The Punisher‘s “Virtue of the Vicious” is, inarguably, one of the best episodes in the entire series. The kind of episode that makes the show compelling and the characters worth carrying deeply about. In more ways than one, “Virtue of the Vicious” authenticates why Karen Page is the heart of multiple MCU TV series and a tucked-away saving grace for Frank Castle. Well paced, action-packed, and stirring with emotions, Frank and Karen’s elevator scene is one of the many moments deserving a breakdown.
To then break down why Frank and Karen’s elevator scene is such a memorable moment, we need to look into the various ways both characters have showcased how closely they care for each other. Karen Page is so much more than a lawyer turned journalist (for all of us), and for Frank Castle especially, she is family. He proves as much when he, breathlessly and full of fury, tells David (Micro) that he’ll essentially fight for Karen the same way David would for his wife and kids. In a world where Frank Castle has very few people left in his corner, Karen Page is, and will always be, someone he’ll go out of his way to protect. She is a constant now.
And that’s exactly what he does in The Punisher’s “Virtue of the Vicious,” where their elevator moment thus showcases that though he might be doing all the heavy lifting, Frank has someone in his corner he could unwind with.
Whether we look at this through romantic lenses or platonic, there is nothing more intimate than two people who merely breathe together—two people who find comfort in their foreheads touching, eyes closed, and in a moment where they know they’re safe.
This moment taps into something more prominent as it not only allows the characters a beat of solace but it shows the audience how profoundly the two care for each other. It shows us that there is someone in Frank’s life who’s always willing to listen to him and, more importantly, someone who can help him slow down—someone who can help him breathe. Since much of Frank’s emotions are guttural, harrowing, and dark reactions stirring from his tireless trauma and rage, Karen consistently restores calm back into his calamitous waves. As he’s dressed in all black in the kind of place that’s known to be suffocating and small, her blue shirt even tells us that, like the sky, she’s a breath of fresh air.
She is worth fighting for because when all is said and done, when there’s nowhere else left to turn or hide, her hand will reach out towards his, and her light will bring him back from the all-consuming darkness he’s constantly thrust towards. It’s an intentional stop, a choice to place her hand on his shoulder blade, to subtly look over his wounds and ultimately make sure that they both have this moment full of silent conversations and the passing of strength.
Such intimate moments often encapsulate how profoundly two people care about each other and the detail that, in their desperation, they’re trying to pass their strength onto another. This is a constant with Frank and Karen, and this scene ultimately exhibits how with a visual showcase of roaring waves subduing because of a single person.
What we see at this moment are two people allowing themselves a chance to silently acknowledge the other’s importance and discern, with everything in them, that no matter how fleeting, a sense of safety is possible in the other’s presence.