Spoilers below for the Batwoman season 2 finale!
Whew, I don’t know how we got here so quickly, but we’ve reached the season finale of Batwoman. Before I get into the episode, let me take a minute to thank Autostraddle for the opportunity to write about this show. Thank y’all for sticking with me during each and every rant and all caps shouting spree about how incredible this cast is. Thank you for trusting me to cover the important story of a Black woman stepping into her power despite the entire deck being stacked against her.
As soon as they announced that Javicia Leslie would step into the titular role, I knew the network and the writers had a real chance to give us something special. And they delivered above and beyond, each and every week. It has been a joy watching Ryan Wilder become the hero that Gotham needs; the hero her community needs. Javicia took an established mantle and injected Ryan’s unique perspective into it in a way that felt earned and authentic. The cast welcomed her with love and humor and open arms and we couldn’t help but do the same. I’ve absolutely loved watching and writing about this season so thank you for tagging along on this journey. Okay. Onto the episode!
Previously on this season of Batwoman, we met Ryan Wilder, a woman reluctant to claim the title of “hero” but determined to bring hope to her city; Kate Kane went missing and then we thought Safiyah had her but actually Kate’s face, personality, and acting chops were lost in a plane crash so they replaced the aforementioned with those of Circe Sionis who pretended to be Kate; Mary Hamilton welcomed Ryan to the team immediately while running her clinic and proving that she’s the actual best of us; Luke took a bit longer to warm to Ryan what with Kate being presumed dead and all, but eventually they found their groove, oh and also HE GOT SHOT (*cough* ACAB); Alice thought she lost her sister (again), then thought she found her, then uncovered a slew of memories about her boy toy, then realized it wasn’t her sister, then she killed her boy toy, then her boy toy came back to life, then Alice found her sister again, then boy toy refused to acknowledge her autonomy, then her manipulative sort of mentor (??) killed her boy toy for real, all while Alice attempted to process the trauma of being locked in literal and metaphorical cages her whole life; also ACAB; also so much casual queerness; also Sophie Moore.
The citizens of Gotham are all gathered around their televisions, expecting to catch the latest episode of America’s Funniest Pets, when they are instead treated to Black Mask instructing them all to strap on a mask (ew) and join him in overthrowing the corrupt institutions running Gotham. And look, I’m all for abolition, but not when the result will just be another white dude in charge, come on man! Meanwhile Circe is suiting up in her own black mask and butchered Batsuit and I’m trying really hard not to be attracted to her but she still has Wallis Day’s face so, oh well. Black Mask shuts off the power to the city and all of a sudden they are POWERLESS they are POWERLEEEESSSSSSS. (Come on. They gave me a literal blackout and I’m a queer lady who lives in NYC, of COURSE I’m making an In the Heights reference. It probably won’t be the last.)
Down in the Batcave, Ryan’s writing her resignation letter to Gotham. Without the suit or the tech, she doesn’t think she can be the hero that Gotham deserves. Oh sweet summer child, if you only knew the power you hold.
At The Hold Up, Mary lays out the Bat Team’s to-do list because of course Mary wrote out a to-do list. The list is as follows: 1. Find Circe, 2. Get Kate back, 3. Apprehend Black Mask, 4. Stop a rising faction from overthrowing the government. Easy peasy! Ryan has less confidence than I do and points out that even if they’re somehow able to complete steps 1, 3, and 4 without the suit or Internet or satellites, how are they supposed to get Kate back when nothing else has worked?
Mary doesn’t have a good answer though, and heads out to the clinic since Purge night means lots and lots of injuries. Before she goes, Luke gives them WALKIE-TALKIES. Over. And this was such a small thing, but as she leaves, Mary calls out “Be safe, love you guys!” and I don’t know, the effortlessness of the comment hit me kind of hard because of how far this team has come. Mary’s always been Team Ryan, it’s true, but you can tell this is just how they talk to each other now? It was small and sweet and found family gives me lots of Feelings, okay? Anyway!! As Luke rewatches the Black Mask footage more times than I watched the kiss from later in the episode (hmm? what?), Ryan spots an old TV station logo in the reflection. A clue!
Back in the bar, Ryan asks Alice to help her save Kate. Because Alice has eyeballs and a brain, she knows that Ryan doesn’t want to risk Sophie’s life (!!!) by bringing her, so Alice gets to be the test dummy. Ryan admits that yeah, she does need Alice, so Alice agrees to help.
Down in Lucius Fox’s workshop, Luke finds some old drawings he did of a Black Batman. The memory brings a nostalgic smile to his face until he notes some scientific notations above one of the drawings. It seems that the elder Fox was working on making his son’s dream a reality. Luke digs around some more and finds THE BATWING SUIT!!!
*Stefon voice* Gotham’s hottest Purge night club is apparently Mary’s clinic because that place is POPPIN’! It seems they’ll let just about anyone in though because Tavaroff is rushed in after someone found him in a dumpster and didn’t decide to just let him die. Both Mary and I are less than thrilled and like, she’s still a student, right? So she hasn’t taken the Hippocratic oath? I’m just saying… no one would blame her if she phoned it in on his care. She does some Science and comes up with a plan.
Alice and Ryan are in the Batmobile again and I am just so in love with the chemistry these two have. Alice goes on about reading Ryan’s mail (including a postcard from Angelique) and when she mentions Ryan’s parole board hearing the next day, they have an incredibly loaded conversation about the fact that Ryan has served more time for doing nothing than Alice has for committing literal murder. (By now I think I’ve made it clear how I feel about prisons, but for the purposes of this episode, I’m going to go ahead and pretend that abolition and prison reform are at the bottom of Gotham’s to-do list. K? Cool.)
Alice does a thing where she insists that the punishment and suffering Safiyah gave her are much worse than any amount of time Ryan did in Blackgate. And you know what, let’s say that’s true. That’s not the point, is it? Alice is still a white woman who gets to skip around Gotham murdering whomever she pleases while Ryan was locked up for a crime she didn’t commit. But what I love about what Batwoman has done this season, is they haven’t made it cut and dry. We’ve gotten to see how complex and complicated Alice is; we’ve gotten to watch Ryan and Sophie and Luke and Mary question and dismantle the very institutions that sustain inequality; it’s not as simple as “well, just lock Alice up and boom, justice.” It’s nuanced and difficult and somehow they’ve managed to illustrate that in 18 42-minute episodes of television (and on The CW, no shade).
When the two arrive at the TV station, Alice tells Ryan that she understands why she hates her and that she’s sorry. But Ryan isn’t about to forgive her just because they’ve both lost people they cared about; they’re not the same. So Alice reacts with a blow that is low, even for her. She accuses Ryan of killing the first woman she ever met: her birth mother who supposedly died during childbirth. Ryan slaps her and vows to put Alice behind bars.
Meanwhile, Mary’s gotten a real hang of the walkie-talkies and radios Luke about a plan to expose Circe to Snakebite vapors to trigger a core memory. It’s a genius idea and Luke agrees. Tavaroff stumbles into the alley looking for Snakebite to which Mary expertly exclaims, “Oh my god. Over.” Nicole Kang, you are an icon.
Down in the streets… “They throwin’ bottles in the street. People lootin’ and shootin’…”
Back at the TV station, Circe greets Ryan and Alice with a fight and familiar gear, including the bo staff. Massive shout out to the fight choreography and stunt doubles here because this scene is BEAUTIFUL. Alice joins the fight and Black Mask starts shooting. Ryan goes after Circe while Alice stays behind to distract Sionis.
We’re back in the home of one of the families who just wanted to watch America’s Funniest Pets, and they’re listening to Vesper Fairchild read Batwoman’s resignation letter over the radio. Little Billy (probably) has one of the black masks and before his dad can scream at him for it, Billy (it’s canon now) shows him how their neighbors illuminated the masks and put them in their windows.
Down in the alley, Mary’s hiding from Tavaroff and proceeds to run away from him (*sings*) on that fire escape. And then she tases him WITH A BEDAZZLED TASER. Mary Hamilton, be more epic. I dare you. She runs out of time and space when the two reach the roof and Tavaroff pushes her off right into the arms of *drumroll* BATWING!!! Mary is hella confused and Luke is still working out the kinks in the suit and it’s SO CUTE.
Once she’s recovered, Mary brings Ryan the can of snakebite and warns her not to get too close. Ryan still doesn’t think she can beat Circe, but Mary reminds her that not only does she believe it, but the citizens of Gotham do too. She shows Ryan the makeshift Batsignals people have created out of the black masks and I’ll admit, ya girl got choked up.
Next page: Sweet lady kisses and the power of a name!
Meanwhile, Tavaroff is still hulking about when he sees Batwing and asks “What are you?” to which Luke replies, “Justice.” And WHEW, chile, the CHILLS upon watching Luke get to take down that overgrown haircut! *chef’s kiss*
Alice and Black Mask are arguing over who’s a better villain and spoiler alert: the answer is Joker because Alice whips out his acid flower and sprays it at Roman, cementing the black mask to his face.
And the In the Heights references just keep writing themselves, because Sophie is acting as the Benny to Ryan’s Nina (just go with it) as she walks her through the best route to take to get to Sionis mansion, where Circe is presumably headed. As Ryan and Circe maneuver through the streets, they use their vehicles’ weapons against each other until they reach a bridge that I’m fairly certain is THE bridge. Ryan’s confidence must have been bolstered by seeing the makeshift Batsignals because she tells Circe to call her Batwoman. Alice arrives and attempts to spray Circe with the Snakebite, but the two struggle and fall over the bridge in a gorgeous parallel to the event that began their estrangement.
The sisters sink, and Alice imagines she’s back in the subway car with Ocean (Alice hallucinating Ocean while under water is not lost on me) before Tatiana kills him. She tries to warn him and he tells her that he’s busy planning a future for them; one far away from Gotham where they can start over. She realizes that Safiyah made sure Alice would have to choose between her sister and her love, and she decides to choose her sister. She gets to say her goodbye to Ocean, who asks her to promise that she will chase this feeling that she now knows she’s capable of.
The Snakebite hits Circe a bit differently, and she is instead back at the house where her sister was kept. But this time she turns around, opens the door, and finds Beth. Back in the present, Alice wakes up and pulls her sister to safety.
On shore, Ryan starts CPR on Circe and Alice looks back and helplessly pleads with Ryan to tell her what to do; how to help. They work together until Circe starts to breathe again, but it’s not Circe who speaks this time. It’s Kate, and she remembers Beth, her sister. Alice barely has time to process this before cops find them, recognize her, and drag her away. I don’t have a lot more to say about this scene other than Rachel. Fucking. Skarsten.
The lights are back on in Gotham and Vesper is back on the air doing dumb shit like calling Batwoman “B-woman” and doing that thing white women do when they call Black women “sister.” Like, just stop it. She pleads with Batwoman to rethink hanging up the cowl and informs us that Alice and Sionis are headed to Arkham.
At Ryan’s parole hearing, nothing happened and I definitely didn’t cry. Nope. I’m lying. The board asks Ryan if she’s changed and how. She’s straight up with them — she’s still the same kind, honest, and intelligent person she was when they wrongfully arrested her, but she knows what they need to hear. She has changed. She stopped seeing herself the way they see her, and she started seeing herself for who she is. Let me say that one more again. She stopped seeing herself the way they see her, and she started seeing herself for who she is. She is a woman who has found her power.
I could barely type those sentences without getting misty-eyed again. I rewatched episode 201 while writing this, and specifically watched Ryan’s conversations with Luke and Mary throughout the episode. From the moment Ryan put on the Batsuit she knew what it meant. She may not have thought she was worthy at the time, but she knew how important the symbol across her chest was and thought maybe that symbol could help make a difference for people like her. In 201, Ryan notes that Kate was a hero both in and out of the suit, and she couldn’t see how she would ever live up to that; because she saw herself as the number the system told her she was. But she’s more than that and now she knows it and is standing proudly in it. The board votes unanimously to end her parole early.
Back at Wayne Tower, Mary reads Kate my recap from the game show episode. Just kidding, but she does give her the play-by-play including Luke’s nerd flirting and wow is it nice to see them laughing and joking again. Luke tells them about his dad’s work on Batwing and they cryptically mention Kate’s Future Plans. Unfortunately, they don’t involve Alice for the moment. Even though Alice helped to bring Kate out of Circe, unless Alice wants to bring Beth out, Kate doesn’t think she can help her.
Ryan shows up and Kate quips about the two of them having the same taste WHICH IS OBVIOUSLY ABOUT BEING ATTRACTED TO SOPHIE AND DEFINITELY NOT ABOUT VEGAN PIZZA OR BEING BATWOMAN. Ahem. The Batwomen take the room, they joke about the Batmobile, and Ryan finally gets to thank Kate for the symbol and for subsequently changing her life. Ryan’s face is so genuine and grateful and sure, maybe I teared up again. And then, Ryan gets the approval that she’s always wanted; Kate tells her that Batwoman belongs to Ryan.
Ryan is the one who knows what the symbol means to the people who have no hope left. I keep thinking about how dope it is for this white Jewish woman to step back from the mantle she created, and hand it off to a Black woman because, in this moment, that’s who the city needs. Kate Kane was Batwoman and Ryan Wilder is Batwoman. Ryan earned this and she deserves it. Point. Blank. Period. And as if we needed further proof, Ryan promises Kate that she will take care of Luke and Mary because they’re her family now.
Kate enters The Hold Up with a swagger they should teach in Queer 101. She’s there to tell Sophie that she’s leaving Gotham to see her dad, A FRIEND IN NATIONAL CITY, and then to look for Bruce. Batmoore has been through a lot: Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, a husband, a secret identity, a new face; but the timing just hasn’t been right. Kate tells Sophie that they both deserve something a little easier. If Sophie agrees, she isn’t going out without a bang, and she tells Kate that whoever that person is, they better be able to compete with her. AND THEN THEY SHARE THE MOST PERFECT KISS AND DON’T YOU WORRY ABOUT HOW MANY TIMES I’VE WATCHED IT LEAVE ME ALONE. Ahem.
But really, I’m going to miss this version of Kate Kane, and hopefully we’ll get to see her again somehow in the back half of Supergirl or season three of this show. My poor starved shipper heart does hope that this opens the door for a nice Wildmoore slow burn next season, though. (Daphne, Natalie, Maya… if you’re reading this… PRETTY PLEASE!!!)
Down in the Batcave, the team decides that their next plan of action is to find the villain paraphernalia from Batman’s trophy case. Ryan asks Mary to be the point person for the new community center above the medical clinic and Mary agrees. Before they get started, Ryan heads off to tie up some loose ends.
Ends that land her at Arkham Asylum where Sionis is yelling about “Janus!” over and over (surely that’s fine) and his cell neighbor Alice is looking better in a jumpsuit than anyone has the right to. All Ryan wanted was for the system to work just one time and she finally feels like she got justice for her mom. Ah but see it turns out, the mom Ry Ry thought was dead didn’t actually die in childbirth. LE TWEEST!
On the shores of Gotham Harbor (I don’t know, I think I made that up), a hat and Penguin umbrella drift by, but the real item of note (to this recapper, anyway) is the magic ivy growing incredibly quickly so you can catch me screaming about Poison Ivy from now until season three, K BYE!!!
In all seriousness, I started this recap thanking some folks, and I’m going to end it the same way. To all of you who read these or share them on social or comment below, thank you so much. It still blows my mind that you’re here and I appreciate each and every one of you. Until next season on the same Batchannel, Nic out.