Marvel’s most well-known antihero, Frank Castle aka The Punisher, makes his headlining series debut on Netflix’s The Punisher. Returning to the role he perfected in Season 2 of Daredevil, Jon Bernthal is back as The Punisher. Episode 1 entitled “3am” opens with Frank finding and killing the last members of the criminals groups which ended his family’s lives: the Dogs of Hell bikers, the sole survivor of the Mexican Cartel of NYC, and the last member of the Kitchen Irish.
Six months later, Frank (now going by Pete Castiglione) has been working as a construction hand breaking down walls for 12+ hours a day, living in a rundown apartment with nightmares about his family. Due to “Pete’s” quiet demeanor, he is bullied by some of his co-workers who seem to think he may be special needs. “Pete’s only ally at the construction site is the new arrival, Donny. Meanwhile, to help cope with the demons of his, Frank is assisted by friend Curtis Hoyle (Jason R.Moore), who runs a support group of retired servicemen feeling screwed over by their leaders.
“3 AM” was a great opening for The Punisher series. While the episode isn’t as action-packed, as one may think, director Tom Shankland and writer Steve Lightfoot carefully handle the reintroduction of Frank to the audience. Shankland makes the wise to show close-ups of Bernthal’s face, during the recurring nightmares, Frank has about his wife. I was able to identify with Frank and understand the PTSD he was experiencing
When the action does arrive, Lightfoot has humanized Frank which makes the action more satisfying. One of the biggest pays off was seeing “Pete” deliver the componence to the bullies. The bullies attempt to murder Donny after he goes out with them to rob a mobster, only for Donny to slip and drop his wallet, exposing his driver’s license. The second action sequence when Frank takes out the mobsters was also satisfying.
While Frank does intact justice, it comes with a small price as a mysterious hacker known as David Lieberman (Ebon Moss-Bacharach) tracks Frank by using a Gait tracking software. (Episode 1 also introduces us to supporting character Dinah Madani (Amber Rose Revah). Dinah has gained a new posting in Homeland Security, striving to attain a task force to find out who killed her partner Ahmed Zubair of the Afghan National Police, who was undercover investigating a heroin ring. Dinah seemed to be a bit underwritten this episode, and hopefully, she is given more to do in the later episodes, as it appears she is to be the female lead on the show.
With just enough action to satisfy the fans, but more importantly, humanizing its lead character and being socially conscious about the effects of PSTD, Netflix appears to have another winner on their hands with The Punisher.
Final Grade: B+