Will Frank be to Karen what Elektra is to Matt?

Nov 16, 2017

Will Frank be to Karen what Elektra is to Matt?

Nov 16, 2017

Hey gang! Yup, I vanished for a bit (again). I started a new job last Monday and ended the one before it in quite a bit of frenzy, so lots of things going on. With The Punisher coming out tomorrow, though, I thought I’d at least elaborate on one thought that occurred to me, and then leave the comments under this post open for whoever wants to discuss this or anything else to do with the latest show coming out of the Netflix corner of the MCU.

I’m definitely looking forward to watching The Punisher over the weekend, in large part because I have no real expectations for what it’s going to be, and am not heavily invested in it. I have seen some people who are not “Kastle” fans worry about what any kind of potential romantic relationship with Frank might mean for Karen, whom most consider a Daredevil property. I suppose that’s one point where my own wishes for who ultimately ends up with whom might be compromised, but I honestly doubt the two will have more than a fleeting moment of anything approaching a real relationship. Deborah Ann Woll herself also makes some really good points about avoiding cliches in this interview with Harper’s Bazaar, and I hope they’ve taken much of what she’s saying to heart.

Still, it’s worth exploring what exactly Frank and Karen are to each other, and this leads me to a comparison with Matt and Elektra. Mind you, the comparison is (obviously) not perfect, but there are some interesting parallels:

“You get me…”

We still don’t know what secret Karen is hiding from everyone, on screen and off. We might find out during the course of this show, but we may not. Either way, whatever relationship Karen has built with Frank up to this point, is based in part on her recognizing something in him that lets her make sense of her own actions. In finding good in him she’s finding forgiveness for herself. I would argue that Matt was attracted to Elektra for much the same reason. Even without knowing her backstory, he immediately recognized something in her that allowed him to accept and treasure a deeply hidden part of himself.

“…but I’m not going to tell you why”

Despite being pulled to the other because of perceived similarities, both Karen and Matt remain tight-lipped about their deepest secrets. Elektra obviously knows about Matt’s abilities, but it isn’t until she tells him that she suspects something that he shares his secret with her. Karen has yet to share hers with Frank of anyone else.

All alone – together

As mentioned in the interview I linked to above, The Punisher takes place after the end of The Defenders and Karen is once again as lonely as she was at the beginning of the first episode of Daredevil. Frank, meanwhile is even more devoted to his “alone against the world” mentality. The same was true for Matt and Elektra at the time of their first meeting. They’re both orphans, and remain each other’s only real support against the outside world. Matt obviously had Foggy, but the fact that he was still alone with his secret made that friendship less intimate than it could have been.

All the sparks…

What these two “couples” (I wouldn’t really classify Frank and Karen as a couple) also have in common is the chemistry. As you know, I’m not a big fan of Matt and Elektra as longterm partners, but there’s no denying that they feel a very strong attraction to each other. Frank and Karen don’t have anything approaching that, but there are still some definite sparks there.

…but oh so destructive

Matt is good for Elektra, and Karen is good for Frank. The former exert a calming and generally positive influence on the latter, but the reverse is not necessarily true. Elektra is able to show Matt what his desires are and teach him to be true to himself, which is definitely a good thing. In the longer run, though, I remain convinced that their relationship can never really be a healthy one for Matt. The same is probably true of Frank’s influence on Karen. If Frank can make it easier for Karen to forgive herself for whatever she’s done, that’s great. But, like Elektra, Frank is bound to bring chaos into the lives of even the people he cares for.

Agree? Disagree? Have your say in the comment section!


  1. Donald Reif

    This is pretty much everything I would have said.

    Here’s a related fact: for Frank and Elektra, their mentors (Colonel Schoonover and Stick) are so alike, it’s actually spooky when you think about it. Mutilated right arm? Check. Killed by their apprentice? Check. Part of an organization fighting evil? Check. Stick, however, is firmly a good guy (although definitely not the guy I’d send father’s day cards to) and killed by his surrogate daughter who turned evil, while Colonel Schoonover is a seemingly good guy who was secretly trafficking opium and heroin out of Kandahar.

    There’s another parallel between Elektra and Frank in the sense that both tried to get Matt to kill someone in order to prove a point (Roscoe Sweeney in Elektra’s case, Grotto in Frank’s case).

    Another Matt to Karen parallel: Matt is pulled into Elektra and Stick’s world because of unresolved closure he never had with either of them. I think it’s much like how Karen’s initial investigation into Frank is both because of her seeking redemption for whatever happened to her brother as well as the guilt she’s harbored over killing Wesley.

    Considering that Matt and Karen are more or less the anchors of the A (lead) and A-1 (secondary lead) plots in Daredevil, I’d go so far as to say these parallels were intentional. (I’d say something more about how both Matt and Karen try and fail to talk Frank out of killing someone on killing different occasions – Grotto in Matt’s case, Colonel Schoonover in Karen’s case – but that’d be best saved for another discussion)

  2. Callistemon

    Elektra seems to bring out the more hedonistic side of Matt. He does things that he wouldn’t normally does and enjoys it immensely. Even though their opinions differ on many issues (killing being the most contentious) I think Matt still respects Elektra in a way that is not mirrored in the Karen/Frank relationship. Karen seems to talk down to both Matt and Frank in some ways. Yes, she calls out Matt’s hypocritical talk of protection, but even after she finds out about his skills, in the Defenders, she’s still quite patronising and ableist. She also seems to revel in taking the moral high ground with Frank. I find that aspect of her personality really irritating.

  3. Donald Reif

    UPDATE: They didn’t explore Karen’s bond with Frank that much in The Punisher at all. She was only in four episodes and her contributions were A) helping Frank find Micro and B) being used as part of the resolution to the Lewis Wilson subplot.

    @Callistemon I would think that hopefully, season 3 will see Karen undergo that character development, that once Matt becomes open and honest and willing to let her into his Daredevil side, her attitude will change.

  4. Jack Batlin

    I’m all in on the Punisher on Netflix. The writing has depth, the actors give top notch performances and holy crap the show looks gorgeous. Bernthal is superb as Frank Castle. Overall, the show is tremendous.

  5. Nora

    I totally agree. Excellent series!

  6. Tate

    I’m glad they didn’t go a romantic route with Karen and I didn’t really expect them to. Definitely in the top tier of Marvel’s Netflix, but nowhere near as good either season of Daredevil or Jessica Jones. Too many episodes that were just plain boring in the first half. Marvel needs to abandon the 13 episode format with Netflix. Make the shows as long as they need to be. Punisher as good as it was, could’ve been cut down to about 7 episodes and it would’ve been so much better.

    Also I kind of hated the ending. It was bad enough they hit the reset button on the character from the ending of Daredevil Season 2, but having Frank continue to question being “The Punisher” at this point is ridiculous.

  7. Donald Reif

    Speaking of Karen, I think she deserves to make her own choices instead of the men around her making them for her. He’s lied to her, made her scared of him to the point of her drawing a gun on him, he’s used her as bait to draw out the Blacksmith, and he didn’t even bother to check on her when she was badly injured. Yeah, when he came for the Blacksmith, he crashed his vehicle into Karen’s car and it’s pretty clear that her medical needs were not his top priority. His protecting her from Lewis here in The Punisher doesn’t excuse the fact that in DDS2, Frank treated Karen much worse than any of Matt’s missteps.

  8. Nora

    Happy anniversary, Christine! Lokking forward to reading your next posts!

  9. Donald Reif

    I’m kinda glad they didn’t go the romantic angle for Karen’s relationship with Frank, because I think it wouldn’t make sense. Getting together is something neither of them would do and it is against what they stand for. The whole point about her being an investigative journalist is because she can do what Matt fails to do. Suppose she gets into a relationship with Frank, how would that turn out? Well, I think something would have to give, be it Frank’s methods or Karen’s morality. Plus, Frank wouldn’t get Karen involved with his life. He knows better. Because not only he is not available, he understands this would be a bad idea. Karen is his morality pet, his far gone human side that he has left behind. He will protect her as an idealistic idea but not as a romantic partner.

    Kastle makes as much sense to me as shipping Matt with Danny Rand or Luke Cage. The problem with shippers is that they don’t care about their shipping would affect the character arcs, the narrative, and the overall themes and all that other good stuff.

  10. Giacomo


  11. Donald Reif

    I would say that Karen’s part on the Punisher was great, but it could have been better. Like, she kinda became a plot device in the Lewis storyline, getting put in danger just so Frank could have a reason to get involved (they couldn’t just rely on his connection to Curtis??). Not to mention that they don’t really touch on the fact that while Karen is sympathetic to Frank, she doesn’t approve of his methods or they parted on bad terms in DDS2.

    I will say this, Deborah Ann Woll is great at subtly portraying a griefstricken woman who has to mask her grief because she can’t open up to anyone about Matt’s death without revealing that he’s Daredevil (and according to Jon Bernthal at a recent panel, they actually cut some footage where Karen outright discussed Matt with Frank). It also underscores all her interactions with Frank here. Given that she repeatedly expressed fears about Matt’s vigilantism ruining his life and it ultimately got him “killed”, it makes sense that she’s more worried for Frank’s wellbeing here.

  12. Lee Jones

    Most people may not want Matt to be with Elektra or Karen to be with Frank. I don’t know what will happen with these two relationships.

    But I don’t want Karen to be with Matt. I’m sorry, but I don’t think he’s healthy for her. I don’t think he’s healthy for Elektra. I don’t know what it is about him, but there are times when I find myself wondering if Matt has some unhealthy whore/Madonna issues.


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