MARVEL / NETFLIX
STARRING: Jon Bernthal, Ben Barnes, Amber Rose Revah, Giorgia Whigham, Floriana Lima, Jason R. Moore, Josh Stewart
Reviewed by Charlie Pickard
Season 2 of Marvel’s The Punisher is now streaming. Season 1 was released in November 2017 – both seasons of this phenomenal show are well worth your time. (You should not watch Season 2 unless you have seen Season 1, as it follows directly on.)
As with the first season, the writing, directing and acting are all exemplary. Showrunner Steve Lightfoot and his writing team have crafted an engaging story that is dark, gritty and violent. Never dull nor too fast, it is well-paced and always retains your attention. The fight scenes and choreography are brutally entertaining, although this may be too extreme for some viewers. You need a tough stomach for some of the scenes, as the unflinching direction is visceral.
All of the principal characters are well-rounded, interesting and fantastically acted. Jon Bernthal shines, as he does in all of his work, as Frank Castle AKA The Punisher. He is an immense actor, carrying the show on his extremely capable shoulders. Bernthal portrays the sorrow, anger and hollowness of Castle, who finds it difficult to connect with others following a personal tragedy. He faces new challenges this season, including the enigmatic John Pilgrim, who is hunting a teenage girl, Amy, who crosses paths with Frank and comes to work with him. The relationship between Frank and Amy is heart-warming, and as fascinating as his relationship with David Lieberman in Season 1 was.
All of the supporting cast are fantastic. The returnees have raised their game since the first series, while new additions fit in seamlessly. Ben Barnes is captivating as Billy Russo, dealing with his memory loss following the events of Season 1. His character, mentally and physically damaged, connects with Krista Dumont (Floriana Lima), an equally damaged person with a traumatic past. The relationship between the characters explores complex themes relating to mental health and self-worth, in a mature and engrossing manner.
Amber Rose Revah impresses as Dinah Madani, who is more jaded and interesting than in Season 1. Her obsession with getting vengeance for what Russo did to her creates compelling drama. Curtis Hoyle (Jason R. Moore) is a similarly thought-provoking character, though he is not focused on nearly as much as he was in Season 1, unfortunately. Nevertheless, the character serves as a timely reminder of the effects of war, the damage PTSD causes, and how people can rebuild their lives and be successful. Curtis is an effective foil to Frank, challenging his violent pursuit of justice in a peaceful way.
My only criticism of this season is that the character of John Pilgrim (Josh Stewart) was not focused on enough. He felt like a sideshow to Russo and only cropped up occasionally. Despite this, Stewart portrayed Pilgrim’s inner turmoil believably, while there is an emotional pay-off to the character’s story. The season would have been better balanced if Russo were the sole villain, with Pilgrim taking centre-stage in a potential Season 3.
Sadly, it appears unlikely that there will be a Season 3 of this marvellous show. Following the cancellations of Iron Fist, Luke Cage and Daredevil, it looks increasingly likely that The Punisher and Jessica Jones will be cancelled as well. If that is the case, then so be it. I seriously recommend you watch both series of this exceptional show. You will not be disappointed.
Verdict: 9 out of 10