'Marvel's The Punisher' - "Memento Mori" Episode 13 Season Finale Recap

So this is it. We've reached the final episode of our binge. Episode 13, the season finale of Marvel's The Punisher. Titled "Memento Mori", the episode closes off what has been an extremely solid season. Surely one of the best of Netflix's Marvel series to date. But how will The Punisher stick the landing?

The finale begins with Madani helping patch Frank back up, but not turning him in to the police. This leaves Frank free to track down Billy Russo and end this Operation Cerberus nonsense once and for all.

Billy has plans of his own, paying a visit to his and Frank's mutual friend, Curtis. He wants to use Curtis as bait to lure out Frank, but little does he know Frank Castle has beaten him to the punch. Frank opens fire on Billy from his sniper position on a rooftop across the street. As Billy takes cover, the two frenemies talk on the phone to discuss how to best resolve their issues. They agree on meeting at the merry-go-round at midnight where the Castle family was murdered. So, Frank lets Billy go and then prepares himself for that night.

In a brief interlude, there is a flashback to Frank and Billy in happier times on the day of the Castle family murders. Billy is known as "Uncle Billy" to the Castle kids, and he really is an actual part of their family. It makes it all the more tragic how far Billy has fallen from this moment. What doesn't entirely work in the scene is Billy's retelling of the "Billy the Kid" outlaw story, which is completely on the nose and too cheeky for this particular series.

Jumping back to present day, Frank and Billy both arrive at the merry-go-round, ready for a fight. Billy has brought along two hostages, complicating things for Frank. The entire set-up for this merry-go-round finale is pretty contrived. Not only does it make no sense that Frank would let Billy go when he had him in his crosshairs, it's even stupider that Billy actually shows up to confront Frank like he agreed upon! He could have easily ditched town and fled the country. But no, the show needed these two men at this specific location, and they would bend the story however they needed to fit that idea. They try to explain it away by saying Frank and Billy have a code, but we've seen both men break that code several times in the past. This is the type of plot contrivance that can completely destroy a television show. Luckily, the show presents a climactic fight sequence so stunning it makes up for any missteps it took to get there.

The showdown between Frank and Billy is one for the ages. First they try to use stealth and guns, but eventually they devolve into fists and knives. Agent Madani arrives just in time to distract Billy and take a bullet to the head, giving Frank the upper hand. Frank ends up overpowering Billy, but ultimately decides not to kill him. He has something far worse in store for Russo. Frank smashes and drags Billy's face across the shards of a broken mirror, horribly disfiguring him. Frank wants Billy to live and be reminded daily of the horrific things he has done.

To wrap things up, Agent Madani manages to survive her bullet to the head and seems to be in ok condition. Billy, however, is taken into custody where it's unsure if he'll ever even wake up. The C.I.A. and Homeland Security both agree to let Frank continue living as a free man using his Pete Castiglione persona. David is fully welcomed back into his family, where everything seems to point toward a happy ending. In the end, Frank Castle joins Curtis' support group, ready to try using his words instead of his guns.

Overall, the finale did an excellent job of closing out the season. Every storyline felt like it had the appropriate amount of closure, while the tease of Billy becoming Jigsaw was played subtly enough to not feel like a cheap cliffhanger. The only character who feels slightly shortchanged in the finale is Madani, whose storyline and character arc didn't really end up paying off quite as well as the other characters'. But hey, that's what a season two is for.

Let us know your thoughts on the season finale of Marvel's The Punisher, as well as the season as a whole in the comments below!