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Tear Jerker / The Punisher (2017)

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"There are worse things than dying, Bill. I wake up most mornings and I want it. I hope for it."
Frank Castle, "Home"
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In a show like The Punisher (2017) that focuses heavily on loss, there are moments where even grown men will become misty-eyed.


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    In General 
  • The flashbacks to Frank Castle being with his family. Unlike previous incarnations where it is shown or implied that Frank was disconnecting from his family here it is shown that while he did enjoy being a marine he just as much loved being with his wife and children and it makes the fact that he knows he will never be with them again that much harder to watch.
  • Despite Karen Page being a satellite character with limited contribution to the plot, one can tell that Matt's "death" in The Defenders (2017) is underscoring almost every one of her scenes. There's a lot of subtext going on, but Deborah Ann Woll portrays it so subtly that you can tell Matt is on her mind the entire time she is onscreen.

    Episode 1 - "3: 00 am" 
  • As Frank takes out the two Dogs of Hell bikers on an Alabama highway, we see he's keeping a folded photo of his family on the dashboard of the van.
  • The first indications we get of Lewis's upcoming descent, are the broken way he talks about how in spite of fighting for this country, he feels the country doesn't have a place for him.
  • Frank in general in the first half of the episode. He had just wiped out everyone involved in the death of his family (...almost, anyway), and had set his old skull vest on fire. Then, six months later, he becomes a member of a demolition crew...and has no other idea what to do with his life. He vents his rage towards the walls he smashes with his sledgehammer, roaring out as he suffers flashbacks of his family nonstop. Feeling unable to cope, feeling unable to move on. When not a One-Man Army against crime, Frank Castle is simply a stagnantly mourning, broken man. His vigilante alias is all he had left, and he let it burn away to nothing. He's nothing without the Punisher.

    Episode 2 - "Two Dead Men" 
  • The whole first scene where Frank reaches out to Karen to get info on Micro. Her choices of clothing and her uneasiness with giving information to Frank are visible indications of how Matt's "death" is weighing on her.
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    Episode 3 - "Kandahar" 
  • Lewis almost killing his father after waking up from a nightmare. His father tries to reassure him but Lewis just snaps.
  • Frank's fight with the insurgents in the flashback was as brutal as they all get out, but the overall setup showed him not as some battle-lusty war machine, but a man desperate to save his friends that loses himself in animalistic rage. The White Buffalo song in the background doesn't help any.

    Episode 4 - "Resupply" 
  • It's hard not to feel sorry for Lewis, clearly losing it as he's taken to sleeping in a foxhole in his backyard, and getting denied a chance to work at Anvil because Curtis reluctantly informs Russo about Lewis's problems.

    Episode 5 - "Gunner" 
  • Karen's whole "and where does it end, Frank?" discussion with him by the pier. It's pretty clear she doesn't want to see Frank go down the same self-destructive path that as she's seen it, gotten Matt killed.
    • The story that Frank tells Karen about his his son. Frank not only feels he got his family killed being with them but that he failed them as a protector.
    • After telling the story Frank - in not a angry tone but a sad "almost like he’s about to breakdown himself" tone - tells Karen that he has to kill all the people responsible for the death of his family. Frank, as much as he probably wants to, can’t let this go and Karen, for all her protest, knows he can’t.
    • At one con, Jon Bernthal hinted that either this scene or the scene in Karen's apartment had in fact been longer and had them actually discuss Matt's "death", but it was cut for time.
  • Gunner dies alone, because Frank had to abandon him while he tried to get help, but passing out and only barely getting rescued himself by Micro, with Gunner apparently being left behind. The best he can do is have David call the police and tell them where they can find the body.
  • Sarah and the kids waiting for Pete to arrive, unaware of his current predicament. eventually they conclude he's not coming, and the sad expressions on Sarah and Leo are especially hard to watch.

    Episode 6 - "The Judas Goat" 
https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/judas_goat.jpg
Admit it, your face matched his.
  • Frank's fever dream at the beginning of the episode, where he's forced to watch both his and Micro's families get gunned down right in front of him. Jon Bernthal's performances only further emphasizes the serious toll such an event would take on Frank's mental state should it actually occur for real.
  • Lewis gets bailed out by Curtis, who gives him another chance to come back to group meetings and talk through his problems, surrounded by people who want to support him. Instead, he goes to meet O'Connor once again, ignoring the other vets greeting him warmly. It was his last opportunity to try and reenter society and Lewis was too far gone to see it.
    • What makes this worse is what happened to put Lewis in jail: He and O'Connor were peacefully handing out pamphlets outside a courthouse when a cop shows up and tells them to disperse. Lewis tried to cite multiple legal reasons for their defense (thereby proving how much this event meant to him, that he would do this much research) and keeps a calm and polite tone throughout, but the cop still takes him down for disorderly conduct. Oh, and O'Connor is hauling ass while this is all going down. It's not hard to believe this was the final straw for Lewis, even before he finds out about O'Connor being a Phony Veteran.

    Episode 7 - "Crosshairs" 
  • There's one mixed with Black Comedy when David bemoans to Frank how his wife and kids will need years of therapy if he just walks back into their lives.
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    Episode 8 - "Cold Steel" 
  • We see Russo taking care of a woman in a hospital who in what appears to be a scene intended to humanize him. It does the exact opposite as he starts tormenting the poor woman, who is scared out of her mind, restrained, and unable to speak, only capable of the softest of whimpers. She might have been a shitty mother to him, but still.
  • Talk about Sam. Stein was a very decent guy, the closest thing to a comic relief this show has, and to see him die the way he does at Billy Russo's hands makes it all the more worse. Especially for Dinah, who had already lost another partner in the line of duty over in Afghanistan.
    • From Stein's perspective, this easily crosses into Nightmare Fuel. He spends his dying moments processing the realization that the smooth, sexy guy that his boss and friend is seeing is a cold-blooded cop killer. Even worse, he's drowning in his own blood and unable to speak. You can see him whimpering "Billy, Billy" as he's choking on his own blood, but Dinah's shouting over him causes her to not hear that.
  • Earlier, Frank confronting Zach over the knife in his backpack, and his attempt to essentially scare Zach straight by putting the blade to the boy's neck. Zach just tells Frank to do it, then completely breaks down, revealing every inch how desperately painful his life is without his father, who's watching via camera the whole time.
    • Even worse is when Frank finally gets Zach to open up and bond together he has to stop Micro from revealing himself, as Micro can't take not being with his family anymore.

    Episode 9 - "Front Toward Enemy" 
  • After Frank's survival is revealed to the public, Ellison storms into Karen's office full of Tranquil Fury and simply says, "Did you know?" After all of their close working relationship so far, Karen may be on her way to alienating Ellison just as badly as she had burned her bridges with Ben Urich.
  • Frank's momentary panic at the idea of Karen being targeted by a military-trained, unhinged bomber qualifies. He blames himself for what happened to his family, being unable to protect them, and the thought of it happening all over again to something else he cares is almost more than he could bear. And he says as much.
    "If something happens to her, I..." [smacks a table in wordless, helpless rage]
  • While Karen never says it out loud, Deborah Ann Woll has hinted in interviews that Karen's decision to provoke Lewis is because she wants an adrenaline high to take her mind off the pain of losing Matt.
  • We learn how exactly Curtis lost his leg: it was to a pregnant suicide bomber, who killed a kid in addition to maiming Curtis. Frank has been torn up about it ever since because he was supposed to be securing the area, but he didn't stop or shoot the bomber because she was a woman and she was pregnant, like Maria was at the time.

    Episode 10 - "Virtue of the Vicious" 
https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/lewis_death.jpg
"Go out like a soldier..."
  • Twisted and reprehensible as he was by the end, it's hard not to feel for Lewis Wilson when he's reduced to a babbling, bleeding mess in a meat locker. He's so mentally FUBAR that blowing himself up seems like a mercy, and Frank is actively goading him on. Whether or not it's because he simply wants him dead for his crimes, or because he knows from experience that death is the only peace the tortured young man can find, is up for debate.
  • Frank's brutally accurate prediction of what will become of Lewis' father is heartbreaking, and hits very close to home. No matter what Lewis thinks he's doing or why, Frank makes it clear that it's not him who will really suffer. But because of him, they'll be ostracized, reviled, shunned and perhaps worse.
    "One day, not long from now, he's gonna wake up, he's... he's gonna walk outside and the word "terrorist" is gonna be painted on his car. His mailbox is gonna be so full of hate, and death threats, he's just gonna give up. His friends, his family, they're not gonna come around! His phone's not gonna ring. He will know loneliness, Lewis! He will suffer! Your old man, his life, it's ruined!"
  • For anyone who's had to deal with similar situations, everything surrounding Isaac's birds after Lewis kills Isaac and steals his uniform. Unlike children, who can grow up to take care of themselves, pets are basically helpless, especially birds, and Lewis may have condemned them to freezing or starving to death (though at least it's mentioned that the police know of Isaac's death, so someone would likely have found the birds before they died). Even worse, birds imprint on an owner at a young age and have difficulty accepting another one, so unlike a dog or cat which could adapt to a new owner, if someone was found who could take care of Isaac's birds, they'll have behavioral problems for the rest of their life.

    Episode 11 - "Danger Close" 
  • The montage at the beginning, showing Frank's and Billy's moments as (supposed) friends, mixed with Frank's face of disbelief that he has been betrayed by him. This leads to a falling out between Frank and David.
    David: I told her everything I needed to so we can end this.
    Frank: Yeah. This did end. You, me, this place, it ended. ...I'm done.
  • It is hard not to feel bad for Leo. She has been a sweet girl through out the season. Tried so hard to keep her family together (learning how to fix stuffs and keep best grade at school) despite being a little girl and the seemingly loss of her father. Yet she got punched in the face by her brother in earlier episode. Now out of nowhere her mother and brother get abducted by two of Billy's men disguised as police officers. The frightened, lost and confused look on her face as she wandered in a park will make you shed a tear for her.
    • Then there's the moment when she finally sees her father, someone she thought she lost a year ago. Poor girl had to take quite some time to process the person she's looking at is real. Her reaction as she hugs Micro totally speak how she suddenly feels safe again when all hopes are gone.
  • Frank's reunion with David and Leo at the end of the episode. While much of the scene is on a conciliatory note, Leo is distraught to learn that Frank knew all along that her father was alive — and that Frank's "Pete Castiglione" identity was a falsehood.
    Leo: I don't know what to call you now. It seems stupid to call you Pete.
    Frank: I'm Frank. Frank Castle.
    Leo: [visibly uncomfortable] ... He's lot scarier than Pete.

    Episode 12 - "Home" 
  • Sarah's heartbreaking reaction to David Faking the Dead in the standoff between Dinah's and Billy's men. Just imagine the sheer hell this poor woman went through, suddenly seeing her husband again who she thought was dead since two years, only for him to be promptly gunned down again. Thankfully, they're told the truth once they're rushed to safety.
  • Frank Castle suffers a Near-Death Experience where he meets his wife again, and refuses to "go home" with her. Just like in the comics, he refuses to die (and even meeting his family again) because there's punishment yet to be delivered.
    • Even worse, his admission to her that he is home: the violence and death that makes up his life has become more familiar than the tenderness of his family.
  • And yet, earlier on he mentions that he's shellshocked so badly that he often has to struggle to get out of bed and do anything other than kill himself. Damned if he does, damned if he doesn't.
  • Even if in the end it was a Batman Gambit, the fact that Frank begs Billy to promise he'll kill him and not allow Rawlins to do it is pretty painful to hear.
    • A more genuine one and something painful to see would be Frank actually shedding a tear when Billy admits that he knew about Agent Orange's plan yet did nothing to warn Frank and his family.
      Frank: She loved you... my kids loved you.
  • David sobbing that his friend is dying, and telling Frank that he betrayed him by going back on their plan (allowing Frank to die to save David's family and make sure Madani gets the evidence she needed), begging Frank to insult him.

    Episode 13 - "Memento Mori" 
  • Toward the end of Frank's big fight with Russo. After breaking Russo's arm and brutally running half his face of broken glass, Frank has Russo by the hair and a knife at his throat. While Russo had done some terrible things, this moment just before frank ends the fight is very hard hitting. These two men used to be friends and Russo did genuinely care about Frank and his family. The beginning of the episode showed how close Russo was with Frank and his family. Now the both of them are a mess, severely twisted and broken inside. When Frank has Russo look at himself in the mirror, Russo's look is one of despair and pain. While he may have been asking Frank to kill his so that he could die like a soldier and not have to face the consequences, it also seemed like Russo had a bit of a Heel Realization and understood that he had become a true monster.
    • Earlier during the confrontation, after Russo has Frank disarm and surrender himself after Russo threatens to kill Haley and Carl, Russo taunts Frank for his emotional attachments, and as he prepares to execute him, proceeds to rant how [Russo]'s never had anyone who's cared for him. Such a rant prompts Frank to reply hurtfully that Russo had Frank and his family. Russo's response? To call bullshit on that.
      Billy: Attachments are a weakness, Frank. I never had anyone. (shoots Frank in the chest)
      Frank: note  You had us, Bill.
      Billy: The Punisher? What a crock of shit. (prepares to shoot Frank again)
  • Frank doesn't join David and his family at the end. Their time together ends with him driving off. He doesn't feel the need to explain why, and David doesn't feel the need to question him. A whole season's worth of bonding between the two men, ended with just a final exchanged glance and nod.
    • Made even worse when you consider that Frank previously had a dream where his family and David's celebrated together... only for Frank to see them all being brutally murdered. It's quite likely that part of him is afraid that if he does go with them, he'll somehow get them killed.
  • The very last scene of the season could qualify. The bad men are all dead or thoroughly neutralized, the Lieberman family is back together, Frank has a clean slate... and all he can feel is fear for the very uncertain future he has ahead of him. He's no different than the other vets in the room: rudderless, unprepared for "peacetime", and still very much broken inside, and alone.
    • Cushioned by the fact that he most certainly does still have people that care for him, even love him. Frank's as alone as he decides he wants to be. How much that is depends entirely on him.
      Frank: I'm scared.

Season 2

     Episode 1 - "Roadhouse Blues" 
  • Frank's nascent relationship with Beth has all the hallmarks of a genuine connection only for her to get shot at her workplace. It is unclear whether she survives, is able to pay her medical bills, or what happens to her son (she is a single mom). All due to Frank's need to defend the innocence of strangers whom he arbitrarily deems worth defending.

     Episode 2- "Fight or Flight" 
  • Russo's situation. His face is so scarred from what Frank did to him the point that he wears a mask to cover them, he’s constantly plagued by nightmares of what Frank did to him (specifically he sees his skull) and on top of that he can’t even remember what he did that was so horrible due to Frank's injuries giving him almost full on amnesia.

     Episode 4- "Scar Tissue" 
  • Rachel’s backstory is revealed and man is it rough. It turns out that she was an orphan and ran with a group of kids that did numerous “jobs” for a woman named Fiona. The last job they did resulted in all of her friends getting slaughtered and her barely escaping.
    • She’s still so traumatized that the only way she can feel safe sleeping is being under the bed.

     Episode 6- "Nakazat" 
  • Frank talking about Lisa to Amy. Also heartwarming as it’s one of the first times Frank looks upon the memory of his family with happiness.

     Episode 12- "Collision Course" 
  • After finally pulling himself together, letting go of his grudge with Frank and preparing to leave town with Dumont, Billy returns with a bouquet of flowers, only to drop them in a heartbroken expression when he sees Dumont choking and dying on the pavement after being pushed out of a third-storey window by Madani. Even after all the chaos he has caused, it's hard not to see Billy's face and feel at least a little bit of sympathy for the guy.

     Episode 13- "The Whirlwind" 
  • The season finale wrapped up in a very Bittersweet Ending fashion, all things considered. While the major villains of the Season (i.e. Billy Russo and the elder Schultzes) finally went down and Amy finally manages a shot at a new, normal life, it's very obvious not everyone got out of it personally-unscathed.
    • The visibly-most moral characters in the cast, Madani and Curtis, just openly became Knight In Sour Armor after getting their piece of mind in seeing Russo's corpse. They even have the temerity to openly defy and obfuscate the truth in front of Mahoney himself (which, admittedly, can be a bit darkly-humorous). It's all but stated in subtext that whatever good relationship they have with Frank is possibly out of the window—and tragically not unreasonably.
    • You may even take Dinah's switch from Homeland Security to CIA as emblematic of this, with her even admitting she's run deep into Frank's Black and Gray Morality world for too long.
    • Senator David Schultz is brutally confronted by just what massive Hypocrites and assholes his parents were—even getting an epiphany that maybe they didn't really care about him as a person, but more as a tool of their personal ambition and self-serving legacy. He definitely went out of the ordeal shaken in his self-identity. It's probably not unreasonable that he may take his parents' death under Frank a bit more detached—which no Real Life offspring really deserves to experience.
    • Pilgrim still went through his One Last Job because he feels he's pretty much done everything against his conscience by this point—even kidnapping and endangering Amy. It was only Frank's realization of his predicament that he gets a pass at life (while likely helping Frank stage his last assault on the Schultzes). One wonders, however, what effect will these events have on his psyche—and what challenges he'll face as a single father, deprived of his patrons (however evil they are), grieving for his wife, and raising two children.
    • The biggest of all, of course, would still be Frank himself. He opened the Season with an officially-sanctioned clean slate, and an opportunity to finally find someplace to settle (which he hoped he would have had with Beth). The events of the entire season, compounding on all of his existing issues (plus his admission to Karen that he can't choose to love another person, but will always find another war), leaves him fully embracing his Punisher persona. He leaves the show guns blazing, screaming at his perceived enemies, utterly alone. Fade to Black.

Meta

  • The Showdown Trailer for Season 2 reveals Frank falling in love with a local bartender, so much so that it seems he'll finally be able to move on, and leave the Punisher behind. Said-bartender is shot in a shootout that ensues when some patrons start a fight while trying to kidnap Amy.

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