Punisher: My Brother’s Keeper

Brother

Rush hour traffic is murder. 

The Russo plotline has been getting a bit more attention the last few episodes than the mess with Amy being hunted by the Schultz family. Last episode ended with a burst of gunfire as Castle and Curtis went after Russo and his gang of dangerous vets. “My Brother’s Keeper” starts where that ended, with lead flying and Russo finally learning what’s behind the symbol that’s been haunting his dreams for months.

Russo flees the scene of the armed robbery, shuddering with flashbacks and nightmare images. Castle is having problems from the sniper Russo cleverly positioned to keep an eye on the robbery. Fortunately, for once Frank isn’t working alone, and Curtis manages to take the sniper out of the fight. Castle and Russo confront each other with shouts and gunfire. Russo, still not remembering what happened, is enraged that, from his perspective, Frank betrayed him. We already know Frank’s mad at Russo, and the fight is fierce, if brief. The cops arrive, adding more confusion, and there’s a lot more shooting. Russo gets a ride from one of his gang, and Frank takes off running, which Mahoney sees. Because of course Mahoney is here, somehow. Mahoney actually catches up with Frank, not happy to see him. He’s even less happy when his arrest of the Punisher gets interrupted by Curtis turning up and covering Frank’s escape. Castle tells Mahoney he’s after the wrong guy before making his exit.

Russo’s gang regroups at the warehouse, and there are some disagreements about how things are being handled. Russo settles them before walking out on them. This scene does have the only Jigsaw reference I can recall, which is the character Russo is loosely based on. Curtis is pissed about the turn of events, and his actually pulling a weapon on the NYPD. Frank tries to dismiss the other man’s concerns, and Curtis explains that people actually care about him. Frank is distracted from the argument by realizing that Russo really doesn’t remember what happened, and his own surprise that he hesitated to take the shot and end Russo. They leave before the police find them.

A shaken Russo makes his way back to Dumont’s place, and she isn’t very keen on letting him back in. He pleads, and she finally relents, still not happy with him. Some of her anger gets defused when she sees what a mess he is now. He babbles about his confrontation with Frank and his breakthrough about his dreams. On his knees, he tells her he has nowhere else to go and needs her. The fact that she reacts to this with a smile says a lot about her mental state, and none of it’s good. Amy practices with the shotgun Frank left her while Curtis dodges cops and texts a bit with his girlfriend.

Apparently the gang’s warehouse wasn’t as isolated as they thought, because Mahoney is on scene with a forensic crew, working the aftermath of Russo’s management techniques. Mahoney starts to put a few pieces of the puzzle together, but misses that he’s being watched. Frank lurks in the rafters, overhears what he can, and rejoins Curtis. Curtis isn’t happy about any of this and wants to get back to his life. They go back to the trailer and Amy tries to put one of the things Frank taught her to the test. It doesn’t go well, but it’s very interesting how it doesn’t go well. Normally in this kind of situation, Frank deals with it and there’s no real emotion involved. Here, he’s furious, screaming at Amy. Neither one of them are in a position to appreciate it, but there’s a lot of feeling there on Frank’s part, and that’s a rare thing. In the wake of this emotional storm, Frank and Curtis go out again, leaving a very upset Amy behind.

In another round of their intricate and precarious dance, Mahoney comes to see Madani again. We find out how Mahoney showed up at the gunfight outside the check cashing place so fast, and he presses Madani for some answers. Mahoney complains that Castle hit him in the head and took his gun. With a sort of weary smile, Madani shares that that’s what happened the first time she met Castle. Madani defends Frank, saying he has a code and would never kill a cop. Mahoney doesn’t believe her, and from his point of view, I can understand that. Mahoney takes out some of his frustrations on Madani, and she explains that she used to be a lot like him. If they could ever get past all this, I could see these two being friends. Mahoney makes a very practical demand about what he wants, asks about “Castle’s black friend,” and then threatens Madani with arrest on the way out.

Russo talks about Frank with Dumont, still only remembering their friendship and service together. It must be a really jarring, wrenching experience for him, not having any idea why Frank’s after him, or why he shot Curtis, for that matter. Dumont gives Russo some interesting advice, and talks about her aversion to beginnings. It’s a really odd conversation. That woman might need more help than anyone else on this show, and that says something. Castle gets very persuasive with Jake, their prisoner, about what Russo is doing next, and Curtis can’t take it anymore. Russo and Dumont have an argument, and her calming techniques don’t go so well this time around. Even as Russo is having a tantrum and psychologically torturing her, Dumont keeps talking to him, asking what he’s so scared of. They have a very emotional bonding moment at the end of the scene. That is one relationship there’s not enough couples’ counseling in the world for.

Back at the trailer, there’s a complicated scene with several bits of stupid mistake crashing into each other. Amy has her earbuds in, which is not a good idea when several powerful people are trying to kill you. Curtis was never told about the signal Frank and Amy set up, and there’s almost a tragic result. In the aftermath, a remarkably calm Amy makes an offer and gives a warning in nearly the same breath. Russo links back up with his men and gives them the cash. As they celebrate, he calls it scraps, and asks if they don’t want more. Russo spins out his idea for them, and the man is persuasive, I have to give him that much. The scariest part of this, to me, is how believable this is. Curtis and Amy share a meal and talk about Frank. Curtis explains a bit about why he is the way he is, and Amy makes some good deductions about Frank and Russo. Their oddly domestic scene gets interrupted when Madani shows up, and watching her try and adapt to what’s going on in very entertaining. Madani tells them how she found them, and Amy is annoyed at Curtis’ slip up, taking care of it as Madani tells Curtis about Mahoney asking about him. The show ends with some switches back and forth between Madani, Curtis, and Amy talking, Russo riling up his troops, and Frank seeking some advice and solace the only place he’d turn at this point.

What I liked: The scene with Frank raging at Amy is really significant, and Curtis is the only one who really appreciates that so far. That makes a lot of sense and is done well. Curtis wanting to get back to his life is one of the simplest wants of any big character in the show, and it could happen if he walked away, which he won’t. I admire Mahoney’s dogged pursuit, and understand his point of view on Frank. I feel bad for Madani in all this, and even a bit for Russo, which is amazing and shows some fantastic acting and writing.
What I didn’t: As I said above, it really disturbs me how believable Russo’s plan is, and I’m sort of surprised there haven’t been more things like this in real life. If Dumont is this screwed up, I don’t get how she kept her license, practice, and whatever clearances that allow her to deal with dangerous prisoners like Russo.

Another great piece of a story I’m really enjoying. I’ll give this a 4 out of 5.

 

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