Photo Credit: Cara Howe/Netflix
It was hard to know how to feel when I started Season 2 of Marvel's The Punisher this weekend. While I was happy to see Frank Castle back on my screen, I couldn't help but feel like it was for the final time. After taking a few minutes to get over that, while listening to the sounds of Shooter Jennings early on in the episode, I dove right back in. Normally I would wait until the next episode of the podcast to share my thoughts, but I decided to get a bit of a head start. So let's talk about "Roadhouse Blues."
(WARNING: MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS FOR MARVEL'S THE PUNISHER SEASON 2 EPISODE 1 AND FROM SEASON 1)
When thing start out we see Frank...err, Pete, at a bar seemingly enjoying the simple life. The government gave him his life back, so he seems to leave The Punisher behind. Then we see that "old habits die hard" is a timeless expression for a reason. It starts innocently enough, with Frank coming to the rescue of a female bartender who was being harassed by a handsy and drunk patron. The emotions got pretty deep after that, with Frank actually spending the night with Beth afterward. I have to say, I was all in for this "ship" from the start. They both seemed wounded and looking for a fresh start. She even had a young son, who Frank seemed to have a soft spot for. Just as I start thinking of the best couple names for the two of them, things take a bit of an ugly turn.
When Frank decides not to leave town, and turn back around to see Beth, he gets drawn in to something that was much bigger than he could have imagined. Enter Amy Bendix, a young girl who has something that some really bad people seem to want. She seems to want to get rid of it, but trusts the wrong people. Needless to say, the bad guys send a team to hunt down Amy, get what they need and eliminate her in the process. Frank sees this and immediately jumps in to save the day. That turns in to a complete bloodbath, with Frank going full Punisher and saving Amy. Unfortunately, Beth ends up getting hit by a bullet in the process. This is where things got a bit frustrating for me. Frank, who also took a few hits himself, obviously does everything he can to both help Beth and keep Amy safe. Amy was quite ungrateful, in fact, she was downright unlikable. I'm not sure if that was part of the plan, but Frank dropped Beth at a hospital to continue to help her, so you think she'd be a bit more grateful. I realize that she has been through a lot, and she didn't know who she could trust. Still, helping Amy was starting to look like more trouble than it was worth for Frank. Maybe making her unlikable early on was the point, and if so, they succeeded a great deal.
We do get to see a few more random things in this episode. We see Billy as Jigsaw for the first time, with Madani standing right there. We also got to see a more optimistic Frank Castle. This episode did a great job at setting up sympathy for Frank, and making it seem like his shot at a normal life was ripped away from him. At the same time, it also created the debate that his choices are what led to him being sucked back in to the life of The Punisher. Maybe that's what he truly wants? No matter how you feel, Jon Bernthal reminds us of what may have been one of the most perfect casting choices of all time. Alexa Davalos' portrayal of Beth was a perfect pairing with Bernthal and, even though their connection seemed very abrupt, it fit in a way that almost made me forget about the obvious chemistry Frank had with Karen. The action was spot in in the episode, with a lot of wow moments. All in all, Roadhouse Blues was a solid start for this second season. Hopefully that momentum can continue throughout the season, and we can find out more about who this new evil organization is that Frank will clearly have to deal with.
For more of our continuing coverage of Marvel's The Punisher Season 2, be sure to listen to Episode 249 of our podcast. Keep checking back to our Listen page or subscribe above on your favorite podcast app.