Photo: Marvel’s The Punisher (Netflix)

“Resupply” isn’t a bad episode. It is, however, a slow one. Like, really slow. The episode barely inches the season’s storytelling forward and even the more enjoyable character beats feel like repetition of stuff we’ve already seen. There are three main storylines in this episode, two of which are linked by plot but still wind up feeling like side missions. Frank is in need of an arsenal and since he’ll only steal guns from criminals rather than buy them through the black market, it’s up to Micro to find him a supply to rob. After hacking into Homeland’s computers, Micro finds plans for Sam Stein and Dinah Madani’s upcoming gun sting, thus setting our protagonists and our, well, other protagonists on a collision course (literally). It’s a fine concept and the actual sting operation is enjoyable enough, but the problem is it’s a long, repetitive road to get there.

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Frank and Micro butt heads some more. Frank and Sarah once again see in each the ghost of what they’ve lost, even as Frank is aware that Micro is watching his every move. Madani is again warned to toe the party line, this time by her mentor/Operations Director Rafi Hernandez. And Stein acts bizarrely entitled after having his sloppy work rightfully corrected by his boss. The scenes themselves aren’t terrible to watch (except for Stein’s weird petulance, what was up with that?), but the problem is they mostly just repeat things we’ve already seen without adding anything new to the mix.

“I hate so much about the things that you choose to be.”

Thankfully, there are two big action scenes to spice things up. The episode ends with Frank and Micro crashing the aforementioned gun sting and includes a moment where Frank bursts out of the back of a truck with a flamethrower, which is a cool image. Frank and Madani also face-off in a car chase that uses clever sound design to create a more visceral, grounded effect than the usual high octane movie car chase. But for my money, the best action scene in the episode is the one in which Frank and Micro go to steal a car from a chop shop that’s currently being used as a torture room. It’s as close to a “fun” action scene as this series is likely to offer, and Micro’s presence allows the show to engage in some enjoyable dark comedy, like this exchange:

Micro: “There’s, uh, a dead man in a wheelbarrow out there.”
Frank: “Yeah. I didn’t do that.”

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One thing I really like about Jon Bernthal’s portrayal of Frank Castle is the level of calmness he so frequently injects into his performance, both in Frank’s personality and in his fighting style. When he’s facing off against an equal, like the well-trained Carson Wolf in “Two Dead Men,” Frank is a brutal, scrappy fighter. But when he’s taking on low-level baddies like the chop shop torturers, he’s almost bored by how easy it is to overpower them. That Bernthal doesn’t layer too much cockiness onto that boredom is what sets his Frank Castle apart from other confident movie/TV killers. Taking out random thugs is like the admin of being a hitman and Frank’s disinterest in that admin is both darkly funny and deeply telling, especially when contrasted with Micro’s disgust at the whole thing.

Mustang Frankie, guess you better slow your Mustang down.

The episode’s third storyline is intriguing but largely disconnected from everything else. Still struggling to adjust to civilian life and terrified of the incident in which he almost shot his dad, Lewis has taken to sleeping in a homemade foxhole in his backyard. He quits Curtis’ support group and instead decides that the only way he’ll be happy is if he heads back into combat. So he tries to join Billy Russo’s private military organization Anvil, but those dreams are dashed when Curt warns Billy he doesn’t think Lewis is stable enough for combat.

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The Lewis arc is in danger of coming across as too on-the-nose. But given the very real-world issue of soldiers struggling to transition back into civilian life, I think I’d rather the show tell this story imperfectly than not tell it at all. And if some of the big beats of Lewis’ story are a bit overly dramatic, the details are more compelling. At one point, Lewis lets slip that he wishes he had an obvious battle scar to show from his time overseas. Curtis ties that wish to the idea that Lewis wants visible proof that he’s a war hero, but I think Lewis also wants visible proof that he’s in pain. We live in a culture that doesn’t take mental illness as seriously as physical pain, so although Lewis clearly has some deep mental scars from his time in combat, he doesn’t have any “proof” of the wounds he brought back home with him. I’m very curious to see how Lewis’ arc will eventually tie into Frank’s as I could see the show taking things in a whole bunch of different directions.

“Just call me Shia LaBeouf ‘cause I’m digging holes.”

The episode ends with a major moment in which Frank and Madani finally come face to face as he saves her life by pulling her from a car wreck. But even that feels relatively anticlimactic. After confessing to Wolf’s murder, Frank and Madani quickly part ways to continue down their parallel paths. And while the fact that Madani now knows the Punisher is alive is clearly a major shift for the season, I wish this episode hadn’t taken such a long and winding road to get there.

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Stray observations

  • Rob Morgan’s Turk Barrett is probably my favorite minor recurring player in the Netflix MCU. I enjoy that although killing people at the drop of a hat is Frank’s thing, even he knows to leave Turk alive.
  • Curtis offering Lewis advice on his foxhole rather than his life was a really nice character beat.
  • As far as cheeky sign-offs go, Frank’s “I always buy American” isn’t quite as good as Wolverine’s “I’m Canadian,” but I’ll take it.
  • That being said, I feel like a shiny red Mustang might not be the most inconspicuous getaway care.

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