The Punisher: Fight or Flight

“Seek and ye shall find.”

As you probably know, 'Fight or Flight' are the automatic stress responses that occur when faced with a potentially life-threatening situation. Here, most of the characters are forced to make this decision consciously as the danger, or their awareness of the danger, increases and their options narrow.

There was never a question which decision Frank would make. That die was cast the moment he realized predators had entered the bar and were after someone he deemed defenseless. Besides, Rachel is not wrong when she claims Frank was looking for an excuse to fight. His reasons for continuing to fight are a toss-up. Is it due to his realization they aren’t done with Rachel yet, his belief he’s now their target as well, or just his inability to pass up a good fight?

In contrast, Rachel’s go-to move is flight. Which makes sense since she’s up against multiple killers and is so obviously not one. However, despite my willingness to entertain the notion that Rachel is in over her head, she is far from innocent. Her attempts to play the poor defenseless bystander/ college student/ minor notwithstanding. It’s also pretty ballsy to mouth off to a man you just watched kill a bunch of highly trained assassins. I can understand wanting to get as far away from Frank as possible but I might not want to piss him off before I did.

The person I was most impressed with was Beth. She can’t flee and she’s not in any shape to defend herself or her family. Yet, she manages to fight back. She refuses to divulge Frank’s real identity even with her son’s safety on the line. The only downside is that the name she gave up is the one that can be traced. For her sake, I hope that’s the last we see of her. Otherwise, I don’t like her chances.

Madani is another person I worry about. Neither her obsession with Billy Russo, nor her drinking bode well for her career. This is a shame since she was finally promoted to Special Agent in Charge. I found this disappointing. It’s not surprising that her encounter with Russo is having some distinctly negative effects on her life but I was hoping for a little less realism and a little more bad assness. Is she justifying her twice daily visits with the belief he is faking his memory loss to stay out of prison or does she just want to dole out some measure of the pain he caused her? Regardless of whether she’s right about what Billy does or doesn’t remember, we know she is completely justified in her belief he’s still dangerous.

Then there’s Dr. Dumont. If anyone should know how dangerous Billy could be, it’s his psychologist. Yet when she loosed his bonds and turned her back on him I practically screamed at my TV. Seeing her sit across from him as if they were having tea rather than discussing his crimes filled me with dread. Her ability to remain calm in the face of Billy’s rage was impressive but I don’t have high hopes that Dr. Dumont makes it through this unscathed.

And what about Frank’s former “brother?” It’s obvious Billy’s memories are returning, albeit in a jigsaw fashion (does that even count as an Easter Egg?). And since he’s the mirror image to Frank, we know that flight is not going to be his first instinct. The only question I have is who he’ll go after first. My money is on Dr. Dumont. Her attempt to make him feel like a human again doesn’t strike me as the sort of thing he’d just forgive. Billy was scary enough when he had all his faculties. Billy with no sense of remorse is downright terrifying.

That leaves John Pilgrim, this season’s other Big Bad. Quiet, unassuming, not above threats or a little torture not with language, clothing and, a name reeking of religious overtones. Is there any doubt which side of the physiological fence he’ll come down on? I am curious to see how someone who detests profanity, technology, and apparently casual sex is not averse to hiring assassins, buying off the police, or committing murder. You want to talk about the wages of sin.

For two people who have never heard of each other let alone met, Frank and Mr. Pilgrim have sized each other up pretty well at least to the extent that they understand the danger each poses. Unfortunately for Frank, Pilgrim knows who he’s looking for while Frank is still groping around in the dark and Rachel is far more interested in saving her own skin than helping out the man who saved her life. Although that might change now that John Pilgrim has located them.

Another anxiety filled episode. Brilliantly done.

4 out of 5 Get-Well Cards

Parting Thoughts:

Is it just me or did Dr. Dumont walk with a limp? If so, it’s probably a character choice since the actress didn’t have a limp when she left Supergirl.

Billy is still vain enough to hide his face from his doctor.

Debbie The Motel Clerk may have no concept of customer service but she put a smile on my face every time she graced my screen.

I was absurdly happy that the Larkville doctor was allowed to drive away from the police station unharmed. I doubt the Sheriff will be that lucky.

The fact that John Pilgrim is or was married is going to be important. The camera has focused on his wedding band way too many times.

Quotes:

Rachel: "Fine, fine. Kill yourself just to prove a point. How very male of you."

Rachel: “Sun’s up. It’s tomorrow surely. Today, even.”
Debbie: “You check in before my night shift finishes, it’s not today. It’s yesterday, sun or no sun.”

Billy: “Gotta build the jigsaw.”

Madani: “That man is the best liar I’ve ever seen, and I deal with liars professionally.”
Dumont: “Whereas my job is to help my patients discover the truth and deal with it. Whatever that new reality might be.” (Good luck with that.)

Madani: “I’m getting exactly what I need. Don’t worry.”

Frank: “I kill the enemy before they get to me. That’s what I do.”
Rachel: "That’s real. That’s a really interesting philosophy. Yeah, real sustainable."
Frank: “Well, it works for me.”
Rachel: “Says the guy with the bullet hole in his keister.”

Dumont: “Frank was your friend?”
Billy: “My brother.”
Dumont: “Where is he now?”
Billy: “I don’t know. I can’t remember. Why? Does it matter?”

Madani: “Am I supposed to guess what I’ve done to disappoint you, Rafi? You’ve got that vaguely paternal, ‘about to deliver tough love’ look that I know so well.”

Rafi: “I wish Castle had finished the damn job.”

Doctor: “Maybe you should let the staties have this one, Roy.”
Sheriff: “This is our town.”
Doctor: “And they ain’t from it.” (You should have listened to her, Roy.)

Frank: “I didn’t murder anybody, Sheriff.”
Sheriff: “You telling me you didn’t do it?”
Frank: “They died from terminal stupidity.”

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

4 comments:

An Honest Fangirl said...

If there was one thing that I got from this episode, it's that I really don't like Rachel. She felt like a stereotype of what people think is a strong female character: someone "edgy" who snarks at everything the male protagonist does while also becoming helpless the moment the protagonist needs to kick some butt and be awesome. I don't know. I just don't care about her, and I don't necessarily see why Frank is dragging her around all over the place.

If anything, this just made me miss Beth more. I was so scared for her during that scene with Pilgrim. Good for her for being smart and providing what she knew was a fake name. Sure, it could be traced, but she didn't know that. Honestly, it was the only smart move that she had.

Also, vaguely spoilery side note. So I watch everything with subtitles. And, generally speaking, if someone is talking off-screen, the subtitles will say who the person is. So like (Frank) "Blah blah blah." Which is very useful for someone who can't hear. And whenever someone uses a fake name, they say their real name. So Frank is always Frank. Never Pete. Which makes sense, because he know him as Frank and it would be confusing otherwise.

It's less great when we don't already know that someone is lying about their name.

Billie Doux said...

Nice review, Shari. Totally agree about Beth, and I also am almost hoping that's it for her so that she'll be safe. Dr. Dumont is a fool.

Fangirl, I don't like Rachel, either. That might be because we don't know what's going on with her yet, Frank saved her life, and she's treating him badly. I did like the opening scene where he made her take the bullet out of his ass, though. And that he tied her to the bed and didn't trust her.

Lamounier said...

The first half of the episode bored me a little, mostly Frank and Rachel's scenes. It's hard to care about a plot we know nothing about. Right now the story is "wait and see what happens next," but they need to give us some inkling of what's happening.

During this episode, I kept wondering why Frank cared. Is Rachel right and he was just looking for an excuse? Now that the dog is off his leash, he simply can't help it? I dunno. Frank might enjoy all the killing, but he is not the type who enjoys being kept in the dark.

I am curious to see how someone who detests profanity, technology, and apparently casual sex is not averse to hiring assassins, buying off the police, or committing murder.

Yes, a million times yes, which is why these religious evil doers are so loathsome. I hope there is more to Pilgrim than just being a zealot, though. His scene with Beth was my favorite of the episode, but that was more because of the acting.

I liked the second half of the episode better, and I certainly didn't predict Frank would end up in prison. Poor Sheriff has no idea of what's coming.

Dr. Dumont is a dead woman walking, isn't she? And why does Russo wear that mask specifically? Is it a nod to the comics?

Shari Houtman said...

I agree with all of you. Rachel's ungratefulness, lying and her inability to accept responsibility for her own actions (I found her "I didn't kill anyone," despite a bar full of people being dead because of her particularly galling) does not help her in the likability category. I wondered why Frank was still helping her as well. I think Frank realizes his fate is now tied to hers and he still doesn't know what she's gotten him into.

That said, I like the slow unpeeling of why characters are behaving the way they are. Which is probably why I enjoyed the episode as much as I did. I don't have the foggiest notion why Rachel or Pilgrim are making these particular choices but I'm willing to go along for the ride since it's obvious they are deliberate on the writers' part.

As for Billy's mask, Jigsaw in the comics did not wear a mask but his face was filled with jagged stitched up scars. Maybe it's a nod to that.