The Punisher's Song of Evangelion and I Must Scream: Season 1, Episode 1. Pilot episode, followed by Wangst For The Memories.
The premiere of controversial (the primary controversy being whether it was merely the worst show ever broadcast on television, or actually the single worst creation of humanity) Avatar and the Airbending Fellowship of Vampire Slayers spinoff The Punisher's Song Of Evangelion And I Must Scream was met with a mixed response: critics loved it for making them hate themselves, and everyone else wanted to see the people behind it get fired, exiled from any and all countries which could be contacted, and possibly killed violently by a mob of vigilantes.
The creators smiled, and congratulated each other on a classic. Then, they went back to scheming how to get the next episode aired against the network's better judgment, thus establishing a trend which continues to this day.
The episode begins with the cheerful and cleanly shot credits, which draw almost all of their shots from the episode of AATAFOVS episode which introduced the world to Johnny W. Punisher. The show then recaps the last few minutes of that episode, ending with Johnny walking away heroically into the sunset.
And then, of course, he wakes up. Not in a bed, of course (later episodes would reveal that he actually sleeps on a pile of broken wood from the shattered coffins of vampires he killed), but strapped to a chair, being fed through a tube, being forced to watch a constantly-flashing screen in front of him.
(Interestingly, what is actually on the screen is never shown to the audience, but the fandom widely assumes it to be episodes of the parent show, thus causing a lot of nasty comments along the lines of "AATAFOVS is so bad, it almost broke Johnny W. Punisher's will to live!" - such conversations generally only go downhill after that.)
Johhny suffers through a few more minutes of painful-looking TV watching. Eventually, he shouts out to his captors, calling them weak for needing to go through all of this - didn't their mothers ever tell them the real way to torture someone? An artificial voice admits "A sound assessment," at which point a tall, blond man enters the room and unceremoniously rips off Johnny's right arm. Johnny just smiles. The man says, "Ah, you are tolerating the pain well. No doubt you will soon begin to see the error of your ways." "All I see," answers Punisher, "is a flaw in your restraints." In one smooth motion, he gets out of the chair, knocks the man to the ground, and punches him in the stomach so hard that blood shoots out his mouth. "They're shorted out by blood," he explains.
"Wait," says the man. "This isn't what you think! I didn't want to keep you here, I just work at the place! This is really a law firm, and with the the number of crimes you've caused and committed, giving you a little rehab was just good business! Oh God, please I have a family, and I was going to get my son a puppy for his birthday this week, and I really don't want to die!"
"Sorry," says Johnny, "But you got the wrong guy. See, I'm not God. In fact..." he adds, as he wrenches a sharp-looking piece of machinery free with his one good arm, "I don't even like Him."
What follows is five minutes of something which can only be described as "unsuitable for unaccompanied minors."
Once he is finished explaining his position on every noteworthy social virtue (against) to the increasingly insensate form of the guard, he leaves the cell and literally tears through twenty guards before learning that they had no idea he was being held here, and this is really just the basement of an expensive law firm. Punisher answers, "Well, I always did hate lawyers," and proceeds to kill dozens more. Eventually, he makes his way up to the top floor, where two men in elegant suits are waiting. Johnny attacks them without hesitation, with a Thompson submachine gun in each hand. However, these two suited men stop him cold, and explain that they are Heath Edger and Vladimir Darkier, attorneys. "Well," says Johnny, "I always did h-" He is then cut off by Edger ramming a pencil into his eye.
Another fight breaks out, and this time Johnny has the upper hand. With his Thompson aimed menacingly at the two lawyers, he issues an ultimatum : "Each second I have to wait for you to tell me why you grabbed me is one more hour of pain by which I'll prolong your lives." He doesn't even count to one before Darkier answers "We want you to kill things, of course." "Congratulations," says Johnny, "I'm about to." "Ah," says Edger, "But wouldn't you rather kill someone a little more personal? We know a lot - really, more than anyone - about you you. More than you did even before we wiped out half your memories. Do you want to kill us, or," he pauses dramatically to lick his lips and press a switch which opens a wall safe, revealing thousands of hundred dollar bills, "get paid vast sums of money to kill your superheroic ninja father, who has grown quite troublesome with all the cybernetic upgrades and psionic poweres?"
Johnny thinks about that for a second, before announcing that he doesn't believe any such person exists, but is certain he can cut up Edger piece by piece. "Indupitably," remarks Darkier with a significant look over Punisher's shoulder, "But that would probably make her angry." Following the lawyer's gaze, he turns just in time to see a fist collide with his face. In the resulting fast-paced combat scene, in which both combatants kill (via dismemberment and evisceration, respectively) a group of corporate guards who arrive, the newcomer defeats Johnny. This is made more surprising to everyone but the audience by the fact that she is a young female wearing approximately twenty square inches of black leather, who fought using only a katana in one hand, and a whip in the other. As she stands over Johnny, having tied his arms and holding the sword to his throat, Darkier says, "Incidentally, if you work for us, Baronessy will be your partner."
"Fine," says Johnny, "But you owe me an arm."
After some advertisements from companies which would later offer public apologies for having endorsed the program, we see Johnny in a new, long leather coat and Baronessy leaving the Edger And Darkier building together. "To reach our first target," Baronessy purrs, "We will take the company helicopter to his palatial estate outside of town. It is heavily-guarded, but-"
Johnny cuts her off with a flap of his coat. "Bugger that. Is he on the city electric grid?"
"Yes," answers Baronessy, after a small hesitation.
"Good," says Punisher. "Then I'll crash the helicopter into the power plant. You go get us some weapons, then meet me in half an hour at the Steeple Street bus stop."
"Would that be Steeple and 7th, or - "
"'Would that be Steeple and 7th?'" mimics Johnny in a nasal whine. "No. It would be Steeple and Baker. Why go further west than necessary? Idiocy." With that, he tosses his coat dramatically and dashes to the chopper.
"What an asshole," Baronessy breathes, and departs.
~One hideously expensive CGI sequence of a helicopter destroying a power plant and raining death upon the city later~
Our heroes meet up at Steeple and Baker, and, after an awkward wait, board the next bus. No sooner does it reach its next stop, however, than a man carrying an Uzi and wearing an explosive vest, with detonator in hand, gets on. He grabs the woman who was paying her fare, and shouts, in a comically thick French accent,
"Nobeddy mooves - or sis femme shzall zoon arrife in l'enfer! Sis boos is going to..."
[An abrubt cut to the hijacker's watery blue eyes]
At the back of the bus, we see Baronessy looking mildly worried. Next to her, Johnny cracks his knuckles with excitement as he starts to rise...
To Be Continued
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