The second season of The Punisher is plagued by the same thing that infects every Netflix superhero show- not enough story to fill the mandated thirteen episodes. What makes this season even worse is all that filler being made up of long, repetitive, monotonous conversations about nonsense, taking place between all the characters that go nowhere and mean nothing.
Yes, I hated this season and it was a chore to sit through from the very beginning. Jon Bernthal returns as Frank Castle, the Punisher, now exiled from New York and hanging out somewhere in the midwest, but he soon returns to the violence, which comes as a relief from the boring conversations and monologues. After a long, slow, dull fling with a woman who never appears again in the season, Frank is placed in one of the oldest formulaic plots in assassin history- the friendship with the innocent teenage girl (remember The Professional? Yeah, it’s like that). Never mind that this friendship makes no sense and there is no chemistry at all between Bernthal and Giorgia Whigham. We’re stuck watching it anyway and sitting through their boring conversations.
After spending three long, pointless episodes in the midwest, we’re back in New York where Frank meets up with his old pal Curtis (Jason R. Moore) for, you got it, some more boring conversations (there are episodes at a time where literally nothing else is happening). We also see the world’s worst government agent (another cliche) Dinah Madani (Amber Rose Revah), who wants revenge on Billy, aka Jigsaw (Ben Barnes), now up and about and angry about his horribly disfigured face. Oh, sorry. I said horribly disfigured because that’s how he’s treated onscreen but what I meant was mildly, barely, inexplicably scarred (not possible after the beating Frank gave him last season). Jigsaw engages in an affair with the world’s worst psychiatrist (Floriana Lima) in another 100% cliched subplot (every woman on this show is the world’s worst whatever their profession is), but most of their relationship is, you guessed it- long, boring conversations. And nonsensical monologues.
There’s a bad guy following the teen girl, a Nazi preacher man played by Josh Stewart, and he has slightly less dull nonsense to spout and delivers more insanely bloody violence, which is I guess what people watch this show for to begin with, but by the end of the season every major character has been either beaten to a pulp, thrown through a window, driven off a bridge, shot or stabbed multiple times, and incredulously, no one dies or is even all that hurt. Did I mention none of these people are superpowered, but good old regular human beings? I mean, some of them are former soldiers, but, come on. The last three episodes finally up the action and cut back on the monologuing, but the sheer absurdity of the violence combined with the lack of impact any of it has on anyone makes for a ridiculous and meaningless ending. When someone is shot three times in the chest at point blank range for a “final” death I fully expected him to get up and walk out of the room unfazed.
Netflix hasn’t said anything (yet) about whether this is The Punisher’s final season, but all I know is that it was definitely mine. Showrunner Steven Lightfoot can get back to me when he comes up with an original thought. I won’t get my hopes up.