As promised, both Frank and Billy arrive at midnight at the merry-go-round, armed to the teeth. Unfortunately Billy, being the coward he is, has once again taken hostages. Two random youths are bound and gagged to the ride. This despicable tactic does have the intended effect; both their screams and the bright lights disorient Frank, who keeps getting flashbacks to the worst day of his life even as he’s trying to find Billy weaving in between the colorful horses.
After some exchange of machine gun fire, both combatants are disarmed of their primary weapons. So then Billy plays his hostage card, threatening to kill the kids unless Frank emerges and disarms himself. For all his huff and gruff, Frank still retains his humanity underneath and allows Billy to shoot him at point-blank range. That’s when Dinah shows up, but I have some bad news if you thought she was going to get some well-earned revenge on the man who seduced her and killed her partner. Billy immediately turns around and shoots Dinah in the head before she even gets to do anything. Man, what a useless character she has been.
But, just like how in Dragon Ball Z Vegeta was able to fatally distract Cell at the exact right moment to let Gohan finish him off, Dinah’s intervention allows Frank to tackle Billy. And as we saw last episode with Rawlins, nobody can match Frank for savagery at close range. Billy’s fatal mistake is knocking Frank into one of the merry-go-round’s mirrors. Frank proceeds to grab a glass shard and gut his old friend with it, before dragging his face along the jagged mirror. If you’ve been as infuriated with Billy’s smug condescension for this entire show as I have, then you probably found his anguished screams pretty satisfying. But despite Frank’s repeated promise that he was going to “watch you die,” he ultimately forgoes killing Billy. Instead, he hopes that Billy’s injuries will remind him, to quote Batman at the end of The Dark Knight Returns, “of the one man who beat you.” Frank leaves his old friend Billy Russo with the jagged face that will eventually earn him his well-known Marvel moniker: Jigsaw.
Dinah survives her headshot wound and convinces her government bosses to let Frank off easy. And now the Punisher faces his hardest task yet: figuring out how to make a life after war, and learning how to deal with “the silence when the gunfire ends.”
Final notes: It’s a pretty good ending! Taking stock of things here at the end, I really like a lot of what The Punisher did. It tackled real issues in the war on terror head on and did not shy away from hard truths about veteran problems and domestic terrorism. But like all these dang Marvel Netflix shows, it suffered from having too many episodes; Netflix really should confine more of its shows to the eight- or nine-episode order that works so well for Stranger Things. Even at 10 or 11 episodes, The Punisher could have told a much more streamlined and powerful story without wasting time on filler. Alas.
Thanks again for reading along with me and my co-recapper Chancellor Agard on this latest Marvel/Netflix ride. See you next time.