20th Jan2021

‘Batwoman 2×01: What Happened to Kate Kane?’ Review

by Jason Brigger

Stars: Javicia Leslie, Rachel Skarsten, Meagan Tandy, Nicole Kang, Camrus Johnson, Dougray Scott | Created by Caroline Dries

Welcome back everyone! After a long hiatus (thanks COVID-19!), Batwoman is back and all is normal again. Wait, Ruby Rose the actress that played Kate Kane/Batwoman left the show? What? The whole first season revolved around her relationships with her family and her choice to become Batwoman! How is this series going to continue? Well, let’s find out.

What Happened This Week?

The “soft” reboot to Batwoman starts with Kate presumably in a plane crash and missing, and most likely dead. Ryan Wilder (Javicia Leslie) is asleep in her van down by the river and sees the plane crash and is off to investigate the crash site. While at the crash site, she gives CPR to a homeless man that was near the crash, thus saving him from death. Ryan also finds the Batwoman suit unharmed (that’s convenient) and decides she needs the suit for her own reasons. Well, that first ten minutes was weird and seemed like a quick and convenient way for Ryan to take over the mantle. Using the plane crash and his missing cousin as an excuse, Bruce Wayne re-emerges back in Gotham after four years away but it’s not really Bruce. No, it’s convict and Alice’s cohort, Tommy Elliot aka Hush, with a new face that convinces everyone he is Bruce Wayne, even Luke Fox. Tommy does what villains do when they are millionaire imposters…sleep with multiple women, drink, and basically try to convince everyone he is who he says he is. Until Alice shows up to crash the party and tells him to stick to the plan of retrieving the Kryptonite that is in Team Batwoman’s possession.

I’m not sure Alice even knows what the next step in her plan is or even what her plan is since her sister Kate is presumed dead and her death wasn’t at the hands of Alice. That’s the issue with this series now as we spent all last season building up the dynamic between Alice and Kate but without Kate, what purpose does Alice have in the series besides a typical villain in Gotham? The episode even acknowledges this as Alice is lost without her one motive for waking up in the morning, terrorizing her family. Tommy’s luck of fooling people ends when he runs into Julia Pennyworth, who feels something is off with Bruce. Julia deliberately feeds Bruce wrong information about his former butler, Alfred, and Bruce doesn’t notice it’s wrong. This allows Julia to realize that this isn’t the real Bruce and goes off to warn Luke and Mary.

Much of the focus this week was on Team Batwoman as Mary and Luke are grieving in their own way for the alleged death of Kate. Luke blames himself as he insisted Kate travel to see Supergirl to discuss destroying the piece of Kryptonite and as a result, Kate is on the plane when it was coming back to Gotham. Mary is grieving as Kate’s death is another loss she must cope with after the murder of her mother by the hands of Alice last season. There are two strengths to this episode and Luke and Mary’s grieving and trying to figure out what to do next is one of them.

The other strength? The new Batwoman. Ruby Rose was a good choice to play Kate/Batwoman, but it felt at times her performance was “phoned-in” and wooden. In one episode, Javicia Leslie showed more range as Batwoman than Rose did all last season. Seriously, where was Javicia when they were casting for season one? Ryan is a character that we can root for as she doesn’t come from privilege as Kate did. Ryan lived most of her life in foster care until she was adopted by a single mother that had to work multiple jobs just to get by. Ryan was finally able to get an apartment for her and her mother and just as they were about to move in, they were assaulted by squatters from Alice’s Wonderland gang, resulting in Ryan’s mother dying. Eventually Ryan was sent to jail for drug trafficking, a crime she didn’t commit, and due to this, she wants the suit to gain an upper hand in killing Alice, the woman responsible for her mother’s death.

We learn all this through a monologue she gives to Mary and Luke after they monitor the GPS in the suit and confront her, stating she is not worthy of wearing the mantle. While monologues are one of my pet peeves in television, this monologue was perfection. The audience learns why she wants the suit and why she is perfect to pick up the mantle for those that are often not heard. Once the GPS in the bat-suit is turned on, Tommy reveals why he really wants to be Bruce Wayne…he wants to be Batman. After blowing up a few holes in the Batcave, Tommy finds the Batmobile (and it’s beautiful!) and takes off to find Ryan. Luke and Mary, thanks to Julia, realize Bruce Wayne is an imposter and travel back to the Batcave to confront him, but Tommy is already gone. Luckily for Ryan, Luke is able to communicate with her through the bat-suit and warns of her of Tommy’s plan.

Thanks to Luke, Ryan is able to narrowly avoid being taken out by the Batmobile and a car chase ensues between the Batmobile and her van in an abandoned amusement park. It’s a fun scene which gives the audience some insight into Ryan’s humor and personality. Eventually Tommy and Batwoman face off, which does not end well for our villain. It seems this Batwoman has been trained for years in martial arts and easily takes down Tommy, and with so much authority and aggression that she knocks his fake face off!

The episode ends with Tommy back in Arkham, Ryan returning the suit as she states, “It’s one thing to put it on and it’s another thing to wear it,” Mary trying to convince Luke to give Ryan another chance as the new Batwoman, and Alice laying down with the corpse of Mouse. Wait, what? Alice has issues.

Where We Are Headed in Season Two

  • Jacob, after Alice reveals Kate was Batwoman, is a broken man as he spent the last year trying to hunt down Gotham’s vigilante only to realize he was actually hunting his own daughter. How he copes with losing two wives and essentially two daughters will be the driving force on what he does next.
  • Ryan’s journey to not only become Batwoman but also live up to the pressure of being Gotham’s symbol of justice while still searching for her mother’s killer, Alice will be the main focus of the series.
  • How much further down the rabbit hole of madness will Alice fall now that her sister cannot save her and her closest confidant, Mouse, is dead? Alice also learns the mysterious villain, Safiya, was the one responsible for Kate’s plane exploding. Does Alice join Safiya and her reign of terror or does she start a turf war with this new villain?
  • How will Kate’s death affect Sophie and Julia? A letter left behind for Kate explains her love for Sophie, resulting in Julia and Sophie breaking up. Will Sophie step up to be another protector of Gotham in Kate’s absence or will she grow to resent the secrets Kate kept?

Best Line of the Episode

Ryan to Luke and Mary on why she should be Batwoman: “Trust me, I know I’m not a symbol. Because I’m a number. I’m the 327th baby of a Black woman who died during childbirth that year. I’m a $20 a day check to a group home. I’m inmate 40757 — 18 months for a crime I didn’t commit. But I can live with all those numbers because the momma who adopted me? I was her number one. But it turns out she’s just one of a quarter million murders in this country who have not seen justice.”

Episode Grade: C+ (Above Average)

Batwoman’s new season is a “soft” reboot since the departure of Ruby Rose and overall, it was an up-and-down episode. On one hand, the addition of Javicia Leslie is a delight and might be the change the series needed. She brings a different perspective to the series and a connection to the audience that Rose was not able to fully bring. It may be only one episode, but Leslie has already won me over with her humor, her monologue explaining she is one of the many overlooked in society, and her uneasiness in becoming a symbol of justice in Gotham.

The issue with Rose leaving the series is that the whole first season now seems like a partial waste of time as all the connected relationships and storylines are for naught. Granted the writers did their best by having Alice inadvertently murder Ryan’s mother, but overall, it seems to be reaching. It’s not the writers fault as they were put in a tough situation, but it also seems a few characters don’t have a reason to be on the series anymore. Furthermore, this episode relied way too much on expositional speeches. It seemed every five minutes another character was trying to monologue about their reasoning for doing something and overall, it felt like the episode was a book-on-tape and not a visual medium.

Overall, the episode did a fairly good job introducing the new Batwoman and the series will thrive if it puts the majority of its storylines on its strongest characters, Ryan, Mary, and Luke and their budding relationship. If the series focuses more on characters that don’t have as much of a purpose now that Kate is out of the picture, like Jacob, Julia, and Sophie, it may be a long season.
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You can catch Jason Brigger on the geek-centric podcast, The History of Bad Ideas, as new episodes are released every week at www.nerdly.co.uk or subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Stitcher and other podcasting apps. You can listen to their latest episode right here.
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