The Punisher: The Judas Goat

What drove you that day and all the days after?

Frank's dying, and Micro needs to go for help in an episode that sees Frank's circle start to come together, even as we see more of the power of Agent Orange.

The title for this episode is multiple and multipainful. Do you know what a Judas goat is? It's named after the disciple who betrayed Christ for a reason; it's a special goat used on farms to lead sheep and lambs to the slaughter. You can't push them into the slaughterhouse – but they'll follow you. And the goat will survive. The sheep won't.

Betrayal. It's a deep theme of this episode, right there when we start. Frank betrayed Gunner, leaving him to die (or at least that's how Frank sees it). Frank betrayed his family, or at least he seems to be thinking that more and more, realizing how much his own role in the military played into his family's deaths. Madani betrayed Russo, attempting to Black Widow him into revealing information about Frank, or using him to get to Frank (or did she? Sometimes I'm not sure about Madani).

It makes sense that we're talking about betrayal because, I think, the previous episode and this one mark major turning points for Frank, and we see this in the evolution of his nightmares. Before, his nightmares showed his family dying again and again. Over the second, third and fourth episodes, we began to see hints of kinder memories, although they always resulted in death. In this episode, we're seeing a nightmare which now includes Micro, Micro's wife and kids, and Frank's own family. Even Karen, who arguably is the one responsible for opening Frank up in the first place. Everyone wants to have an after. I wonder how we're going to see this nightmare evolve, and how it will evolve Frank from a vigilante to a hero (or anti-hero, I guess). For now, the nightmare still ends in death.

Curtis is rapidly becoming more and more embroiled in this, too – not only is he a friend, but a medic Frank can count on. I also think Curtis was kind of interested and impressed by Micro – yeah, he wanted to puke. But he didn't. And he stayed there, and he went back to get Frank. (Which led to Curtis and his own story about being a judas to a goat, watching the system hurt his friend. Watching his friend die. Harbinger of foreshadowing, anyone?) So, again, we're seeing Frank get more and more to lose, and his friends connecting with each other, which puts them all the more in danger (as his dream foreshadows).

I think Lewis is intended to be a counterpoint to Frank. Instead of getting friends, Lewis seems to be investing in the wrong man – O'Connor. He's investing in the wrong ideals, and eventually he just loses it. I feel horrible for Lewis. I've been watching him deteriorate over the last few episodes. And, soapbox standup here, I think this show does a great job of portraying the plight of veterans. They are put into terrible situations, survive, then allowed to come home without much support. I have veteran friends who struggle to get medical and psychological services due to cuts in the VA. While I don't want to see the military demonized, I also DO want to see the very real consequences of our neglecting the members of our armed forces. It's another notch on the betrayal theme, isn't it? The government betraying the people who protect it most.

And then, of course, there's the Big Reveal – the fact that Russo's been playing Madani and Frank the whole time. I suspected but did not want to believe it. He was so earnest it made me suspicious – and he was so earnest it made me want to believe. I wonder how far back Russo's partnership goes, how Frank will deal with this final betrayal, and if Russo will turn out to be a real judas goat, and put Frank into serious danger. Or maybe he's a triple agent.

Call Signs

The scene removing the arrow from Frank was appropriately bloody, but it seems to me that Frank, like the rest of the characters in this series, must have mystical healing powers. I'd be in bed for weeks.

Tagging onto that – Micro watching the arrow be removed was sort of a clever reversal of the usual scene in which the Heroic Badass has to suffer having an arrow removed. Frank barely needed to be held in place. It was Micro who suffered.

Did anyone catch Micro playing guitar? I don't think I saw that in a previous episode.

Frank opening up to Micro, describing his relationship with his wife – one of the more touching scenes of the whole series so far.

Yes, I like Micro a lot.

Overall

Best episode of the series so far – five out of five secret cameras hidden in paintings.

5 comments:

Patryk said...

I really liked how Frank opened up to Micro and in the end chose his new family and basically made him a promise via spycam to reunity Micro with his family.

I bet Lewis will end up as a mass shooter and then commit suicide, that's how depressing this storyline is so far.

Billie Doux said...

Lovely review, Joseph. I absolutely loved Micro's reactions when Curtis was operating on a completely unconscious Frank. And the nice scene where Frank visited Sarah and looked right at the camera as a message to Micro.

The Thanksgiving at the beginning was absolutely brutal. Terrific performance by Jon Bernthal.

Billy is bad. What a disappointment. I thought he would be, but was hoping he wasn't.

JRS said...

I loved that line, Patryk. Better days are coming! I wonder how much of that attitude goes back to Karen?

Lamounier said...

Great review, Joseph. I also thought this was the best episode so far, loved it.

Like everyone else, I really liked Frank's promise to Micro and his family.
The Punisher is nailing this family drama.

Why was Madani so reckless? She was so clever with Karen, but with Billy she gave all the information away. I was impressed by how fast she figured out what happened at the mountains, though.

Now, Lewis. Wow. That scene with O'Connor was so shocking, even though you could see it coming. Lewis clearly snapped out of it five seconds later (but thirty seconds too late), unable to fix what he had just done. And now I'm thinking about the horror that it must be for those who have anger control issues, kill someone in a moment of pure rage and snap out of it right after. I'm kind of fascinated that this show has made me think about - and have compassion for - the killer. I didn't care about Lewis' arc before, but this episode completely changed my mind.

He was so earnest it made me suspicious – and he was so earnest it made me want to believe.

You nailed it.

All in all, a great, well written episode. And I just love the pairing of Micro and Frank more and more.

An Honest Fangirl said...

You know, there was so much talk about Billy being trustworthy and like family that he simply had to be evil. Not that it was really a surprise. The pretty, white, male best friend being evil is practically a Billie Rule of Television. I am curious to see how this betrayal plays out, though, both with Frank and with Curtis. I have a sinking feeling that something bad is going to happen with Curtis.

Also, poor Lewis. It feels weird to say that about someone who just killed someone, but like Lamounier said, I have a lot of compassion for him right now. His life has sucked, man. I really hope that he doesn't go down the mass shooter/bomber path.