03rd Feb2021

‘Batwoman 2×03: Bat Girl Magic’ Review

by Jason Brigger

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

This week Batwoman introduces us to one of more dangerous rogues of Batman’s, Victor Zsasz (Alex Morf), and as a result, produces the best episode of the new Batwoman season. For those unfamiliar to Zsasz, he’s a sadistic assassin (is there any other?) that cuts a “slash” into his body with each successful kill. He’s one of the darker characters in the Batman comic books and has always been one of my favorite villains as he is never “over the top” and is never portrayed as a comedic villain.

What Happened This Week?

This week’s episode splits up the main characters, so I’ll do the same in this review.

Ryan, Mary, Luke and Zsasz

Zsasz is hired by a wealthy woman to murder her cheating husband and his mistress at a high-end hotel. Zsasz, impersonating a room service attendant, is able to easily take out both his targets but in those few moments, we see how sadistic he can be. He is creative with his kills (I haven’t seen anyone killed by a champagne bottle before) and he takes his time, even spending a few moments to applaud his handywork. After he frames a scene for his victims by laying them in bed together, he carves another two notches into his body, one for each of his new victims. I haven’t seen a better introduction to a villain in Batwoman, as this scene portrayed Zsasz to perfection.

Ryan may be getting more comfortable as the new protector of Gotham, but she is still working out the kinks of the bat suit as well as her aim with the trusty Batarang. What better way to work out the kinks than to take down some low-level dealer of the new drug, Snakebite, that is sweeping Gotham? After a few rookie mistakes, Batwoman is able to take down the dealer, which we learn is a member of the False Face gang. Looks like a new gang is rising up in Gotham now that Alice’s Wonderland gang is officially gone. 

Zsasz is hired by Safiyah to tie up loose ends due to Alice providing the miracle healing plant, Desert Rose, to Mary last week to save the citizens bitten by the venomous bats. Safiyah doesn’t want the secretive Desert Rose to be known to the outside world, despite it’s powers to heal many of the world’s illnesses, as the only location the Rose grows is on her own private island, Coryana. She worries the outside world will attack her island and take the Desert Rose back to the modern world, so she has no choice but to hire Zsasz to steal a list of names that received the Desert Rose serum last week and eliminate them. Sorry Mary.

In the best moment of the week, Batwoman finds where Zsasz lives and breaks in to steal the USB drive that has the list of potential victims. Batwoman is about to leave when Zsasz surprises her and in his calm, cool, and calculated manner, he dissects this new Batwoman. Ryan was already having doubts of taking up the mantle and Zsasz’s head games just causes Ryan to second-guess herself even more. Zsasz is able to figure out this new Batwoman is just an imposter and is not the confident Batwoman that previously held the mantel. This analysis from Zsasz is only a ploy to give him time to pull out a rocket launcher and attempt to kill Batwoman. She is able to jump off the balcony just in time but now I’m left wondering why Zsasz thought a rocket launcher would be the best way to kill our hero.

Eventually Ryan and Luke decipher the list on the USB drive and determine that Mary is a target of Zsasz as she is the one that distributed the serum. Zsasz finds Mary at her underground clinic, but Mary isn’t the typical victim; no, she fights back and is able to even cut Zsasz. She runs out of the clinic and down an alley but instead of continuing to run, she stops and hides in a doorway. What? Shocking no one, Zsasz finds her but Batwoman shows up, in a new suit that is more suited to her, and after a good-looking fight, she takes Zsasz down.

Despite passing all the challenges Ryan has had in front of her, Luke is still refusing to accept Ryan as the new Batwoman and feels she is only keeping the suit warm until the return of Kate. Spoilers, she isn’t coming back Luke. His refusal to believe in Ryan affects the dynamic of Team Batwoman and Mary rightfully calls him out on it. Mary has come to terms that her sister isn’t coming back and while Luke may still hold out hope, he also needs to move on with the people that are still there for him and care for him.
Some quick things we learn this week about Team Batwoman. Ryan basically makes Mary give her a job at the Hold-Up bar, that Mary now owns, in order to appease Ryan’s parole officer. Mary is now a multi-billionaire due to selling her shares of her family’s technology company, and Ryan calls her out for not doing enough with the money. Seems every vigilante needs a billionaire backer to help the cause.

Sophie, Alice, and Safiyah

After Tatiana kidnapped Alice and Sophie last episode, they wake up surrounded by guards on Safiyah’s private island. Alice spends the rest of the episode with Safiyah catching up on old times while Sophie stays on the beach, being watched by Tatiana.

The island reminds me of the same island Oliver Queen spent many years on in Arrow and I wonder if this will eventually tie into the Arrowverse. We learn that Alice was trained by Safiyah for years and was positioned to be her heir to the island but Alice’s desire to wipe out the Kane family caused her to leave and upsetting Safiyah. Much of the story between them this week is Safiyah trying to convince Alice that she isn’t the one that ordered the murder of Kate, but Alice isn’t completely convinced. Safiyah also brought Alice back to the island to threaten her to never take a Desert Rose off the island again and for her to spare her life, Alice must do something for her when she gets back to Gotham. We don’t exactly know what that is yet, but I’m sure it’s something evil.

Sophie meanwhile is having a nice beach fire going with Tatiana and like Zsasz dissecting Batwoman, Sophie spends much of the episode dissecting Tatiana. Sophie learns that Tatiana does not care for Alice as she feels she is second-best to her, despite Tatiana staying on the island and still serving her queen. Tatiana refuses to kill Alice, despite her urging to, because Safiyah won’t allow it. This last piece of information is what pushes Tatiana over the edge, and she attacks Sophie but before killing her, Safiyah warns Tatiana to stand down. It seems Safiyah likes Sophie for her smarts and her strength and spares her life. Safiyah also lets out a little secret… Kate is alive and is being held captive by her, but she won’t let her go until Alice fulfils her mission.

Back in Gotham, Alice warns Sophie that Safiyah sparing her life is not a good thing as Alice is now indebted to Safiyah and once she is of no use, Sophie is as good as dead. The episode ends with Sophie running to Jacob at the Crows and telling him that Kate is alive, and they cannot stop looking for her.

Easter Eggs:

This episode is filled with Easter eggs and they don’t seem to be just throwaway Easter eggs either as they each seem to have an impact on the season.

  • The new drug in Gotham is called Snakebite and it seems the False Face gang is moving up the ranks in the criminal world as they are the main gang pushing the drugs. Though I would have preferred they used the drug Greenlight from Black Lightning for some continuity, I appreciate the main component of the drug is from Scarecrow’s fear toxin. With Zsasz making his first appearance tonight, does that mean more of Batman’s rogue gallery will show up and if so, Snakebite is the perfect drug to introduce Scarecrow into the series.
  • Kate’s phone somehow survived a plane explosion and is found by the Crows. My phone won’t survive a 10-foot fall onto carpet, but yet her phone survives an explosion and a fall of 1,000 feet. Anyway, Jacob is able to investigate the contents of Kate’s phone and an interesting picture of a painting is in Kate’s photos. The painting is labeled Safiyah in Kate’s phone and is painted by none other than Jack Napier! Yes, the Joker from the 1989 Batman film! I have no idea how this ties into the series but now I’m even more interested.
  • Finally, the Crows are investigating the new False Face gang that is making waves in the criminal underbelly of Gotham. While the identity of the leader of the gang is still a mystery, Jacob states the leader wears a black mask. For those unfamiliar with the comic books, this is a direct reference to the gang leader, Black Mask, one of the most ruthless gang leaders in all of Gotham. In other forms of media, he was played by Ewan McGregor in the recent Birds of Prey film.

Episode Grade: B+ (Very Good)

The storyline with Team Batwoman/Zsasz and Alice/Safiyah dominated this episode and while I am not excited for more flashbacks of Alice living on the island (thanks Arrow!), it does open up more of the Batwoman world than just Gotham. Alex Morf did a tremendous job of adding depth to the character of Victor Zsasz and is the main reason this episode has been one of my favorite episodes in some time. I’m hoping this won’t be the last time we see this character. Seriously, Batwoman writers, make him a full-time member of Safiyah’s team.

Overall, the episode was the strongest of the new season and was a blast to watch. While Sophie still doesn’t have much to do, at least the addition of Safiyah sparing her life will add a twist to her character and hopefully provide a storyline for her this season. If a new gang, a new Batwoman, Kate being alive, and Safiyah causing issues wasn’t enough this season, we have the mystery of who put the hit out on Kate. My guess is that Julia Pennyworth ordered the hit on Kate, but I’m not sure why other than she isn’t who she says she is and is the true Black Mask that is pulling strings in Gotham.
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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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