Film & TV

The Punisher made us hide behind cushions

There is a moment towards the end of Netflix’s The Punisher when Frank Castle finally catches up to the two men who’ve basically destroyed his life and murdered his family. The tension has been building across nearly two seasons of bone-crunching action, having begun in season two of Daredevil. As viewers, we’ve spent hours waiting for this moment, feeling Frank’s rage and frustration; desperately hungering for violent justice.

The first comes as an eye-popping explosion of retribution that makes Game of Thrones‘s Mountain vs. Viper episode look like a PG fun fest. The second involves scraping the pretty-boy face of Ben Barnes’ charming mercenary down a broken mirror.

These moments mark some of the most uncomfortable television I’ve ever watched, and I say that as a man who is not particularly squeamish when it comes to this sort of thing. Frank’s vengeance isn’t particularly cool or slick in the end, not for the people who really matter. He can take out nameless henchmen in dynamic fashion, but we don’t rally care about them. When it comes to the puppeteers, though, exultant catharsis in Frank’s eventual victory turns in part to horror and disgust.

I quite like that about The Punisher. I feel that’s important.

There’s no ‘good’ timing for a series like this. Frank Castle is the very definition of a controversial character, and that’s how this series paints him. There are no easy answers here, and no heavy-handed moral judgement.

What did you make of The Punisher? Is it important television, or a gratuitous gore fest? Hit us up with your thoughts in the comments, leave a Like on the video if you enjoyed it, and don’t forget to subscribe! There’ll be more Spoiler Alert every Sunday!