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!