I won’t give any spoilers or specific plot points, because honestly you can find plenty of those. What I will say is that the show is not easy to watch.
“We don’t get to pick the things that fix us, Red. Make us whole. Make us feel purpose. My moment of clarity came from the strangest of places.”
You might have already heard about The Punisher, the newest Marvel TV Show to hit your Netflix recommended viewing list. There are good reviews and plenty that are less than stellar all over the Internet. Some people feel this is the worst time to release a series based on an incredibly violent, lone ranger type, who pretty much kicks the shit out of someone, shoots, or stabs them in almost every episode. Even when the protagonist manages to not hurt someone, we see another character doing exactly that. Yet to me, this new show boils down to the above quote spoken by Frank Castle himself when he was first introduced to this Marvel universe in the second season of Daredevil.
Where do we find clarity or comfort in the midst of all the devastating acts of violence and hate? It seems impossible to find solace anywhere to be honest. Because, unlike the fictional world of The Punisher, our spirits are constantly struck down by the lack of empathy in the world as well as narratives that only seek to polarize instead of open discussions. It’s easy to point the finger at a TV Show in order to find a culprit for what we can’t understand. But, honestly, I was surprised anyone was offended by the antihero’s tale. How can we claim to find the images or material too graphic, when this is what we live through each day?
We cringe when we watch the reactions of certain military characters of the show when it comes to the country they return to after fighting overseas. I’ve read several reviews claiming that the villains and antagonists are not very believable. But perhaps it’s just hard for us to watch the idealized perfect hero of the American soldier as a human that is capable of breaking under the burden of coming back to civilian life. There are several characters who are dealing in their own way with their new circumstances: some choose to go the route of therapy, others are pushed over the edge by people with specific agendas, and some have brushed their past aside for a fresh start.
I won’t give any spoilers or specific plot points, because honestly you can find plenty of those. What I will say is that the show is not easy to watch. On the one side, it’s a fun ride. I mean, I finished it in two days. It doesn’t take long to get neck-deep in the story, because it’s not unlike the Cold War era films of espionage and intrigue. However, as you start to see the obvious betrayal these characters feel on so many levels, be it family, government, institutions, or even society, you find yourself feeling both sympathetic and almost sorry for how these people have found themselves on this side of misunderstood.
The Punisher is ultimately a tragedy. It’s a tale of the inevitable horror and destruction, both external and interior, that can occur to any person who is abandoned by the world. In fact, for all the spectacle it contains, this show has more to say about the current rampage of violence than any empty speech given by a politician after an awful event. When someone is in a precarious situation, any push or pull can mean the difference between surviving in order to be able to reestablish themselves in society and falling through the cracks that can only lead to some sort of devastation. The show has a point of view, but that doesn’t mean you need to believe it entirely. It’s more of a starting place to begin a conversation that will eventually lead you to your point of view regarding the effects of violence.
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