We did it, Joe! We made it through the hiatus to season 3 of Batwoman! To those of you who joined us on this ride last season, it’s great to see you again! And if you’re new here and found this show during the hiatus and thought to yourself “Why yes I AM interested in Black Batwoman, thank you for asking”, welcome! My name is Nic and I am your friendly neighborhood Batwoman recapper who loves nothing more than to yell about how attractive this cast is and how goddamn Black this show is getting.
Without further ado, let’s get into it, shall we? Last season on Batwoman, Kate Kane’s plane crashed leading everyone to presume she was dead and Ryan Wilder to take up the mantle of Batwoman; Kate came back with Wallis Day’s face and gave Ryan the blessing she didn’t know she needed in order to be the Batwoman that Gotham didn’t know it needed; Alice got locked up in Arkham; Luke found his dad’s Batwing suit prototype; Ryan found out her birth mother is still alive; and many of Batman’s trophies (including poison ivy!!) went missing.
And speaking of the missing trophies, we start with an incredible opening sequence where two men find the Mad Hatter’s hat washed ashore and post it to an online auction site. It’s soon snatched up by Alice’s biggest fan (obviously) who notices some kind of tech lighting up the inside of the hat. He channels his best Free Britney impression and vows to get the world to see how wronged Alice has been.
Oh how I’ve missed Ryan and Luke’s sibling-esque banter, y’all. The two are taking down some dudes at what appears (and is later confirmed) to be a pot farm while discussing various sidekick nicknames for Luke. Or are they discussing nicknames while taking down some dudes? Either way, it’s a hilarious and fun reminder that “Batwing” isn’t actually canon yet.
MEANWHILE SOPHIE MOORE IS DOING HER THANG AT THE HOLD UP MAKING OUT WITH AND THROWING WOMEN UP AGAINST WALLS AND THIS IS FINE. And listen, I don’t think I ever claimed to be impartial in my shipping. This is a Wildmoore stan recap. But if on the way to Wildmoore we get a Sophie ho phase?! Sign. Me. Up.
Ahem. Anyway. Alice is in her cell at Arkham reading postcards from her dad over an incredible cover of “It’s My Party” when a guard comes up and tells her she has a visitor.
Back at the pot farm, Ryan and Luke are still workshopping nicknames (10 points for “The Dork Knight”) when they find the shipment of poison ivy the men were hoping would expand their marijuana crop. The plant is way bigger than the friends remember, and Luke casually suggests that someone probably just got it wet?!?!?! Sir. I’m new to the plant game, but I feel like a smidge more concern is warranted based on the rate at which that plant grew. No? Just me? Anyway, just as more goons start to attack, Luke’s suit malfunctions which is…worrisome.
Back at Arkham, Alice is hella excited for the visitor she thinks is her father, but to her disappointment (and my DELIGHT) it’s a different Kane. Mary is graduating med school the next day and came to check on Alice at their father’s request. Alice tells Mary that dear old Jake has been writing to her and Mary can’t help but let a bit of jealousy show. Before Mary leaves though, Alice wants to talk about Ryan. We’re barely into the episode and already I feel like everyone has upped their game this season. Rachel Skarsten is a powerhouse, we know this, but where she really shines is in the smaller moments (of which there are many in this episode) or even in the borderline comedic ones like when she knocks on the glass and motions for Mary to pick up the phone again. 10/10. No notes.
Down in the Batcave, Ryan and Luke lock up what they think is all of the poison ivy and Mary brings them their tickets to her graduation. Homegirl only graduates med school once and Gotham is literally always under attack, so she will accept no “save the world” excuses for her friends missing her special day. Mary then recaps her trip to Arkham and ends up down a “I can’t believe my dad is more worried about Alice than me” spiral. She even does an impeccable impression of Alice telling her to ask about Ryan’s birth mom. Ryan acts all “couldn’t be me” and doesn’t fess up to what Alice told her at the end of last season.
Meanwhile, the Mad Hatter Copycat is recording an Alice support video down in the sewers when two dudes show up and start making fun of him. Mad Hatter immediately tells them to pay her some respect and for reasons the dudes can’t understand, they comply. The hat lights up and Mad Hatter realizes he can control their minds, so naturally he instructs one of the dudes to kill his friend, and he does.
Cut to a very leaky office and a sleeping suited woman who’s no stranger to Gotham as a concept, but seemingly new to this particular version. Why, it’s Renee Montoya played by the extraordinary Victoria Cartagena!! For those of you who might not know, Victoria played the same role on FOX’s Gotham before the show did her dirty and I unceremoniously stopped watching. Many folks on my Twitter feed (including notably, our very own Valerie Anne) cried out for #JusticeforMontoya, but I don’t think we could have imagined our dreams would come true in such spectacular fashion. Victoria is already bringing the heat to the CW’s Montoya and I cannot wait to see what she has in store for us going forward.
A janitor wakes a sleeping Montoya to tell her that ye olde Mad Hatter appears to be back in wreaking havoc in Gotham. Montoya heads to the crime scene where a none too happy detective wonders why she, the head of the Rogues Unit, is even there. She ignores his tone and proceeds to get a description of the perp from the shaken up victim.
Down in the Batcave, the team is reviewing the same Mad Hatter footage and thus, identifying yet another trophy gone missing. Apparently the OG Mad Hatter was a neuroscientist named Jervis Tetch (you kind of can’t not be a villain with that name) who developed mind control technology to force people to listen to him, and built that tech into the hat. Good news though — Luke’s dad figured out how to disrupt the hat’s radio waves, so the team gets busy.
Ryan decides to pay dear Alice a visit to get more information about the blonde’s biggest fan. Alice claims not to know anything about the Mad Hatter, and instead prods Ryan about her birth mother. Ryan holds firm that the woman she always believed to be her birth mom (Nia A. Wilder) (and yes, I put the name into an anagram solver to see if it yielded any clues, leave me alone) died during childbirth. The two trade barbs about who’s the most lonely girl in the land and despite Ryan insisting she has her friends, somehow Alice knows that she hasn’t told those friends about her mom. Before Ryan leaves, Alice drops a cryptic hint about the Mad Hatter planning a tea party.
And now it’s time for my favorite event, ladies night!!! To steal a quote from Alice, I’m just a girl, standing in front of the CWDCTVLGBTQ goddesses, begging for a crossover game night with Ryan, Mary, Sophie, Kara, Lena, Alex, Kelly, and Nia. IMAGINE THE CUTE CHAOS.
Ryan is trying to celebrate her roomie’s accomplishments, but all Mary and Sophie want to talk about is Alice and the Mad Hatter’s tea party. Mary, upon seeing Ryan’s agitation, is like “Bet. Subject change.” and immediately pivots to asking Sophie about the revolving door of women she’s had going through The Hold Up lately. Sophie isn’t about to be ho-shamed though, and stands by her right to date multiple women. (Girl, I hear you, but can one of those women be Ryan though? Asking for a friend who is also me.) Ryan missed the fact that Kate is no longer in the picture, so Mary lays out the familiar “they’re exes but also friends because it’s too complicated to be anything else right now but also there are still feelings” queer trope. Sophie (and I) notes Ryan’s sudden interest in her love life and Ryan claims she’s just glad someone is getting it in. It’s not too long before the subject returns to Alice and Ryan storms off, so Sophie goes to check on her. *eyeball emoji*
Sophie very sweetly nudges Ryan to talk about what happened at Arkham, I stop breathing, and Ryan visibly relaxes as she shares everything Alice told her about her birth mother. My stanning aside, these two have come such a long way since they first met last season. Ryan has gone from giving Soph nicknames like “Crowphie” to trusting her with information she hasn’t felt comfortable sharing with Mary or Luke. Sophie knows just how hard to push Ryan to get her to open up without feeling attacked or pressured. She’s created a safe space for Ryan and you could almost see the weight lift off Ryan’s shoulders as she let go of that secret.
Sophie offers to help Ryan get more information about her birth mother and she gets right to it, making calls and hacking mainframes, and doing all manner of probably illegal activity for her girl.
Meanwhile, Montoya meets up with the new mayor to talk about the Mad Hatter Copycat. We learn that the previous mayor hired Renee for the Rogue Unit because she knew Batman’s old foes would be looking for their evil toys again. Remember how Ryan and Luke thought they got all of Poison Ivy’s poison ivy? Well it turns out, there’s a clipping of it making its way around the dark web. Huh. I wonder if Bridget Regan’s heard of the dark web…anyway! Despite the new mayor’s resistance, Montoya refuses to let this turn into Jim Gordon’s Gotham again. And I don’t know if that was an intentional burn on her former show, but I read it as such and WE STAN.
It’s graduation day and for some reason there’s a two-drink limit at the ceremony. No matter, Ryan is BEAMING when she sees Sophie coming down the stairs. Unfortunately, Sophie comes bearing confirmation that Alice was right about Ryan’s birth mom. The same shady doctor who signed “Nia’s” death certificate also signed Ryan’s birth certificate. He was paid $2M to cover up a woman’s pregnancy as an ovarian cyst and make it look like she died during childbirth.
As Mary practices her speech and she sees all of her classmates looking happy with their families, none other than the Mad Hatter stops her in the hall and Mary knows exactly what’s about to happen.
In the audience, the Bat Fam looks SO PROUD of their girl, but as soon as Mary starts talking, they realize this isn’t her speech. The Mad Hatter is using Mary as his puppet and mouthpiece to make a statement about the corrupt healthcare system, including how quickly someone like Alice gets labeled as “crazy” and is immediately locked up. The team realizes the Mad Hatter is using the mind control tech, so Luke send a frequency to Sophie and Ryan’s earbuds to keep them from being controlled. Mad Hatter instructs Mary to surgically remove each of her professor’s organs until he dies. Luke realizes they can’t just take him out, they have to get him to reverse the mind control, and the only way to do it is by breaking Alice out and getting her to convince her biggest fan to stop.
It’s circle share time at Arkham and no sooner does the doctor tell Alice no one is coming to save her, than Ryan bursts in to do that very thing.
Back onstage, Mary is starting with the professor’s unnecessary organs, giving Luke time to get up to the roof to set up a device to disrupt Mad Hatter’s future commands.
Batwoman and her bo staff take out the remaining Arkham guards, but Alice doesn’t want to leave. She shows Ryan the postcards from her father, but it turns out the “postcards” are nothing more than magazine clippings and napkins. Alice’s mind led her to believe she was actually reading words her father wrote to her. Now, while I am in therapy and will shout about it from the rooftops, I’m not a mental health professional, so take what I say with a grain of salt. I love Alice and I love the very thin line Rachel and the show are walking with regard to the effects of Alice’s very real trauma. I really hope they continue to deepen the conversation about that trauma without leaning too heavily into the “Alice is crazy” camp. If there’s a show that can do it, it’s this one.
Ryan tells Alice that if she helps them, Ryan will let her go. Alice agrees and joins Ryan in the Batmobile en route to the graduation. The two sit in silence for a bit before Ryan asks Alice if she wants to talk. Almost imperceptibly, Alice says there’s no point and pivots to a quip about not wanting to meet her future boyfriend while in her Arkham jumpsuit. Oh hello deflection, how you doin?
Back onstage, Mary’s taken out all of the non-vital organs and Sophie discovers a loophole! If they kill the professor, then it fulfills the mind control and they can just shock him back to life! Easy! Much like myself, Sophie has clearly completed a 17 year residency at Grey Sloan Memorial Hospital so I see nothing wrong with this plan. They’re not the only ones with a loophole though, because Mad Hatter cuts off the breaker to stop the frequency, and instructs the crowd to choke themselves with their stethoscopes. Sophie’s plan works though, and Mary manages to get her mind back after bringing the professor back to life.