Punisher: Scar Tissue

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Bitter, party of one, your table’s ready. 

 

Frank isn’t known for being kind to his foes, and he tends to leave a lot of damage in his wake. We’ve seen enough now to know there are two different battles he’s going to be fighting, and neither one is going to be pretty. However things spin out, it’s safe to say that, by the end, there will be a fair amount of “Scar Tissue.”

The episode opens with the recently escaped Billy Russo dealing with public transportation. Someone else decides to try and throw his weight around, and Billy acquires a few things he needs to blend in better. Dinah has a meeting with Rafi, and she once again demonstrates that she’s a skilled liar. Rafi is clearly struggling with caring about Dinah and having to do his job. Back at Dinah’s place, Rachel has some questions for Frank, and he is, as usual, not heavy on detail. Frank sees a news story about Russo’s escape, while Rachel first makes herself at home, and then shows she’s not as well adjusted as she’d like everyone to think. Giorgia Wigham, who plays Rachel, did a great job with this scene.

Billy goes into a bar, which isn’t the set up for a joke, and deals with various bad memories. Dinah gets home and she and Frank spar a bit about who is doing what for who. Dinah tosses Billy’s journal that she creatively acquired to Frank, and tells him about Billy’s state of mind as she knows it. They argue about Billy, and Madani brings out a familiar keepsake from season one. Neither of them are really happy with the other, or at being tied together in all this chaos. Frank goes to check on Rachel, who is having some serious nightmares of her own to deal with. It’s not everything we need to know, but it’s a hint about her backstory.

Frank pays a call on Curtis, and they renew their friendship over beers and stories. Curtis is concerned that if Billy gets his memory back, he’s coming for Curtis. He was surprised to learn some details of Billy’s paperwork after his fight with Frank, and believes the memory loss is real. The Corpsman also offers some observations and suggestions to Frank about his life. Curtis tells Frank about something new in his life, and they try and work out where Billy might be going next. This triggers a memory for Frank about he and Russo discussing life and baseball at a kids’ field. When the scene shifts, we see that Russo remembers this, too, and is still having nightmares about his run-in with Frank.

Rachel wakes up and has a very strong reaction to one of Frank’s security precautions. He seems genuinely puzzled by this. The girl clearly has some issues. Russo goes to see someone from his past, and it’s an ugly visit on both sides. Shaken from earlier and at a loss, Rachel spills some of her story out to Frank, who listens closely and puts some pieces together. She reveals an earlier link to Pilgrim, and seems taken aback when Frank asks her what she wants to do. Eventually, she suggests fleeing, and Frank, gently for him, tells her that’s not really an option. Russo’s visit continues and things start drifting into dangerous territory.

Dinah gets back home, and is somewhat surprised that Frank and Rachel are still there. They banter about Dinah’s food choices, and Frank talks about an old score Russo might want to settle. Dinah knows about at least some of this, presumably from the records amassed on Russo. Frank makes her an offer, and Rachel wonders what she’s gotten into with these two. They both tell her to shut up and stop asking questions. Frank gives her some advice about what to do if she sees Russo again, and their planning gets interrupted by a knock at the door. Frank and Rachel go hide, but sloppily leave some evidence of their being around in plain sight.

Her visitor ends up being Detective Mahoney, who keeps getting the worst end of the stick over on Daredevil and now here. He asks about Russo’s missing journal, clearly suspicious. He then tells a story about a past relationship of his, the moral apparently being that everyone makes terrible decisions from time to time. Eventually, Mahoney leaves, Frank goes to get a shower, and Rachel continues to be snarky.

Russo’s visit continues, and I have to admit, it lasts longer than I thought it would have. Walsh, who Russo is with, is a thoroughly unpleasant, despicable man, with lots of rationalizations and self-justifications. Rachel leaves the apartment, like she’s not supposed to do, and does some research. Now that she has Frank’s name, it’s not that hard to dig up at least some of his past. He’s not subtle, Frank, and got a lot of news stories about him. Rachel’s newest acquaintance talks about the Punisher, his track record, and supposed death. Rachel finds an excuse to take offense and leaves.

Dinah follows up on Frank’s lead, and finds out she’s too late. She gets startled and has a very memorable additional meeting with Detective Mahoney. They argue about what she’s doing, what Russo’s up to, and pretty much everything else. Mahoney actually tries to come to an agreement with her, but she’s not buying. Rachel returns to Madani’s place and asks Frank about what she’s learned. He is quiet, but answers her questions as best he can. She agrees not to run off again, and they seem to be actually building a bond between them.

Doctor Dumont is having a quiet night at home, but you know that’s not going to last on a show like this. Russo turns up at her place, which is a telling lapse on her part, letting him know where she lives. She lets him in, and he endures a few flashbacks, telling her about his past and what he feels he’s lost. She has some interesting, and naïve, ideas about redemption. He talks about what he wants, and wonders if It’s possible. Dumont is quietly reassuring. The scene leaves me with the impression that Billy Russo isn’t the only one in that apartment that needs some counseling.

What I liked: There are no bad performances on this show. Bernthal is fantastic as Frank Castle, and Whigham does a great job as Rachel/Amy. Mahoney and Curtis are trying to hold on to normalcy, but are getting sucked in to the current flowing around Russo and Castle. This episode didn’t have the trademark action and violence associated with the Punisher, but was a good character piece. That can get left out of action shows, so I’m even more impressed they did it. I liked Frank and Rachel’s talk together.

What I didn’t: With her working with dangerous inmates, you’d think Dumont would have been more carefully screened. I’m not sure how much of what she’s managed to keep hidden is really at all practical, or even possible.

It was a good chapter of the story. I’ll give it a 4 out of 5.

 

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