Over its first six episodes, Marvel’s The Punisher has been a show that uses emotions more than guns. It has been both unexpecting and something that works very well. Sure the opening scenes of the series start off by showing Frank Castle (Jon Bernthal) being Frank Castle. But its writing afterward has an awareness about it.
It knows it cannot get by on bullets, bloodshed, and revenge alone. It has to carry some kind of weight. Which it does well by utilizing PTSD and making its characters vulnerable both inside and outside of it. Everyone has something to lose and is fighting a battle which they are currently losing.
Not only does this give most of the characters purpose, and makes me as a viewer care about them, it creates a thread that connects them all. A dynamic in The Punisher that has quickly become one of my favorites for a multitude of reasons is the one involving Frank and Micro (Ebon Moss-Bachrach). Not only is their banter fun, but it often leads to past tensions re-surfacing.
Every falling out ends with a move by one of them to keep the other in check. Reminding viewers these two people are not really partners. They are two people using each other as a resource to get what they want. But the show is not perfect and at times feels like two completely different shows.
It is all because of one arc involving a new original character. A government agent named Dinah Mandani (Amber Rose Revah). Her scenes take away the gritty and grounded theme of the show and turn it into a procedural with pristine settings mixed with a commercial for Ford (if you have watched the show you will understand). Also in terms of dialogue, she is saying nothing but uninteresting exposition.
My point is if you are going to add Karen Page (Deborah Ann Woll) to the mix, as the show does, why have Dinah in the show at all? Karen is a great investigative reporter who aids Frank early on in the show, so why not fully utilize her and further show what she can do? Especially when the main plot involves an investigation into the United States government and its military. Also, one of the earlier episodes actually involves Karen pushing her editor on why he did not publish an article related to the main plot.
What also does not help Dinah is every scene that follows hers easily could have fit in place of hers. Both from an editing and storytelling standpoint. She and her arc just come off as filler just so each episode can have an hour runtime. Which is sad because she’s not really a bad character, it is just she and her partner are unnecessary.
Overall The Punisher thankfully has not had an early season lull like other Marvel shows on Netflix. Every episode so far does a great job of building and keeping tension. The main villain again is lacking, but the sooner I realized the show is more about mental illness and bonds, the more the villain does not matter too me.
Also, thank God this show knows how to properly utilize flashbacks *cough* Arrow *cough*. I look forward to binge-watching the rest!