PENNY AND DIME – 8/10.
At their last meeting, Daredevil tried and failed to make Punisher understand the truth of his world, but the tables were turned here as it was Frank’s turn to talk. Jon Bernthal has delivered in spades when it comes to the physicality of The Punisher, but here he was able to show the damaged soul that drives Frank Castle to such bloody vengeance. Frank wasn’t the only one seeking vengeance as Finn, a violent Irish crime lord, arrived in Hell’s Kitchen to avenge the death of his son and to find the money that Frank stole from him. The Irish wage a bloody manhunt on the city, killing and torturing anyone who has so much as glimpsed Frank, eventually using the trail of the dog Frank rescued to find his lair. There Finn discovers two tickets to a carousel and the truth about who The Punisher really is.
Realising that his base has been compromised, Frank retreats to his van to tend to his wounds from his most recent altercation with Daredevil. He pushes a razor blade into an open wound on his arm in preparation for what is to come next. He left the carousel tickets as an invitation for the Irish and this is where he waits for them. He manages to take out several of Finn’s men before being subdued by a tranquiliser injection and several heavy duty tazers, when Frank wakes up he finds himself tied to a chair in an Irish safe house. Finn and his men beat on Frank, demanding to know where he hid the money he cut free from the one-handed corpse at the Irish Massacre, but Frank refuses to talk even after being brutaly tortured with a power drill.
While Finn tortures Frank, Matt tortures himself as he attends Grotto’s funeral with Karen and Foggy, they are the only ones in attendance. Matt speaks with Father Lantom about his feelings of guilt regarding Grotto and the Punisher, but the priest reminds him that guilt can be a good thing if it drives him to do more. Karen also feels guilt over Grotto’s death, so she begins her own investigation into Frank. She uses his file to track down a former nurse who tells her of how Frank woke up from a coma after some ‘suits’ tried to switch off his life support. He demanded that the nurse take him home, the man obliged but it cost him his job. Karen goes to the house, which seems to have remained untouched since the death of Frank’s family, but she is forced to flee when the ‘suits’ arrive.
Frustrated at his inability to break Frank, Finn threatens to use the drill on his dog. This finally persuades Frank to reveal the location of the money; it’s hidden in his van. Finn sends out some goons to fetch it and leaves the room, giving Frank the chance to remove the razor blade from his arm and cut himself free. Finn’s men find the money, but they also find a bomb which detonates when they open the briefcase. But Finn has bigger problems; Frank kills his guards and demands that Finn tells him who killed his family that day at the carousel. Finn says “who cares”, which is most definitely the wrong thing to say when someone has a shotgun pointed at your face. Frank kills Finn but is still seriously wounded, majorly outgunned and very much trapped.
But help is on its way in the form of Daredevil, who has been following the path of destruction left behind by the Irish. Matt encounters Sergeant Brett Mahoney at one of the crime scenes. He blames Daredevil for the rise in violence, claiming that vigilante justice makes a police badge seem meaningless and the evidence is in the blood that surrounds them. Matt arrives at the Irish safe house in time to help Frank withstand the last of Finn’s men, they fight side by side but Matt still has to stop Frank from killing people. With the gang defeated, Matt helps the seriously wounded Punisher to escape before Irish reinforcements can arrive. They pause for breath in a graveyard where Frank reveals the truth of who he really is to Matt; he talks about the brutal murder of his family, about his daughter and his regrets about not being a better father after the war.
The men continue to talk until Mahoney arrives to arrest Frank. Matt convinces him to take the credit for the arrest, stating that the people of Hell’s Kitchen need to know that the system still works. With Punisher’s bloody reign of terror at an end, Matt, Foggy and Karen enjoy a much needed drink at Josie’s. Foggy decides to leave Matt and Karen to it, sensing that their flirtation has now reached critical mass. Karen and Matt walk together in the rain before finally sharing a kiss that has been a long time in the making. Matt says goodnight to Karen and heads up to his apartment alone. Elated, he pauses to ponder his moment of happiness but it is a moment that is disrupted when he senses the presence of an old ‘friend’, Elektra.
The conversation between Matt and Frank directly juxtaposed the last one that they shared; they have fought against each other and alongside each other and found a mutual respect. It seems highly unlikely that this is the last we will be seeing of Frank Castle, especially as he is starting to evolve into a more rounded character, but it is wise to move him out of the way while another huge player is introduced. Elektra was hinted at in the last season and now she is here in person to rock Matt’s world. We knew she was coming and that kiss made it all but inevitable that her arrival would happen sooner rather than later. John Bernthal has exceeded expectations as Punisher, now it’s time to see if Élodie Yung can do the same as Daredevil’s greatest love and nemesis.