The Punisher season 2 is now live on Netflix, dishing out another baker’s dozen of pulpy, ultra-violent episodes centred around the exploits of eternally angry war veteran Frank Castle. With the show’s future in question in the wake of Daredevil, Iron Fist, and Luke Cage’s cancellation, this particular chapter in the Marvel/Netflix universe isn’t quite so enthusiastic to foreshadow anything beyond its isolated story, refusing to even leave us with a single post-credits cliffhanger, but its not without its loose threads.
For one thing, viewers are left with some major unanswered questions that we’re still thinking about even after reaching the cataclysmic finale. With that in mind, I’m running down our five biggest head scratchers from The Punisher season 2 right here, with full spoilers for the show included beyond this point. You have been warned.
1. Is Jigsaw definitely dead?
Those unfamiliar with Billy Russo’s comic book incarnation are probably wondering why I’d even bother asking this question after the events of season 2. The man got shot four times in the chest at point blank range, first by Dinah, then by Frank himself, so of course he’s dead… right? WRONG. Jigsaw has been known to cheat death more than once in The Punisher source material, most notably after being resurrected by another Marvel supervillain known as The Rev.
Heck, Ben Barnes’ on-screen character came out of his last near fatal run in with Frank as though it were just a flesh wound, so who’s to say a few pieces of jacketed lead to the vital organs are going to stop him? The character could come back for The Punisher season 3 looking and feeling even more messed up than ever, though the idea of another Billy Russo arc doesn’t inspire much excitement at this point. I’m hoping that this particular villain stays down for good this time, then, but a surprise twist revival for a potential third season isn’t out of the question.
2. What exactly is Frank’s new job?
By the end of The Punisher season 2, Frank has dealt with his enemies, saved his loved ones, and finally come to terms with his identity as a vigilante mass murderer. A few months after killing Jigsaw and the Schultz family, we find him back on the road again, only this time, he’s not schmoozing bar waitresses. On a call to Dinah, he refuses an offer to work as a hitman for the CIA, telling her that he “already has a job” before walking in on what appears to be drug deal, decked out in full Punisher gear, and firing two semi automatic rifles into the gang of bewildered criminals.
So Frank is officially The Punisher now, but is that really a job? Who’s paying him? Why did he accept it after all this time? And does the position come with dental coverage? It’s a great scene to end on for a season all about accepting one’s identity, but the details surrounding this time jump aren’t exactly clear. Any future Punisher outings ought to clarify what exactly went down between Frank saying his goodbyes to Amy and travelling across America to mow down whoever he fancies.
3. What happened to Beth?
For all its strengths, The Punisher season 2 is inconsistent, at best, in its treatment of female characters. Aside from the whole fridging complex going on with both Frank and secondary villain John Pilgrim, new love interest Beth (sorry, Karen fans) quickly becomes one of the show’s most interesting characters from episode one, before being completely ignored for the rest of the season. It’s such a strange, unexplained twist, that it makes me wonder whether there was some behind-the-scenes complications that meant actress Alexa Davalos couldn’t come back after her first few tapings, as she doesn’t even return for a reunion with Frank in the finale.
It’s made even weirder by the fact that the first episode spends almost all of its runtime developing Beth’s character, backstory, and relationship with Frank, which fizzles with chemistry, so you’d assume she’d be a mainstay for the rest of the season. Sure, she gets shot during the premiere’s climactic bar brawl, but the last we see of Beth is her under interrogation by Pilgrim while recovering in hospital. Does she just continue to live her life as if Frank never entered it? Does Frank himself never attempt to reach out to her again? Why even bother to show that she has a son if it adds nothing of value to the stakes? It’s all very confusing.
4. Where was Micro?
Another notable absence from The Punisher season 2 is Micro, aka David Lieberman, former CIA super hacker and Frank’s partner in crime during his assault on the military-industrial complex in the events of the last season. The pair developed a uniquely testy rapport during The Punisher season one that I was hoping to see more of this season, but Micro neither appears nor is he even referred to in a single episode by Frank or anyone else.
We assume he’s still living at home in New York as a free man following the season one finale, so wouldn’t he want to reach out to Frank once his face is back all over the local news? Perhaps actor Ebon Moss-Bachrach wasn’t available, but even a passing mention to his current state of affairs, explaining why he’s a no show this season, would have been appreciated.
5. Will The Punisher return?
This is the big question that’s naturally been on everybody’s mind in the lead up to season 2. Over the course of the last few months, Netflix has cancelled almost all of its Marvel shows shortly following the debut of their new seasons, and the same is expected for both The Punisher and Jessica Jones season 3 as Marvel makes the move to a new streaming service with Disney+. It’s hard to imagine a show as violent and dark as The Punisher finding a home on the streaming equivalent of the Disney channel, making it very likely that John Bernthal’s second season as Frank Castle could well be his last.
Even Karen Page’s Deborah Ann Woll has said that her cameo in season 2 is almost definitely the final time she’ll be playing that character, which doesn’t bode well for the prospects of a Punisher season 3. That’s not to say that Frank Castle and The Defenders couldn’t make an appearance in future Avengers movies, but the fact that the show makes not a single reference to the wider MCU implies the two superhero pillars are as good as two separate entities at this point.