If the premiere of The Punisher was our introduction to Frank Castle, then “Two Dead Men” broadens that introduction to include the larger government mystery/conspiracy surrounding Frank. Forces within and outside the government want answers, and so does Frank. Is our government still the same one that, as Frank’s daughter states in flashback, “represents everything good about America?” And who is this mystery man that knows Frank is still alive?
Let’s talk more about episode 2, “Dead Men Walking.”
(Warning: contains spoilers.)
1. Cover Blown
Hipster breakfast interrupted by a phone call that very much unnerves Frank: someone named “Micro” knows he’s alive. And that shakes Frank to his core. It’s not his counselor, and it’s not his reporter friend Karen Page (Daredevil Easter egg!) though she promises to dig deeper into this mystery. Turns out “Micro” is an NSA source who sold the Bulletin a story on leaked government secrets (shades of Wikileaks, anyone?), but the government (specifically Homeland Security agent Carson Wolf) shut down the story under the claims that it would interfere with their own investigation. Frank’s not the only one living a double life.
2. Not So Micro News
We find out soon enough Micro has a name: David Lieberman. (Ironically, the name of someone I also went to high school with. Hey Dave, if you’re reading this, got something you want to tell me?) Like Frank he’s also presumed dead; shot while evading arrest but far from actually dead. Dave’s holed up in what looks like a basement security bunker keeping tabs on his family with some creepy cameras, and isn’t too happy when a driveway accident brings Frank and his wife Sarah into contact.
3. Hipster Be Gone
After one too many hipster jokes, Frank finally cuts off the Josh Groban hair and beard. Is this a smart move? It certainly provided him with an easy disguise . . . .
4. Ain’t That a Kick in the Head?
Literally and figuratively. Frank’s off on a punching and kicking spree, with first victim being Mr. Wolf, hoping to start down that path of Getting Answers. This is probably the fairest fight we’re going to see in the entire series, with both men trained by the federal government — and not just in physical combat, but mental as well. Frank taunts Carson with the fact that hey, he knows a thing or two about torture too, and Carson taunts Frank with promises that he’ll see his family again. In the midst of this battle of wits, the nugget of information comes out: Frank and Micro’s deaths were cover-ups for each other’s actions. Carson thought Frank gave Micro the video of Zubahir’s torture, but when that turned out not to be the case, Carson had Frank killed along with David. The one who ends up truly dead in the end? Carson, a victim of a broken neck.
5. Dead Men Meeting
Doesn’t look or sound like Frank and David are going to be besties just yet, as Frank nastily put it “you wanted to play Deep Throat.” With the information Frank has on David, Frank’s now calling the shots, and in a mirror to the opening scene of the episode with Frank running around looking for his mystery caller, Frank now sends David on a longer wild goose chase throughout New York City, ending with a warning from Curtis (the military counselor) for David to leave Frank alone. But we all know Frank can’t leave well enough alone, and we end with Lieberman getting a dose of the Frank Castle treatment — right to his face.