Culture

Presenting Brig’s Big Binge: The Punisher season 2

Let the trumpets sound; may all ye faithful rejoice.

It’s the return of Brig’s Big Binge. As some of you will know, in autumn I debuted the feature with the stunning fourth season of Better Call Saul. Next up is everyone’s favourite vigilante justice advocate and damaged war veteran: The Punisher.

With Marvel and Netflix’s love affair waning, time might be running out to enjoy new Marvel Television creations on the platform. I wrote a piece on this for the November issue of Brig, at which time only the underperforming Luke Cage and Iron Fist had been cancelled. Since then, the popular Daredevil has also surprisingly been axed.

So currently, the only two active Marvel Television shows set for new episodes are The Punisher and Jessica Jones, which is set to return for a third season later this year. At this point, all the signs point to these shows also being scrapped at the conclusion of their forthcoming runs. With Marvel being a major cash cow for Disney, the likelihood is that its shows will move the House of Mouse’s own streaming service, set for a UK launch in late 2019.

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Jon Bernthal as Frank Castle.  Credit: Netflix/Marvel Television

But enough speculation. For now, we should sit back, relax, and enjoy The Punisher Season 2, with our feet up, a nice cup of tea, and Brig’s Big Binge loaded up…

Jon Bernthal is the Punisher as much as Frank Castle is. He and his harsh gaze, stony features and lean athleticism were simply made for the role, and whatever shortcomings there were with an inconsistent first season, his presence and performance was predictably accomplished, chewing the scenery and often smashing it up, too.

His neat fit for the role was established in the second season of Daredevil, when Bernthal’s engaging turn in its first half led to a significant downturn after the Punisher departed. In narrative terms, The Punisher‘s first season was lacking and hampered by something that plagues so many Netflix creations: the baggyness of a 13-episode overkill.

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A look at Billy Russo (Ben Barnes, left), fully transformed into Jigsaw. Credit: Netflix/Marvel Television

While season 2 is the same length, the early signs are good. Ben Barnes returns as Billy Russo/Jigsaw, set to pursue gnarly revenge for the smashing time the Punisher treated him to – on the very carousel where Russo had a hand in killing Frank’s family.

And a second, new villain enters the fray: Josh Stewart joins the cast as John Pilgrim, a religious foot-soldier who didn’t feature in the Marvel comics but has been introduced specially for the season. He looks set to give Frank a subversive taste of his own fanaticism, but with a dangerous sense of higher duty and motive. How and if Pilgrim will fit into Russo’s ongoing feud with Frank, we can only guess.

Then there is Amy Bendix, played by Giorgia Whigham, also new. A youthful daughter figure for Frank who appears to form his acquaintance after she gets in too deep with the wrong people, we can be sure she will bring out Frank’s familial and emotional salience. Whether she will have the same chemistry with him that Ebon Moss-Bachrach’s Micro, not returning, did in season 1 remains to be seen.

Among those who are returning are Deborah Ann Woll as Karen Page (outstanding in Daredevil’s third and final season) Amber Rose Revah as Dinah Madani, and Jason R. Moore as Curtis Hoyle.

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Giorgia Whigham joins the cast. Credit: Netflix/Marvel Television

At its best, and there was potential there, The Punisher‘s first run was dark, gritty and suitably tough, as you’d expect from an incarnation of the character. Let’s hope for more of that.

With all episodes released at once, I’ll be reviewing/recapping one every couple of days, so sorry if you’re impatient/bored/hungover and binge the whole thing this weekend!

All episodes of The Punisher season 2 are on Netflix from Friday. Season 1 is available now

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