Beware of spoilers for Marvel Netflix show The Punisher ahead…
In the comics, Billy Russo is a mob assassin whose face is mangled by The Punisher, turning him into Jigsaw. But that’s very different to the Billy Russo we meet in the TV adaptation that hit Netflix today…
Who is Billy Russo in The Punisher?
When we meet Billy Russo, he seems like a good guy. A soldier who served alongside Frank Castle in Afghanistan, the pair were best friends, helping each other through the terrible things they saw, did and endured.
Post-war, Russo is the founder and CEO of private security firm Anvil; an ambitious businessman endeavouring to make a success of his corporation.
But as The Punisher progresses, we learn some unpleasant things about Billy. Involving what his battalion got up to during the war. And the lengths he — and Anvil — are now willing to go to to keep that information secret. There’s also the small matter of his involvement in the death of Frank’s family.
He soon learns that Castle is alive, but rather than being happy, Billy feels betrayed. And with Frank endeavouring to blow the whistle on their past exploits, he decides to kill his friend.
As we move into the final episode of the series, Russo’s moral compass is badly broken, with Billy blowing up government buildings and agents, and desperately searching for Frank to finally put him in the ground. Which is when the real fun begins.
How does Billy Russo Become Jigsaw?
In his efforts to settles scores, Billy visits fellow former soldier Curtis Hoyle, who tells him he needs help, and that while he’s almost exactly the same as The Punisher, “Frank would never betray a brother.”
Russo ends up on the phone with Castle, agrees to rendezvous by the “painted horses” where Frank’s family died, and what follows is brutal.
With a pair of teens strung up on the merry-go-round, Frank and Billy exchange shots, with Russo exclaiming, “We are not good people, Frank. We never were.” Frank shoots him in the cheek, and Billy spits the bullet out. He then punches him in the face. Over and over again.
And that’s before proceedings get really nasty. Because Frank stabs Billy in the stomach with a shard of glass, smashes his head into a mirror, and then slowly scrapes his face along the glass.
He shapes to cut Billy’s neck, with Russo begging, “Kill me!” But Frank responds with: “I’m not going to let you die today. Dying’s easy.”
He then repeatedly smashes Russo’s head face-first into the mirror, while stating, “You’re gonna learn about pain. You’re gonna learn about loss. Every morning I look for them, and then I remember. It’s going to be the same for you, when you look at your ugly, mangled face. You’re going to remember what you did. You’re gonna remember, Bill. You’re gonna remember me!”
What’s the Future For Jigsaw?
It may seem a bit far-fetched that Frank would let Billy live after all the terrible things he’s done. But it mirrors — pun intended — what happened in the comics. Frank left Billy alive the day he turned him into Jigsaw, to send a message to the rest of the mob. And has done the same repeatedly ever since.
In the Netflix shows, letting Billy live seems to be a way for Castle to regain his humanity. But it also sets things up nicely for Season 2, where a disfigured Russo can be the big bad from the start.
What shape will he be in should that happen? This is how Billy/Jigsaw’s doctor put it in the show…
“Kept him under for 11 hours. He should live. But they have no idea if he’ll ever gain significant brain function. Or to what degree. He could wake up tomorrow. Or never. And remember everything. Or not even his own name.”
We’re willing to bet he remembers EVERYTHING, with Season 2 — should it get a green-light — finding Frank finally doing battle with his most famous foe.
The Punisher is on Netflix now.