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TV Review: Marvel's The Punisher, Season 1, Episode 7 "Crosshairs"

THE PUNISHER, Season 1, Episode 7 "Crosshairs"

RECAP/REVIEW:

Last episode we saw Lewis, the PTSD-riddled stereotype, murder O'Connor, the Vietnam Vet stereotype, and episode 7 sadly picks up with that lame subplot. We see Lewis washing off the blood on his hands, while nursing a slash on his side from O'Connor's knife. Lewis grabs a shower curtain, obviously to use on O'Connor's corpse. We then see Lewis take a cab home and walk into his house, only to find his all-too understanding father there. His dad asks what happened to his shirt (as Lewis is topless), although never mentions the bloody gash on his side. He tells Lewis he loves him and that he'd do anything for him, to which Lewis says "There's nothing you can do." Well, what he should do is beat your ass and take you to the VA. Instead, he tries to give Lewis some prescription meds to get some sleep. Lewis takes the pils, goes downstairs and has a jump-cut freakout before putting his pistol in his mouth, wrestling with killing himself.

Now, this is an all-too-real scenario for real-world vets, which kind of peeves me about this scene, because it's a very tragic thing that deserves to be looked at in more than a cliche-ridden storyline that involves the vet in question being a complete whack job. Most of the vets in these situations are in very real pain with very real issues and Lewis just doesn't ring true in that sense. He comes off as a young hothead moron and we still have no connection as to what happened to make him this way. I guess we're all just supposed to assume "really bad stuff" but I'm afraid the experience of war is a lot more complex and affecting. Okay, off my vet soapbox.

We catch up with Frank, giving Ben Affleck a run for his money by doing weighted pulls ups with a cinder block in his hangout with Micro looking on, cooking dinner. They then look over a map, planning an operation to infiltrate and interrogate General Bennett, who supposedly knows the real identity of Agent Orange (AKA Rawlins) as told to Frank by Gunner before he died. You catch all that? "Agent Orange...he knows I'm alive and he knows I'm comin' for him," Frank says.

Then we're back at Madani's office as Russo pays her a visit. She's looking for information from him on Frank, but he says he has nothing for her, even though we saw last episode that he met with Frank and, surprise, surprise, turned out to be preparing to double cross him with Rawlins. "Without Castle I've got nothing," she says. Russo says he wants to help her and get back to the "naked thing". They have a nice little flirtation going, even though the deal has been sealed. Sam sees Russo leave and then charges into her office, yelling at her about telling Russo that Castle is alive. Sam mentions Russo's "scarily pretty face" which is most certainly another nod to Jigsaw. No way this show doesn't end without Russo getting mangled into Castle's classic villain.

Back at the hideout, Frank and Micro are still going over the plan. Micro is concerned that Frank will deviate from the plan and kill Bennett. Frank is offended by the inquisition and offers for Micro to do the mission. Micro admits he's never killed anyone and that he "appreciates" what Frank is doing. Castle, on the other hand, offers that he thinks the whole plan of sneaking onto a military base is crazy anyway and his biggest concern is being confronted by a Soldier and having to face whether or not to kill him.

Madani, meanwhile, has an epiphany at her office. She suspects that it's bugged and tells Sam as much. Hmmm. We then catch up with Rawlins and Russo, hanging out at a ritzy country house, discussing the problem of Castle. Rawlins thinks Russo should have killed him when he met him at the pier. Russo brings up that he pulled Castle off of him back in Kandahar, when Frank cut loose and gave Rawlins that lifelong eye wound. Rawlins, of course, reminds Russo that he gave him everything; his government contract and Anvil. Russo fires back that when Frank attacked Rawlins, it was the first time he ever saw Rawlins vulnerable. It's nice little back and forth between the two as they measure dicks and issue vague threats. This is why bad guys just don't work well together, damn it!

Bennett, meanwhile is having dinner in his dress blues with a nicely dressed woman, talking about what a hard ass he is. She then pours her drink onto the floor. He gets out of his chair and starts to lick it up. Man. Sometimes, I just don't get the kinky shit. Meanwhile, Frank is already on the base, dressed in all black (oh, don't worry, STILL no skull) and prepping to ruin Bennett's night with the dominatrix, who has already got him in a ball gag and giving him the whip. Micro guides Frank to his quarters via drone and he reaches ol' Bennett just in time. The dominatrix yells out "He's here" and we cut to Russo and a team of goons who are outside lying in wait (what, they didn't see Frank go in?). Frank smacks Bennett around, who is already scared shitless just seeing him there. Micro meanwhile begins hacking Bennett's phone, then warns Frank that four hostiles are inbound.

Frank pops some smoke, clouding the room. The men enter the room and naturally Frank dispatches them quickly and quietly, although Russo is able to be the last man standing, a bit smarter than the rest of the goons. But, ol' Frank is still on the hunt and when he comes face to face with Russo (although they're both masked) they both blast each other to the ground. Frank is back up first and shoots Russo a few times for good measure. "Stay down." Good thing for that body armor, eh? Frank then makes a quick exit, leaping out a window (guess the stairs were broken) and making a run for it as Russo gets back up and takes some additional shots. Russo then scoops up Bennett, still reeling from his visit with Castle. "Why don't you put your pants on and then you're gonna say exactly what I tell you to say when I tell you to say it."

Micro guides Frank off the base as Soldiers are dispatched and running all over the place. He leads Frank to a tunnel (what, they couldn't use that to break in?) and he's confronted with the dilemma he dreaded; face-to-face with a Soldier, who tells him to get down (no, not dance, just get on the floor). The Soldier is of course nervous and afraid (not like we've been at war for 15 years or anything and know how to handle a situation like this, right?) and Castle is cool as a cucumber, saying, "I don't want to have to kill you." Castle then says he's gonna keep on walking and the Soldier will just have to do what he's gotta do. It almost seems like Castle might get away, but the Soldier gets a second wind and pursues him, causing the ol' chap to catch a bullet in the shoulder. Just want ol' Frank wanted to avoid, but hey, life sucks sometimes. Frank rendezvous with Micro, hoping in the van. "It's a lot easier when you can kill people," he says.

Frank later argues with Micro over exactly what they accomplished with the mission to get to Bennett. Micro is busy tracking Bennett's phone as Frank laments over having to shoot the Soldier earlier. He then talks about Bennett is responsible for those troops and is misleading them. "From now on I'm taking out every single one of 'em." Now THAT sounds like the Frank Castle I know and love. We then cut back to Lewis who is doing a little shopping at a supply store, then heads home to...oh, boy. He's making a homemade pressure cooker bomb. So, that's the route we're going, eh? Okay. Great.

Later, Bennett is at the country safe house from earlier, whining to Rawlins and Russo about the whole situation with Castle. Rawlins wants to know what Bennett told Castle, concerned with being compromised. Rawlins says that he is going to help Bennett "retire" with a new identity and credentials. Bennett, seems to be okay with this. He empties his pockets, leaving the phone with Russo. Castle and Frank are then on the move, heading out in the van. Micro talks about having hope to see his family again and Frank tells him that if and when he's back with his family he should hold them until they beg for him to let go. "It's what I'd do."

Back in Madani's office we get treated to an unnecessary scene of them finding the bug in her office, then sitting down to talk, swigging off a flask and talking about their dating lives. So very "Punisher". Sam tells Madani that she sounds just like Frank Castle, to which she disagrees, saying she's about the law, while Castle thinks he's above it. Then, we catch back up with Frank and Micro who have tracked Bennett's phone to the CIA safe house. Frank leaves the van, armed with a sniper rifle. "Be careful. Happy hunting," Micro says. Meanwhile, Russo drops Bennett off at his "temporary" lodging, where Bennett quickly finds that he's reached the end of his rope. In the bed is his dominatrix girlfriend, throat slashed. He quickly realizes what's going down when Russo stabs him to death.

At the CIA safehouse, Castle has taken up position with his sniper rifle and surveys the house, looking for a target when Rawlins suddenly pops up. Frank is taken aback, realizing who Agent Orange actually is. His ol spook pal from Kandahar that he left with a nasty eye wound. Rawlins gets a call from Russo "It's done." as he stands by the window, facing out. Frank takes aim. "One batch, two batch, penny and dime." He takes the shot, hitting Rawlins square in the forehead...in front of the bulletproof glass. The house lights up and alarms go off. Rawlins doesn't move, just standing there sternly, staring off at his would-be assassin. Frank angrily gets up and makes a run for it.

So, the pace picked up a bit from last episode and we at least go some action out of it (I'm sorry, but this is The Punisher, so yes, I'm gonna complain if I have to sit through an episode with no action). While it's not exactly inspired or memorable action, it's still something more than a slow burn of chatter and ho-hum plotting. Lewis has sunk to an all-time stereotypical low, now looking to turn to some form of terrorism as he starts making bombs, while Madani spent the episode wandering around the office looking for a bug. It just would've been nice to have more of Frank and Micro or even more of Russo and Rawlins, as those are the characters I either want to love or want to hate (in a good way, mind you). I still think Frank talks too much, but at least he said some things that fall in line with the decades-long characters in this episode. It feels like things will finally amp up. I'm still not sure what role Karen Page is supposed to play in this as she started out as a regular player and has been absent for much of the last few episodes. Scaling back the side characters would've helped a lot here, but I'm happy that it at least feels like a fuze was lit in this episode. Still no skull, though. Seriously?

Source: JoBlo.com

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