Frank Castle & Karen Go Way Back, Here's What You Need To Know Before Watching 'The Punisher'

by Ani Bundel

Marvel's The Punisher arrives next week on Nov. 17 on Netflix. This is the sixth Marvel series for the streaming service, and the first actual "spin off" that wasn't originally planned for when Marvel and Netflix announced their team up in 2013. To mark this as a spin-off, unlike the first five series, connective tie-back character Claire Temple will not be turning up. Instead the tie-back character is Daredevil's Karen Page. But how does Frank Castle know Karen? And what will her role be in The Punisher?

Let's review what we know about Karen Page. She was the first case that Matt Murdock and Foggy Nelson took when they opened their law firm, back in the opening episode of Daredevil Season 1. She had been framed for murder by the Hand after accidentally doing the right thing when she noticed fraudulent behavior behind the numbers at Union Allied Construction, and reported it up the chain.

With Page in jail, the Hand attempted to murder her in her cell and make it look like suicide. She was lucky: The assassin was less than competent, and she managed to knock him out and then scream for help. This, combined with the lack of a formal charge against her for the murder, helped Murdock and Nelson get Karen freed. As a thank you, she took her secretary and HR skills and put them to work for the law firm that saved her. She then went to the New York Bulletin and got the truth published, clearing her name.

Daredevil Season 2

Karen was still working as the Office Manager and defacto paralegal at Nelson & Murdock when Season 2 began. It was in that capacity that she first heard about the massacre of the Irish Mob, and met the sole surviving member, Grotto, when he came to Murdock and begged him for help and safety.

Grotto wasn't lucky enough. Lying helpless in the hospital, death came for him, in the form of Frank Castle. Karen got Grotto away out the back in her car, as Castle followed them with his sniper's site. But Grotto was dead soon enough.

It was a few more episodes before Karen would meet Castle face to face. But before she did, she'd done her homework. She'd learned about his military record as a marine, she'd learned that it was wiped from a lot of databases. She'd broken into his home and found a picture of his family, and she'd discovered said family was dead, and that they'd died in the crossfire of a gang shootout in Central Park.

Frank & Karen Connecting

The first half of Daredevil Season 2 had Karen dating Matt, unaware of his alter ego as Daredevil. But the second half of the series saw her and Frank Castle emotionally connect, first as he told her his story, and then later, as she convinced him to let Nelson and Murdock defend him. In exchange, she would put those growing investigative reporter skills she was developing to work, and find out more about exactly who was responsible for killing his family.

The trial went badly, by the way, and Castle was convicted, fully through his own self sabotage of the case. But he didn't stay in jail long. Once he was back out, he got to work looking for the man Karen had uncovered for him: The Blacksmith, the drug kingpin who had been at the Massacre in Central Park. Because that massacre hadn't been a regular shoot out. It was a sting operation that had gone horribly wrong.

Who Saved Who?

It turned out to be a good thing Castle got out. By doing so he managed to be in the right place at the right time to save Karen from the Blacksmith's assassination attempt. And when she discovered the Blacksmith was Castle's old Marine Commander Ray Schoovoner, and was kidnapped for it, Castle was there at the right time to save her again.

Unfortunately, despite her pleas to do things the legal way, Castle killed Schoovoner himself. With the police already believing Castle to be dead, he then disappeared, but not before helping Daredevil put down the Hand's goons once and for all. This left Karen to publish her first piece in the New York Bulletin, revealing that Frank Castle was "The Punisher" and a good, loyal, honest man, one who just followed his own code. The story is so successful she gets a full time job at the Bulletin at the end of Season 2. When we see her again in The Defenders, she's a full time journalist.

How will Page's investigative reporting help Castle? Will their relationship grow in this new series? We'll find out when all 13 episodes of The Punisher series arrive on Friday, Nov. 17, 2017 on Netflix.