Life is but a carousel, and we the passengers.
I am starting this review by applauding casting director and primetime Emmy winner, Julie Schubert, for ushering in the perfect actor to play the vengeful, poison-tipped, Irish mafia boss, Finn Cooley, played by Tony Curran (DOCTOR WHO, ROOTS, SONS OF ANARCHY.) The once retired mob boss violently rips back the curtain of Hell’s Kitchen to hunt down Frank Castle, after his son is gunned down by the vigilante in classic Punisher style. The opening scene tugs a single thread from your heart before suddenly reeling you back, wide-eyed when Cooley helps the current thug-in-charge see his “point.” A cringe-worthy action setting the tone for the remaining fifty-seven minutes worth of reasons for me to have a new favorite episode. Big props to the sound department, as well, for the spine-tingling realism.
One great homage to the Punisher comic books is the horror-esque scene lighting. It can be observed a few times throughout this episode, the overhead style feeds the fear of the scene and helps Jon Bernthal achieve that ominous, Grim Reaper energy reminiscent of Tim Bradstreet’s 2000-2001 cover artwork for “THE PUNISHER: WELCOME BACK, FRANK.” A great example sits 38-minutes into the episode, during an super-intense moment when…well, you need to see it to feel it. No skipping ahead allowed! The same goes for blinking.
Quick side-note for a head nod at the recurring easter egg of the DAREDEVIL series, Melvin Potter, once again played by actor Matt Gerald. For those unfamiliar with the comic book version of this character, Potter was a talented clothing designer turned criminal whom battled with Daredevil on many occasions before ultimately being forced to make a terminal life-choice. What happens next is worth the read, but I’ll leave the rest up to your terminal decision to imagine the outcome or research it yourself…*wink*. Personally, I hope they choose to pursue at least a third season side-plot for this supporting character. It definitely has potential.
Karen Page, the once average office assistant, has taken her passionate search for the truth to a completely new level. Deborah Ann Woll’s portrayal of the strong-willed Page is another top-notch contributor to the series’ 5-star Netflix rating. Woll’s ability to create subtext in a scene is deafening, whether its increasingly flirtatious small talk with a certain someone’s mild mannered, alter-ego, or the subtle tone of implied suspicion, and certainly during a dramatic combination of the two.
Truth time: everyone needs an occasional good cry, and the most effective ones typically take you by surprise. The writer of this episode, John C. Kelley, started cutting onions with a monologue from the Punisher, about three-quarters through “Penny and Dime”, and the tears I was barely able to fight back were the result. You may be thinking I’m being too dramatic, but I wasn’t the only one affected. After dipping just a toe into the shoes of Frank Castle, Daredevil makes a decision that could change the entire series.