Film & TV

Brig’s Big Binge: The Punisher S2 E4 – the man behind the mask

After a thrilling and gripping instalment, writer Angela LaManna and director Iain B. Macdonald take their feet off the gas here in an episode that is largely about Billy Russo.

His opening scene is also the best, all too brief scene of Scar Tissue. His scarred, shoeless state is targeted by a low-life in a T-shirt that reads ‘I GOT A BIG DICK.’ It’s fun just to get a glimpse of some extras and a setting that’s not a dim motel room or hospital ward, but before you know it Russo’s disposed of the man with the big dick and pinched his clothes – though he sadly turns the shirt inside out.

Those scars have been much-maligned for their lack of severity. There’s no getting away from the fact that there’s a glaring disparity between what Frank did to Russo and what he’s left with. Indeed, as Curtis points out later on (yay for Jason R. Moore’s debut), Frank’s intention in not killing Russo was so that he would have to live with not only gruesome deformity, but the weight of what had done.

As it is, Billy is currently the only person who doesn’t have to live with past, because he can’t remember anything past his military days. And his face has, if anything, gained aesthetic appeal.

Hopefully we’ll see more of Curtis. Credit: Netflix

The disappointment in that big facial reveal is just about forgotten as it does feel like this is the first time Ben Barnes has been in the show. And he does a decent enough job of portraying Russo’s frustration, his big moments of violence occurring off camera in a deliberate act of temporary restraint.

That other moment is the death of Arthur Walsh (Thomas G. Waites), an alcoholic, abusing figure from Billy’s past that stopped baseball from being the part of his childhood that it was for Frank. Didn’t felt any sympathy for either of Russo’s victims this episode – again a deliberate move, implying he’s still searching for the identity destined to make him all out evil and Jigsaw, who will be far less justified in his carnage.

Arriving at Dr. Dumont’s apartment – I didn’t recognise her right away – a sequence of flashback’s is completed that explains Russo’s ridiculous hospital mask. I found the plain white one far more scary, but each to their own.

It’s almost more ridiculous that they let a maximum-security wear an evil mask that they themself designed for dark reasons, and not for any medical reason. But suspend your disbelief and all that.

It’s also revealed that Dumont (Floriana Lima) promised to help Billy find redemption. Clearly, she didn’t then grasp what that would entail, or that she would end up harbouring him in her home – where she lives alone, and there’s a sense she could be attracted to him romantically.

Madani’s story is currently weak. Credit: Netlfix

We and Frank learn something of Amy’s story at long last. She briefly recounts a confusing chain of events that boils down to taking photos of gay people at a funeral in Chicago, then her friends being killed by Pilgrim (or Pilgrim’s mercenaries) while she went to get tacos.

Perhaps not as engaging as one might imagine, there being so much withheld for so long about Amy. She also stops withholding her real name from Frank, but not before she’s learned about his real story via the internet and an electronics store assistant.

The weight of Amy’s plight didn’t really have enough to it – she cries under the bed in Madani’s apartment, a first outpouring of emotion we’ve seen from the character. But then she defaults back to snappy, wisecracking Amy, and it’ll take me a bit more convincing to believe she’s really troubled by what and who is coming for her.

Stuff’s going on with Madani involving taking pills and Rafi and Mahoney telling her to get her shit together and shooting Mahoney by accident. It rather got lost for me in an episode too heavy on standing around talking and not heavy enough on action. I’m sure Madani’s story will develop well, and that it’ll fall into place when Russo regains (in)sanity and memory, but for now it’s just not engaging enough.

It’s one of a million problems that would be solved by cutting the thirteen episodes to ten.

The solution could be even simpler – this is The Punisher! Show us action – fist fights, gun fights, blood, shocking things, brilliant set-pieces like episode three.

Scar Tissue is the lowest rating episode of season two on IMDB, and it’s understandable why.

Series:
Episode 1: Roadhouse Blues
Episode 2: Fight or Flight
Episode 3: Trouble the Water

 

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