Warning: SPOILERS for The Punisher Season 1
Season 2 of The Punisher has finally come to Netflix, picking up right where Frank Castle left off. But if fans are just as excited to see the damage he left on his old friend Billy Russo a.k.a. Jigsaw... they had better prepare for a disappointment.
To be fair, the main reason that the Netflix version of Jigsaw - the disfigured, twisted Punisher villain - turns out to be such a letdown is because the potential had seemed so high. After the first season's finale left Billy Russo with a destroyed face wrapped in bandages, the comic fans knew that the man who woke up would be a new breed of villain. But when the first images of how broken--or should we say unbroken Billy's face would really be, it didn't take long for fans to compare this version of Jigsaw to the Punisher movie's take, suggesting the Netflix version had chickened out.
Even if the truth behind this take on the villain is more complicated, there's no denying it: the reveal of Punisher's new Jigsaw is one ridiculous letdown.
- This Page: Punisher Season One Set Up Jigsaw Perfectly
- Next Page: Jigsaw Reveal is Punisher's Biggest Letdown
The Punisher's Jigsaw Set-Up Was Actually Perfect
As we mentioned above, something can't disappoint unless expectations were higher, and in this case they were more than earned. The first season of The Punisher was doing an incredible job of setting up Billy Russo's disfigurement before viewers even knew to look for hints. And where the version of Jigsaw in Punisher: War Zone was less than subtle with Billy's famous good looks, actor Ben Barnes made it an integral part of Billy's identity for the Netflix series - in surprisingly graceful fashion.
Sure, Billy's good looks contributed to his confidence and charm, leading to the affair that injected him into Frank Castle's mission. But more than that, Billy's exterior reflected the man beneath the skin. His war buddies noted he could be as silent as he was slick and suave, but the lengthy shots of him primping and preening in the mirror made more sense once his origins were revealed. Abandoned by his mother. Abused and broken as a child. And yet even after his black ops tours in Afghanistan, he didn't let a single crack show. Like the titular character of The Picture of Dorian Gray Billy is shown reading, he is untouched, unspoiled, and untainted - all it cost him was his soul.
The Punisher Mangled Billy's Face For a Reason
"When you look at your ugly, mangled face, you're going to remember what you did."
What made both Billy's characterization and disfigurement so satisfying was that it actually worked to make him a character with depth (and not just emphasize his vanity for the sake of losing it). The first season began with Billy claiming that he was lucky to get out of the Marines before he was affected by PTSD like so many of their brothers. But if that seemed like denial, Billy proved himself a master of self-delusion when allowing his best friend and his family to be slaughtered... and never looked back. Well, until Frank Castle decided that it was time for Billy's sins to mark him in a way he couldn't ignore.
Frank's family was everything to him, so he took what Billy valued most: not just his good looks, but the unbreakable veneer of a man who had escaped his life unscathed. And as Frank shot, cut, and eventually drove Billy's face into broken glass, he succeeded in turning him into a monster. Or, perhaps, revealing that he had been one all along, and could no longer hide it from anyone, including himself. The injuries were stomach-turning, but poetic. Unfortunately, the removal of Billy's bandages in Season 2 shows the plan didn't work out as well as Frank, or the viewers, had hoped.