19th May2021

‘Batwoman 2×14: And Justice For All’ Review

by Jason Brigger

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

Batwoman is back to a brooding episode this week as there is no “villain of the week” like the last episode, but it does deliver the tried and true trope of zombies! Yes, zombies are running amuck in Gotham thanks to a bad batch of the drug Snakebite and it’s up to Mary to figure out how to stop the outbreak. Plus, we get some real-life social issues crossing over into Gotham law enforcement as Sophie, Luke, and Ryan are locked up for just having a fundraiser.

What Happened This Week?

Social Justice

When Ruby Rose left after Season 1, many (including myself) were worried the show would lose focus, but the opposite has actually happened this season. By introducing Ryan, real-life social issues have been integrated into the fictional world of Gotham and not in a “forced” way. The storylines feel organic and the new social mission agenda has made the series more realistic than it ever felt in the first season.

This week, Ryan’s new girlfriend (sorry Angelique) Imani is hosting a fundraiser at the bar for a new community center in Gotham. The new emphasis of Batwoman not only saving Gotham by force but also by strengthening the inner-workings of Gotham’s neighborhoods is a welcomed change and adds a new twist to the same-old vigilante storyline. Well done Batwoman writers.

Back to the fundraiser as it is interrupted by two police officers investigating a noise complaint at the bar. Luke begins to apologize as he does not feel now is the time to cause a scene, but Ryan is angry at the absurdity of the noise complaint and how the offices reacted to the explanation it’s just a fundraiser. This just angers the officers, and the next thing Ryan knows, her and Luke are in a jail cell. To make matters worse, Sophie eventually joins them when she arrives at the fundraiser and begins to question the reporting officer at the scene.

While in the jail cell, Sophie, Luke and Ryan have a heart-to-heart talk about being profiled due to their skin-color and how this wouldn’t have happened to anyone else having a fundraiser. Ryan and Sophie again disagree on how to handle the situation as Ryan wants to tear the system down while Sophie wants to work inside the system to fix it, and it ends up like most of their conversations, unresolved.

While it was a little too “debate-like”, the argument between Sophie and Ryan is very much reflected by real-world arguments and the scene does not come across as forced or just a scene to send a message. Sophie and Ryan both have strong convictions and opinions on how to change a broken system and the writers did a great job of conveying it.

The debate must be tabled though as Imani arrives and with the help of the video camera at the bar, all charges are dropped against Team Batwoman. The reunion with her new girlfriend is short-lived as Ryan must take off and become Batwoman as zombies, yes zombies, are taking over Gotham!

ZOMBIES!

It seems every superhero series, over the course of it’s lifetime, has to have a version of zombies as a villain in at least one episode. It’s an annoying trope but after watching the majority of the CW superhero shows, I now expect it. Gotham’s zombies are a result of a new variant of Snakebite, one that turns users into people drooling and thirsty for brains. Sigh. The justification for this is explained by a new Snakebite user that bought the drug in order to hallucinate about his recently deceased wife and as such, the “zombies” are itching to get to the part of the brain in non-users that stores their memories. Again….sigh.

Luckily, Team Batwoman has a doctor on the team in the form of Mary and she is able to whip up a serum that will reverse the effects of the drug. The bad news is that Batwoman has to manually inject each zombie with the serum, which not only takes time but also causes Batwoman to come face-to-face with each zombie. The good news is that this new form of the tainted Snakebite is limited to a four-block radius as this version of the drug hasn’t been delivered throughout Gotham yet.

Team Batwoman and the Crows both track down the majority of the zombies at a church and lucky for the zombies, Batwoman arrives first. She is able to inoculate the majority of the zombies but then the Crows, lead by gun-toting Tavaroff, arrive and gun down the users/zombies. The Crows were under strict orders by Sophie to not shoot but Tavaroff is able to convince the Crows that shooting-first is a better philosophy. Due to Tavaroff disobeying orders and the now the majority of the Crows becoming gun-happy soldiers, Sophie announces she is leaving the Crows.

After having a few drinks at the Holdup bar, Luke is walking home when he sees a thief, Eli, attempt to steal a car. Luke recognizes him as he shared a jail cell with Eli earlier in the episode, but the thief doesn’t remember him. The Crows arrive at the scene and Eli tells the Crows that Luke is actually the carjacker, not him. Tavaroff believes the white, male thief and when Luke reaches for his phone, Tavaroff shoots Luke, believing he was reaching for a gun. Wait, what?! The last scene we see this week is Luke on the ground struggling to live. Don’t you dare kill Luke!

Alice’s Breakdown

In another part of Gotham, Alice is beginning to lose it…no, not her mental state as seen last season, but her emotional state after realizing Circe is actually Kate Kane. Black Mask is at least nice enough to free Alice from his clutches since she made a mask for Kate Kane that eerily resembles his deceased daughter a little too much. Alice, asks to stay to “help” Circe in her new mask but Black Mask feels something is off with this offer and tells Alice she can either leave or be killed. Alice makes the smart decision.

In order to discover the truth, Alice visits master hypnotist Enigma at her office and after some light torture, Enigma admits it’s almost impossible to fix Kate’s mind. With Enigma not being able to help, Alice decides to kill her, but Enigma remembers one last opportunity to help Kate regain her memory: bring Enigma a memento of Kate’s and that might help spur Kate’s memory. Well, isn’t that luck that Enigma just happens to “remember” this trick to regain someone’s memory?

Alice pays a visit to the old subway tunnel and the more-lives-than-a-cat Ocean is waiting for her. Alice takes Kate’s old motorcycle keys and breaks down crying to Ocean that she just wants her sister back. It’s a rare vulnerable moment for Alice, though we have seen more of this during this season, and shows how much influence Kate still has on Alice, even years later.

This is short-lived though as upon her return to Enigma’s office, the hypnotist admits the keys alone won’t bring Kate back, but a codeword is also needed to save Kate’s mind. Unfortunately for Alice, Enigma is unable to tell her the secret codeword as Ocean kills Enigma, stating it’s for the best as Alice never truly loved Kate and this will allow Alice to truly flourish. The Enigma character had a lot of potential but overall, not enough was done with her to make me really care that Ocean killed her. It’s a shame because the intellectual villain is often overlooked in these types of shows and I was hoping the Batwoman writers would change that and give her something a little “more” to do. RIP Enigma.

Quote of the Week

  • Ryan: I’m sorry I got heated.
 Sophie: We’re all heated girl. But that’s how we burn it down.

Episode Grade: C+ (Above Average)

This week’s episode of Batwoman focused on social issues in Gotham’s two law enforcement entities: the police and the Crows. The series did a good job explaining both sides of the coin in terms of how to positively change the system and the message did not come off as “preachy”. The shocking twist at the end, with Luke possibly being murdered by Tavaroff, is a huge shock and based on the previews for the next episode (in three weeks!), it appears Luke is actually dead. What this means for the future of Batwoman remains to be seen but if he really is gone, it’s a huge blow to the chemistry on the series.

The negative portion of the episode is the use of zombies, which at this point in the pop culture world, has run it’s course. As noted above, it’s a lazy trope used way too often but at least they kept the impact of the zombies to a minimal. Overall, a solid episode before the three-week hiatus and the episode accomplished it’s goal of making me excited for the next episode.
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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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