Hello and welcome to another installment of Nic Tries to Do Something Other Than Yell in All Caps About How Good Batwoman is This Season. I should probably just lean into it at this point, because the writers and every single actor are BRINGING IT and we’re only three episodes in. Speaking of, previously on Batwoman, Ryan and Mary saved Gotham from a swarm of infected bats by blowing up a bus with the bats in them and by treating the victims with an Alice-provided cure made from the mysterious Desert Rose plant. We mixed and matched character pairings and Sophie and Alice came face to face with one of Safiyah’s minions.
After two episodes so heavily focused on our female leads, I’ll admit it threw me when this episode opened with two white dudes. We soon found out, though, that one of them is the infamous hitperson Victor Zsasz, hired to kill Mr. Capalaci and his mistress who definitely owns the best noise-canceling headphones on the market. After positioning both bodies at rest in bed, Victor reveals the “artwork” he’s so famous for: hash marks all over his body, each representing a kill. (Think Killmonger, but way less sexy (Listen, I’m gay, not blind.))
Down in an alley, Ryan swoops in to interrupt a drug deal. By swoops, I definitely mean “stumbles” and by “interrupt” I unfortunately mean “struggle to find both her aim and her wit.” Luke and Ryan have the kind of Annoyed Older Sibling and Eager Younger Sibling relationship that is so fun to watch, and Camrus and Javicia’s comedic timing make it even more entertaining. Did y’all know that each Batarang was $1,000?! I sure didn’t, but Luke makes sure Ryan doesn’t forget it. Before the two can bicker anymore, Ryan’s alarm goes off, reminding her of her appointment with her parole officer. Something that occurred to me as I was watching this scene was how easy it would have been to cast men in the peripheral “power” roles in the show. But they didn’t do that and it’s such a small thing, but it can make such a difference in the dynamic of a scene.
At the clinic, Mary is checking up on a cancer patient who’s been feeling uncharacteristically energetic lately. (Also, HEY AMY THE LAB ASSISTANT! I see you, girl!) But before she can dig into why the patient’s symptoms have disappeared, Mary is interrupted by Ryan running in to warn her of an impending phone call from her parole officer. Ryan told her PO that Mary is the current owner of The Hold Up and recently hired Ryan as a bartender, and of course, the PO needed proof. Ryan and Mary do a full on improv routine, but the PO buys it which is a good thing because that story will help with both women’s covers. Mary is so adorably excited because it means she and Ryan will get to hang out ALL THE TIME! Ryan’s excitement is tempered slightly by confusion since she assumed all of this was temporary until Kate got back.
It appears that Sophie and Alice took a wrong turn at Themyscira and got a bit closer to Lian Yu than they intended in their quest to find Lesbos. Just kidding. They’re actually on an island ruled by a Queen who Alice has very purposely tried to get an audience with. If you were hoping that the Queen was a gorgeous accented woman by the name of Safiyah, then Reader, you are in luck! You see, Alice and Safiyah have H i S t oR y, but Alice didn’t realize that Safiyah also had her eye on Sophie and Julia. Which might explain just why Sophie ended up here as well.
In the dead ass middle of the day, Victor Zsasz strolls into Hamilton Dynamics, assaults a man for his badge, heads to the lab, kills a scientist, and steals information from the computer all while an alarm is blaring. IN BROAD DAYLIGHT. That’s it. I have no joke here.
While the Batfam watches security footage of the attack, Mary and Ryan attack me personally by bantering with each other and leaning against inanimate objects while wearing leather. Ryan asks Mary that if she’s a billionaire, why is she only making $12.50/hour at The Hold Up and you’re probably tired of me saying this but, Javicia’s delivery here is GOLD. Eat the rich, Ryan. Heads up: I’m about to make a sharp left turn.
Grief is an interesting emotion because it manifests so differently depending on the person. There’s no rule book and there’s certainly no timeframe for moving through it. We’ve seen each of Kate’s family members (blood and found) cycle through their feelings in such different ways: Alice is unhinged and untethered, Sophie and Julia are angry but determined, Big Daddy Kane is in a regret spiral, Mary has been hopeful, and Luke is in denial. Part of Luke’s denial means that he’s been unwilling to entertain anything that would support the idea that Kate is gone for good; and in the case of Ryan, that means her entire existence on the team.
When Ryan informs Luke and Mary that she knows their mystery assassin is Victor Zsasz because they ran in the same circles, Luke and Mary react exactly how you would expect: Luke takes it as proof that Ryan doesn’t belong with them, and Mary immediately spins it to the positive, focusing on the past tense nature of Ryan and Zsasz’s relationship. Luckily, Ryan has a way to find Zsasz: by tracking down an expensive French lotion (that translates to “a baby’s butt!”) he uses to treat his scars that of course, Mary has heard of.
Let’s spend some time on the island, shall we? I don’t know what we did to deserve the gifts of Rachel Skarsten and Shivaani Ghai, but we are being FED this season and I’m obsessed. Safiyah and Alice crafting an intricate word tango dripping with innuendos is the kind of thing that only works when you have two talented actresses playing two powerful and complicated women; and wow did it work this week. Alice and Safiyah first met when Alice got away from her captors. To hear Safiyah tell it, Alice was a broken shell of herself that Safiyah found and took under her wing. Alice won’t give the woman that credit though, because Alice found herself.
Safiyah insists that she didn’t blow up Kate’s plane; that she’s being framed and needs Alice’s help to solve the puzzle. Rachel makes such subtle face acting choices during all of these interactions that make you think Alice is about to believe Safiyah, but then she remembers what happens when she trusts people. And the switch immediately flips back. Alice isn’t totally innocent here though; she was so focused on enacting revenge on the Kanes, she stabbed Safiyah in the back by trying to leave the island with the Desert Rose, its most precious resource.
She admits to trading a faulty weapon designed to kill Batwoman for a vial of the Desert Rose potion, and accuses Safiyah of having the Wonderland Gang killed. Safiyah is almost bored when she tells Alice that if she actually wanted to be thorough, Alice wouldn’t be standing there with her. Safiyah has dedicated her life to protecting the island and its resources, but now that Alice introduced the Desert Rose to all of Gotham, Safiyah is going to have a hard time forgiving her this time.
While the evil girlfriends do their evil hot for teacher tango, Sophie and Tatiana are having their own tête-à-tête. Tatiana fills Sophie in on Safiyah and Alice’s history while very menacingly (and sexily) sharpening her sword. Sophie refuses to let her guard down and comes in hot, demanding to know what they want with her. Tatiana knows that Safiyah isn’t done with Alice yet and needs Sophie to let Alice run free once they’re back in Gotham. When Sophie disagrees, the two have a knock-down-drag-out-fight.
*record scratch* But I’m getting ahead of myself. Back on the mainland, Ryan sneaks into Zsasz’s apartment in the middle of the day to steal the drive, because I guess no one here has watched a TV show before. Shockingly, he’s home! Ryan’s still struggling with operating the suit and Zsasz decides to pounce on what he perceives as weakness. He reads her for filth about how uncomfortable she appears to be in the suit, because he doesn’t see her in Batwoman. I know I’m supposed to hate this guy, and I DO! But I’m also obsessed with the way Zsasz is able to get under people’s skin in a way that’s definitely creepy, but it feels like just the right balance of villainy. I don’t aggressively hate him like I hate Lex Luthor, is what I’m saying. Ryan’s able to narrowly escape the apartment as Zsasz shoots a missile at her, again, in the middle of the day. Living in Gotham must be WILD, y’all.
Back at the Batcave, the crew reviews the contents of the drive which contains a very long list of names. Instead of trying to protect every person on the list, Ryan suggests they go directly after who Zsasz works for, and she’s the one who can get it out of him.
Ryan meets Zsasz at a fancy hotel and introduces herself as Angelique Martin’s ex and listen. I NEED this backstory like I need air at this point. Between Sophie dropping the info about Ryan constantly covering for a mystery ex and Zsasz’s obsession with the lesbian drama in the gang scene, I am salivating! Anyway, Ryan offers to hire Zsasz to kill Alice, but he tells her that his current job isn’t over and he turns her down. Which is fine, because all Ryan needed to do was get a device close enough to Zsasz’s phone for Luke to pull all of his data and found out who his employer is. Shocker, it’s Safiyah.
Luke and Mary haven’t heard of Safiyah, but Luke bets that if she’s hella shady, Ryan’s probably in a book club with her. Okay look, that was low but it was also HILARIOUS. I love this moment between Luke and Mary, because they’re able to be real with each other about how they’re processing Kate’s disappearance. Luke is shattered when Mary admits that she doesn’t think Kate is coming back, and that Ryan could be the hero Gotham needs to remind them that there’s still hope.
Ryan spends some time looking at the suit and I imagine, thinking back to Zsasz’s comments about her discomfort in it.
At the clinic, our girl Amy shows Mary the new scans from the cancer patient from earlier, but these scans show the cancer has completely disappeared. Mary knew that the bat bite treatment taken from the Desert Rose would be a universal cure, but she didn’t realize it would cure pre-existing conditions. Before she can get much further in her thought process, Zsasz appears in the clinic after killing Amy (nooooo!). He tries to go after Mary so that thing I said before about not really hating him? Yeah, I take it back.
Meanwhile, Ryan runs to suit up and informs Luke that she’s made some alterations to the suit. And in the most incredible winky wink to the audience, she asks him “have you seen the damn wig?!”
Mary runs out into the alley to hide from Zsasz until her phone gives away her position. Y’all, the scream I let out when BATWOMAN flies down, sticks the landing, and power poses in a wig that Beyoncé would be proud of. And yes, I said Batwoman. Because Ryan finally moved from putting on the suit to wearing the suit. Do you see her now? She has a new look. She’s a new Batwoman. I don’t think I can properly express how beautiful it felt watching this Black woman stand in her power after listening to white man after white man tell her that she didn’t deserve to wear the suit.
Ryan gives Zsasz a run for his money when the two fight, but she seems to be bested until she knocks him out with the bo staff she’s finally learned how to use! I cannot wait to really watch her wield that thing. If you haven’t watched Javicia’s bo staff training videos on Instagram, do yourself a favor and watch.
Back on Sexual Tension Island, Safiyah is curious what happened to turn Alice against Kate. Alice thought the two were just sisters who would always have each other’s backs, but she was wrong. Safiyah offers her hand and Alice takes it softly, before grabbing tightly and throwing the woman to the ground. As they roll around together, I mean, as they fight, Safiyah says she took everything from Alice because she’s the one who gave Alice everything. Safiyah dangles Kate’s necklace over Alice and tells her that she can give her her sister back.
Alice isn’t the only Gothamite who has Safiyah’s attention though. As she and Alice make their way back to the beach, Safiyah commends Sophie on taking down Tatiana and removes her cuffs more sensually than should be allowed, if you ask me. Before Safiyah lets the two of them go, she requests a favor from Alice before she allows her to see her sister.
One of my favorite superhero tropes is how no one is able to recognize the hero outside of the suit despite incredibly obvious and specific tells. The trope strikes again as Ryan’s parole officer fangirls over Batwoman right to her face as if she’s never taken a second look at Ryan’s bone structure. Now that Ryan has a job at The Hold Up, she needs to find a place to live. Show, please give us the Ryan and Mary roommate comedy that we deserve!!
Alice and Sophie wake up spooning in an alley where Alice delights in telling Sophie that Safiyah has a BIG LESBIAN CRUSH on her which might be okay now but definitely won’t be okay in the future. Alice skips away, confident in her ability to roam free in Gotham because if Sophie arrests her, she won’t be able to learn where Kate is.
Apparently the writers have been reading my diary because in the very next scene we get Bartender Ryan! Don’t worry, I managed to rein in the yelling, because this scene was actually incredibly sweet. You know when the Annoyed Older Sibling can’t ignore when the Eager Younger Sibling does a Good Thing so they kind of quietly apologize and compliment them? That’s what Luke did here by giving Ryan a new batarang. I’m really looking forward to watching the relationship between these two develop especially because the circumstances around Kate’s disappearance are so complicated. Before Luke walks off, Ryan pushes her luck by asking to make upgrades to the batmobile and Luke is not having it.
Luke finds Mary at the memorial set up for Kate in The Hold Up. She’s placing a sign that says “May your memory be a blessing”, a traditional Jewish honor for the dead. Even though Mary is moving into acceptance, Luke just isn’t ready to meet her there. And that’s okay. The two know that even though they’re in differently places in their grief journey, their love for Kate and each other remains.
At Crow HQ, some nameless officers are discussing who they believe to be the leader of the gang responsible for disseminating drugs throughout the city. They mention a black mask so unless this is a red herring, I (and DC stans) would guess they’re referring to Roman Sionis, aka The Black Mask. Meanwhile, Big Daddy Kane has been up in his office scrolling through Kate’s phone, trying to figure out why she has a particular art piece on her phone, when Sophie comes in and drops the bomb that she thinks Kate is alive.
That was a jam-packed episode, y’all! We’re suffering from the “problem” of having so many women playing a central role in the story and I wouldn’t have it any other way. What did you think of the episode? Are you as worried about the lack of acknowledgment of Ryan’s Kryptonite wound as I am? *nervous laugh* Sound off in the comments, and I’ll see you next week!