WARNING: The following article contains major spoilers for Marvel’s The Punisher, now streaming on Netflix.
Despite Frank Castle’s extreme measures, it’s difficult not to root for him, not only as an antihero but as a human being. When Marvel’s Daredevil Season 2 introduced the character to Netflix, fans were eager to see how this new take on the vigilante would be spun, especially in the wake of three films.
This time, star Jon Bernthal, while still aggressive, brings a subdued intensity to the role. Daredevil explored Frank’s origins as an enemy of the state with a bloody vendetta against those responsible for the death of his family. However, The Punisher goes deeper than a traditional revenge thriller.
Showrunner Steve Lightfoot actually places less focus on Frank’s violent tendencies (at least for the majority of the season), instead focusing on post-traumatic stress disorder as a thematic path that sets several characters on a collision course with each other.
A Family Destroyed
Frank forms an (initially) uneasy alliance with David Lieberman (Ebon Moss-Bachrach), a former NSA analyst now better known as Micro. He sought Frank out, to help take down a common enemy, the conspirators behind an illegal covert CIA operation who will go to any lengths to cover up their activities in Kandahar, Afghanistan. After Micro received and distributed a video depicting the execution of an Afghanistan National Police offer by U.S. servicemen, he was smeared as a traitor, gunned down in public. When those same people thought Frank Castle had sent Micro, they murdered his family and others in Central Park in an attempt to obscure their true target.
However, Micro survived the assassination attempt and went underground in an effort to protect his family. His wife Sarah (Jaime Ray Newman) and two kids don’t cope well after his “death,” though. She’s devastated, and their daughter heaps pressure on herself to excel at school, while their son lashes out, becoming a bully at school, striking his sister and defying his mother. Micro can do little bit watch on a monitor in his secret bunker that displays feeds from the cameras hidden throughout their home.
The Liebermans’ torment is best summed up, however, when Frank (now a friend of the family in his guise as Pete Castiglione) is asked by Sarah to intercede with son Zach after she finds a knife in his bag. When confronted by Frank, the boy down and admits his abusive ways stem from the mental scars left by his father’s absence, further driving Frank to clear Micro’s name and reunite the family.
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