The Punisher is a show based on a face from Marvel's previous properties, Frank Castle from Daredevil Season 2. But now that we're off in our new world of a show just based on Castle's life, it's time to meet so new faces. One of those meetings might seem familiar: a solider, who now runs a therapy group for those who've come home. But who is Curtis Hoyle on The Punisher? And why is Castle checking in to see him.
Frank Castle's visit to see Curtis echoes the same sort of scene in Captain America: Winter Solider, where Steve stops by to see Anthony Mackie's character, working at the VA, and counseling guys who come home with PTSD. There things are different though. Steve Rogers, after all, isn't presumed dead.
Castle, on the other hand, is supposed to be dead. And for that reason, he's not actually letting anyone see him at the meeting. He's off in a corner, outside the room, waiting for the meeting to end, listening as Curtis struggles with a bigoted Vietnam vet who uses the meetings to spout ugly nonsense.
So who is Curtis, and why does he know Frank's alive and no one else does? Well the first thing we learn about Curtis is that he's kind. He cares about these vets who are coming home from the war, who have no one to talk to and carry shame around their condition. We see him talking to one Iraq vet named Lewis, a kid who's been more messed up than we realize, and who Curtis is genuinely concerned about heading down a dark path.
He should know from dark paths. He's watched Castle walk down one, step by step. He was once a part of Frank's unit in the marines. They served together. (Curtis called Frank "Lieutenant.") He's also very up to date on what happened to Frank, and says he would have helped take down those bastards, if he'd been cast in Daredevil Season 2, oh I mean, if Frank had asked that is.
Curtis also obviously knows who got Castle that new name and passport, and clearly thinks Castle should be moving on and starting a new life. He's also lending Castle books the same way he's loaning them to Lewis, but telling him to remember "books are great, but they don't have all the answers."
Curtis isn't just a soldier, as we learn later. He's got field doctor experience as well. When Castle is badly injured during a fire fight on a Kentucky mountainside, it's Curtis who Micro rushed to find, and begged to come help in the middle of the night. Yeah, it's surgery with knives and booze and cauterizing the wound with fire. But it does the trick and saves Castle's life.
One wonders if that's who was patching Castle up off screen during his earlier escapades too. That might explain why Curtis is the one who knows Castle is alive, while everyone else in their unit thinks he's dead, including those like Billy Russo who runs the Anvil program.
Russo is another one from their unit who is suddenly seeing Castle's name pop up everywhere. It's interesting that Curtis, who initially comes by to see the Anvil training, and gently pushes Russo to cut Lewis out of the training because it's the last thing the kid needs, is so reluctant to out Castle's status of alive of dead to Billy.
Curtis definitely has Castle's back, but he's banging his head against the wall trying to convince Frank to give up the fight, and save him from himself. Is he doing the same in trying to save Lewis from himself as well? Time will tell.