“Loki” Season 1 – Time, Destiny and Choice Explored But Lacks Impact

“Loki” was a good show that had the potential to be great, and still does depending on how next season goes. This is a fun series that explores ideas of time, choice and destiny and has some great leads. I wish certain characters had been explored better though and the ending needed to do a lot more than it did. Still, Marvel did it again and this show is worth your time.

Michael Waldron is the creator of the show.

The story follows a Loki Variant from “Endgame” (Tom Hiddleston) who is recruited by the Time Variance Authority (TVA) by Mobius (Owen Wilson) to hunt another Loki Variant who is trying to take down the TVA.

SPOILERS ahead

The Pros:

The Premise – The premise is cool as we mess with timelines, time travel and the corruption of the Terry Gilliamesque organization of the TVA. Who is in charge of them and what the Lokis will do is compelling. You have a recipe for lots of drama and chaos.

The Time Variance Authority (TVA) – The TVA is a fascinating organization as they prune variants to keep the timeline as one “Sacred timeline” and we don’t learn why until the end. We learn all of the people are variants with their memories wiped and the truth of why they exist and the complete chaos they truly do hold at bay. Hunter B-15 and Renslayer are alright characters as B-15 rebels while Renslayer believes even after learning the truth but both needed more exploration.

Miss Minutes – Tara Strong is amazing as the A.I. Miss Minutes who knows the truth of the TVA and keeps it from all members. She idealizes her creator and has a kind but threatening demeanor in how she acts around others. I’m curious to see how season 2 uses her given the information she gives Renslayer at the end.

Mobius – Owen Wilson is fantastic as Mobius, he is the handler of the Variant Loki who later becomes his friend. He goes from a believer to rebel against the TVA but loses his memory of his time with the Lokis after Renslayer goes back in time. So I’m curious to see what next season brings. He has yet to ride the jetski like he always wanted. So hoping that still happens.

The Loki Variants – The Lokis are the best part of “Loki.” The least explored are Boastful Loki who betrays Kid, Alligator, Classic and Endgame Loki. Kid Loki killed Thor and that was why he was pruned from his timeline but we never learn why. I’ll list the best Loki’s below. Also President Loki was a lot of fun. They are all in the Void after being pruned by the TVA and facing off against the treats of the Void and the beast Alioth.

Alligator Loki – Alligator Loki is best Loki. He’s an alligator with Loki’s helmet and he is sassy to the other Loki Variants. He also bites off President Loki’s hand. I hope we see him again and get his story. He was so much fun.

Classic Loki – Richard E. Grant plays Classic Loki who is in his classic comic yellow garb. He is an old and sad Loki who finds his reason to be to help Endgame Loki and Sylvie enchant Alioth to reach what it is beyond the void. He does this by recreating an illusion of Asgard. It is a powerful scene and awesome death.

Sylvie – Sophia Di Martino is great as Sylvie. She is the female Loki who has been on the run since escaping the TVA as a kid. She doesn’t trust anyone but comes to love Endgame Loki. She kills “He Who Remains” in the end as revenge wins out over her love of Endgame Loki so curious where her story will go now that she is now the only one at the castle.

Endgame / Variant Loki – Endgame Loki’s arc is learning how to love and trust as Sylvie and Mobius become his friends. He has truly become the closest he can be to a hero by the end and when Sylvie pushes him back into the TVA them not knowing who he is sad. Tom Hiddleston is again amazing as the main Loki and plays the complex protagonist extremely well. I loved seeing his arc over the course of the show.

Destiny and Choice – A major theme is destiny versus choice. The TVA exists to enforce destiny while the Loki’s represent choice and this clash happens throughout the show with “He Who Remains” and the Lokis as that final exploration of it. Now to see where full reign of choice leads after Sylvie killed “He Who Remains.”

Okay:

Lamentis – For Sylvie and Loki having a lot of time together we don’t get much about what she’s learned or how Endgame Loki has changed. The world looked cool but there was no depth or exploration of it. Like the Lokis it felt like it was just existing.

He Who Remains / Kang – “He Who Remains” is Kang and we learn that he founded the TVA to stop other versions of himself from making war. Jonathan Majors does a good job but it was hard to take him seriously with how jokey he was. I also would have liked him to reveal more knowledge about the Lokis but he doesn’t beyond what they are going to say. Like Lamentis, a missed opportunity to setup a bigger threat. I liked the sadness of the character at least. He saw everything as inevitable and that made him interesting.

The Cons:

Cliffhanger Ending – The cliffhanger ending was a bit annoying as we are left with more questions. I mentioned Renslayer changing the past but I could be wrong. This could be a whole new timeline Endgame Loki was thrown into. The cliffhanger ending felt like it was going more for shock than giving a rewarding finale.

“Loki” season 1 is still worth checking out, though I would consider it the weakest MCU show so far. It felt afraid to fully explore Sylvie and her motivations or “He Who Remains” and why he decides what he does. The cast and concepts carry this show though and I can’t wait to see what season 2 explores and what it will bring to the amazing MCU multiverse.

Final Score: 8 / 10 Good but very flawed.

“WandaVision” Season 1 – A Unique Exploration and Vision of Facing Trauma and Grief

WandaVision Poster: Wanda's Realities Collide; New Midseason Trailer

“WandaVision” is easily one of the most unique and creative shows I have seen in a while and is easily the best of what stories that can come out of the MCU when they focus in on characters and concepts. Like other MCU projects it does have a weak villain problem but the character drama and how the story is presented is well worth your time if you are a fan of this Franchise or are looking for an original and compelling drama.

The series was created by Jac Schaeffer and inspired by Scarlet Witch and Vision stories from Marvel Comics.

The story takes place 3 weeks after the events of “Avengers: Endgame” and begins with Wanda and Vision living a sitcom life in the suburb of Westview where they are attempting to hide their true natures. All is not as it appears to be though.

SPOILERS ahead

The Pros:

The Setup – The setup involves Vision and Wanda going through different eras of television sitcoms as reality outside the sitcom begins to intrude on them as an organization known as S.W.O.R.D. is attempting to free the people trapped in Wanda’s reality at any cost.

The Sitcoms / The Show in a Show – The structure of the show involves jumping into different eras of sitcoms for each episode, with us in the present for episodes 4, 8 and the Final. They nail the appearance and dialogue of each of these eras with my favorite being their “Malcolm in the Middle” and “Modern Family” style stories as I grew up with those. I did love their 60’s style sitcom though where they had to put on a magic show with magic that could be explained. That was also the episode where the alienness of the situation really started to intrude on Wanda’s reality as well adding great tension. This was such a unique take and premise that I would recommend them all as they each contribute to the story and it is cool to see what sitcoms the writers pulled from to inspire the costumers, writing and sets.

S.W.O.R.D. Actions – S.W.O.R.D. (Sentient Weapon Observation and Response Division) is the active force in the show attempting to save the people who are trapped in Wanda’s sitcom reality. They are lead by Hayward who commissions Monica Rambeau when she reappears after the Blip from “Infinity War” is reversed. He sends her to investigate the disappearance of Westview where she meets FBI agent Jimmy Woo and enters the Hex (Wanda’s Reality surrounding Westview) the situation escalates to discover what happened. They were founded by Maria Rambeau from “Captain Marvel” to deal with threats beyond and on Earth.

Jimmy Woo – Randall Park’s Jimmy Woo is back! Last appearing in “Ant-Man and the Wasp.” In this he’s the skeptical one in most situations and the calm observer. This provides a nice contrast to Monica’s drive and Darcy’s sarcasm as as well as Hayview’s authoritarianism. He is one of the more minor heroes of this piece but he does help stop Hayview’s plot and helps Monica in her quest to enter the Hex again. Park is great and I really need to see more projects with him.

Dr. Darcy Lewis – Kat Denning’s Darcy Lewis is back and is the one who figures out that Wanda is projecting her reality as a sitcom. I was initially annoyed at how self-aware the character was in all the situations but eventually when she’s pulled into the Hex after it expands she is used to her fullest as she updates Vision on the events outside the Hex as we learn he doesn’t hold any of those memories. I liked how rebellious she is against Hayward too as it was needed.

Monica Rambeau – Monica is the kid we met in “Captain Marvel” who helped Captain Marvel design her suit. It is great seeing her update here and how when she reappears after being annihilated in Thanos’s snap that she has to face her mother died of cancer. In this we see her blame Captain Marvel for never coming back as well as how it is driving her to want to go back into space. Hayward grounds her though as her mother made the order that if anyone returned from Blip they would not be allowed into space. From here she is the one taking action as she enters the Hex and forces Wanda to confront her trauma when she in a moment of lucidity brings up how Ultron killed Pietro. This leads to Wanda kicking her out and from here we discover that she was transformed by the Hex as all were who are in it. This leads to her developing superpowers and her eventual standoff with Hayward to protect Wanda, Vision and their kids. Her final scene involves a Skrull telling her an old friend of her mother is interested in her joining them in space (implying Fury most likely, and Talos somewhat likely). I really liked her character and can’t wait to see where her story is taken next.

The Hex – The Hex is what drives the plot as it is a powerful spell cast by Wanda that has warped people into Wanda’s reality and where she created vision and a family (to twin sons) with her abilities. It can warp your cells and make you superpowered and changes anything that tries to enter it, makes it part of it’s reality. Transforming military vehicles into clown cars for example. No person or thing is safe from the power of the Hex and only Wanda can end it.

Agatha’s Setup – Agatha is Wanda’s nosy neighbor Agnes and is messing with situations from the very first episode. She appears helpful but whenever she is around something is always off as if she is the one creating the problems in the first place. It is a great setup and adds so much potential as we learn later she is a powerful witch known as Agatha Harkness. I loved how things worked up to that reveal as her Agnes persona is likeable and charismatic.

“Quicksilver” / “Pietro Maximoff” – After Monica is kicked out of the Hex by Wanda, “Pietro” shows up, being played by Evan Peters and is great as the Uncle to Wanda’s and Vision’s kids. He is quick, joking around all the time and making chaos. He’s basically an unhinged version of the Fox X-Men version he played. I really liked what they did with him up until the reveal in the final episode.

Wanda and Vision – Wanda and Vision are the heart and strongest aspect of the show. Bettany and Olsen have amazing chemistry and their conflict rests on the illusion of Westview. Vision is the one who notices things are off and asks why he can’t who he is beyond their marriage. It is a powerful setup and they are great parents. Seeing them face neighborhood drama and their own conflicts and how they resolve them is the heart of the sitcoms and it works because of the level of acting and writing on display. I love these two characters and this gives us the romance we never really saw in the MCU films.

Wanda’s Past – So Agnes is revealed to Agatha Harkness and she wants to find out why Wanda is powerful in episode 8, so they travel to Wanda’s past where we see her save her brother from the Stark missile that killed her parents as the implication is she cast a spell that caused the missile not to explode. With this heartbreaking scene we also see that her love of Sitcoms came from her parents using sitcoms to teach them English. Next we get the H.Y.D.R.A. flashback and her powers being expanded by the Mind Stone. We later see the romance that begins with Vision after Pietro’s death to Ultron and finally her visit to Hayward where she doesn’t sense Vision anymore as S.W.O.R.D. is dissecting him. From here her last memory is how she got to Westview following a note from Vision that an empty property is where they’d build their home together. This causes her to cry out in pain as she creates the reality of “WandaVision” with her power. All this leads into Agnes’s belief that her power comes because she is the most powerful witch known as the Starlet Witch who will bring about the end.

“The Ship of Theseus” – So Hayward succeeds at rebuilding Vision as as a robotic weapon and he orders it to kill Wanda’s Vision. It tries to kill Wanda and fights the Vision created by Wanda’s magic. This vision stops fighting when the Magic Vision who knows the truth of who it is says he is not truly vision and they explore “The Ship of Theseus” as they are both recreations of Vision but not the true Vision that was killed, unless they are and the true ship is the rebuilt Ship that has been entirely replaced. From here Magic Vision activates the memories of the robotic Vision causing it call out that it is Vision before leaving. It is a powerful scene and I loved the discussion on “Who is the Vision?”

Vision’s Good-bye – After all of this and defeating Agatha, Wanda ends the Hex but before she gets her last good-byes with her children, who she thanks for choosing her and Vision as they both know he will disappear after the Hex is gone. We learn how much they mean to each other and what the meant to each other. It helps encapsulate their experiences in the show and how they are one another’s motivation. It is easily an example of some of the best writing on the show, especially in an episode that didn’t have much good writing sadly.

The Scarlet Witch – The core arc of “WandaVision” is Wanda becoming the the Scarlet Witch and accepting her trauma, loss, grief and power. It is a great arc as for much of the show she is pushing away that pain, until it finally comes crashing down in the memories and with it acceptance as she has to say good-bye to both her children and Vision as we see her escape and is learning magic on her own with possible plans to bring back her children. She being setup as a possible villain in the future makes sense as she unknowingly held an entire town hostage to her reality and because of it knows there isn’t really a home for her.

The Cons:

Hayward as Strawman Villain – Director Hayward was a character with potential. His desire to save people from Wanda’s spell is great but they have him care more about trying to frame her for stealing Vision, when she didn’t and killing her. He goes from a possible complex character to a strawman who is full “ends justify the means” and is easily one of the weakest elements of the story.

Agatha’s Lack of Plan – So Agatha wants Wanda’s powers and she says Wanda doesn’t know the full potential of her power and what she could do. We never see or know what Agatha would do for it. She is after power for the sake of power and becomes just as weak as Hayward in characterization, which is a shame as she acted really well and her setup and being behind it all was cool. Sadly she falls into the trap of being as boring and generic as most MCU villains in the end. She deserved a better plot and better motivation.

The “Quicksilver” Reveal – Quicksilver is just someone being mind controlled by Agatha named Ralph Bohner, it exists as a joke and functions as a waste of bringing in the better Quicksilver (Fox’s X-Men Quicksilver is so much better than the MCUs). I hope Evan Peters can appear as Quicksilver for real as once he is revealed to be under the spell too and just a joke all the weight of his existence and potential is gone, which just adds to the weak villain motivations and endings.

There was a lot of talk about Mephisto or the Multiverse being behind everything. I really hope we do see these concepts explored further and even a hint at some of these larger ideas and “Quicksilver” being an actual Quicksilver would have helped the show and made it great. As it stands this is really good show that does such an amazing job exploring grief and trauma and I cared about the characters. This is a show I’d recommend as this is one of the best ideas to come out of the MCU and I can’t wait to see where Wanda’s story unfolds as her ending scene struck me as the one with the greatest story potential as she is now fully the Scarlet Witch.

Final Score: 8.9 / 10 Well worth your time.

Top 5 Netflix “Defendersverse” Seasons

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    The Netflix Marvel “Defendersverse” is an experiment I wish had gone on. Outside of “Umbrella Academy” this is the only quality superhero content on Netflix and here they gave us so many amazing characters and storylines. I don’t know if Disney will take those same risks and given Disney’s growing corporate monopoly I’m not all that inclined to support Disney Plus. This was a series that I overall enjoyed. “The Defenders” season 1 was even great in how bad it was, but because it was bad it did not make this list. Every season on here is a season I would come back to re-watch or have gone back to re-watch. Also, I feel Disney taking these characters back probably won’t work. I like the Marvel Cinematic Universe but we have not seen them take the kinds of R rated risks this series or really “Deadpool” took. So hopeful but doubtful we’ll see these characters again as great as they were before, if ever again.

Slight spoiler warnings here. If you want to watch “The Defenders,” “The Punisher,” “Daredevil,” Jessica Jones,” “Luke Cage” and “Iron Fist” and haven’t yet this review isn’t for you. I have to talk about the content on why I enjoyed these shows or didn’t enjoy them, and that involves spoilers so…

SPOILER WARNING for all the shows I just listed.

 

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5th – “Daredevil” Season 2

Finding 5th place on this list was somewhat difficult. I felt “Iron Fist” Season 2 solved many problems I had with Season 1 and “The Punisher” Season 1 is great when it doesn’t get distracted.  What ended up being the deciding factor for me were the side stories. Frank Castle is introduced in this season and his face-off against Daredevil is perfection. It is a fight I’d love to see Batman have more against a friend or ally who crosses his line. This season did that. We also see how Matt’s obsession wad destroying his relationships. From Claire to Foggy, Matt when he was all in as the weapon Stick had built him to be, he was screwed. This could have been more if “The Hand” was written as a more compelling villain but them not being more compelling is a reason this isn’t higher on the list and had to be debated on to get here. The Karen and Castle story is far superior to the Matt and Elektra story and that is where the side stories being stronger made me appreciate this season. Frank Castle’s arc in this season is better than either seasons of “The Punisher.” This is a season worth a re-watch for the B plots.

 

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4th – “Jessica Jones” Season 1

This is a season that didn’t make the best use of Killgrave as a villain for the climax of the story. Throughout the story he is a great threat, but when he has the power to control anyone who here’s him with his voice we get nothing interesting. I blame lack of creativity for this. What works though is Jessica Jones and her relationship. Her relationship with her adoptive mother and adopted sister are where she first stands up for another due to her adoptive mom abusing her and Trish. This leads her doubting herself later on due to her isolation from them and Kilgrave’s using of her and all those around her she cares for. Krysten Ritter is absolutely amazing as we see her work through how she was abused and gaslighted by Kilgrave. From here her arc is the slow building of community and fighting to stop Kilgrave. Most episodes are good to great, it is just the climax and Killgrave’s powers being so underutilized in that climax that keep this season from being higher on the list. David Tennant as Kilgrave and Krysten Ritter as Jessica Jones carry the show and the more time away from the show more the story grew on me. There is so much good here.

 

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3rd – “Luke Cage” Season 2

“Luke Cage” Season 1 had one of my favorite villains in Cottonmouth. He didn’t last but due to how villains and antagonists are used this time around, and Luke’s own ego growing lead to an exciting season that I loved. Mariah makes up for the amazing threat of her brother “Cottonmouth” not being around. “Shades” is a great villain beginning to question what he is doing and his loyalty and “Bushmaster” shows up and his war against Maria hurts Luke Cage’s protection of Harlem forcing him to change further and make some difficult decisions that only make him more compelling. Like Jessica Jones and Matt Murdock, Luke Cage is someone who is someone who pushes others away. In this case it is different though because he feels invulnerable and that feeling never really leaves as he realizes he has to make tough decisions to keep Harlem safe. I loved that. He ends almost as an anti-hero and it works. He was a character who is good at the core but also human and has an ego that ruins his relationships. In the end he is all about the big picture and like most heroes in the “Defendersverse,” this makes him isolated. This season was great. The flaw on why it wasn’t higher is Mariah should have been used more and been longer lasting in power.

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2nd – “Jessica Jones” Season 3

“Jessica Jones” Season 3 builds on what worked about Season 1, but has a better conclusion. One of the only reasons this season is better than “Luke Cage” Season 2 is because this season has a level of hope the other prior ones don’t have. I get that Netflix is walking a line of dark R “Marvel Cinematic Universe” which I feel should still go on, Netflix has more than earned it. This season goes fully dark but the fact that it ends with hope and our heroes like Jessica and Malcom choosing the good gives me that perfect bittersweet. This season is where we see Jessica become the hero while dealing with Trish and her abuse like Matt Murdock’s leading to her becoming a weapon akin to Daredevil and The Punisher, except Trish does kill. What helps with this dilemma is them facing off against a serial killer named Sallinger. He like Jessica and Trish was also abused and used it to become a monster who targeted Inhumans believing them to be cheaters for having abilities. The season arc is powerful and I loved where everyone ends up. Luke Cage post his own Season 2 meets up with Jessica and reminds her of her choice and responsibility to stop Trish. It is great and I miss that as far as we know right now, we won’t see more of their relationship.

 

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1st – “Daredevil” Season 1

“Daredevil” Season 1 is still the height of the show. We get to introduced to amazing villains like Wesley, Madam Gao and the Kingpin. This is a show that is truly carried by the villains as they are on top for most of the film, which gives Matt Murdock so much he has to fight against and work for. This is a season with cost. Season 3’s Kingpin is never as threatening or effective as he is this season. This season is also where Matt is most human and we come to understand his obsession through his backstory and the murder of his father. It is powerful and Kingpin’s story mirrors it in the killing of his father to protect his mother. Both of them were shaped by those around them and came to have a warped view on what it means to protect what they believe to be theirs. This mirroring of one another and the war against Kingpin who has united the gangs is beautifully handled. I also love Claire and Matt’s relationship far more than the Karen and Matt relationship of later seasons. This was the season that kicked off the entire “Defendersverse” and still remains the best of them all.

I know “Disney+” might bring some of these stories and heroes and villains back. I’m just less likely to trust it. Unless they are the same writers who have clearly shown an ability to learn and also giving “Disney” some competition…I don’t want a monopoly. I want competition and so far I have seen nothing from “Disney” to show they will be putting out original films and shows the way Netflix is. Support competition and indie films and show please. This subset of the “Marvel Cinematic Universe” being absorbed is not something that gives hope in the corporate game of control of “Marvel” or any other franchise.

“The Punisher” Season 1 – A Powerful Exploration of PTSD, Trauma and Life After the War

       “The Punisher” is one of the best things to come out of the Netflix Defenders continuity. It is easily the furthest removed from the MCU in regards to super powers, super soldiers and a level of comedy underlying most of the other works…and it works because of it. At the end of the day this is a show that covers the consequences of war, PTSD and just how difficult the process of healing from trauma after war is. This is a beautiful show and I really hope it gets renewed for a Season 2. I have not read the comics so I’m not sure how true the characters are to their comic book adaptations but I found them to be the most compelling aspect of the show.

The series was created by Steve Lightfoot as part of the MCU.

The story Frank Castle uncovering the government conspiracy surrounding the death of his family as he must learn to trust as others like Micro the hacker and the DHS agent Midani who are also seeking to uncover truth.

SPOILERS ahead

The Pros: The Action – The action is amazing! The closest thing it reminded me of was “John Wick” and the “The Raid” with how brutal the gun and knife action is. If you like action movies this is your show for this reason alone. Fair warning though, this gets brutal, very few characters come out of this not having done something bad.

The Characters – The characters are the best part of the show and the reason you should watch it. I’m going to go into the 3 main leads and the most compelling villain as they are the ones who drive the action and it is their arcs that kept me involved in the show.

Dinah Midani – Amber Rose Revah does an amazing job as Dinah Midani a Federal Agent who is seeking to uncover the murder of her contact in Afghanistan, who she discovers was murdered by an American hit squad after Micro sends her the video. From here she has to confront the corruption within the government and her own agency to take down those responsible.  She goes from trusting many to trusting few as her life becomes a bit like the Punisher’s when she loses those close to her in uncovering the conspiracy and finds out those she trusted betrayed her.

Billy Russo – Billy Russo served with the Death Squad in Afghanistan with Frank Castle and was his best friend. He was also knee deep in the corruption and he is the man who works with Agent Orange to cover up the conspiracy and kill those who find out. He tricks Midani for a good portion of the show and almost tricks Frank. He is a character who was an orphan and has used his pain to detach himself from caring about anyone but himself. This makes him compelling as he does try to care as best he can, even though he’s a sociopath so in the end he only serves himself. In the end he is taken down, but not killed as Frank messes up his face and leaves him for the government to take in. After reading up further it looks like he is going to be Jigsaw, which I’m really interested in seeing if the show gets renewed.

Micro / David Lieberman – Micro like the Punisher is on the run from the government and believed to be dead by most people. His arc is revealing the conspiracy so he can be with his family again and also reminding Frank of his humanity and that he has reasons to live. They start out as adversaries as there is so much paranoia between the two of them but they work together as they both want the same thing, even though it takes Frank a while to realize that. In the end Micro does get to be with his family but there is an unspoken pain there given that he faked his death to protect them and that betrayal of trust is something that I don’t think he’s fully wrestled with fully.

Frank Castle / The Punisher – The Punisher’s arc is finding a purpose beyond his pain and revenge. We see him when he is done and he is obsessed just breaking walls down. He doesn’t exist beyond reaction and it takes the conspiracy to pull him back in. He is the character who needs a mission and after his revenge is done he finds that mission again in the fake identity the government gives him and helping vets from falling down the mental hole of despair and trauma that he was in. What gets him there is a kid inspired by his actions who targets government and media where Frank realizes just how much influence he has and had as the Punisher and when he is given another chance to live he uses it so others don’t fall into the trap the young vet did. It’s a powerful story and him sparing Russo’s life means something given how clear his code was for killing bad people…it is his final turning point and when Frank Castle finally comes back.

When the War Consumes – Frank Castle the Punisher, the young terrorist vet Lewis Wilson (who is living in a fox hole when he gets home, and doing so voluntarily), Agent Orange and Russo…all of them are consumed by the war in different ways. Whether it is wanting to live it like Castle and the terrorist were or hiding it while still living it like Agent Orange and Russo who hid what it had done to them except for when it served their ends.

Finding Peace After the War – The main arc is Frank Castle becoming Frank Castle again and finding healing beyond what the war made him into (The Punisher). Lewis couldn’t find peace, he had to find a reason to fight, Russo and Agent Orange never left Afghanistan either as they kept their roles up even when they were home. In the end Frank like Curtis finds some semblance of peace and it is is facing his own pain and loss and the actions he did during the war and helping others to face themselves too. It is a powerful arc and theme and part of what makes the show so powerful.

Okay: Agent Orange – He is standard “Ends justify the means” baddy…Russo is far more compelling as a villain but he worked. He was privilege incarnate and he clearly relished being a baddy, which made his defeat so enjoyable when it finally came.

Karen Page – Karen is Frank’s contact through the series and at a few points needs to get rescued by him. I put her as okay for that reason. The role of journalism in regards to terror attacks is explored briefly but I felt that so much more could have been done with her role in this. She really doesn’t show up that much as Midani has taken over that major character role in the show. If it gets a Season 2 I hope we see more Karen.

The characters are the strongest part of the plot, as I knew Russo was going to be bad pretty early and long before his reveal, I also knew they would make him complicated as he fit the Mordo, Loki, etc…former friend villain archetype that Marvel likes to use. The plot is predictable, brutal and a lot of fun. So much of what drives the dynamic is you have all these characters who are paranoid having to learn to trust and that dynamic is what I loved most and can’t wait to see if the show gets renewed. I highly recommend this show.

Final Score: 9.5 / 10