05th May2021

‘Batwoman 2×12: Initiate Self-Destruct’ Review

by Jason Brigger

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

Batwoman returns this week, and we are now heading towards the final episodes of the year. Each episode this season has separated the cast into two and sometimes even three locations, most likely to due to COVID protocols, and while it doesn’t take away from the series, it’s odd not to see the whole cast together. This week’s episode continues the trend as Batwoman and Alice form an unlikely team while Mary, Sophie, and Luke stay back and provide the technical support. It’s not ideal but the one positive about separating the cast from each other is the opportunity to give each person a little more time to shine.

[Side note: The series is no longer calling Black Mask, well, Black Mask. Instead. they are referring to him as False Face. For my review, I’m going to continue to call our villain Black Mask because 1) He has a black mask, and the villain is Black Mask from the comics and 2) It’s a cooler name than False Face].

What Happened This Week?

An Unlikely Duo

Kate Kane, the character not the actress Ruby Rose, earns more screen time this week as Kate is brainwashed by Enigma into thinking she is Roman Sionis’ daughter, Circe. Yes, it’s finally revealed that Gotham’s creepy businessman is actually Black Mask, aka the Snakebite drug kingpin. Kate/Circe is given a new costume too: a white suit reminiscent of Crockett from Miami Vice and a creepy, white, Michael Myers (from Halloween, not Austin Powers) inspired mask.

Roman is able to explain the need for Kate/Circe to wear the mask as she was in a fire while escaping Arkham Asylum and was burned. The introduction of Kate becoming Roman’s surrogate daughter also reveals that his real daughter, Circe, is still alive and is in custody at Arkham. One would think that someone as powerful as Roman could just pay someone to help Circe escape instead of going to the trouble of turning Kate into his fake, but I’m not a rich Gotham villain so what do I know?

Black Mask and Circe isn’t the only new team this week. After the False Face gang interrupts a morning rendezvous between Ocean and Alice and kidnap Ocean in order to team him with Angelique to manufacture the Snakebite formula, Batwoman and Alice must put aside their differences to form a team in order to find their significant others. Alice is able to convince Batwoman to join her as the laboratory Angelique and Ocean are being held at is under strict security and Alice cannot do it alone and needs someone with Batwoman’s skills.

Throughout the episode, Alice continues to goad Batwoman into revealing her feelings for Angelique and that this isn’t just another mission for her. While harassing Batwoman, Alice inadvertently reveals this isn’t another typical mission for herself either and her feelings for Ocean are revealed to Batwoman.

After bonding over their lovers, Batwoman and Alice infiltrate the guarded laboratory and in the only action-filled scene this week, are able to take down the False Face gang. Everything is under control until the last gang member at the laboratory shoots Ocean in the stomach before Batwoman swings in and takes the goon down. Batwoman, despite her hatred for Alice, helps Ocean escape with Angelique and save his life. How he moves so easily after being shot in the stomach is still a mystery.

Just when the mission seems completed, our new villain Circe arrives and after a brief fight, has Batwoman in position to be killed until Alice knocks Circe away with a fire extinguisher. Alice doesn’t have much time to gloat though as Circe is back up and fighting and this time, after pushing Batwoman away, she has her hands around Alice’s throat, choking her. Alice begs Batwoman to save her, even admitting to remembering killing Ryan’s mother, but that revelation only gives Ryan more reason to walk away from Alice, leaving Circe to do what she wants with her victim.

It’s a shocking turn that I didn’t see coming. Ryan is judge and jury and made the decision as she either a) felt like Alice is either not redeemable or b) she just wanted revenge on Alice for killing her mother. Either reason is understandable but the shake-out from this decision is going to cause issues once Team Batwoman finds out that Batwoman didn’t save someone from possible death.

A true shocking moment would be for Circe to actually murder Alice but Batwoman isn’t that stupid to kill off one of their leads and best characters. Circe takes an unconscious Alice back to Roman’s mansion and while he did debate on eliminating Alice, he decides against it and has other plans in mind for her.

Back at Ryan’s apartment, Angelique arrives and after agreeing to help the Feds out by turning on Black Mask, she asks Ryan to join her in the witness protection program. As much as Ryan loves Angelique, she knows how her work as Batwoman (something Angelique doesn’t know about) and her work in rebuilding the inner city of Gotham is too important to walk away from to join Angelique. It took me awhile, but I’m actually sad to see Angelique leave as she has recently turned into a strong character and a good counter to Ryan.

Everyone Else

While Alice and Batwoman are bonding, Sophie works with Luke and Mary to stop Tavaroff, the new lead of the Batwoman Vigilante Task Force, from finding out Batwoman’s true identity after she left behind her DNA at the crime scene last episode. While the Crows are running Batwoman’s DNA through their computer lab and cross-reference it with their criminal database, Sophie tries to reason with Jacob that Batwoman is on their side and they shouldn’t reveal her identity. When that doesn’t work, mostly due to Jacob’s mood swings from being addicted to Snakebite, she turns to Team Batwoman for help.

Luke is able to create a USB drive that will wipe the results of the DNA test and protect Ryan, but the downside is that it would also clear any data the Crows have in their computer system on criminals they are investigating. After much debate, Sophie makes the call that revealing Ryan’s identity is not more important than compromising any potential criminal cases.

Luckily, they have a backup plan…they wipe Ryan’s criminal record from the database so the DNA will not match any criminal in their system. Seriously, this was all that was needed to save Ryan? We spent half the episode worried about Batwoman’s identity being revealed and it was fixed by a clerical action? This also doesn’t make Tavaroff happy as his bragging about revealing Batwoman’s identity comes back to bite him in front of his peers as he is made into a joke for his failure. I’m guessing we will see more of Tavaroff in the future and if he finds out Sophie is responsible, he’s going to be a thorn in her side.

The only saving grace for this storyline is that Sophie, while in Jacob’s office, finds the empty Snakebite syringes and realizes that her boss is addicted to the drug. She reveals the information to Mary but, she doesn’t believe her dad is a drug addict and it helps that Jacob, just moments ago, signed off on approving her underground clinic. It’s an interesting dilemma Sophie is in now as she is the only one that knows the truth about Jacob, but she cannot confront him without evidence, or she risks losing her job as a Crow.

Quote of the Week:

There were several fun quotes as a result of the unlikely pairing between Alice and Batwoman, but while riding in the Batmobile, this made me chuckle the most.

  • Batwoman: Don’t make me hit the ejector seat.

    Alice: It exists.
    Batwoman: You want to find out?

    Alice: Kind of

Episode Grade: C- (Below Average)

The storyline between Alice and Batwoman teaming up carried the episode but the storyline in revealing Batwoman’s identity was a letdown as the answer to protect her came down to a clerical correction. The journey of villain to anti-hero for Alice continues to be interesting as is Ryan becoming more comfortable as Batwoman, but the rest of the episode felt like a waste of time. On top of all that, there were several opportunities for Circe to kill both Alice and Batwoman but instead she decided to just hold a knife to their throat for a few minutes. If you are going to be a murderous villain, be a murderous villain! This week, too many small issues added up to turn this episode into one of the worst episodes of the season.

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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