November 21, 2017 at 11:41 AM EST

Marvel's The Punisher

TV Show
run date
Jon Bernthal, Ebon Moss-Bachrach, Deborah Ann Woll
Marvel Television
Current Status
In Season
Action Adventure, Comic/Graphic Novel
We gave it an A-

Well, I’ll admit this is not where I thought the Lewis story was going. As I said in an earlier recap, I thought Lewis was just making bomb-making equipment to cover up the evidence of O’Connor’s death. But it’s actually way worse than that. Lewis left O’Connor covered with a sheet and used the bombs for more nefarious purposes: namely, terrorist attacks against the NYPD, a federal courthouse, and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms. Lewis went Full Unabomber for this: not only sending the explosives in mail packages, but also accompanying them with a manifesto.

PREVIOUSLY: The Punisher recap: ‘Cold Steel’

O’Connor may be dead, but his right-wing conspiracy theories are alive and well in Lewis (apparently it was only the valor faking that he objected to). In his letters sent to newspapers, Lewis rails about the government taking away people’s guns to prevent them from resisting devastating neoliberal economic policies like offshoring and upward redistribution. In some ways, he’s gesturing at the same basic enemy as Frank: an authoritarian police state where people at the top of society are unaccountable and take out their whims on all the people below them. That’s not all he and Frank have in common; Lewis also handpicks Karen Page as the recipient of his letters, since he knows she’s stuck up for people who take the law in their own hands in order to find justice. He’s not wrong, and I love how this episode challenges the whole vigilante idea. Sure, maybe The Punisher is targeting only bad guys who deserve it, but what happens when imitators with shakier ideals start popping up?

Frank certainly doesn’t like his comparison. Watching footage of Lewis’ bombings, Frank declares that he hates bombs more than anything, and only cowards would use them. Frank might kill a lot of people, but at least he looks them in the eyes when he does so, and runs the risk of them fighting back. Plus, he notes that bombs don’t actually instill fear the way terrorists like to think; instead, they bring people together and inspire them to resist even more intensely. Presumably he learned this in Afghanistan, watching American air strikes against civilians swell the ranks of the Taliban and other groups.

In a strange scene, Karen goes on a news radio show with pro-gun control Senator Stan Ori to discuss the bombings. Midway through, Lewis himself calls in to the show and rants some more, ending with “sic semper tyrannis” — or “thus always to tyrants,” the Latin phrase John Wilkes Booth declared after assassinating Abraham Lincoln. Unfortunately for Lewis, this is something of a tell. He likes using the phrase so much, both Frank and Curtis realize he’s the bomber. (Recap continues on page 2)

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