Billy Russo's Backstory On 'The Punisher' Explains So Much About Who He Is

by Ani Bundel

After the reveal that Billy Russo wasn't on Castle's side at the end of episode 6, we've been curious exactly how Castle could have trusted the guy so highly, and yet have been so wrong. We get our first glimpse in Episode 8, as Russo admits at Castle was, at one time, the only real friend he ever had. So what changed? And how did Russo wind up who he is today? As we get more information on Billy Russo's backstory on The Punisher, it slowly becomes clear this is a man with a lot of issues he needs to be logging on a therapist's couch. Warning: This post contains spoilers for The Punisher Season 1.

Let's start with that opening scene as Russo visits what seems to be his mother in a comatose state. She's not though. Comatose, that is. She's not moving because she's trying to wait out his visit without him hurting her. She's 100% terrified of the man who has come to visit. He's got her in a old folk's hospital, where he's basically paying them to keep her tied down and drugged, so that she can lay in that bed and reflect on her miserable life, and how she created a son so horrifically terrible.

I suppose that's one method of getting back at a parent in their old age.


So what did dear old mom do that left Billy so angry that this is how he keeps her, now that she's dependent on him? Well it seems that she couldn't keep custody of him when he was young. She was a meth head, a drug addict. Rather than attempt to raise a child in that state, she left her baby in a box, at the local fire station, hoping that he would be adopted, and someone, somewhere would care about him since she couldn't.

Sadly, Billy wasn't adopted. Instead he grew up in the foster care system. He mentions group homes during that visit. But it's not until he's talking to Dinah later that he gives more details, about his time at the Ray of Good Group Home. He was a young boy, about 10 or 11, when one of the "Good Samaritans" who had been hanging out there began to take a particular interest in him.

They played sports together. "Stickball," Billy recalls. Like most young boys without any sort of parental figure, young Billy attached himself to this man, seeing him as "so cool" and someone he could emulate when he got older. Someone he could look up to.


You know where this is going right? After all the stories in the news, this is yet anohter moment where Marvel's The Punisher is accidentally topical, perhaps in a way they wish they weren't. Because of course, this "Good Samaritan" wasn't hanging out at a group home for boys because he was a person with god in his heart and only good deeds in his mind. He wasn't trying to be Billy's father figure. He was grooming him.

When a grown man tells you that you're pretty, you know nothing good is coming.

At the age of 11, Billy suddenly found himself betrayed, and the parental figure he looked up to was nothing more than yet another person who wanted to use and abuse him. Traumatized by the discovery, he completely freaked out and when after the man, trying to beat him to death with a stickball bat.

But what's one scrawny 11 year old kid against a grown man, even if he does get a good lick in or two? Instead, Russo found himself flat on his back, as the man he's been so emotionally attached to broke his arm, ripped his rotator cuff to shreds and gave him those scars that Madani was so impressed with..

Note that at the end of the conversation, he lies about finding his mother. There are just some things it's best Madani doesn't know.