The geek side­kick in The Pu­n­isher who – shocker – ac­tu­ally has a real life!

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UK Broad­cast Net­flix US Broad­cast Net­flix

Hold up! Have we just en­tered a par­al­lel real­ity? How else can you ex­plain the ex­is­tence of a male com­puter geek side­kick in a sci-fi show who has a fam­ily? Who has a love life? Who doesn’t quote Star Wars’ ev­ery other line, or wear Bat­tlestar Galac­tica t-shirts? Good grief, how can that be any fun?

Mi­cro, aka David Lieber­man, re­mains one of the best things about Marvel’s The Pu­n­isher de­spite – or to be hon­est, partly be­cause – he doesn’t con­form to those clichés. He has his mo­ments of quirky hu­mour, sure, but he’s no quip­meis­ter; he’s more likely to be in­tense, driven and a lit­tle scary. The fact that this ap­par­ently cosy mid­dle-class Nerd Herd-er seeks out killing ma­chine Frank Cas­tle as an ally says so much about him. Mi­cro may not have Cas­tle’s mil­i­tary train­ing, but he’s more than ready to use his own skills to sim­i­lar ends:

cold-blooded re­venge. He’s not just Cas­tle’s ally, he’s his mir­ror; or at least a mir­ror of a po­ten­tial Cas­tle. Be­cause un­like Cas­tle, he still has a fam­ily, and one that he’s will­ing to die for – twice! So at the heart of all the ul­tra-vi­o­lence, Mi­cro’s story pro­vides the heart – a gen­uinely sweet love story.

Cru­cial to Mi­cro’s im­pact is Ebon Moss-Bachrach’s re­strained per­for­mance. There’s no Jeff Gold­blum ec­cen­tric­ity or reefer chill vibe here; Moss-Bachrach’s Mi­cro is all sim­mer­ing rage wrapped in bath-robed res­ig­na­tion. His pale blue eyes look con­stantly on the verge of frustrated tears. He has the body lan­guage of a whupped whip­pet that looks like it’s go­ing to bite back at any sec­ond. And he also man­ages to call Cas­tle, “You beau­ti­ful man” with not a whiff of slash fic­tion po­ten­tial. Mi­cro may love his wife, but his bro­mance with Cas­tle is epic. Dave Golder

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