“Scar Tissue” provides a little forward momentum but a lot more context, as the heroes and villains both find someone to bond with.
This recap of The Punisher Season 2, Episode 4, “Scar Tissue”, contains spoilers. You can check out our thoughts on the previous episode by clicking these words.
In a scene just a little bit reminiscent of The Terminator, “Scar Tissue” opens with Billy Russo (still in his hospital scrubs, but now sans mask) being hassled on a bus by some douchebag he promptly follows, presumably kills, and whose clothes he steals. No motorcycle, though, but you can’t have everything.
Madani, meanwhile, has – unbeknown to her superiors – put Frank and Rachel up in her austere apartment. Rachel, judging by the neatness and her uniformly dour outfits, thinks Madani might be a serial killer. This is The Punisher Season 2, after all. By the time it’s over she might be. Frank, typically, still can’t be bothered with the whole situation, and is profoundly sick of Rachel’s obnoxious teenage blustering.
But wait! Is she really as immune to what’s going on as we’re being led to believe? Of course not, as evidenced by the fact that she can only get to sleep by cowering under the bed and crying, one imagines because she’s reminiscing about whatever traumatic events led her to this position in the first place. But more on that later.
Further flashbacks in “Scar Tissue” to Billy and Dumont bonding seem to strengthen the idea that there’s going to be a bit more to their relationship than a platonic doctor-patient deal. We also get to see him colour his mask in, which isn’t as childish as it sounds, being an outward expression of his roiling internal trauma; like his dream journal, it’s seemingly the best means he has of expressing how he’s actually feeling beyond working out and occasionally deepening his voice for dramatic effect. (Give it a rest, Ben – we still know it’s you, pretty boy!)
Speaking of Billy’s dream journal, Madani shows it to Frank. “You’re all he thinks about,” she helpfully informs him. “Good,” says Frank, as only Frank can.
Dreams are a theme of “Scar Tissue”. Rachel is having them too, and hers are all full of dead bodies being surveyed by her from beneath the bed in a motel room. I think I see the exposition train coming over the horizon.
But that’s for later. In the meantime Frank goes to see his one-legged buddy Curtis (Jason R. Moore), who offers a rather different perspective on Billy’s mental state than Madani has been providing. Curtis went to see him and determined that he wasn’t making anything up at all: “Whatever you wanted him to live with, you knocked it out of his head.” There’s an irony in that, obviously – the only person who isn’t living with all the terrible things Billy did is Billy himself. Another flashback – this season is overusing them a tad – helps to flesh out the relationship between Frank and Billy when the latter was just a young man with blatant psychological issues expressing an unhealthy obsession with baseball and the normality it represented for him before that was taken away by severe abuse. You know, I for one am surprised he didn’t turn out entirely okay.
Rachel isn’t okay either – she flips out when she wakes up and discovers that Frank locked her in Madani’s bedroom, and her meltdown helps her to open up. Choo-choo! The exposition train has arrived. Turns out Rachel was previously part of a Baker Street Irregular-style grifter gang of youngsters who were given dodgy assignments by a woman called Fiona, one of which was to take photographs of people at a funeral. And they were obviously not people who enjoy having their photos taken, as her friends were promptly massacred by none other than Pilgrim, who is making a habit of such things these days.
Billy, meanwhile, goes to see the old man who abused him while in was in a group home, with predictably unpleasant results for the creepy old man, which I can’t say I’m particularly upset about. It was nice to see some vulnerability from Billy in “Scar Tissue”; the best villains are always the heroes of their own stories, as we know, and understanding what Billy went through – not just at the hands of Frank, but before all that – helps us to trace the path that led him to selling out his best friend in the first place.
Frank, knowing that old, traumatised version of Billy so well, figures out where he might have gone and lets Madani know, who arrives on the scene just late enough to find the old nonce’s corpse and accidentally shoot Brett Mahoney twice. Don’t worry – he was wearing a vest, although he isn’t exactly happy about it either way. Lots of dead bodies are starting to pile up on his watch, which never bodes well in these Marvel/Netflix shows, let alone when Madani – and, inevitably, Frank and Billy – are involved.
Rachel is doing some investigating of her own, but into Frank and his not-so-secret identity of the Punisher. She seems to like it; she can understand it, at least, after seeing everyone she knows and cares about killed right in front of her. It even convinces her to share with him her real name: Amy. I’m glad they’ve managed to form a real connection, even if it was over lots and lots of death.
They’re not the only ones. Billy goes to see Dumont for some extracurricular therapy, and she’s a lot more pleased to see him that you’d think – so pleased, in fact, that she decides not to rat him out for being there. Gee, didn’t see that one coming!
Jonathon is the Co-Founder of Ready Steady Cut and has been Senior Editor and Chief Critic of the outlet since 2017.