Liam Hoofe reviews the tenth episode of Marvel’s The Punisher…
Over the last few episodes of The Punisher, one character, in particular, has been brought to the forefront of the show – former US Marine Lewis. Lewis’ tale has been a tragic one, and it comes to an equally dramatic end in the 10th episode of series ‘Virtue of the Vicious’.
‘Virtue of the Vicious’ utilises two age-old narrative tricks, to varying degrees of effect. Firstly, it takes place in a single location – a hotel in New York. Secondly, it uses time jumps to tell the same story from multiple points of view. The first of these decisions is great, it makes the episode feel unique and plants the focus firmly on the day’s events and gives us a break from the bigger, over-arching story. The second, the decision to have multiple takes of the story, is rewarding, but somewhat inconsistent.
Lewis’ storyline has been one of the most intriguing, and harrowing aspects of the show to this point. Watching him slowly convince himself he is justified in his actions has been difficult to watch, and watching him struggle to cope in a world without war has been even more challenging. Daniel Webber, who plays Lewis deserves a lot of credit for his work here, as do the show’s writer.
It’s a shame, then, that the show decided to conclude Lewis’ story without ever really focusing on him in the episode. He was present in all versions of the story but the episode never felt like it was about him. Seeing him blow himself up at the end was a tragic moment, and Frank encouraging him to do it, not because he wanted him dead, but because he understood his pain, was one of the episode’s more poignant moments but I can’t help feeling they missed a trick here. Lewis’ relationship with his father was one of the most powerful things about the season and it feels as though they just decided to sweep it under the rug, even having him just phone Lewis could have added a really powerful moment to the episode. Killing Lewis off, though, does confirm that Frank is headed for a showdown with Billy, whose real motives he discover this episode.
The show got away with the narrative device mostly because every character in the show is well-developed, even Madani, who started off slowly, has grown a lot since the death of her partner, so spending time with any of them is never a hardship. Now that Billy’s motivations are out in the open, though, things look to be getting pretty interesting heading into the home straight. Karen was utilised nicely here as well, and I’m really enjoying her and Frank’s relationship.
The gun-control stuff did rear its head again this episode, though, thankfully, it didn’t seem as central to the plot as it was in the previous one. The show has done an excellent job of tackling PTSD, there was no real need to bring this into the fray as well.
The hotel setting I mentioned before, though, really benefitted the show. The episode felt like a video game, or a 90’s action flick, and while it took a while to get Frank properly into the mix, it was great watching him work his way around the hotel in a quest to both survive and evade capture.
‘Virtue of the Vicious’ was another adrenaline-filled episode, one that really made the most of its one setting narrative device. The time jump device wasn’t a terrible idea, it just felt like more of a missed opportunity. Lewis will no doubt be missed going forward but at least now we can buckle up for the inevitable showdown between Billy and Frank.
What did you think of the episode? Let us know in the comments below, and let Liam know on Twitter @liamhoofe