The Punisher: Cold Steel

“There is no one on this green earth that I’m worried about going against.”

I knew the moment Billy walked into the hospital room the woman he was visiting was his mother. My first thought was this was an attempt to humanize him – to set Billy on the path to redemption.  Boy, was I wrong.

I'm sure Billy thinks he's a good guy but he knows he's broken and I found that dichotomy fascinating.  Billy spent a considerable amount of money to ensure his mother is well cared for despite his hatred for her.  I believe he has real feelings for Madani, but it doesn’t stop him from using her and derailing her career.  Billy acknowledges that Frank is his best friend but has no qualms about leading a team to kill him.  To top it off, Billy refuses to accept culpability for any of the things he's done claiming that he "had no choice," at the same time, and in practically the same sentence, taking credit for the success that he's obtained.

Billy is self-aware enough to use his past when it suits him as he does to both needle Madani and play on her sympathies.  Rawlins mistakes the chip on Billy’s shoulder for pride and considers it a weakness.  It may be a weakness, but Billy’s actions aren’t born of arrogance.  They are a desperate attempt to fill the emptiness left by his mother’s abandonment.  He needs to prove he’s worthy or at least not less-than.  And a man who’s lived the life of privilege that Rawlins has will never understand how dangerous that need can be.

The continuing saga of Frank and Micro was awkward and heartbreaking  As much as they annoy each other they are true partners now.  You can’t live in that close proximity and under those conditions and not be.  Despite whatever reluctance Frank might have had, he has made his peace with the fact that his life is, to a large extent, in Micro’s hands.  This episode was all about Micro coming to terms with the fact his family’s lives may be in Frank’s.

When Micro loses the camera feed to his house, he sends Frank to check on his family and is forced to watch his wife hit on Frank.  Honestly, I’m surprised it took Sarah that long.  Her husband has been “dead” for over a year.  She’s a single mom with two troubled children, and she’s lonely.  Then along comes a man who understands her loss, is willing to help out around the house, is good to her kids and brings her flowers.  It may not be what Frank intended, but you can’t blame a woman for misreading those signs.

In his jealousy, Micro can’t recognize that he and Frank are both aching for the women they love.  Instead, he accuses Frank of being a psychopath with control issues, but it’s Micro who’s coming apart at the seams.  I can’t imagine what it would be like to watch your family torn apart by your absence, to watch your wife reach out to another man and your son beg for death just to stop the pain.  Micro watching Zach fall apart in Frank’s arms made my heart bleed. I completely understand why Micro returned home and why Frank had to send him packing.

Micro’s disintegrating mental state aside, he’s not off base. Killing Rawlins won’t absolve Micro of his supposed crimes. But if they fed Madani information she would follow the leads to their logical conclusion.  After all, it’s why she started the manhunt for Castle in the first place. Unfortunately, it wouldn’t have changed the way this played out.

Frank’s speech about the Ka-Bar was a nice bit of foreshadowing of Stein’s demise.  Not that they needed it.  It was obvious from the moment Sam told Billy to drop his weapon that only one of them was going to make it out of there alive.  And betting money was on Billy.  Farewell Sam Stein, we hardly knew ye.


And with the death of Stein and the absence of Frank and Micro, Madani turns to the only person she thinks she can trust – the one man she absolutely shouldn’t.  I have no words for that final scene.

For a person who loves character explorations as much as I do, this episode was Christmas morning.

4.5 out of 5 Ka-Bars

Parting Thoughts:  

What drug was Billy giving his mom?  Was it to make her seem like she belonged strapped to her bed?

Everyone mentions Billy’s pretty face.  After the story about his group home, I can see why he hates it.

Did anyone else think the cameras going out at Sarah’s house was a trap?

I want Micro to make all my sandwiches from now on.

This is the second of Madani’s ops to end up in failure. I don’t see her keeping that SAC position for very long.

We will not discuss how well-endowed Micro may or may not be but considering Frank had him tied naked to a chair a few episodes ago – he already knew.

Quotes:  

Billy: “If you want ‘em strong treat ‘em hard.”

Billy: “I would have given you anything that you ever wanted if you’d just wanted me.”

Rawlins: “Now we’re beholden.”
Billy: “Kinda like me and you.”
Rawlins: “Yes, like me and you.”

Billy: “We gotta be careful.  We’re in danger of having a real conversation here.”

Frank: “A wine guy?  I drank Boone’s Farm, you know, Mad Dog till I was twenty. So, yeah. I’m quite the connoisseur.”  (I tasted Mad Dog once.  It's disgusting.)

Sam: “If you need me to sit with His Prettiness and check to make sure his intentions are honorable, just let me know."  (Oh Sam, you will be missed.)

Micro: “One night, I find myself at this wild costume party.  I’m a Popsicle."

Frank: “When you know, you know.”

Shari loves sci-fi, fantasy, supernatural, and anything with a cape.

9 comments:

Patryk said...

And this is why I think Madani should kill Billy herself. Bring Rawlins to justice and arrest him, but Billy is a sure kill at the end of the series.

Lots of great interactions, I was a bit suprised that the episode did not open on an escape scene after the failed assasination of Agent Orange.

Anonymous said...


Frank and Micro need a drunken mini series. There dynamic throughout the hour was amazing.
Billy in that last scene cemented his place just behind Kilgrave for me.

Shari Houtman said...

Personally, I agree with you. I think Billy's betrayal of Madani is even more personal than his betrayal of Frank. But he's the title character so I don't know if it'll play out that way. The only way I can see it play out that way is if, and this is a really big if, Billy were to try to come clean with Frank and work to bring Rawlins down and then Madani finds out and kills him. She gets payback and Billy is somewhat redeemed.

I guess I'll find out soon.

Billie Doux said...

I can't excuse or rationalize Billy's behavior at all. He isn't just evil -- he's cruel, and terrorizes his own mother for pleasure and revenge. Such a focus on how pretty he is on the outside when he's so ugly on the inside. And Sam's death at Billy's hands was just awful. It was so obvious that Sam was trying to tell Dinah who had killed him, but couldn't get it out. Even more awful that Dinah went to Billy for comfort when she was in shock over Sam's death.

As I said previously and I think everyone by now agrees, :) Frank and David's relationship is the high point of this series for me and I loved them getting drunk and telling each other about how they met their wives. Sarah making a pass at Frank was something that had to happen, since as you said, Shari, Frank has been outright acting as a husband surrogate. They were even sort of mature about it all, right up until David took off his pants. :) LOL. I liked that Frank got through to Zach, too.

Excellent review of an excellent episode, Shari.

An Honest Fangirl said...

Wow, this episode was good.

They've been setting up the Frank/Sarah/Micro love triangle all season, and I'm glad that it was resolved in a refreshingly mature way. (And not just because I really want Frank to be with Karen when this is all said and done.) It was so sad that the moment Micro was ready to return to his family, he couldn't. Frank was right. It would get them killed.

I almost feel bad now for calling Billy pretty in almost all of my comments. Wow. He is just so fascinating to me. I loved the scene of him and Rawlins. Billy has a considerable height advantage over him, but Rawlins has the power in the relationship. Or does he? When Billy said that he wasn't afraid to go up against anyone, I wonder if that included Rawlins as well.

Austin said...

I'm assuming Billy supplied his mom with meth, as she is a meth head.

Shari Houtman said...

Ahhh. That would explain it.

Sera said...

It was mentioned before, but Punisher really shines in contrast to the other shows because there is no mid-season slum and big bad switcheroo.
Billy as a villian is extremely compelling, partly because he has such strong chemnistry with Madani, partly because he is indeed very pretty;)

In the scene with his mom, I thought he gave her something to sedate her, so she is locked in without being able to do much - in his eyes a fitting punishment for locking him in the system maybe?

Is it just me or is Frank lying when he claims he only wants his dead wife? He may not have reciprocated, but he wasn't quick to pull back either.
Although I really really want him with Karen as well :)

Lamounier said...

What a great episode. My jaw dropped to the floor with that final scene. I thought it was Madani's mother, but no, it was sadistic Billy. What he does to his mom is unbelievably evil.

I liked Sam so much, I wanted to see more of his friendship with Madani. But, yeah, the moment it came down to him against Billy, he was a dead man walking.

Sera, I agree that Frank does feel something for Sarah, but he respects Micro a lot and wouldn't hurt him like that.

Billy: “We gotta be careful. We’re in danger of having a real conversation here.”

This particular quote immediately reminded me of a similar thing Spike told Buffy in "Dead Things".

We will not discuss how well-endowed Micro may or may not be but considering Frank had him tied naked to a chair a few episodes ago – he already knew.

LOL. Terrific review, Shari.