Things are really building to a head for the end of Punisher, both the season and the series. Both Russo and his veterans/robbers, and the Schultzes and their power and influence, are coming to bear on our heroes, who don’t really have a whole lot of resources or allies. Frank’s very good at what he does, but this is a lot coming at him at once. The various factions are most definitely on a “Collision Course.”
Last episode ended with Detective Mahoney deciding he’d had enough of playing by the rules, stealing an ambulance, and cuffing Frank inside it, while a surprised, if not shocked, Madani looked on. Mahoney screams through the streets, sirens blaring, trying to warn his precinct he’s coming, and getting a lot of static from the dispatcher about what he’s doing. Frank is calm, pragmatic, and unflappable, which messes with Mahoney’s head. It’s a great scene between the two of them. Madani calls and tries to get Mahoney to listen to him, but he responds with threats of arrest later on. Things take a turn when Pilgrim shows up and starts strafing and bumping the ambulance. Mahoney refuses to uncuff Frank, and there’s a huge traffic accident including something improbable for the ambulance. Madani shows up and backs Pilgrim off, but there’s a lot of chaos on the scene.
Castle and Mahoney have both looked better, and Mahoney is only semi-conscious. Frank frees himself, does some remarkably painful sounding first aid, and then sees Mahoney’s in serious trouble. To no one’s surprise but Mahoney’s, Frank goes back for him and gets him out. Mahoney pulls his gun on Frank, but Frank just walks away and Mahoney, not being on the dark side, won’t shoot a man in the back, especially one that just saved his life. Pilgrim makes his escape, followed by Madani. They don’t run into each other, but Pilgrim does scare the hell out of some neighborhood kids.
There’s some trouble in paradise as Russo sees the news, and isn’t pleased Dumont hid the latest developments from him. They argue a bit, and Russo makes a surprising decision. It’s a potential happy ending for bad guys when the Punisher is involved, so you know that’s not going to go to plan. Back at the crash, Madani talks to Mahoney, and the detective tries to wrap his head around the moral obstacle course that is dealing with Frank Castle. There are some great lines here, and Madani sees the situation, and Frank, clearly. The strain is getting to Dumont, who calls to notionally check on Madani, but does it badly and asks a lot of questions about Frank. By the end of the call, Madani is rightfully suspicious.
Having had enough, Castle takes advantage of his stolen uniform and the sheer size of the NYPD to get some information he needs. Ignoring the stares from people, Frank goes to confront Senator David Shultz, the man whose political career is the reason for a good bit of the death and disaster this season. David, as far as we can see, is genuinely ignorant about everything his parents have been doing, and is shocked to be attacked in his own home by a madman making strange claims. Elsewhere, Pilgrim takes advantage of some of the things he stole to get back to the trailer, catching a surprised Curtis off guard. The strange holy warrior demands to know how Curtis knows Madani, and Curtis spins an entertaining answer. We get some interesting insight into Pilgrim’s mind with his next little speech. He’s definitely a violent man, but a bad one? I think that’s a matter of perspective at this point. The strange impasse gets broken when Amy arrives, deliriously happy about Frank being free, and walks into the middle of the standoff. Things degenerate into a lot of shooting and missing and eventually ugly brawling, as Curtis buys time for Amy to get away. She does, and Pilgrim prevails, although not easily or quickly.
There’s a very interesting shift in attitude from Russo when he goes to meet up with his band of gun-dogs. They are upset and want payback on Castle for the ones he killed in the big fight. Russo listens, and actually tries to talk them down. He’s being pragmatic, and making a lot of sense, and lays out the way things are for the guys. Russo gives them their money, an extra gift, and some good advice before leaving in clearly a good mood. This is the Russo that was a good solider, leader, and friend to Frank and Curtis. As this goes on, Castle makes it back home, finding the aftermath of the chaos. I don’t think anyone’s going to be using this trailer again after all this. Castle checks on Curtis, very worried, and then surprises the poor wounded man by dragging in his prisoner, David Schultz. Curtis is stunned, and Frank starts demanding answers from the captive Senator. Once again, David insists he knows nothing, and I believe him.
Looking like he really should be lying down, or in a hospital, Pilgrim gets back to his hotel room and begins treating his various wounds. We see he has an unexpected hitchhiker, who is going to take matters in hand. In the trailer, David is completely confused by everything going on, and eventually manages to convince Curtis and Frank of his ignorance. Frank, far from stupid, puts together the next most likely scenario, which horrifies David. While the game of cat and mouse continues with Pilgrim, a somewhat similar scene plays out at Dumont’s place. Madani has come by to check on the doctor, and they verbally fence a bit, Madani picking up clues as she looks around. Dumont isn’t quite as clever as she likes to think she is.
Out on the street, Russo stops to do something sweet, so you can be pretty sure something bad is coming. In the apartment, Madani gathers a bit more information and starts boxing Dumont in. Civility and evasion start wearing thin as Madani finally finds proof that Dumont is working with Russo. Things turn ugly and brutal as a battle rages through the apartment, Dumont gaining an early upper hand with a surprise stabbing. Both of them fight like hell, and it’s hard on everything around them, as well as each other. The fight comes to a dramatic conclusion, which Russo gets back just in time to see the end of. The finale is going to be ugly on a lot of fronts.
What I liked: The violence on this show is brutal and realistic, not glorified and prettied up. Everyone who fights gets hurt, and they feel it later, and it takes a toll on most people, Frank and Russo apparently excepted. It’s a good, realistic touch, and I’m glad they do it. Frank, now that he’s back to himself, is the usual unstoppable force, but with morals, unlike Russo. His saving Mahoney was perfect, and poor Mahoney’s reactions to all this have been great. He’s like the token normal in the sea of chaos around him. Madani isn’t part of the main action, but she’s following through on her only lead. David being clueless was a believable, even tragic, part of all this.
What I didn’t: Pilgrim is starting to seem a bit overly unstoppable at times. Then again, so is Frank, so I guess it evens out. Amy isn’t being smart, but I get it. Dumont is just plain wrong on every level. I almost feel bad for Russo, which is a testament to impressive writing and acting.
They did a great job of setting up for an action packed ending. I’m giving this a 4 out of 5, and betting the finale is going to be damn impressive.