'Marvel's The Punisher' - "Virtue of the Vicious" Episode 10 Recap

Marvel's The Punisher spends its tenth episode, "Virtue of the Vicious", entirely on Lewis' hotel assault to kill Senator Ori. Instead of a traditional narrative structure, the episode takes on both an interview-style framing device AND an Affair-like shifting perspective device. The episode bounces around in time, sometimes showing different versions of the same event. It's a bit convoluted and not entirely successful. Luckily, everything around the complicated framing device is The Punisher at the top of its game.

Karen Page arrives at the hotel to interview Senator Ori about his stance on gun laws and Lewis Wilson's recent bombings. Speaking of the devil, Lewis blows up the door to the room and opens fire on Karen and Ori. Frank Castle arrives just in time prevent Ori's death, but Lewis manages to grab Karen and hold her hostage as he escapes.

Jumping back to before the attack, Agent Madani arrives at the hotel to confront Billy Russo about his Anvil men being the attackers that killed Stein. Billy denies any sort of knowledge about the attack, saying the men weren't working on orders from him. Madani has her suspicions, but before she can probe further Lewis' explosion goes off, calling Billy to action.

Madani races up the stairs toward the explosion and runs into Frank, who is racing down the stairs in pursuit of Lewis. Madani wants Frank to turn himself in so they can take down Rawlins and everyone else involved in Cerberus using the right, legal means. Frank isn't having any of that and is about to carry on his merry way when Billy opens fire from the stairway above. This causes a stand-off between Madani and Billy over the life of Frank. It's here that Madani realizes that Billy was the one responsible for Stein's death. Before anyone can resolve anything, a SWAT team arrives to break up the situation. Frank evades them and makes his way toward Lewis.

Frank catches up to Lewis and Karen. Lewis is rigged with explosives and threatens to blow them all up if Frank doesn't let him escape. As Frank tries to talk him down, he secretly gives a signal to Karen on which wire to pull from the bomb. Karen pulls the wire and Frank attacks, resulting in Lewis being locked inside a freezer. Not wanting to be taken in by the police, Lewis rearms his bomb vest and blows himself up.

Frank secretly escapes the building via a zip line. During police questioning, both Karen and Madani stick up for Frank, painting him as a hero and Lewis as the real culprit. Now that the Lewis Wilson arc has come to an end, and Madani is more on Frank's side than ever, the season is prepared for Billy to step more firmly into the role of big bad. It should be an exciting final three episodes.

A common critique amongst all of the Marvel Netflix series is that they tend to burn out toward the end as they try to stretch and fill their episode count. For example, the otherwise amazing Jessica Jones begins to fizzle out and tread water in episode 9 after the capture of Kilgrave. The Punisher finds a way to fix that problem by introducing Lewis Wilson as a very worthy and interesting secondary villain. He gets his own arc that is both narratively and thematically linked to the overall story AND it's used to address concerns over our current real life gun laws. Talk about a win-win. Instead of stretching out the Cerberus and Billy arcs across the entire episode, they get to take a backseat as Lewis Wilson's story ramps up and gets resolved.

Great stuff in what is turning out to be a pretty great season of television. Let us know your thoughts on "Virtue of the Vicious" in the comments below!