As it’s gone with other Marvel series, The Punisher debuted its second season on Netflix after a marketing campaign that only gave fans fleeting ideas for what to expect. One exciting new element we did know about was Scream vet Giorgia Whigham’s introduction as the comic-based Amy Bendix, which had star Jon Bernthal highly intrigued. Speaking with CinemaBlend’s Eric Eisenberg ahead of Season 2’s release, Bernthal explained why Amy’s arrival was so interesting for both him and Frank Castle.
I think it’s always interesting to get Frank uncomfortable, you know, to get him not just in physically dangerous situations that he’s got to fight himself out of, but situations where he can’t. And situations where he’s got to apply some sort of other technique, or situations where he’s boxed in. I think the most interesting thing you can do with him is get him emotionally boxed in, getting him involved emotionally. So I was really intrigued by the idea [of Amy]. I met Georgia and, you know, I care about her deeply and, as Frank does for Amy, I came to really respect and admire her in every way. And then, you know, love comes from that.
It’s relatively impossible to imagine Jon Bernthal’s Frank Castle reaching a point where he could unequivocally convince viewers that he’s entirely comfortable from his toe-tips to his hair-tips. For the most part, viewers are used to seeing the embattled character diving headfirst into situations that require the utmost physical endurance, with the emotional turmoil always lurking just behind. Season 2, however, is wholly invested in pushing Frank to his emotional brink, while also dealing heavy damage to his body.
As Jon Bernthal put it, the best way to shake Frank up is to get him emotionally invested in something. His Season 1 motivations had largely been tethered to avenging the deaths of his wife and children, but through Giorgia Whigham’s Amy, Season 2 allows Frank the chance to more fully grieve their memories, and to find ways to not only accept their deaths, but also to grow from them. (One scene involving Amy telling Frank he should keep daughter Lisa alive in his mind was particularly heart-wrenching.)
Though Frank may have entered Amy’s life as an outsider trying to save her from certain doom, their relationship continually builds throughout the season, to the point where she’s just as important as everyone else that isn’t on his shit list. Here, Jon Bernthal talks about how that personal investment is somewhat anti-intuitive for Frank.
You start to really care about somebody, and I think that that puts Frank in an enormously vulnerable situation. It puts him in a very uncomfortable situation, because he’s definitely a man who’s sort of sworn off that kind of connection. He’s very actively trying to fight against that kind of connection. I think it’s sort of like a microcosm for that. The same thing with Beth in the first episode, you know. He sort of goes against his better judgment, and proceeds and engages in this emotional, human interaction, which something that he really [isn’t used to]. That’s great.
In as much as any of Netflix’s Marvel dramas can be considered realistic, The Punisher‘s relationship between Frank and Amy follows a mostly natural arc, with the teen initially wanting little to do with the hulking bone-crusher, despite his efforts to keep her breathing. In time, though, she comes to trust Frank’s decisions and somewhat embraces his killer instincts.
That’s definitely a good thing for all involved, since the Walking Dead vetl makes it clear that Frank will probably always be locked into his kill-or-be-killed mindset. In Bernthal’s words:
I think that the higher meaning, or the bigger meaning, to that is what Frank really feels like he deserves in this world, and the kind of life he feels like he deserves to have is a solitary one where he’s got a skull on his chest, and he’s going killing bad guys. That’s really how he kind of gets there. So yeah, I’m grateful for anytime he’s uncomfortable.
Something tells me The Punisher Season 3, if it happens, wouldn’t be taking place entirely on a peaceful cruise ship where the biggest point of conflict is too many people wanting to play shuffleboard at the same time. Frank Castle doesn’t exactly do vacations, although I imagine that cruise would make him as uncomfortable as Billy Russo or John Pilgrim made him in Season 2.
Star Giorgia Whigham also talked with CinemaBlend about bringing Amy Bendix to live-action in Season 2. Here, the actress discussed how the young and not-as-street-savvy-as-she’d-like Amy evolved through the season’s 13 episodes as a distressed damsel who unwittingly stumbled into a life-changing relationship.
I don’t think Amy half-expected what was to come was coming. I think, you know, she starts off very naive and courageous, but way in over her head and doesn’t realize it. I feel like she saw so much — I think way too much for a young girl to see — so coming out, I think she definitely is wiser and more experienced. But she’s still open to new things, and I think she comes out having created a bond like no other, with somebody who was the last person she thought she was going to.
For some viewers, Amy might have been a challenge to fully enjoy in the earliest Season 2 episodes, considering her unique mix of snarky bravado and blind naivety. Of course, most teenagers’ behavior and attitudes are hard to embrace right from the offset, and Amy’s the only one who had to worry about sewing up a bullet wound on Frank’s ass cheek.
Saying that she actually shared quite a few characteristics with the comics’ Amy, Giorgia Whigham talked about working with showrunner Steve Lightfoot to prepare for the role, and about changing the character up from the source material.
It was really pretty straightforward with developing her. It was really cool because she’s based on the comic character, but it’s very loosely based. And Steve kind of wanted to make it clear that we’re not going to go and that exact specific direction. Yeah. So, you know, it was really cool to add my own quirks and traits and kind of just be able to develop her as the character that he wanted, and that I wanted, and it was a really collaborative, fun effort. . . . I worked a lot on Amy before going to New York to film, and as I was there, I spent a lot of time working on her and just looking way deeper than surface level.
In some ways, Amy took the place of Season 1’s Micro, by way of giving Frank a secondary mission that fittingly slotted in with his overarching quest for revenge. Oddly enough, I think Amy got on Frank’s “good side” way quicker than the in-hiding computer whiz ever did last season. (Although Frank’s situation with Micro’s wife may have played a role there.) In any case, Amy had a big impact on Jon Bernthal and Frank Castle, and it was definitely one felt by viewers.