Punisher Season Zero

Daredevil-Season-2-Trio-PosterThis weekend I finally finished Punisher Season Zero Daredevil Season Two. It’s a strong follow up to season one, which I’ve previously counted as one of the best comicbook adaptations of all time. I’ve never been a particularly big Daredevil fan, but this incarnation continues to really deliver the goods.

The strongest feature of season two is also the strongest feature of season one. Once again the casting is top notch. Season one brought us Charlie Cox’s Matt Murdock and Vincent D’Onofrio’s Wilson Fisk, two of the best casting choices of this decade. Season two brings us the next amazing casting choice: Jon Bernthal’s Frank Castle.

As you might have figured out from my introduction, The Punisher plays such a huge role in this season that it could almost be viewed as the first season of his own show. This is a wonderful thing. In fact, it’s one of the strongest parts of this season. Unlike Daredevil, I was a massive Punisher fan in my high school years. For the first time, a live action really does the character justice.

Unfortunately the season also has some weaknesses. The two major plot threads – the Punisher thread and the Elektra thread – don’t weave together very well. It’s almost like the show is just telling two completely separate stories this season – except that they kind of sort of meet at the very end when the Punisher shows up to just barely help out Daredevil in the final showdown.

Furthermore, the show sets Matt Murdock into relationship turmoil, showcasing his relationship with Elektra while also trying to showcase a relationship with Karen Page. Both stories are strong. But the show kind of jumps from one relationship to another without much coherency. First he’s with Page. Then Elektra shows up, and Page kind of disappears off his radar sense – but he doesn’t actually want a relationship with her (for good reason: she’s damaged goods). Then, almost inexplicably, he seems to forget all about how he left things with Page and he wants to run away with Elektra. Then when that doesn’t work out, he turns around on a dime and wants to be with Page again.

This does not make Matt Murdoch very sympathetic.

In fact, that’s probably the single biggest weakness of the series. Daredevil himself simply doesn’t feel like the main character here. Most of the season involves stuff happening around him or stuff happening to him, but not much of him actually doing things.

The other unfortunate weakness: seeing the Punisher realized this well makes me wonder if I’d actually like a true, straight-up Punisher show. His stuff is intense, and pretty dark. I’m not sure I would have actually liked it very much, though, without the trappings of a lighter character to wrap it in. And given that Daredevil isn’t particularly light, that says something.

All in all, though, it was a strong season. I’d give it four out of five stars and I could easily sit through it again.

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