24th Mar2021

‘Batwoman 2×08: Survived Much Worse’ Review

by Jason Brigger

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

Batwoman has been building all season towards this week’s episode when all of our heroes and villains clash on Safiyah’s personal island of Coriana. While this episode was a little bit of a letdown due to the lack of action, it did provide enough twists and turns to shake up the series. Let’s get to all the surprises!

What Happened This Week?

Everyone to Coriana!

It seems everyone, except Luke and Mary, is on a road trip to Coriana this episode as Alice and Tatiana are delivering the fake body of Ocean to Safiyah, Ryan has to go in order to retrieve the Desert Rose and save her life, and Jacob and Sophie are attempting to rescue Kate.

Luke decides Team Batwoman needs more help and provides the tracker information from Alice’s boot, placed by Batwoman last episode, to Sophie, thus revealing to her that Luke works for Batwoman. Sophie doesn’t have time to deal with this news though as Luke tells her that Batwoman is dying and they need her help with transportation to get Batwoman to the island. In typical Batwoman fashion, as soon as Sophie leaves the meeting with Luke, her and Jacob are captured by Safiyah’s assassins and taken to the island. Seems like that actually makes it easier for them to save Kate, so thanks Safiyah?

Team Batwoman finds security film footage of the kidnapping, resulting in Batwoman deciding to leave right away for Coriana and not only save herself and Kate, but now Jacob and Sophie. Only issue is that pesky Kryptonite infection that is killing her. Luckily, Mary is able to create a concoction that will keep Ryan healthy for an additional 18 hours and keep the infection at bay for a bit. Oh, and that transportation to Coriana? It’s a cargo plane that is played for a few laughs as Batwoman must parachute out of the plane in order to get to the island. As par for the course, Safiyah’s minions are waiting for Batwoman once she lands and due to being outnumbered, she is easily captured.

Meanwhile, Jacob and Sophie, now handcuffed and being held under the close watch of Tatiana on Coriana, are able to be freed as the EMP that Batwoman sent out when she landed on the island unlocks the handcuffs. Sure, we’ll go with that. They are able to overpower Tatiana, but not before Tatiana monologues the reason for their capture: Safiyah wanted Jacob to watch one daughter kill his other daughter and Sophie was being recruited to join Safiyah’s army. The rest of the episode lacks anything for Jacob and Sophie to do except escape the island.

Guess Who’s Back?

Luke and Mary didn’t have much to do either as they are still in Gotham, waiting for mission updates from Ryan, while also taking care of Ryan’s prized possession, her plant. As punishment for finding her island, Safiyah sends her worst assassin to murder Team Batwoman, and as this assassin is the worst, she is easily disposed of by Mary and Luke. Yes, two non-fighting people were able to defeat a trained assassin in Safiyah’s army. The assassin does wake up later (why didn’t you tie her up?!) and is easily killed by the returning Julia Pennyworth! Finally, she’s back but she returns with bad news…body parts were found in Bludhaven matching Kate’s DNA. The news shocks Luke and Mary and while the news is sad, it may finally bring closure to them.

Alice Has Issues

Throughout the episode, Safiyah, the queen of head games, attempts to diagnose Alice and her love/hate relationship with Kate, all while in constant view of the dead body of the fake Ocean. Safiyah asks the most important question to Alice that no one has ever asked her…what will Alice become once Kate is dead? It’s a good question since Alice has devoted her last five years with seeking vengeance on her family. This therapy session is interrupted by Safiyah’s troops bringing a captured Batwoman to her and Batwoman plays the one card she has, by telling Safiya that Ocean isn’t really dead and the body in front of her is a fake!

The mind games continue after the Ocean revelation as Safiyah puts Batwoman in the same prison cell with Alice, just to complicate their relationship more. After some back and forth bickering, Batwoman confronts Alice with the cold, hard facts: Alice doesn’t want to kill Kate, she just wants her sister back and for Kate to accept her. It’s at this point, the audience realizes Batwoman no longer wants to kill Alice for murdering her mother, but rather help her as she is as much a victim of circumstances as Ryan is.

Safiyah interrupts this bonding session between Alice and Batwoman by offering choices for our two imprisoned characters. By revealing the truth about Ocean, Batwoman can either choose the Desert Rose to save herself or she can take Kate Kane back to Gotham. Batwoman, realizing Alice won’t let Kate stay stranded on the island, picks the Desert Rose formula and saves herself.
Safiyah then gives Alice a choice as well as Safiyah states she will release Kate but Alice must kill the real Ocean. It seems that during these therapy sessions, Safiyah’s army was able to locate the real Ocean and bring him back to the island. Despite Ocean’s pleadings, Alice’s love for her sister is more than her love for Ocean, as Alice stabs Ocean in the heart with a knife. Well, if that’s all it takes to get Kate back, it was an easy choice for Alice. In typical villain fashion, it’s not that easy as Safiyah lied and Kate was never on the island and Safiyah had nothing to do with Kate’s plane crashing. It was all a ploy to seek revenge on Alice and Ocean for betraying Safiyah!

Ocean’s death doesn’t last long though as, surprise(!), the knife was dipped in the Desert Rose and Ocean is miraculously restored to life. Yes, this is another mind game by Safiyah to show Ocean that Alice only cares about herself and never truly loved him. I’m fine with the psychology that Safiyah uses but at the same time, I’m not sure how far into magical powers we should explore for the series. It works fine for Stargirl because it’s a fantasy type superhero show but for a series like Batwoman that is grounded more in “reality”, it just doesn’t work.

We aren’t done yet with the magical knife though. As punishment for Tatiana bringing Alice back into Safiyah’s life, Tatiana is rewarded with being stabbed with the knife. This time though, there is no coming back to life as Safiyah keeps the blade inside her best assassin and will only bring her back to life when Safiyah has a use for her. I like this little twist as Safiyah continues to exert her power over her minions while also planting seeds for Tatiana to turn on her master.

After thinking she killed Ocean, Alice is exiled from the island. Like all bad tropes, Safiyah’s troops don’t actually watch her leave the island so Alice takes it upon herself to torch the field that grows the Desert Rose plant. This has major repurcussions because not only does this hurt Safiyah’s way of life, it also dooms Batwoman as she never received the formula to stop her infection. Batwoman is able to crawl herself out of Safiyah’s compound and Sophie finds the weakened and near-death vigilante. Jacob and Sophie put Batwoman on the plane back to Gotham and while the future looks bleak for her, Mary makes a groundbreaking discovery…Ryan’s plant that was given to her by Angelique has blood on it from Safiyah’s worst assassin. Using the blood, which helps create the Desert Rose, Mary may be able to replicate the power of the Desert Rose and save Batwoman… as long as she makes it back to Gotham in time.

The episode ends with one more twist…somewhere in the sewers of Gotham, a masked person is shown wearing Kate’s necklace with the red stone. So it looks like Kate isn’t dead after all and if reports are true, she’s been recast with a new actress!

Easter Eggs:

  • Bludhaven. Julia tells Luke and Mary that the body parts from the plane wreck washed up on the shore of Bludhaven. Why does this mean anything? Well, Bludhaven is a neighboring city of Gotham and in the comics, it’s where the original Robin, aka Dick Grayson, called home after he left Batman and took on the mantle of Nightwing. I doubt that it was anything more than a fun Easter Egg but it’s nice to see the writers adding more Batman folklore to the Batwoman universe.

Episode Grade: C+ (Above Average)

This week’s episode of Batwoman packs a whole lot of reveals, sometimes a little too many, into a very limited timeframe. The whole season has been building towards our heroes arriving on Coriana and while the episode packed a punch in terms of twists, it felt rushed. Kate Kane is dead? Fine…wait, she’s alive now? Sure. Ocean is dead? Wow, nice twist. Oh wait, he’s alive again but Tatiana is dead! Don’t forget Julia Pennyworth is back too!

Overall, the episode was better than last week and while there were far too many reveals for one episode, it did change the dynamics of the series…again. Alice is now our villain trying to make amends for her past, Julia Pennyworth is back in the mix, Ocean is now aligned with Safiyah, Tatiana, once she is revived, will be seeking revenge on her former master and Kate Kane seems to be very much alive! My initial thought is that the plane wreck will have messed with Kate’s psyche and as a result, we may see a reversal of roles for the sisters as Alice seeks to be good and Kate turns into a villain. It would be a bold move and shake up the foundation of the series, even more than Ryan taking over the mantle of Batwoman.

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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