There have been a lot of wild developments this season of Punisher, and last episode pushed several of them to the breaking point. Dumont had a long talk with Madani, and used it to get a clearer picture of what drove Frank Castle. Once she had that, she told Russo the best way to break Castle, which he set in motion at the end of the episode, to devastating effect, shocking Frank so badly he let himself get captured by the police. This episode deals with the aftermath, and sees the return of an old friend, in “The Abyss.”
After the beating Russo’s crew put on him, Frank is in really bad shape. The ambulance rushes him to the hospital, Detective Mahoney right there to make sure the vigilante doesn’t slip through his fingers again. The EMT and Mahoney exchange words about Frank’s condition, and it’s really not looking good for the main character here. Amy is back at the trailer, gun in hand, worried, when Curtis announces himself, returning with the large rifle he was using last episode. Amy demands to know where Frank is, and Curtis has trouble explaining, dazed by the toll his own battle took on him. Amy gets some information from a convenient newscast (Plot Point Radio, Mystery Science Theater 3000 calls it), and demands they go help their friend. Curtis, in shock, declines, and goes to take care of himself as best he can.
Elsewhere, Pilgrim is lying in bed, recovering from his own, very different, rough night. He ignores the phone and the message light on it, staring at a picture of his wife and having a flashback of the last time he saw her. Finally, he rouses himself enough to call home, where Eliza answers, tells him his wife can’t come to the phone right now, and urges him to complete his mission. As she hangs up, we see what she’s not telling him. At the hospital, Frank gets a visitor in the form of Karen Page, playing her connection to the Nelson and Murdock office (I guess they didn’t change the name yet, as they said at the end of Daredevil season three) to get in to see him. After she bluffs past the officer guarding the room, she sits, looking at the battered man in the bed, unconscious.
Curtis gets out of the shower to see that Amy’s gone now, and just shakes his head. The poor corpsman is done for now, and just can’t handle any more. At the hospital, Frank wakes up, groggy and confused, especially when he registers Karen is there. He keeps having flashbacks to the women he supposedly killed, and he’s having a seriously hard time dealing with it. Madani shows up at the crime scene, and Mahoney lays into her about her earlier defense of Frank and his code. We get a bit more of an understanding how Frank survived his ordeal in the passage under the stronghold, and Mahoney tells her about the innocent victims. The bodies are gone, but Madani looks at the scene and starts to wonder about what she’s being told. They wrangle back and forth over details, and Mahoney finally agrees to let her in to see Frank. The man himself is having flashbacks to Maria and his kids, and Karen is still there, sitting at his bedside. Distraught, Frank recounts one of his last conversations with Maria, and some more details about the deaths of his kids. It’s heartbreaking to listen to, and Russo and Dumont’s plan to break the Punisher has clearly worked.
The unexpected visitors keep coming as Amy manages to slip inside the hospital, steal enough things to make her con believable, and bluffs her way inside Frank’s room. There’s a very amusing moment of mutual confusion when Amy and Karen meet, each trying to size the other up. Amy wants to try some kind of rescue, but Frank isn’t cooperating, sunk in misery and despair. Frank, Amy, and Karen are still debating what to do next when Madani arrives, takes in the scene, and shakes her head. Amy refuses to give up, and does her best to talk Madani into helping, as a somewhat lost Karen looks on. The debate gets interrupted when Russo calls Madani to gloat. He gets in some ugly boasting when Madani puts him on speaker, and Frank shows a faint shadow of his old self in response. When Russo finally hangs up, Dumont is right there, smiling. This woman is seriously twisted. Russo isn’t as thrilled as Dumont wanted him to be, which puts a damper on her own celebration. Their conversation about what happened shows just how dark and wrong Dumont is. They talk about the future of their relationship, and the two of them together really sicken me. I guess there really is someone for everyone.
With a smile and some small talk, Amy gets out of the room the same way she got in. Karen and Madani talk over the mess Frank is in, and try and figure out what to do next. Madani is a bit hesitant to follow up on her musings, but Karen pushes her to, a loyal friend and ally of Frank’s. We’ve already seen that Karen has some interesting connections here and there, and she uses those to help Madani. Bad news comes to Pilgrim in the form of Eliza Schultz, telling him about developments back home. We get to meet Karen’s odd contact, and she strikes a deal with him to get Madani access to the bodies of the women Frank supposedly shot. What they learn makes it clear Frank wasn’t responsible for these deaths. Karen’s contact goes on about his own problems as the two women leave to bring this information to Frank. Dumont and Russo talk more, and he points out the one-sided nature of some of their relationship. She has his files, police reports, and interviews, while he knows so little about her. He finally persuades her to open up, and we learn the story behind the scars Dumont has. It’s not a pretty story, but it explains a lot.
There are a lot of highly skilled people on this show, and Eliza is certainly one of them. She doesn’t miss a chance to guide Pilgrim towards what she thinks he should be feeling to be of the most use to her family. She could give Dumont a run for her money. Sometimes it’s the innocent that suffer; in this case, Pilgrim completely trashes his hotel room. They’re not getting the security deposit back on this one. Some of the complications Amy was worried about start cropping up at the hospital, as a crooked cop decides to make a play for the bounty on Frank. Castle isn’t really resisting, but that’s ok, because Amy returns, fighting for his life with the would-be killer. Seeing Amy in danger gets Frank out of his funk, although he can’t do anything, being shackled to the bed. There’s a last-minute rescue thanks to Madani and Karen getting back from the morgue. Amy vents her fury on both the downed cop and Frank, raging at him for nearly giving up. Karen shares their news from the morgue. The room devolves into general chaos and argument until Frank asks for a moment alone with Karen. He asks her about her situation with Matt Murdock, and implores her not to screw up a good thing over him. They talk things over, and Frank tells her a small bit about the trouble Amy is in, and tells Karen she needs to get away from this mess.
Between them, the group forms an escape plan, which at least has simplicity going for it. Karen does one last thing on her way out, confusing everyone there, especially the just-arrived Detective Mahoney. The man is smart, if not aware of everything going on, and figures out what Madani and company are up to. After a confused meeting with Karen, he catches up with Frank and Madani down in the ambulance bay. Even a straight arrow like Mahoney can be pushed too far, and the detective does something utterly unexpected to end the episode, after throwing some threats Madani’s way.
What I liked: I’m glad Karen came back. She worked well with the group once the initial confusion got sorted out. Amy’s attempt to get Frank out was touching. I hate what they did, but Dumont and Russo set Castle up wonderfully well. Eliza is similarly evilly skilled. I really do feel bad for Mahoney in all this. Frank’s talk with Karen was really well done. Curtis being shell-shocked and out of it made complete sense.
What I didn’t: The more I learn about Dumont, the more she shouldn’t have a security clearance. She really must have fooled a lot of people to get to where she was when all this started. The team looking after Frank didn’t do such a good job.
This was a really well done episode, which they all have been. The action was light on this one, but what there was, was important. I’ll give this a 4 out of 5.