Hold onto your hats, kids, because this episode of The Punisher was a wild ride! We’re just about halfway through the season and as such, this episode teased exactly what we can expect for the rest of the season…and it’s a lot! So much so that this recap is being split in two! For all things related to Dinah Madani, Billy Russo, and that major villain reveal, visit our other recap here! Otherwise, sit back, relax, and let’s recap.
‘The Judas Goat’ opens with Frank sitting at the Lieberman dinner table. Sarah, David, and the kids are all present, as well as Maria and his own children. Frank, still oblivious to the fact that this is a dream, smiles. They’ve all gotten together for one big, happy Thanksgiving. But when a knock at the door comes, things start to go sideways. Frank looks down only to find himself tied to the chair. He starts shouting as soldiers wearing ski masks come marching in. He begs them to stop, to wait, but it’s no use. They open fire and kill everyone at the table, splattering the food, decorations, and Frank himself with the blood of his family.
Frank’s used to nightmares, but this is more vivid than your average bad dream. It was induced by his wounds. His strength is failing and David can only do so much. So David tracks down Curtis in the middle of the night and says two simple words. “Frank’s dying.”
Curtis is confused, obviously, but he doesn’t hesitate. If Frank’s in danger, he’ll do whatever he can to help him. It turns out it’s the arrow that’s causing most of the problem. His body is unable to fight off infection because of it, but just pulling the arrow out of his shoulder would only make it worse. The only way to get it out is to pull it through. And yes, it’s as intense as it sounds.
David flinches and looks away, looking more than a little green. So, as Curtis cuts deeply into Frank’s back, reaches in, and pulls the arrow straight through, he tells David to repeat after him.
Curtis: ” Do not lose your shit, you understand me? Say it.”
David: “I will not lose my shit.”
It’s a struggle, especially when Curtis has to cauterize the wound, but David manages to hang in there. Frank’s going to be okay. But Curtis isn’t happy with David. Whatever they’re up to, sure, it might work. And it might have a happy ending for David, but what about for Frank? What is he getting out of this? Curtis has a point, but he isn’t necessarily right. Frank isn’t alone anymore. He has a purpose again, and he’s starting to find things and people he actually cares about. Frank may need this as much as David does.
When he wakes up, his first thought is about Gunner. Where he is and if he’s alright. He tries to get up out of bed but David pushes him back down, calming him and breaking the news to him that Gunner didn’t make it. Frank’s face falls, but he still tries to get up. After all, Frank’s a marine, and he never leaves a man behind.
“I left him, I gotta go back for him.”
David assures him that it’s been taken care of, that Gunner will receive a proper burial. Frank lays down again with a pained look on his face, turns to David and thanks him. And it’s completely genuine.
Meanwhile, Curtis is still having problems of his own. Lewis still hasn’t returned to group, and he’s now spending most of his time with O’Connor, a particularly troublesome group member. He’s very much against the system and is extremely pro-guns. He describes Curtis as the “mommy” of the group meetings, holding everyone’s hands, telling them it’s going to be okay. That’s not the way to win this fight. Curtis points out that there is no fight, and there is no winning.
He tells them that when he was being trained, they gave him a goat. And they basically tortured this goat in every way possible. They cut it, shot it, hit it with grenades. And it was his job to heal the goat. And he did, time and time again until eventually, the goat died. He just suffered too much. So, what stops them from ending up just like the goat? Curtis is telling the story to the group, but I think he has Frank in mind. He fits the description of ‘The Judas Goat’, after all. How much can he take before his life just gives out?
O’Connor doesn’t believe in any of this, and he’s managed to rope Lewis into believing his spiel. Outside of City Hall, they hand out papers talking about protecting their amendment and right to bear arms. A cop pulls up and asks them if they have a permit to protest and Lewis politely says that they aren’t protesting. They’re less than twenty people, they don’t have any vehicles and they aren’t blocking sidewalks or doorways. They’re just handing out literature, as it were. But the cop isn’t buying it and warns them to leave. O’Connor starts to get going but Lewis is standing his ground. He isn’t doing anything wrong, after all. But this cop isn’t having it. “Did you just reach for my gun?” he asks. Lewis didn’t, but it doesn’t matter. The cop throws him to the ground and arrests him on the spot. And when he looks for help, he sees that O’Connor is long gone.
It’s Curtis that bails him out of jail, and when they reunite he tells Lewis the truth about O’Connor. He looked at his files and everything he said was a lie. He didn’t serve until ’77. And he never once saw combat. When Curtis told him this, he was hoping that it would set Lewis on the right path. But it only fuels his anger. So, he pays a little visit to O’Connor and calls him out on his lies. And when he doesn’t know the name of the base that he claimed to be stationed at, it’s the final straw. O’Connor tells Lewis to get out, but Lewis instead punches him in the jaw. O’Connor grabs the knife off the table and cuts him, but Lewis is able to wrestle it away, take it firmly in his grasp and plunge it into O’Connor’s gut. Not just once. He continues to stab him at least ten times until O’Connor is dead.
It’s a shocking and horrifying scene, but it isn’t surprising. Curtis warned us that Lewis was close to the edge, we just didn’t know when the snap would occur. The real question is what will happen next? Will he try and cover it up, but be racked with guilt? Will he go straight to Curtis, begging for help? Or is this only the beginning of a murder spree?
Back in the Lieberman household, things aren’t quite so dire, but they aren’t good. Leo is doing amazingly well in school (she received over 100% on her test thanks to a bonus question), but Zach is still having trouble, way more than we knew. It turns out that the skateboard he came home with is actually stolen. Sarah found this out from another parent, but Zach assumes it was his sister that told. So when Sarah accuses him of stealing it, Zach winds his arm back and punches Leo in the face, hard. This isn’t attitude or a tantrum, it’s pure violence. Sarah pulls Leo back and starts to yell at her son, but he keeps going. He tries to come at Leo again and then starts shouting about how their family is filled with snitches and betrayers. He walks away, punching and breaking their family portrait as he goes.
This family is falling apart, but it may be Frank that helps bring them together. He definitely gives Sarah strength. Near the end of the episode, Frank comes to the house to apologize for missing dinner. He tells her that he got in accident, which she hesitates to believe, but truthfully she can’t help but trust him. He ends up sitting with her and listening to her as she talks about her son, how overwhelmed she is. She doesn’t know what to do. But Frank reassures her. It’s the kids that will get her through, as much trouble as they are. They’ll be her strength. Things are going to start getting better for the Lieberman family. As Frank says this, he turns his head and looks directly into the hidden camera. And as David watches this unfold, he tears up. Maybe Frank’s right.
You can read our recap all about that villain reveal and all things Dinah Madani and Billy Russo here!
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