Hello, friends! This week’s Batwoman is a real team effort! First up, a short synopsis of last night’s episode, “Survived Much Worse.” Then, a screencap recap by Nic. Then, a conversation between Nic and Carmen and Natalie about last night’s big revelation.
This week on Batwoman, everyone in Gotham City is on their way to Coryana, like when everyone in Gossip Girl used to end up at a big fancy party at the end of every episode — only at this party, there’s a lot of fire and stabbing and no artisanal cocktails. Alice is in Coryana with Ocean’s (fake) dead body, so she can get Kate back. Ryan convinces Mary and Luke to let her go to Coryana for the same reason, and also to snag a Desert Rose, which is the only thing that can cure her Kryptonite wound. She’s dying very fast! Sophie and Jacob go to Coryana also for Kate, because Luke tells Sophie he placed a tracker on Alice, and Alice’s main thing is getting Kate, and Alice is in Coryana, and so also probably Kate is there. Sophie’s like, “Well, I know this means you’re working with Batwoman, which we can address at a later date, pal.”
Batwoman and also Jacob and Sophie get snatched up by Safiyah’s goons as soon as they land/crash onto Coryana, but not without admiring the fields and fields of Desert Roses first. When Batwoman is dragged into Safiyah’s throne room, Alice is there, and so Batwoman’s like, “Just a hot tip: Peel the face off Ocean’s dead body real quick.” Safiyah does and it’s not Ocean! And she is pissed! She goes and gets the real Ocean and plops him down right in front of Alice and tells her to stab his handsome guts to death if she ever wants to see Kate again. And so Alice does. But Safiyah was just joshin’: the dagger was tipped with Desert Rose juice so Ocean does not die! And also she was joshin’ about having Kate: She actually only has a room full of Kate’s necklaces(?).
Alice is even angrier than usual due to being forced to murder when she didn’t even want to actually do a murder, and being lied to, so she breaks free and hurls a fiery spear into the Desert Rose patch and the whole thing goes up in flames! Sophie has escaped from her holding cell and so has Batwoman. They find each other in the fire and Sophie says if Batwoman will pick up the pace, she can catch a ride back to Gotham in the plane that Jacob “hot wired.” But Batwoman says she’s dying and now all the Desert Roses are ash and it’d be nice if Sophie just sits with her for a while. And so Sophie does, and Batwoman lays her head on Sophie’s shoulder.
Meanwhile a one of those Many Arms of Death comes for Luke and Mary. Mary who has spent the whole episode keeping Ryan’s beloved plant alive, by the way. The Death Arm nearly assassinates them, but Julia Pennyworth shows up from like behind the curtains and stops him. She also brings with her the knowledge that Kate’s body washed up on some beach and she’s definitely for really real surely and wholly dead. Mary wants to be sad, but when she looks up from the laptop, she notices that the Death Arm blood that spilled on Ryan’s plant has caused it to turn into a Desert Rose. Luke calls Sophie and tells her to get Ryan the heck home right this very second. They’ve got the cure!
Meanwhile, in a sewer, there’s a nearly dead person with fake face crust on them, and that person is wearing Kate Kane’s necklace.
So. Kate Kane’s alive, and has been recast. Thoughts?
Carmen: If they were going to recast Kate, I just feel like we could have gone that route from the jump. But they made the braver, better choice with creating the first Black Batwoman. And now!?!? Talk about undermining your Black superhero.
Natalie: Yeah, I watched the episode and this is just… not at all okay. I appreciate that they really seem to want to avoid the Bury Your Gays trope — but this ain’t it, chief. Shows need to learn that the Bury Your Gays trope isn’t just about burying gays being terrible, but it’s also about a lack of agency for the characters, right? If there’s one thing that Ruby Rose’s Kate Kane had it was agency. She had agency even when everyone around her tried to deny it for her.
Bury Your Gays can’t be an excuse to avoid telling the storylines you need to tell.
Before the season started, I wondered (read: worried) about how the writers’ room would handle race and while I’ve thought they’ve been a little too preachy (in the same way that Black Lightning often is), I was fine with how they were dealing with it. But this decision screams that they don’t understand how race works in this country.
I think the show had to invest 100% with Ryan Wilder as Batwoman to make the transition work, and it was always going to be a hard sell because the CW has a love/hate relationship with their female fronted properties and, frankly, because she was a Black protagonist and that was going to be tough pill for some part of the audience to swallow… and the ratings have borne that out.
Kate’s clearly in a bad state and I can’t imagine her ever being 100% as Kate Kane, much less Batwoman, but that won’t stop those people who were never on-board with a Black protagonist from wishing and waiting for her to come back.
Carmen: Yeah I think, even if what they’re doing here is trying to have a “proper” goodbye for Kate, there is no way to do that — as long as Kate exists in the universe of the show, then the worst, most racist, and toxic parts of the fandom that’s still holding on to her, now have an excuse not to let go. What this decision does (in my opinion) is two things:
1) It allows those fans to have a dead horse to keep beating everyone one else with forever. I want to be clear about this, I love queer fandoms! I love working for a website that gives platforms to queer fandoms. This isn’t about everyone. But even the slightest dig into some Twitter circles shows that there are fans who are still upset by the decision to cast a Black woman as Batwoman, to this very day. And some of those fans are performing (already hurtful, mind you!) micro aggressions, sure, but a lot of them are flat out vocal about it. Keeping Kate “alive” means the worst, most racist parts of Batwoman’s fandom will never have to just shut up and move on with their lives to leave the rest of us alone in peace.
It also delegitimizes Ryan in every way. As long as their Kate is alive, she is never going to be the “real” Batwoman. We also see this in the DC Comics, whose recently announced Pride Anthology brings together DC’s most famous gay and trans superheroes, but it’s Kate Kane, not Ryan Wilder, who is being featured. This decision undermines Ryan as the first Black Batwoman in every way.
It’s an obvious choice. And not one they had to make.
2) It’s a dog whistle telling those same very worst parts of the Batwoman fandom that they have power to influence corporate decisions. Which again, will only further embolden them. The other thing this dog whistle does, is that it tells Black fans that the show (and more broadly, the comics) isn’t going to invest 100% into Ryan, by proxy not willing to invest 100% into them. And that is hurtful!!
And if the DCEU and Arrowverse were serious, they could just do something similar to what Marvel does with Miles Morales as Spiderman. In the comics and the movie, Peter died and Miles took up the mantle, giving him his own series as a legitimate Spiderman in his own universe. (In the movies, alt-universe Peter becomes mentor to Miles, but in the end he goes back to wherever he came from, again legitimizing Miles as the one and only Spiderman). It’s like slayer rules. There can only be one. Imagine a DC Pride Cover that had both Kate AND Ryan, each holding like a corner of a pride flag, representing the past and the present (Thinking again about Spiderman and how they’ve pulled this off successfully) — how powerful that could be.
Nic: I’m so glad y’all are weighing in here, because when I first realized they were going all in with the recast, my initial thought was that it could be interesting to watch Kate grapple with the fact that there’s a new Batwoman in town and she might not be needed in the same way she was before. But the more I sat with it, the more I agreed with what you’ve both said. The show is getting to have its cake and eat it too. They get to have their Black Batwoman and also appease the fans who were up in arms over Kate being gone. I’m still all in on Team Ryan, and I want to have faith that she won’t take a backseat to Kate, but with two leads potentially vying for the same mantle, it seems inevitable. Please, prove us wrong, show.