Frank attempts to deal with Russo’s betrayal. Madani attempts to have someone within the agency pin down Agent Orange. Agent Orange attempts to dig himself out of the hole he’s made. David and Frank have to deal with a kidnapping. Agent Orange figures out who to throw under the bus.
On Marvel’s The Punisher Season 1 Episode 1, “Danger Close,” the truth of Russo and Agent Orange working together creates a new world for Frank, who has to become the Punisher in order to facilitate the change and justice he’s looking for. In desperation, Agent Orange takes drastic measures in order to keep Frank and David under control, and even more so to keep himself out of harm’s way. The episode title is indicative of both sides, the good and bad guys, realizing that the danger surrounding them is too close for comfort.
The music of the show returns, seemingly echoing the inner monologue of a morose Frank as he realizes the hard truth of his reality. Forced to swallow the memories of Russo, to see them in an entirely different light, Frank’s reconciliation of his current life no longer matches up with the world he has come to look back upon. Unlike in the beginning of the season, Frank is no longer isolated against an unknown enemy; despite how much harder it will be to deal with his new reality, he has allies to fight against someone whom he knows very intimately. Frank’s broken reflection while he is talking to David is reflective of his broken reality, the inability to patch things together and to operate in the current world, such as it is. Isolationism has consumed him once again, leaving him bereft of options.
Madani v. Russo
Madani and Russo have an ugly confrontation, leading to a version of slut-shaming by Russo and him using scare tactics in order to try to throw her off the scent of him being the true villain, or at least an asset to the true villain. Madani has some fear tactics of her own, discussing Frank Castle could be waiting for Russo. In the same way, Agent Orange has the same fears of an awaiting Frank Castle. His deeming of Frank as a weapon, one that is no longer useful, indicates the way that government higher-ups feel about the people who serve, those that believe they are doing what is right and are ultimately just being used by government types like Agent Orange.
Frank and David’s argument about valuing a life, about life being about the living, gets pulled into sharper focus when David’s family gets taken by Agent Orange. As the house of cards begins to tumble on Frank and David, they are forced to reconcile their new world, one that is forcing them to separate, for David to step out into the open, and for Frank to come face-to-face with the one-eyed evil he has been chasing.
As with most things in the universe of the Punisher, and perhaps in our own, the higher-ups are all tied together, as the woman being called upon to assist Madani in her quest to apprehend Agent Orange is the very person that Agent Orange previously spoke to and agreed with in order to stop the spread of news from Frank Castle. As usual, the public’s opinion of their organizations come before revealing the truth and punishing those that are guilty. She demands respect of Madani, claiming that everything she has done has been for her country, despite her protecting those that are within the government rather than the citizens that live inside the country itself. Her ideology is to make sure that the best possible outcome is presented to the public, rather than the true one, which does nothing to serve the country.
The Punisher Returns
Reunited with his daughter for the first time, David admits that they’ll see Pete/Frank “very soon”. The immediate juxtaposition of that and then seeing Frank in his Punisher attire indicates that he might not be the same person that David’s daughter Leo looks up to. The sheer violence of the scene, Frank putting a bomb inside a decapitated head, allows for the Punisher to reemerge, his mission of vengeance now clear again, a villain in his sights once more. In order for Frank to exist as the Punisher, he needs to be alone and he needs to have a target, one justifiably evil and one that has wronged Frank or someone he’s close to in some way. Frank’s knowledge of Agent Orange, and now of Russo, creates a clear goal and one that is indisputable to him. Similarly, Russo knowing his plan, knowing that the trap is inlaid in the basement itself, indicates his intimate knowledge of Frank too. The trail of bodies and blood indicates the Punisher’s inevitable return and the promise that Billy Russo and Agent Orange’s time has come to an end.
Frank and Russo’s conversation indicates this same realization, that they both know they will end this together. By using Sarah and Zach as leverage, Russo is able to hold the upper hand against Frank, indicating that there will be no life for either of them if one of them folds. There will be no life for David, as his wife and son will be dead, and there will be no life for Russo if the tape gets released to the media. In the same vein, when Agent Orange meets again with director, who uses Russo’s name as a bargaining chip, one to be used in sacrifice for his own. Russo becomes the main villain in the story to the public, and the agency remains intact.
Dumped on Russo
Madani, Frank, and David become a united front, one team against a governmental one. As Russo inspects the wreckage left behind, the video playing on the screen, there is a glimpse into the future of Russo, which is, to the audience, understandably bleak. Just as Lewis was betrayed by everyone, Russo has had the same treatment. The only question that remains is: will Russo see a similar end as Lewis?
What did you think of Marvel’s The Punisher Season 1 Episode 11? Will Russo learn about Agent Orange’s betrayal? Will the team of Madani, Frank, and David be able to outsmart the government? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.
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