23rd Feb2021

‘Batwoman 2×05: Gore on Canvas’ Review

by Jason Brigger

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

It may have taken a few episodes, but Batwoman is hitting its stride since the “soft” reboot. Not only is Javicia Leslie doing a phenomenal job making the character her own, but the writers also stepped up by adding just a few “tweaks” to the returning characters and as a result, they have given them each new purposes this season. As a result, the show, while still searching for Kate, is finally ready to move onto better storylines that seem more natural than last season’s stories.

What Happened This Week?

Unlikely Partners

This week, Jacob, in his best pandemic beard possible, is meeting with an investigative reporter for information about an underground and illegal art community (there’s such a thing?) called the Collective, in order to gain more information about the Jack Napier’s, aka the Joker, painting found on Kate’s phone. Before much information is told to Jacob, the reporter is killed by one of Safiyah’s assassins with a giant spear. Jacob, fearing he was getting too close, brough his own backup in the form of two Crows but they are no match for a man with a spear. Lucky for Jacob, Batwoman is in the neighborhood and not only neutralizes the assassin before he can kill Jacob, but she also takes the hired gun captive. 

With the assassin safely being held in the Batcave, Ryan returns to her ex-girlfriend’s apartment for a night of catching up. The next morning, Angelique convinces Ryan that she has changed her ways and is no longer a drug user and reiterates this by buying Ryan a pair of matching gold bracelets. Nothing says “Thanks for protecting me by spending 18 months in jail” than bracelets. She also discovers the worsening wound on Ryan from the Kryptonite bullet and convinces her to see a doctor; it’s a good thing that Team Batwoman has a doctor in the house. Mary treats the Kryptonite bullet wound the same way doctors treat ear infections…with antibiotics.

Jacob refuses to ask Batwoman for help and instead turns to one of Kate’s old friends, Evan Blake, an art collector that happens to be in the Collective. Sophie and Jacob do their best to convince Evan to help them, but despite his prior friendship with Kate, Evan refuses to reveal the location of Napier’s painting. Sophie knows they are running out of options and agrees to meet with Batwoman and ask for her help. Jacob isn’t in favor of this but also understands they are running out of options and Batwoman is the last hope for finding this painting. Sophie’s meeting with Batwoman does not go smoothly, even when she offers to give Batwoman everything the Crows have on Safiyah and Coriana. Batwoman refuses to give the Crows access to the captured assassin as Batwoman does not trust the Crows and feels part of the injustice in Gotham is a result of the Crows. Eventually Ryan tells Luke and Mary about the Crow’s offer, but Ryan still refuses to work with them. Luke, in his first attempt to bond with Ryan, discusses that despite Ryan’s and Luke’s past run-ins with the Crows, there is a bigger need in finding Kate and they must put aside their issues with the Crows, at least temporarily. Ryan reluctantly agrees and we now have a Team Batwoman/Crows partnership.

After a “not-so-legal” interrogation, the assassin reveals Napier’s painting is a map of the island Coriana and the key to infiltrating Safiyah’s empire. Later that night, Ryan is dressed for a red-carpet event and manages to get into the Collective’s secret art show, thanks to Angelique. It seems Ryan’s ex-girlfriend is not a drug user anymore but is a drug supplier to the rich and famous of the Collective. Before Ryan, now dressed as Batwoman, is able to steal the Napier painting, an art thief named the Wolf Spider, shows up and takes the painting. Wolf Spider is initially able to escape Batwoman and the Crows, but the thief is not fast enough to outrun a Crows SUV. The Crows hit him with the car and take the painting, leaving the burglar to die on the side of the road.
Batwoman is able to save the Wolf Spider’s life by taking him, yes him because it’s revealed the burglar is Kate’s old friend Evan, back to Mary’s clinic. Ryan finally stands up to Team Batwoman and states that as long as she it is wearing the suit and taking bullets, she will no longer work with the Crows and when she makes a decision, Team Batwoman needs to listen. It’s a defining moment for Ryan as she finally realizes she is good enough for the suit and Gotham is now her city to protect.

Unlikely Partners, Part Two

The Crows and Team Batwoman are not the only strange team-ups this week. Alice is on a mission to find and kill the mysterious Ocean. Alice spends the majority of the episode hitting on and drinking with Ocean at a bar. Whether it’s the power of alcohol or something else, Alice keeps getting flashbacks of time she spent on Safiyah’s island and not only working with Ocean but also being in a relationship with him. Alice doesn’t remember this, and Ocean apparently doesn’t either as he has no recollection of anyone that looked like Alice.

Eventually Ocean leaves Alice at the bar and when she follows him back to his hotel, Ocean is able to get the jump on our favorite villain. Alice wakes up tied to a chair in Ocean’s hotel room; so now we have two failed assassins in the same episode. Ocean touches Alice and receives his own flashback of being with Alice on Coriana, but he still doesn’t remember her. Ocean does admit to being Safiyah’s brother and before Alice and Ocean can bond more, a group of mercenaries show up at the door.

Alice convinces Ocean to release her and the dynamic duo quickly dispatch Safiyah’s armed goons. The episode ends with Alice and Ocean joining forces and leaving together in his Jeep, off to search for answers. Ocean also shows Alice something everyone has been looking for, the original Napier painting! Seems Team Batwoman has a forged version of Napier’s painting and the original, with the mysterious map of Coriana, is in the hands of Alice and Ocean.

Easter Eggs:

  • Napier’s painting. This was discussed last week but the reveal that Jack Napier is the Joker in this universe means that Batwoman could take place in the 1989 Batman film’s universe! Does this mean Michael Keaton is the version of Batman and Jack Nicholson is the version of the Joker? Or is this just another alternate universe with a different version of Jack Napier? I’m not sure yet but it’s still a fun twist and a great way to connect the 1989 film to the DC universe.

Episode Grade: B- (Good)

Another good episode of Batwoman this week and as I have stated several times, another FUN episode. The series continues to improve each week and the writers are finding their stride with the new Batwoman character and the supporting characters. Alice is becoming an even stronger character, which is impressive as she was already one of the best parts of the series. I feared that with Kate being written out, Alice wouldn’t have much to do but seeing the shades of gray in Alice this season and her new freedom now that she isn’t tied to the Kane family has only made the character better. The seeds are being planted that the Crows may not be the best thing for the citizens of Gotham and Ryan is finally adjusting to life as the city’s new vigilante. Overall, just a solid episode this week and an episode that continues to lay the foundation for bigger reveals for later this 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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