The Punisher: Collision Course

Madani: "Frank is not a criminal. He is not a hero either. He's just...he's Frank."

The dragging state of exposition and interpretation of what makes up The Punisher rather than actually seeing The Punisher in action thankfully comes a close in 'Collision Course'.

Aside from Frank's brief raid of Russo's compound two episodes ago, Season 2 for me has taken a prolonged time over the course of the last few episodes favoring the dissection of Frank Castle's psychology rather than showing him do a lot of punishing. I'm all for character profiling but with Season 2, it feels like there's been one too many side-tracks lately into the talking point of judgment, e,g. how should we judge the actions of Frank and Billy? Who has the right to judge them? Is it Pilgrim? Madani? Dumont?

That being said, 'Collision Course' finally is able to give the series some breathing room from that dialogue and kicks the action back towards overdrive, what with Frank now having made his escape from the hospital. Quite immediately, Frank and Mahoney are ambushed by Pilgrim and run off the road in a nasty crash. I've thoroughly enjoyed Mahoney's expanded presence and dry wit this season (even if it's a little lacking without Foggy Nelson for him to butt heads with) and was worried he may not have made it there, had it not been for Frank's quick-thinking; Frank is able to clear him and Mahoney away from the wreckage before Frank departs on his own, this time, his ambition turned towards the Schultzs.

The antagonistic threat of the Schultzs and their hitman Pilgrim has felt like it's taken a back seat to the Frank-Billy rivalry this season, and for that reason, it feels a little disjointed here that Frank all of a sudden now has his attention on the Schultzs' only son David. Frank does what Frank does best though and drags a beaten and bloody David back to the trailer park to see how much he knows about Pilgrim.

At the same time, Pilgrim is relentless as ever in his pursuit of Frank and Amy; however, this late into the game, I was finally beginning to feel as if even Pilgrim had forgotten what the entirety of his mission was; rather than bring up the photographs of David being used as blackmail, he now eerily only seems interested in Amy when he confronts Curtis at the trailer park. His journey too isn't as captivating either, it more just feels like a series of plot contrivances guiding him. Who knows how he knew which hospital room to look for Frank in? Who knows how he knew which trailer park to look in? Ordinarily, the Marvel-Netflix series have been pretty good at juggling multiple villains in their narratives, but Pilgrim feels profoundly overshadowed by the threat, and admittedly the charm, of Russo.

Curtis refuses to give up Amy and Frank's whereabouts to Pilgrim and once Amy unexpectedly rushes in, a grisly brawl ensues, ending once Pilgrim gives chase after Amy (in his haste, refusing again to grab the incriminating photos of David that are three feet away from him), not knowing she's stowed away in his trunk. Because of the looming threat that Netflix could cancel this series very soon, as was the case when Season 3 of Daredevil came out, this actually raised the stakes in a way for me, as it made me feel suddenly that no one is safe as we wind down in the last few battles of the season. That included Curtis too, someone I was hoping we wouldn't have to violently part with. Fortunately, Curtis too survives the fist-fight and regretfully tells Frank when he shows up that Amy's supposedly been captured.

Meanwhile, Madani's begun to suspect the worst of Dumont after noticing eerie similarities between her own patterns of dialogue, and Russo's taunting phone call to Frank in the hospital. I'm sure most of us already had two and two put together the second Russo hung up on Frank, but I'm so glad Madani was the first to actually speculate that Dumont isn't at all what she's cracked up to be. It also felt like a nice little redemption for her arc too - last season, Russo was able to manipulate much of Madani's investigation into Frank and Rawlins, and it's haunted Madani ever since; now in Season 2, we have Dumont trying to succeed with a similar intent, only this time around, Madani's wise to the act.

Following a violent confrontation, Madani shoves Dumont out of her apartment window and to the pavement below. It felt a little silly for one seeing this NOT be a completely one-sided duel. I can't figure for the life of me how a shrink could hold her own against an exceptionally trained Homeland Security agent. And it also floored me a little still seeing Dumont put everything she has on the line against Madani, all for Russo. As toxic relationships go, this is probably one of the oddest and most contrived ones I've ever seen in a Netflix series.

Russo arrives on scene following Dumont's demise and all the joy and ecstasy on his face is drained when he witnesses Madani the last one standing at the window. Ben Barnes has been able to do something for Billy Russo I would have never thought possible last season, and that is making Russo a sympathetic character. Everything from his brain trauma to his journey to piece back together his lost memories, Barnes has practically played Russo this time around as arguably a very different character, and for all the scorn I've had this season for his character's pairing with Dumont, Barnes himself has become one of Season 2's most captivating segments.

I suppose it's morbid for me to be relieved that Dumont has bitten the dust, but just as she preached that it was Russo's injuries that bought her and him together, it will be her death that brings the final battle between Frank, Russo, and Madani together too.

Aaron Studer loves spending his time reading, writing and defending the existence of cryptids because they can’t do it themselves.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Pilgrim stole Madani's car which had the trailer park location programed into the GPS. Have we seen Madani in hand to hand combat before because it bothered me also how much she struggled. Dumont is crazy though so thats usually an equalizer. I think they went for a knock off Joker and Harley Quinn with Russo an Dumont..Even had her be the crazy psychologist

Billie Doux said...

What an incredibly tense penultimate episode with confrontation after confrontation after confrontation. I particularly liked (or dreaded) the kettle on Krista's stove as her confrontation with Madani reached a boil. I was also glad that Frank believed the senator and didn't hurt him.

And of course, that Curtis made it.