Hello friends! Before we get started, let me introduce myself. My name is Nic and I’m an Aquarius sun, Scorpio moon, and Sagittarius rising currently living in Astoria, NYC. A friend once described me as “everyone’s biggest fan” and it’s probably the most accurate thing anyone has ever said about me. I fangirl hard and loudly about a lot of things and that includes the CW’s Arrowverse shows. A few years back when they announced Nafessa Williams as TV’s first Black lesbian (BULLETPROOF) superhero, ya girl could not stop shouting about Black Lightning from the rooftops of the Internet.
And then, dear reader, after the departure of Ruby Rose from Batwoman, the CW gave us a gift in the form of the delightful Javicia Leslie. I so enjoyed season one of Batwoman, and Ruby’s performance as Kate Kane (an out and proud lesbian!) was incredibly refreshing and frankly, much-needed. But if someone else needed to take up the mantle of Batwoman, I sure am glad that it’s a Black woman. I’m going to be very upfront with you — I LOVE the Arrowverse deeply and I admit to not having gone as deep into the comic lore as many other diehard fans. But the superhero genre has brought me so much joy, especially lately, and it’s given me a way to both escape and confront Real Word Issues through a fictional lens. So when Heather asked if I’d like to recap Batwoman, I very nervously (but excitedly!) accepted the challenge. I love Batwoman so much, and I hope that you’ll come on this journey with me this season as we get to experience the show’s evolution.
Now that that’s out of the way! Last season on Batwoman, we met Kate Kane, cousin of Bruce Wayne, expelled military school cadet, and out and proud lesbian. Kate’s father Jacob Kane heads the incredibly intense and seemingly unregulated Crows Private Security that protects Gotham from gangs and criminals like Jacob’s previously presumed dead daughter Beth who is masquerading as Alice, head of the Alice in Wonderland gang. (How’s that for a sentence?) Oh, and did I mention that Beth and Kate are twins?
Once Kate realizes that Alice is her sister Beth, she tries everything in her power to reason with her and enlists the help of Luke Fox (son of Wayne Enterprises’ techie, Lucius Fox) to take over for her missing cousin Bruce as Batwoman. Kate and Alice continue their sister/nemesis tango until Kate betrays Alice at the end of the season. Kate had her share of sapphic drama too, including the fact that her ex-girlfriend Sophie, who refused to acknowledge their relationship during military school, got married to a man and became Jacob Kane’s right-hand. Rounding out the Bat Crew is Mary, Kate’s step-sister, and honestly, the most underrated character on the entire show. The season ends with Kate giving Luke the Kryptonite (the only thing that can puncture the Batsuit) that Supergirl gave her and Alice giving Tommy Elliot a new face — Bruce Wayne’s.
Season two opens on a woman sleeping soundly in a van with her plants buckled in (for safety!). She dreams of proudly introducing her mom to their new two-lock household (while donning a VERY queer flannel around her waist — I see you, girl!), complete with a balcony for their plants and for the woman’s “little girlfriends” to sneak in and out of. Can we talk for a minute about the normalcy of this comment? Black Lightning did something similar with a conversation between Anissa and Lynn; “girlfriend” rolled off both mothers’ tongues with the ease of someone who accepts and loves their child for all that they are. It made my heart sing.
The sounds of a private plane exploding and falling from the sky soon jolts the woman from her slumber. Meanwhile, Mary and Luke track the very same plane debris and wonder why Kate or Batwoman hasn’t responded to any of their calls. Back at the crash site, the woman wanders around like an extra on the set of LOST looking for any survivors. She finds an unconscious man under some debris and begins to give him CPR, willing him to breathe with the same fervor as when she had to do the same for her mother, which we see in a flashback expertly cut into the scene. The man finally comes to and the woman throws up from some combination of relief and shock.
Luke is still tracking Kate’s plane, notes the tail number, and soon comes to the realization that the crash they’ve been tracking and Kate’s plane are one and the same. They know that if Kate was wearing the suit though, there’s a very good chance she could be alive. What they don’t know is that the woman who witnessed the crash also found the suit. But with Kate nowhere in sight. Search and rescue teams, including Jacob Kane and Sophie, arrive on the scene to look for any survivors. Looking on in some combination of anger and fear is none other than Alice.
Back at Wayne Enterprises, Luke and Mary continue to theorize how Kate could still be alive; Luke’s arguments bolstered by the high-tech nature of the suit. No sooner have they stepped into the office when they’re greeted by who they believe to be their long-lost friend Bruce Wayne aka Tommy Elliot. Not!Bruce wastes no time making himself at home and doesn’t have to try very hard to get Luke to show him the Batcave, despite not knowing how to access it.
Meanwhile, our friend (wearing plaid again) from earlier is meeting with the parole officer assigned to her after she was falsely accused of drug possession. Ryan’s parole officer feeds her lines about having the power to turn her life around, but Ryan corrects her. She’s a file in a system that’s built to keep her there which, as she correctly asserts, is the definition of powerless. Black women have been disproportionately and unjustly affected by the criminal justice system for decades, and I can already tell that Ryan is going to be the Batwoman we need and deserve right now. In an article from EW, showrunner Caroline Dries states, “While Bruce and Kate were interested in fighting [Gotham City’s corrupt] system and social injustice, Ryan actually has experience being stuck in that system firsthand, and I think that’s actually what her superpower is.”
At Crow Security headquarters, Sophie and Julia Pennyworth (yes, Alfred’s daughter) check in with each other as only two women who share an ex can: by holding hands, of course! Sophie insinuates that Safiyah, the person who was tailing them last season, could have been behind the plane crash. Meanwhile, in another part of HQ, Mary overhears her Jacob on the phone. It turns out, what was a rescue mission has turned to recovery. Despite Jacob’s attitude and shocking no one, Mary refuses to give up on her sister. Because Mary is THE BEST.
Back in the Batcave, Luke is showing Not!Bruce around and giving him every piece of information, including that little nugget about Kryptonite being able to penetrate the Batsuit, he needs in order to infiltrate their team and become Batman himself. I really did think that Luke saw through Tommy’s ruse, but he obviously misses his friend. He saw what he needed to see especially with the thought of Kate being gone looming over his head.
Whew, okay! I really tried to maintain some semblance of chill until this point, but y’all. Watching Ryan suit up in that bathroom after having her power and her agency taken away, was everything I needed it to be. She snatched that power right back and vowed never to be powerless again as we hear the lyrics sing, “Are you ready for the real thing? Cause it’s coming for you.” CHILLS!
And come for them she did. She spots a gang in the alley and swings in to take them down. My favorite part of this entire scene is that even though she has martial arts training, Ryan has ZERO idea how to work this high-tech suit and doesn’t even pretend to. She realizes the bullets aren’t going through the suit and reacts by screaming “I’m bulletproof, bitches!” I like to imagine that somewhere, Thunder can sense another Black superhero becoming bulletproof and smiles to herself. I expected many things from this version of Batwoman but I did not expect to laugh as much as I did, especially during this scene. When Ryan accidentally turns on the suit’s GPS and then releases a bat throwing star at one of the bad guys, her “sorry, legit didn’t mean that” took me OUT. Javicia’s comedic timing and line delivery was a wonderful surprise.
At Wayne manor, Not!Bruce is… doing whatever billionaire playboys do I guess? It involves silk robes and fancy slippers which, now that I think about it, sounds luxurious as fuck. Anyway, in saunters a drunk Alice, clearly distraught that she wasn’t the one to kill her sister. She is completely unhinged and chaotic and I cannot wait to see how that manifests now that both Kate and Mouse are gone. Right now though, it’s manifesting as her unceremoniously chucking a knife at one of Not!Bruce’s evening companions for “no reason at all, because reason doesn’t matter.”
Kate’s exes convene (accidentally?) at her apartment and have ye olde ex-off where they passive aggressively try to figure out who Kate loved most. Julia by sharing that Kate wanted her to open her safe alone if something happened to her, and Sophie by sniffing sweaters and insisting that “alone” definitely didn’t apply to her because she and Kate have hiStorY.
Down in the tunnels of Gotham, Mary and Luke follow the suit’s GPS to someone they hope is Kate, but is actually Ryan Wilder. Mary demands the suit back, emphasizing that it’s supposed to be for a hero, but Ryan isn’t finished with it yet. Luke and Mary voice the feelings of every person who rightfully isn’t ready to watch someone else take up the mantle of Batwoman. But Ryan lays out exactly who she is and why she won’t be done until her mother’s killer is dead. She’s not trying to be a hero or a legacy; she’s a number. She is a forgotten cog in a machine that is fueled solely by a history of systemic racism. I love this scene so much because it really felt like the writing team acknowledging the very real feelings of everyone not ready to let go of Kate Kane; of Mary and Luke who will not let the memory of Kate die. But also acknowledging that there is room and a need for someone new to step in in the absence of Kate.
After their tense meeting in the tunnels, Mary and Ryan decide to do some research on Ryan and Kate, respectively. Reader, when Ryan paused her reading to comment directly to her plant, I screamed! It’s early, but it’s pretty safe to say that I will lay down my life for Ryan Wilder. Full stop. As she reads about Kate, Ryan isn’t shocked by any information until she learns that she was dishonorably discharged from the military academy because of her sexuality, and that she opened a gay bar to give a home to anyone looking for one. That’s enough to convince herself that Kate was more of a hero than she could ever be; in and out of the suit. She activates the suit so Mary and Luke can find her.
Mary learns that Ryan was in and out of group homes, she was arrested for possession and intent, she served 18 months, but was beginning to turn her life around when her mom and landlord were murdered by squatters connected to the Alice in Wonderland gang. Luke blames himself for pushing Kate about the Kryptonite, but Mary talks him down and continues to prove why she is and has always been the backbone of Team Bat.
Julia finds Mary and Luke and tells them that Bruce isn’t Bruce. She ran his prints, after an unsettling encounter at Crow HQ, and discovered that he’s actually Tommy Elliot with a brand new Bruce Face courtesy of Alice. Meanwhile, Tommy breaks the Batmobile (!!) out of the Batcave and sets off to track the suit, and incidentally, Ryan.
Back at Wayne manor, Alice is playing a creepy little ditty on the piano when Jacob comes in guns a-blazing. Is there a count somewhere of how many times he’s pointed a gun at one of his daughters? It’s got to be shockingly high. Anyway, Alice tells Jacob that Kate is Batwoman and he still refuses to believe it. Alice drives the metaphorical knife further into his heart by reminding him how many times he’s tried to kill Batwoman, to kill his own daughter. Is Alice deliberately hurting her father because of how hurt she is? Yes. Does Jacob Kane deserve it? Also yes.
It’s time for a car chase!! Tommy is singing the “Jingle bells, Batman smells” song which tickled me TO NO END. How many times do we think Luke annoyed Bruce with that song? Or how often tiny Kate and Beth sang it at family holidays not knowing Bruce was Batman??
After Luke hacks the Batmobile and renders it useless to Tommy, Ryan changes into the Batsuit and Tommy shoots her with the Kryptonite. A fight ensues, during which Tommy smashes Ryan’s pineapple-shaped planter (the queerest phrase in existence?) and attempts to use it as a weapon. That sets her off and she literally punches the face off him.
Back at Wayne tower, we learn that divers haven’t found any traces of Kate, so there’s still hope that she’s alive. Mary’s officially on Team Ryan and speaking of our new friend, Ryan brings back the suit and a handy bit of information that while she was shot with Kryptonite that pierced the suit, it didn’t kill her (CURIOUS!). Ryan doesn’t think she’s fit for the suit. “It’s one thing to put it on, it’s another to wear it.” WHEW, CHILE I felt that.
Julia and Sophie are back at Crow headquarters where Julia asks if Sophie is still in love with Kate. You see, it turns out, Kate left a note for Sophie in the safe. Sophie reads the letter and learns that her initial instincts were right: Kate was Batwoman.
Down in tunnelville, Alice receives a newspaper airplane with “Consider us even. – Safiyah” written on it. This spurs a new purpose in our complicated villain; a purpose that she can pursue without Batwoman to get in her way.
We end with Ryan looking up at the Batsignal that Commander Kane lit. She tells her mama, via her plants, that she did the right thing today and is going to keep doing the right thing. Suddenly, Ryan feels pain at her wound. It’s a very worrisome shade of neon green which has me CONCERNED. What does it mean?? Is she an alien? Is she a Super? Is it (more than likely) none of those things?
I don’t know about you, but I had a BLAST watching the season premiere of Batwoman! What did you think of Javicia’s debut? What’s Alice going to do next? How, if at all, is Ryan being affected by Kryptonite? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below! See you next week!