RTF Review: THE PUNISHER, S2 E4 – ‘Anthony Kiedis Would Be Proud’
By Thomas L. Kelly (@WriterTLK)
The Punisher Season 2: Reviews by Episode
Episode 4: Scar Tissue
Well, we’re nearly a third of the way into the second season of The Punisher. I wouldn’t say that it’s been a mixed bag—as I’ve enjoyed it far more than I have not—but I was a little worried as Trouble the Water ended. After such a strong start, episode three was a let down; and with the spotty record of other Marvel Netflix properties, that doubt crept in, nestling itself in the back of my mind.
Thus, I am happy to report, that Scar Tissue is not only aptly titled, it’s an excellent rebound. Like Fight or Flight, Scar Tissue is much more about establishing the narrative. Overabundant and outright silly exposition has plagued some of these Netflix offerings. Here, though, it does a superb job of constructing the central characters—both old and new—exploring the motivations for why they are who they are.
Trauma, it’s a common thread between them. They’ve all experienced events that have molded them in some way. The Punisher can be a difficult watch at times. It plays with mature themes and relies heavily on violence. If handled with less care, storylines like these could spiral; but what I think is so powerful about this episode is that it makes you empathize with Billy Russo.
With all we’ve come to know about him, that should border on impossible. Yet as the loose threads of his past begin to unravel, one can’t help but feel for the guy. The things he’s been through as a child and the post-traumatic ramifications of Frank’s assault position him as a sympathetic figure.
Russo’s by no means redeemed for his past transgressions, but the revelations in this episode paint him in a much more ambiguous light. He’s not just some bad guy who betrayed Frank; he’s a three-dimensional character with gaping wounds of his own.
Barne’s performance throughout this season has been stellar. Despite that, the work he does with just his eyes in one moment of this episode trumps everything else so far.
Scar Tissue also draws back the curtain a bit on Rachel—or Amy as it were. She too has survived something horrific. It haunts her. Seeing what she escaped fully realized excuses some of her more annoying traits through the first three episodes. To this point, she’s been overly evasive. Knowing the atrocities she was subjected to forgives that. She’s right to be cautious. It would be illogical for her not to be. Like Barnes, Giorgia Whigham deftly shoulders the heft of the melancholic material.
As we near the midway point, The Punisher’s second season is picking up steam. Can it maintain? Only time and streaming will tell.