When we last saw both, they had managed to survive the first season but not without considerable damage. Russo had his memory wiped and his face cut to ribbons — the latter by Frank Castle (Jon Bernthal) himself, who was enraged by his former friend’s actions yet couldn’t bring himself to end Russo’s life. As a result, Season 2 finds Russo suffering from mental damage, fear and ultimately anger, all of which put him on the path to becoming the classic comic book enemy Jigsaw.
“I think for me it was kind of like starting a new show, actually,” says Barnes in our interview with him and Revah. “He’s been battered and fractured and traumatized almost to the nub, and I think that he’s got to try and put those pieces back together. That was the sort of metaphor we were trying to work with in terms of the Jigsaw element of Billy Russo from the comics, and trying to turn that on its head a little bit and sort of ground it in the military history of the show.”
As for Madani, the Homeland Security agent has also managed to recover from head wounds but not from the emotional trauma inflicted on her by Russo, which leaves her unhealthily obsessed with him and the memories he now seems to lack. She has also reached a kind of détente with Castle — keeping a distance but knowing he could be a valuable weapon at her disposal.
“She hasn’t been seeking help, and then she’s been self-medicating, she’s been drinking,” says Revah. “We pick up in Season 2, she doesn’t think she needs Frank’s help, realizes she does, and then spends the entirety of the season deliberating over how she’s going to get this vengeance.”
In addition to Bernthal, Revah and Barnes, The Punisher also stars Giorgia Whigham as the mysterious drifter Amy Bendix, Josh Stewart as the deadly new villain John Pilgrim, Jason R. Moore as Curtis Hoyle, plus Corbin Bernsen and Annette O’Toole as Anderson and Eliza Schultz.
Season 2 of The Punisher is available on Netflix now.
Don Kaye is a Los Angeles-based entertainment journalist and associate editor of Den of Geek. Other current and past outlets include Syfy, United Stations Radio Networks, Fandango, MSN, RollingStone.com and many more. Read more of his work here. Follow him on Twitter @donkaye