By Thomas L. Kelly (@WriterTLK)
The Punisher Season 2: Reviews by Episode
Episode 3: Trouble the Water
Well, it’d been a good run to this point of the season, so there was bound to be a misstep. This stumble, unlike many that have plagued Marvel’s Netflix offerings, was not one born of narrative meandering.
There is action abound in Trouble the Water. Unfortunately, most of it is entirely implausible and the characters’ moronic behaviors distract from what’s going on. Before we go too negative, though, I do want to touch on what worked.
For one, we’re given further insight into Josh Stewart’s Pilgrim. He’s a man of faith, but his past is clearly checkered. His body bears the faded symbols of a misspent youth. His wife is sick and, as a result, he may be indebted to Corbin Bernsen’s Anderson Schultz.
Schultz tasks Pilgrim with finding the girl—who’s own past is not quite clean, either. Why she’s on the run still remains a mystery, but the danger she’s facing exacerbates in episode three. The man who wants her—presumably alive or dead—will stop at almost nothing to get her.
Schultz is man of means, and there seems to be no shortage of mercenaries looking to make a quick buck. That abundance of hired goons is also one of the underlying issues of the episode. More on that in a moment.
The second—and I’d argue most compelling—portion of Trouble the Water is Billy Russo’s inevitable backslide into the man we know him to be. As I mentioned in the review for Fight or Flight, Frank is on a collision course with multiple adversaries. His date with Pilgrim is teased by episode’s end, but the path to Russo also opens up, as he escapes from the hospital in brutal fashion.
Sheriff Hardin—played by Joe Holt—shines, as well. He and his deputies ground the episode. The stakes for them add gravity to the situation. There is more at play than just Frank and Rachel. Innocent people are at risk of being caught in the crossfire.
The issues with the third episode then can be attributed almost entirely to its execution. The arc culminates with a massive shootout at the sheriff’s station Frank and Rachel are being held at. Sounds fun, right? Well, the whole thing is just choreographed so poorly—especially when compared to the climax of Roadhouse Blues—that any excitement that could possibly be derived from it is rendered moot.
Pilgrim’s crew, despite holding the upper hand in every tactical way, somehow goes from being an ace crew of dead eyes to fumbling around in the woods as Frank picks them off one at a time. Astoundingly, they never again press their most significant advantage after their initial assault on the station. They just hang back twiddling their thumbs, unaware that Frank has slipped out the same door they’d just stormed moments prior.
Even more head scratching, the sheriff’s deputies continuously just expose themselves in the windows Pilgrim and company have been channeling their fire. Seemingly, all the time and care put into some of the finer action scenes in the show’s run were just thrown out the window.
It was frustrating, to be sure. That said, the positives of the season have still far outweighed the negatives. And with Russo in the wind, Frank reunited with Madani, and Pilgrim off to contemplate the sting of failure, the possibilities for where season two will take us are still wide open.