The Punisher: Scar Tissue

"What face do you want the world to see?"

This was a fascinating episode focused on identity and what lies underneath the masks we show the world.

For Billy this is a literal mask, one he crafted himself. Although not as much to hide his identity, but rather in an attempt to claim it. He doesn't know who he is, and I do believe his amnesia is genuine – for now at least. But deep down he is still a monster, and he's struggling with that truth. Look what he did to Arthur. Of course that guy was a monster as well. Going to Krista was an obvious choice, but it's telling that she ultimately chose to aid him by not calling the cops. Is she thinking he needs someone he can trust, and didn't want to betray that trust? Or is there something else going on?

It's also a neat narrative device that Billy's mask is an outward expression of his inner turmoil, in that the mask is perhaps more disturbing than his actual scars. I think deep down he believes he deserves this half life he's been condemned to, even though he wants to see the best of himself again. I wonder if that'll conflict and his desire for redemption will last, or if he will put together the pieces of the jigsaw puzzle of his soul and embrace his inner monster again.

Dinah is concealing a lot from Detective Mahoney and her mentor Rafi. Her obsession with Billy is perhaps more twisted than Billy is, driven by vengeance to the point where she is willing to compromise her moral and ethical duties as a Federal Agent. While working with Castle seems like an emotional choice, there's a coldness to her calculated need to expose Billy for the monster he is. She doesn't really care whether Billy truly has amnesia or not.

Rachel or Amy's past is finally revealed as well, and wow. She is suffering from some major PTSD, having watched everyone she knew and loved killed. Geez. The Pilgrim has got to be stopped, which I imagine is what will drive the primary plot of the season. Amy did allude to what's on the pictures. Was it some politician or mob boss openly kissing a member of the same sex? I mean, killing, what, a dozen people is more than just an extreme clean up job, it's the the kind of plot that belongs in a pulp detective novel from decades past.

Frank had a different kind of arc in this one. He's slowly coming around to the fact that Amy is a part of his life, at least until this conflict is resolved. He's building bridges with her, and even connecting to his own past again by visiting Curt. He seems almost unsure if he even wants to confront Billy. His mask is totally different from everyone else's. He is trying to be Pete, and he doesn't want to be the Punisher anymore, his need for vengeance sated, the monster put to sleep. Except, when put to task, he very easily slips back into being the Punisher, who is perhaps his true self.

I don't really know what's coming. I like the direction things are going, and Amy and the Pilgrim are a good replacement for the military drama from the first season. This is about personal rights, identity and sense of self, who we are, and what we'll define ourselves as. At least so far.

Bits:

Billy's scars could have been more extreme, especially after hiding them from the audience for three episodes. Well, okay, they are pretty bad and I wonder if he's going to cut on himself to make them worse.

While Madani has good reason to be paranoid, those locks on her bedroom door are a bit extreme.

When Amy was under the bed crying, she really looked young. Is she really fifteen?

Amy in the comics was a bit of a one-off. She nursed Castle back to health and was caught up in a hostage situation from which Frank had to rescue her. This is apparently a completely different version of that character.

Billy and Frank were watching the same hockey game and the same news alert, clearly drawing on parallels – two sides of the same coin as characters.

Rachel: (to Frank) "He killed everybody that I cared about. How do you think that feels?"
She didn't know who she was asking. Not yet, anyway.

3 1/2 out of 4 Creepy Masks

J.D. Balthazar is a confirmed nerd who loves most things sci-fi or fantasy-related.

3 comments:

An Honest Fangirl said...

I was also expecting Billy's scars to be more extreme following the build up. (And knowing what Jigsaw looks like in the comics!) But like you, I kind of like that his mask is arguably scarier than his true face. Part of what made Billy such an effective villain last season was his ability to hide his true intentions and emotions. He spent the majority of it behind a figurative mask, and now he spent a lot of time behind an actual one and almost seems to feel more comfortable underneath it.

Interesting how "pretty" is still a trigger point for Billy. Some things persist.

And also, I have no idea how old Amy is supposed to be. I peg her to be early 20s, which made the scenes last episode of her claiming to be a minor (and 16 at that) a bit odd to me. Because it seemed obvious to me that she was older and lying. I'd be curious to see how old others think she is.

Billie Doux said...

Yeah, it's an interesting production decision to keep Billy's facial scarring more restrained when they could easily have gone horror movie. I was thinking that they wanted Ben Barnes to be able to emote, which is harder to do with a lot of disfiguring pieces on your face.

I was going back and forth about how old Amy is, like in her twenties or maybe as young as she was suggesting. Giorgia Whigham's IMDb doesn't say how old she is.

J.D. Balthazar said...

Giorgia Whingham was born in 1997, so she's 21. At least according to Google.