Embrace the darkness with Kastle, SethKate, Luther/Alice, Normero & Joe/Nicky
You can mourn the shift toward shorter days and colder nights, or you can welcome it! After all, the season’s dark, moody evenings practically require you to curl up on the couch with some equally intense TV. What’s not to love about that? Get a jump on fall by adding The Punisher, From Dusk Till Dawn, Luther, Bates Motel, and The Old Guard to your must-watch list. Their deliciously dangerous, completely wicked ships, previewed with light spoilers in the list below, will make you shiver in a fun way.
Karen/Frank (a.ka. Kastle) in Daredevil & The Punisher
Frank Castle and Karen Page each suffer devastating losses in the years before they meet, and when they cross paths in Netflix’s Daredevil, an instant connection forms out of innate understanding. Despite his well-earned reputation as a violent vigilante, Frank doesn’t scare Karen. The legal-assistant-turned-reporter has a grim history of her own. Karen listens to Frank, advocates for him in court, and defends his quest for vengeance to her friends.
By the time they reunite in The Punisher, Frank’s soft spot for Karen is as obvious as hers for him. He’s finally allowing himself to care for someone again. From covering her body with his during a shooting to rescuing her from a hostage situation, Frank proves that Karen means the world to him. He has more healing to do, but Karen offers him hope for a brighter future…if he’s brave enough to reach for it.
The Punisher got canceled before it could end on its own terms. Could Frank and Karen get a proper send-off in a future Marvel show, like Daredevil: Born Again? Only time will tell. In the meantime, however, you can suffer exquisitely alongside them. If you’re into that kind of thing.
For a guide to watching Daredevil and The Punisher purely for the Frank/Karen storyline, check out my Kastle Shipper Track (toward the end of the article).
SethKate in From Dusk Till Dawn: The Series
Suckers for subtext must check out From Dusk Till Dawn: The Series for the spiky and indefinable relationship between “gentleman thief” Seth Gecko and preacher’s daughter Kate Fuller. For such a gritty and gruesome vampire show, it also has a surprising amount of heart. Seth and his brother Richie, the infamous Gecko brothers, take Kate and her family hostage after a heist gone sideways. Little do they know that brave, stubborn Kate will quickly become precious to them both, but especially Seth.
Despite a sizable age gap, Seth and Kate band together in between bouts of paranormal mayhem and learn they actually make great partners in crime. From Dusk Till Dawn often hints at Kate having feelings for Seth–and him for her–over the course of its three seasons, yet leaves the precise nature of those feelings up to interpretation. It’s actually pretty cool, because viewers get to decide what it means when Seth dreams about Kate stroking his face and saying “I could never leave you.” Or when Kate admits she seeks redemption in the eyes of the people she loves…and meets Seth’s eyes. Mysterious, right?
You can try to resist, but watch your back. SethKate will sink their teeth into you at any opportunity.
Luther/Alice in Luther
Yes, this is a recommendation for a romance between a serial killer and the detective hunting her down! If you haven’t seen or heard much about Luther before now, this may come as a surprise. All I can say is that after witnessing the characters’ outrageous, kiss-me-or-kill-me chemistry, you just GET IT.
Luther’s a British mystery series featuring a morally gray detective inspector, John Luther, who’s struggling with the breakdown of his marriage. He’s definitely one of those “the end justifies the means” types, and he’s willing to ditch protocol to play cat-and-mouse games with a murder suspect, Alice Morgan, if it means bringing her to justice. The thing is…Alice confounds him at every turn, and for all her “malignant narcissist” tendencies, she develops what seems to be genuine affection for Luther. When she’s not complicating his life, Alice is often saving it, becoming an unexpected ally.
The first three series are perfect to binge on a chilly day, and if you stop there, you’ll even get a satisfying, if ambiguous, ending for the Luther/Alice relationship. (Please note that I cannot be held responsible for your emotional state should you decide to keep going with the series. It gets messy.)
Norma/Alex (Normero) in Bates Motel
He’s the town sheriff, and she’s a single mother whose son is hurtling toward his destiny as the infamous murderer Norman Bates–what could possibly go wrong?! No, but seriously, Bates Motel sets a gold standard for horror romance with Norma Bates and Alex Romero. They don’t get the happily ever they deserve (and that’s not a spoiler if you know anything about Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho), but they sure come close.
Norma, who escapes multiple abusers only to accidentally raise another abuser, moves to White Pine Bay to start fresh with her son. Unfortunately, darkness follows them, and Norma ends up spending a lot of time with the suspicious sheriff, Alex. His moral code is more nuanced than it first appears, however, and he slowly gravitates toward the brassy motel owner who never backs down from a challenge. A marriage of convenience gives them a chance to finally explore their feelings, and it is glorious while it lasts.
Just brace yourself for a heart-wrenching final season that nevertheless proves Alex and Norma were made for each other.
Joe/Nicky in The Old Guard
The enemies-to-lovers trope at its best. Immortal warriors Joe and Nicky may be inseparable soulmates when you meet them in the 2020 film The Old Guard, but they didn’t start out that way. No, they met as adversaries on the battlefield during the Crusades, their religious upbringings–Joe as a Muslim and Nicky as a Catholic–having trained them to hate each other on principle. As the men tell the story centuries later, they killed each other many times before falling in love.
That bloody history only makes their modern-day love all the more powerful to witness in the movie, however. Good luck staying cool, calm, and collected when Joe proclaims his undying devotion to Nicky, or when the pair cuddle in bed, or when they go into battle side-by-side, covering each other’s backs at all times.
When you want a dark romance arc with a happy-for-now ending all rolled into a two-hour runtime, go for visiting with Joe/Nicky in The Old Guard.
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