TV Review: Marvel's The Punisher, Season 1, Episode 6 "The Judas Goat"

THE PUNISHER, Season 1, Episode 6 "The Judas Goat"


Last episode, Frank sought out his old teammate Gunner, who was living in a cabin in the woods (no, seriously) and ended up getting caught in an ambush from Rawlins' kill squad. Naturally, Frank and Gunner took the would-be assassins out, but not without taking some serious injuries themselves, leaving Gunner to die and Frank rescued by Micro, hanging on by a very thin thread. Episode 6 opens, naturally, with a dream sequence where Frank is sitting at the head of the table at Micro's house as both Frank's wife and kid's and Micro's wife and kids (as well as Micro) are preparing dinner and a party, welcoming Frank home. But, of course, Frank has to go and mess up a perfectly good dream as his old team walks in, guns in hand and executes everyone in front of him as he yells, shouts, spits and looks generally distraught. To be expected. It's another play on Frank feeling guilty for his family's death, as if he had a hand in it, which is a fair pull from his comics origin. While Frank feels guilty in the comics, it's mostly because he didn't have the ability to stop his family's killers, not because he was the root cause of their deaths. It's a bit of switch, but it still works, although I'd argue it implicates Frank a bit too much in their deaths.

Micro heads off to get Curtis, telling him "Frank's dyin'." Curtis of course rushes to his aid (as he was a Corpsman) and has Micro assist in removing the arrow that's still stuck in Frank's shoulder ("The only way out is through). Curtis does the hard stuff, while Micro winces and grimmaces. Once he's all set, Curtis tears into Micro for enlisting Frank in this fight. "Why'd you go after him?" Micro is confronted with his own guilt for selfishly bringing in Frank to this war. And that's the lesson for the day, kids!

We then cut to Russo and Madani getting vertical in a pretty graphic sex scene that takes it to completion. Once done, Russo gets up and walks around the room, seeing a file sitting nearby. He picks it up and thumbs through it. It's a file on Castle. Russo gets pissed that she's still chasing after him, as he still believes that Frank is dead. Madani, who knows for a fact Frank is still alive, gives Russo no indication. Russo brings up that they never found Frank's body. "I always wondered about that," he says. Yessir, Mr. Russo.

Shifting gears, we head back to Curtis's Vet group with O'Connor, the Vietnam Vet, spouting every single possible Vietnam Vet stereotypical rhetoric, talking about how much harder he had it and tosses out terms like "real Americans" and "pussies" and blah, blah, blah. Hopefully, there's more to this asshat, because he is beyond grating. I guess we're supposed to hate him or, at some point, feel sorry for him. Me, I just hate him. Curtis, meanwhile, tells a story about how during his training he was given a goat that was blown up so that Curtis could practice saving it, over and over again. "You stay in the game long enough, you're gonna get got." The group asks what happened to the goat. "He died eventually. He died of just too much." So, I get it. Frank is the goat. Lesson learned.

Back at Micro's, ol Micro is watching his favorite reality show, Micro's family, as they squabble over Micro's son, Zach, stealing a skateboard, smacking his sister and being a "bully". So much family drama. Micro looks on with lament and anguish and I totally get it, because he needs to be there to whup that boy's ass. Later, Frank is awake and getting his bandages changed by Micro when a radio starts talking, saying "Raven, this is Blackbird" and Frank's ears perk up. "I'm Raven." Micro asks who it is that's calling him. Frank says it's Billy Russo. Micro wants to know if they need to worry about him and if he knows Frank is alive. Frank stands up for Russo, calling him a friend. "Why is he calling you now?" Micro asks. Why indeed?

We then catch up with crazy ol' PTSD-ridden stereotype Lewis, who is handing out literature at a courthouse with crazy ol' Vietnam-Vet stereotype O'Connor. They are apparently trying to stand up for a man on trial for bringing a gun into the classroom or some such shit. A cop approaches Lewis and O'Connor, asking if they're protesting. Lewis gets all "I have rights" in the cops face and if you've ever seen those videos go down on YouTube then you know how this ends. The cop says that Lewis tried to reach for his gun and uses that to arrest Lewis, while O'Connor watches on, cowardly.

At the hideout, Frank and Micro share some TV dinners and talk about Thanksgiving at their respective homes. This is where the show gets too long-winded as they try to personalize Frank by having him talk about his memories of his wife and kids. I get the desire to do it, but the Castle I've read for almost three decades isn't such a chatterbox. He's more like Tom Hanks' Captain Miller in SAVING PRIVATE RYAN, keeping his memories to himself. He doesn't share. He keeps it close to the chest. At some point, Micro brings Russo back up, asking if Frank thinks he should contact him. Frank then launches into a tirade about how he had two families. "I was a father and I was a husband, but I was also a Marine and I loved being a Marine. I loved that shit." He defends Russo to the core. "Billy Russo's my family." Micro is still doubtful.

Later, Sam and Madani, after visiting the shootout scene in Kentucky, get a positive result that blood on the scene was Castle's. Madani says they need to find Castle. "Where does one find dead Marines these days, cause he's not on Facebook or Tinder. I checked." Oh, Sam. I doubt you went on Tinder looking for Frank Castle.

Lewis shows up at the Vet Center after getting bailed out of jail, confronting Curtis for bailing him out. Curtis asks where O'Connor disappeared to, then drops a truth bomb on Lewis, saying that he pulled O'Connor's file, which says that O'Connor never even served in Vietnam. "He's a fraud," Curtis tells him. Lewis, the petulant little shit, storms off after Curtis offers for him to stay and I continue to dread where this plot thread is going. It could not exist and I'd be enjoying myself a lot more.

Madani and Russo meet in an open area on the docks, where Madani asks Russo what he knows about Castle. She tells him that Castle is alive, unsure if he knew or not. Russo didn't, obviously, but you can see he's affected by it. Madani had hoped he may have known so that he could lead her to Castle, as she believes he has info on her Kandahar case (which I still don't understand why it's still her active case). Russo says he's "shake the tree and see what falls out" and let's Madani know that he likes that she trusted him with this info. Suuuuure. Russo then heads to the Vet Center to see Curtis, who has known Castle was alive for a long time and kept up the ruse with Russo. Are you still with me? Russo and Curtis exchange greetings as usual until Russo hits him with, "Have you seen Frank?" Curtis tries to keep up the game. Russo then tells him that some government folks are after Castle and tries to sway Curtis to help. He doesn't bite.

Back at Micro's, Curtis lays it all out, telling Castle that Russo knows he's alive and says he wants to help him. Curtis wants to know if he's supposed to keep lying for Frank. Frank tells him he's got to do what he feels is right. Micro asks Frank if he trusts Russo. Frank says he does. "Then you should talk to him," he says as Russo continues to call "Raven to Blackbird" on the radio.

We then catch up with Lewis (ugh) who shows up at O'Connor's place. O'Connor offers him a beer, but Lewis instead confronts him about the fact that he was never in Vietnam. Of course, O'Connor denies it, but Lewis ain't having it. He punches O'Connor and they begin to struggle. O'Connor grabs a knife and slashes at Lewis, who eventually gets the upper hand and stabs O'Connor to death. I mean, it's hard to feel bad for someone who participates in Stolen Valor, but Lewis stabbing him just shows that Lewis is totally unhinged and off his damn rocker. At this point, there's no turning back and I see a slow spiral of stupidity in his future.

Back at the docks, Russo and Frank meet. "Look who it is. Back from the dead." The two comrades sit down and talk. "You look like shit," Russo says. "We can't all be as pretty as you, Bill." Hmmmm, could that be peek into Russo's eventual "Jigsaw" fate? We'll see. Russo lays out that he's been talking to Madani and that's how he found out Frank is alive. Russo wants to know from Frank why Madani wants him so bad. Frank lays it all out, telling Russo that Rawlins (Agent Orange) and Schoonover, etc. were smuggling drugs into the country via dead soldiers. Russo offers to help Frank if he lays off this case. Offers him every possible way out of the situation.

Micro, meanwhile, walks around all mopey back at base, lamenting that his new bestie, The Punisher, may be taking off and cancelling his war on crime. Then he sees that Frank has shown up at Micro's house, apologizing to Micro's wife for missing dinner (he was busy getting shot with bullets and arrows. Couldn't make it). Sarah has a glass of wine and starts to spill her guts about how messed up the ol' family life is to Frank. Frank tells her that things will get better for her and that her kids will get her through this tough time. Sarah asks if he's found something to help him get through this like that. Franks says "Maybe" to which I can't put a finger on what he'd mean. Karen, perhaps? Micro looks on during the exchange, probably unsure of what to think, but certainly a bit thankful for Frank's intervention.

Back at the docks at night we see Russo, waiting for Frank, looking anxious. He looks frustrated and heads to a parked SUV, getting inside and sitting down. "He ain't comin'" he says. As the camera pulls back, we see the son of a bitch Rawlins sitting there and the cat is out of the bag. Russo is a dirty slimeball in cahoots with Rawlins and shit is gonna get real when Frank finds out.

So, this episode didn't even really hit slow burn. This was like a match trying to be lit, striking against the box, but never even getting a flame. Probably when I'm finished with all episodes, this will be one that could easily have been deleted or combined with another to shorten the length. Way too much excess bullshit with characters that fail to launch; Lewis is annoying, O'Connor (now dead) was obnoxious, Sam is bad comic relief and Micro's family is a drag. All things that we don't need to drive this story. And even though Frank is a chatterbox in this series (unlike the comics), I'd much rather spend time with Bernthal, Barnes or even Madani (yeah, she's growing on me) than any of these other deadweight characters. And that's not to bash the actors at all. They're actually all talented, but they're just stuck playing ho-hum stereotypes. Beyond that; this is The Punisher and there's not a single punch thrown, bullet fired or explosion set off in this exercise. Not even a stubbed toe! This is THE PUNISHER. I'm not saying it has to be the ending of RAMBO: FIRST BLOOD PART 2 every episode, but give us something, eh? Six episodes in and I'm feeling the drag rather than the excitement.

Source: JoBlo.com



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