The Punisher season two picks up right where the blood-soaked first season quietly left off, with human war machine Frank Castle (Jon Bernthal) suddenly finding himself without a war to fight and all out of people to shotgun in the face as vengeance for his family’s death. Earlier this year, Netflix invited Collider and a few other journalists to the show’s Brooklyn set to get a look at a sophomore season that is—if you can believe it—darker, more violent, and more bullet-riddled than before. In addition to getting a glimpse of Frank’s junkyard trailer hideout he shares with a new teenage sidekick of sorts, Amy (Giorgia Whigham), we got the chance to speak to Bernthal, Ben Barnes, Amber Rose Revah, Jason R. Moore, Josh Stewart—who plays this season’s creepy antagonist, John Pilgrim—who all confirmed that Frank Castle will never be able to hang up the old black-and-white skull vest for long.
Below, you can peruse through 30 things I learned from touring the set and sitting down with the cast, showrunner Steve Lightfoot, costume designer Lorraine Calvert, and production designer Scott Murphy.
The Punisher season two is the first Marvel Netflix season to not begin in New York City. Instead, Frank Castle is touring the United States. “Getting a look at the country he fought for but has never really seen,” Lightfoot said.
Frank’s vacation from violence doesn’t last long. According to Lightfoot, Frank finds “a new fight” in the very first episode of season two.
Frank’s traveling outfit is going to be more relaxed than usual—get ready to see The Punisher in blue jeans—but both Lightfoot and Bernthal made it clear that when the time comes to make another vest with the iconic skull symbol, it’s going to be an integral, plot-driven moment for the season. “This year, when he puts it on, we figured out a very intelligent, very tactical reason, a very psychologically tactical reason to wear it. It makes a lot of sense,” Bernthal said.
“If you ask, ‘What is the theme of season 2?’,” Lightfoot said, “It’s about Frank really adopting the mantle of The Punisher.”
One of the most key new characters of season two is Amy—played by 13 Reasons Why star Giorgia Whigham—a teenage grifter living on her own whose troubles become intertwined with Frank Castle.
Image via NetflixWhen we first meet Amy, she’s on the run; the cast and creative team were tight-lipped on who was hunting the character, but could confirm it ties into another new character, John Pilgrim (we’ll get to him). “She’s got herself into some trouble and is in way over her head,” Lightfoot said.
Amy, the character, doesn’t use profanity. It’s her thing.
Deep into the season, Amy and Frank are forced to move into—or hide out in—a rusted out, filthy trailer in a Brooklyn scrapyard.
There is a “big action scene” that takes place inside the trailer, according to production designer Scott Murphy.
On set, we walked through the trailer, which was filled with kitschy, grandmother’s house decorations, no shortage of black mold, and a number of conspicuous bullet holes in the front door.
Before Amy and Frank move in, the trailer belongs to Curtis Hoyle (Moore), who spends the season “butting heads” with Frank.
- Season two’s newest villain is a mysterious man named John Pilgrim, played by Dark Knight Rises and Interstellar actor Josh Stewart.
- Pilgrim is a person with a dark past who has since devoted himself completely to Christian Fundamentalism. “On the exterior, he’s a man who is a Christian Fundamentalist who had a rage, a violent side of him,” Stewart said. “It’s buried deep. I think where this is all headed, that sort of side of him is going to resurface a bit.”
- Calvert also described Pilgrim as “Alt-Right.”
- The scene we watched them film featured John Pilgrim in action, and without giving too much away the character definitely gives off an uptight, creeping vibe as opposed to last season’s suave Billy Russo (Barnes). Stewart is fantastic in the role, all church-whispers and face-touching.
- Image via NetflixBilly Russo is still deep in recovery for the face-slicing beatdown delivered by Frank Castle in the season one premiere, still suffering from brain damage, memory issues, and self-pity. The makeup team was meticulous in placing scars on Billy’s face where they realistically would be after the fight with Frank. “He [got] shot in the cheek, a ricochet into the cheek, so there’s a bullet wound hole in his cheek,” Barnes said.
- Although Billy Russo is clearly modeled after the character from the comics, this season of The Punisher never refers to him as Jigsaw.
- With that said, though, Barnes did note that “he’s trying to piece together what happened to him and who he is. There is the metaphor at one point that his brain is the jigsaw that he’s trying put the pieces back together of.”
- In a contrast to season one, Barnes’ head is shaved for season two.
- Due to his mangled mental state, Billy Russo’s New York accent has gotten thicker. Barnes quoted a stage direction from the second episode script: “Billy’s accent sounds even rougher, more akin to his Bensonhurst roots.”
- Barnes compared season two Billy Russo with the vulnerability of Vincent D’Onofrio‘s Daredevil season one Wilson Fisk.
- Supergirl actress Floriana Lima will play Krista, Billy’s psychotherapist.
- Krista’s wardrobe is incredibly concealing, a character trait that Calvert says will be important. “In her emotional life, she’s very covered up. Very uptight, doesn’t want to let anyone into her personal world. You’ll see when season 2 comes out, you’ll see why,” Calvert said. “I definitely started her out with everything very, very covered up, and it…just became a really important part of her character, to hide behind the facade of the clothes that cover her up.”
- Image via NetflixWhen we meet her in season two, Homeland Security Agent Dinah Madani (Revah) is “solely focused” on Billy Russo to an unhealthy degree. “She’s kind of become fixated on Billy,” Revah said. “She’s gone to the hospital, visiting every day, morning, evening. She’s completely tunnel-vision on him.”
- Madani is “self-medicating” after the gunshot she suffered at the end of season one. “She’s drinking,” Revah said. “She’s promiscuous at some points in the season.”
- Deborah Ann Woll will return as Karen Page for season two. “That relationship continues to be very important,” Lightfoot said.
- “This season there’s a little more humor in the dialogue,” Calvert said.
- Jason R. Moore admitted that he fully believed The Punisher wouldn’t see the light of day back when the show’s first Comic-Con panel was cancelled in the wake of the mass shooting in Las Vegas. “I thought it was a wrap,” he said. “Because trailers had come out that’s like, dude, it’s a gun shooting a lady in the head. That’s what you see. I’m very sensitive to the political climate. So I was just like, ‘I gotta’ start looking for a job.’”
- Bernthal revealed that season one’s reveal of the iconic skull vest was almost extremely anticlimactic. “There was going to be a whole scene with Micro where they’re at the computer figuring [the suit] out,” he said. “That was going to be the first time with him in the vest. [Micro] was just gonna’ sort of be drinking tea and I’m like, ‘You can’t do that. It’s gonna’ look so friggin’ stupid.’”