change his mind, Frank brings up the fact that Sarah said David never used to get his hands dirty, which pisses David off and gets him out of his chair.
So, Dinah, Sam, and the rest of Homeland Security are all out by the docks, ready to intercept the Greek weapons shipment. However, their operation goes sideways when Micro hacks into their communication feed and plays “I Feel the Love.” It’s an inspired little action beat. Frank hijacks the truck with the guns and eventually switches places with David, hopping in the Mustang he stole earlier. Dinah jumps in her vintage sports car and chases after Frank in a pretty boringly edited chase sequence. Eventually, David gets his hands dirty by T-boning Dinah in the truck, totaling her car. Dinah recognizes Frank as he pulls her out of the wreckage, and Frank proudly admits to killing Wolf because he was dirty. (I’m assuming there’s a deleted scene in which Frank looks at the truck full of weapons and whispers, “You complete me.”)
While all of this is going on, the show also digs deeper into its exploration of PTSD in veterans. In the wake of his gun incident, Lewis builds a foxhole in his parents’ backyard and decides to join Anvil. Lewis is having trouble adjusting to being back home, away from the war, and he feels invisible because his scars from his time abroad aren’t as obvious or acknowledged as Curtis’ prosthetic leg. Curtis, obviously worried, suggests Lewis not join Anvil, but Lewis ignores him. Seeing no other option, Curtis asks Billy to reject him, which he does. Although this story line feels somewhat divorced from what’s going on with Frank, it’s still powerful because the show puts in the work to make us understand just how much Lewis is struggling. I’m interested in seeing how this eventually connects to Frank’s quest.