17th Nov2021

‘Batwoman 3×05: A Lesson From Professor Pyg’ Review

by Jason Brigger

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

Batwoman has been adding more horror-themed elements to the series this season and that continues this week as the scary-looking villain Professor Pyg is introduced. While Pyg may not be the most popular character in Batman’s Rogue Gallery, he has become more prevalent in the comic books in the last decade and usually brings the gore when he does show up. Let’s see if the character translates well to the television screen!

What Happened This Week?

Renee’s Complicated Past

Batwoman did a superb job introducing us to Renee Montoya in the season premiere but up until this episode, we knew very little about the best detective in Gotham not named Batman. That changed this week as Alice and Renee team up to figure out the mystery of a bullwhip found at an auto shop where a half-naked man was found dead and hanging from the ceiling. One would be quick to assume it’s Catwoman’s whip but like everything in Batwoman, the easy answer isn’t always the correct one.

Batwoman tasks Alice to help Renee investigate the murder and in return, Renee delivers a box of files for Alice to review in an attempt to stop her constant talking and questions to Renee. During Alice’s review of the files, she finds out that our detective has a rather large file on Poison Ivy when compared to the other villains in the box. Alice repeatedly questions Renee about the file until Renee breaks down and admits that her and Pamela Isley/Poison Ivy were a romantic couple in college until Ivy was experimented on and began to lose a grip on reality. Isley eventually became the villain Poison Ivy and upon Renee’s urgings, Batman eventually buried Poison Ivy alive to keep her from causing any more death to Gotham. Talk about a scorned ex.

Despite annoying Renee for most of the episode, Alice does serve her purpose as she is able to figure out the recovered bullwhip was not Catwoman’s but a fake. She also solves the mystery of who killed the man in the auto shop…it’s the villain Flamingo! If you don’t know who Flamingo is, don’t worry…not many do. In the comics, Flamingo is a hitman who occasionally enjoys eating his victims’ faces, so we have that to look forward to on the show. Flamingo also works for Professor Pyg as well as the Black Glove Society, which was introduced in last week’s episode so it’s easy to see why the writers introduced him on Batwoman.

A Failed Dinner Party

While the team-up of Alice and Renee was a nice secondary story, the episode excelled with the main story, a dinner Jada set up with Ryan (and her date Sophie) to discuss their business and personal issues. Ryan reluctantly accepts the dinner invitation in order to learn more about Jada’s company and possibly clues about the Black Glove Society. The dinner doesn’t go as planned, they never do, as Marquis and his date, Zoe, crash the party, upset about Ryan meeting with their mother behind his back.

While Ryan, Jada, and Marquis argue amongst themselves, Sophie sneaks into Jada’s office and plants a bug near her desk in order to learn more about Jada and her business dealings. Meanwhile, Zoe excuses herself to the bathroom and quickly realizes that she cannot feel her arms and becomes partially paralyzed. The chef, wearing a pig mask, suddenly appears behind Zoe (in a scene that actually made me jump!) and kills her with a kitchen knife.

The chef enters the dining room just as all of our characters are partially paralyzed due to the effects of the drug he slipped into their drinks. The chef recites a monologue, like all villains do, explaining how year ago, Jada fired him as an executive chef at her company and as a result, he lost his house and eventually his wife and family due to a divorce. The chef, now known as Professor Pyg, vowed revenge on Jada and promises to kill all of her family members in front of her.

The costume of Professor Pyg is something nightmares are made of and is a mix between the Swedish Chef from the Muppets and Leatherface from the Texas Chainsaw Massacre films. Pyg’s mask, a severed pig head, is frightening enough but adding a bloody cook’s apron to the costume, along with a butcher or cleaver knife, just adds to the horror of the character. The episode excelled at telling a typical horror-trope of a sadistic madman chasing a family through their home, attempting to murder each one. It’s such a simple story but one that when done right, which Batwoman did, is suspenseful and downright scary.

Before Pyg can start sacrificing Jada’s family in front of her, Ryan stabs Pyg in the leg with a knife, causing him to limp for the majority of the episode and evening up the odds. The family is able to escape to a panic room, but the security doesn’t last long as Marquis has a reaction to the drug Pyg used on the family, causing Marquis to have a seizure.

Ryan leaves the panic room in an attempt to make it to the basement and retrieve medicine to save Marquis and stop the effects of the drug on the rest of the family. Pyg chases Ryan throughout the house and eventually catches up to her when a shelving unit falls on Ryan while she was attempting to reach the medicine. Pyg, instead of killing her, carries her back to the panic room in order to trick the family out of their secured location.

Luckily for Ryan, she was able to grab some adrenaline pens/shots before Pyg grabbed her in the basement and after injecting herself and Sophie with it, they are able to have a fair fight against Pyg. Marquis gets the medicine he needs and joins in on the fight but something “snaps” in him and he starts stabbing the fallen Pyg repeatedly, killing him. The rest of the family stares at him in horror.

Later, Jada confesses she didn’t hire the Society to murder anyone, just to retrieve Mr. Freeze’s serum in order to cryogenically freeze Marquis until they can find a cure for him. Ryan questions what is wrong with Marquis and Jada breaks down, admitting Marquis is sick and needs help.

Marquis is mentally struggling as he was traumatized as a kid when the Joker kidnapped him and his classmates on a field trip for school. The Joker used his hand buzzer on Marquis by “buzzing” it on the side of his head and ever since then, Marquis hasn’t been “right”. Jada gives Ryan some family videos showing Marquis growing up and torturing animals and eventually poisoning their father. At Marquis’ home, he stands in front of the mirror in his blood-stained clothes, smiling. I was not expecting Marquis to be a serial killer but I’m all for this surprise!

Quick Notes:

  • After being grabbed by Poison Ivy’s vine in the prior episode, Mary’s mental state is slowly changing, as well as her personality. Mary is now refusing to help Alice deal with her hallucinations and based on the clinic becoming more infested with plants each day, Alice realizes Mary is infected with the serum that caused Pamela Isley to become Poison Ivy. It’s obvious when you look at the clues that Mary is perfect for the role of a new Poison Ivy but until this episode, I never put it all together. Nicely done Batwoman writers.

Episode Grade: B- (Good)

While we are past Halloween, I appreciate a good horror-themed episode anytime of the year and thoroughly enjoyed this episode. The introduction of Professor Pyg (and Flamingo) allows the series to explore darker elements of Gotham and move away from the typical formula for the series. The failed dinner party was a new twist to the series and played like a suspense-horror film and gave the audience something completely new in the series. The new characters this season, Jada and Marquis, are a great addition to the cast and the development of their characters with shades of gray is a welcomed change to most one-note characters added to superhero shows. Overall, I greatly enjoyed this episode of Batwoman, and the addition of “darker” and more evil characters can really set this series apart from other superhero shows.

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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