When I wrote my final recap of Batwoman’s now final season, I didn’t know that’s what I was writing. Nothing is ever certain in the era of peak TV, but I’ll admit that I remained hopeful we would get to watch our Black lesbian superhero’s story continue to unfold. Unfortunately, that’s not what happened. Our very own Carmen wrote a beautiful piece about Batwoman’s cancellation, and I was honored when she asked me to say something to fans after learning the news. I mourned the show while also supporting various Save Batwoman campaigns, but still, the fact that Ryan’s story was left so open-ended just didn’t sit right. It wasn’t until the most recent episode of The Flash when I watched Ryan Wilder fly down in her full Batwoman glory, that I realized just how much I needed to say a proper “goodbyewp_poststo this character.
Back in October, we learned that Javicia Leslie would be back in the Arrowverse one more time, playing a version of Red Death. Now, admittedly I was not as familiar with Red Death, but you bet your ass I was READY to polish the rust off of my Javicia Leslie Hype Train whistle and hope that they would do right by the Ryan Wilder we know and love.
In episode 903 of The Flash, “Rogues of War”, we met a version of Ryan Wilder from an alternate timeline. A timeline in which she is a speedster rocking a gray streak in her hair and a whole lot of vengeance in her heart. Then, in episode 904, “Mask of the Red Death Part One”, Not!Ryan laid out her plans to use Barry, Iris, and the speed force as a means of eradicating crime in her timeline by destroying potential criminals before they can even commit the crime. Seeing Javicia on my teevee again lit up my entire heart, but similarly to when we got to see a married Ryan in an alternate timeline during the crossover, part of me wanted to see that our Ryan was doing okay.
Enter: episode 905, “Mask of the Red Death Part Two.wp_postsWe start out with Red Death and her rogue crew getting ready to siphon power from a CCPD satellite in order to increase her strength. She uses that power to create an army of sentinels (Alex Danvers will always be Sentinel, but whatever) that will carry out her version of peacekeeping and usher in the Era of the Red Death. Sounds super chill and fine.
When Barry and the rest of Team Flash fall right into Not!Ryan’s trap, she tells Barry that as usual, everything that’s happening is his fault. He made the mistake of leaving Grodd, and after CRISIS (!!) the gorilla was never able to find his tribe. So Red Death offered a reunion in exchange for Grodd enhancing her telepathy, thus enabling her to control her army of sentinels. Later, Barry goes to apologize to Grodd as Red Death’s sentinels literally fry a man who’s stealing a television. Red Death realizes what Barry must have done because she feels her psychic link with Grodd sever.
Not!Ryan and Barry run and fight their way through Central City until Barry’s rogues arrive to help him. She manages to take them down, but then something flies through the air and sinks into the broken bat symbol on Red Death’s suit. It’s WHOLE ASS BATARANG and y’all, when I tell you my entire body broke out in chills when I realized what was happening.
OUR RYAN WILDER floats down, Batsuit donned and cape billowing, landing as gracefully as the last time we saw her. Her theme plays and in that moment I realized just how much I’ve missed her. And honestly, the fact that I hadn’t felt that emotional shift until that moment is a testament to how expertly Javicia played Red Death. Once Ryan and Red Death squared up against each other physically and verbally, I was like oh right, THERE’S the girl we fell in love with; the one who makes quips like “Girl, you’re nothing but me on a bad hair day.wp_postsThe two of them fight in a Ryan v. Ryan matchup for the ages.
Batwoman defeats Red Death with some help from the rogues, and asks if things are always this crazy in Central City, as if Gotham doesn’t cycle through villains daily. She debriefs with the team back at HQ, and Chester adorably fangirls over how badass she is. Look, I talk a big game, but if I ever meet or get to talk to Javicia, there’s a non-zero chance that the first 30 seconds mirrors Chester meeting Ryan. The fangirling doesn’t stop there though, because Ryan tells Iris how much she loves her work, and then invites her to the monthly brunch that she has with Kara, Alex, and Nia. One more time for those in the back: Kara Danvers, Alex Danvers, Nia Nal, and Ryan Wilder have a MONTHLY BRUNCH. :faints: Ryan wishes them luck and tells them they know where to find her if they need her. Something about knowing that Ryan not only has her Gotham family, but has also been able to connect with other members of what we lovingly refer to as the DCTVLGBTQ, gives me confidence that our girl is doing just fine.
It’s never easy when a show you love gets suddenly canceled, especially when the characters represent something bigger, because so much of the story is left untold. We never got to see domestic Wildmoore or the impact Ryan could have had on Gotham now that she’s even more settled into the Batwoman mantle. But as they say, that’s show biz baby! And I understand that. To me, Ryan, Sophie, Javicia, and Meagan meant the beginning of an era where it didn’t feel ridiculous to want my heroes to be unapologetically Black and queer. To see those Black queer women love each other with their entire hearts right in front of our eyes. And to have gotten to see that for the time we had them? I will be forever grateful. I hope the success of Batwoman and the outrage over its cancellation will be a sign to other studios that when your media reflects your audience, we will show up time and time again.