The Punisher Season 2 continues to flesh out its themes in “One Bad Day”, but still makes time for a glorious little fan-service moment to cap things off.
This recap of The Punisher Season 2, Episode 7, “One Bad Day”, contains spoilers. You can check out our thoughts on the previous episode by clicking these words.
It probably shouldn’t come as a surprise at this point that “One Bad Day” opens with a flashback, since The Punisher Season 2 has made such enthusiastic use of them thus far. This one, though, is from a year prior, with Madani laid up in hospital after having been shot in the head by Billy Russo at the end of the first season, being loomed over by her superiors, who are convincing her to spin the story in a particular way in order to preserve her career and Frank’s freedom. I suppose now is as good a time as any to talk about trauma.
Trauma has, in one way or another, defined the Punisher’s character for all of his existence, but the Netflix shows in particular have thoroughly embraced the lasting consequences of violence and loss on the fragile human psyche. But whereas the first season chose to focus predominantly on the mental states on military veterans returning from war, this season has expanded its remit to everyday working people as well. All of the major characters in this season – from Frank and Billy to Amy, Madani and Curt – are all united in their shared trauma; in trying to process it and live a normal life in its shadow.
When you look at the dynamics that way, it’s no surprise to see Madani, Frank and Curt sat together in the present day, debating morality. They’ve all been compelled to behave in a way that they don’t necessarily agree with, but how exactly to approach a solution is still up in the air. Not everyone sees things the same way as Frank – Bernthal is particularly good in “One Bad Day” – but then again the idea of doing things entirely by the book has shown itself to be ineffective. (This was the underlying theme of Daredevil’s stellar third season, too.) It was surprising how conscientiously the first season dealt with these themes – I suppose you have to in a show like this to avoid glamourizing anti-heroes like Frank, which on some level both seasons have accomplished. It’s difficult not to like him because he’s so awesome, but nobody in their right mind would want to be him, which I suppose is the point.
Meanwhile Billy and Dumont are having a lot of kinky pain-based sex. On the subject of trauma, Dumont is covered in scars, and not all of them are self-inflicted. She describes an accident as a child that in some way relates to her seemingly irrational fear of windows, but she doesn’t go into it. See, even the therapist is traumatised!
As a brief side note, I’d just like to point out that Ben Barnes is… not intimidating. Like, at all.
Anyway, Billy decides to leave in order to protect Dumont – you’ll recall that this dynamic mirrors why Frank didn’t want to get involved with Beth way back in the premiere – and she would like him to stay, but you don’t always get you want. She can’t even look through the window to watch him go, which is a shame, but then again there’s a roughly 100% chance he’ll be back.
After her brief encounter with Pilgrim in the previous episode, Madani runs his prints with the help of a ludicrously overeager tech support woman. She’s another character blatantly inserted for comic relief purposes, but she also allows us a glimpse at something we haven’t really seen before: How other people in law enforcement perceive Madani after what she went through last season. The consensus seems to be that she’s a hero, which makes it even more awkward that she’s gone all extrajudicial in her approach to dealing with Billy.
Frank and Curtis are attempting to deal with Billy in “One Bad Day” too, starting with investigating Jake’s Spartan apartment. It turns out he’s a “tweaker”, a meth addict, which is causing him serious problems during the dress rehearsal for the robbery that Billy’s crew plan to commit the next day. When Billy proposes they all spend the night in their warehouse hideout for operational security purposes, Jake is just about going into withdrawal.
This obviously provides an opportunity for Frank and Curt, who kidnap Jake when he sneaks out in the middle of the night to score drugs. During his interrogation there’s a very funny scene in which he tries to play the big man and suggest that Frank wouldn’t dare slap him around if he was untied, which it turns out doesn’t work with Frank. Not one bit. Curt plays good cop to Frank’s bad, but Madani is totally disillusioned by the whole ordeal and decides she’s going to have to play it straight from now on. In the meantime, Jake breaks and gives up the crew’s hideout.
As another side note, I should mention that Madani also has a brief meeting with her CIA contact, Marion (Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio), thus introducing a new government muckety-muck angle into the proceedings that may or may not become important later on. Something to keep an eye on.
Anyway, Frank and Curt arrive at the warehouse seconds after Billy and Co. make off to the check-cashing spot they intend to rob, where their scheme is temporarily thwarted by an admirably stubborn cashier, giving Frank time to catch up – in the skull vest, people! We have arrived. It’s even still bloodstained and ****! There’s no wonder that Billy has a minor breakdown when he sees it. A chase ensues as “One Bad Day” ends, and I thank my lucky stars once again for Netflix’s direct-to-binge distribution model.
Jonathon is the Co-Founder of Ready Steady Cut and has been Senior Editor and Chief Critic of the outlet since 2017.