Dead But Not Forgotten
After last week’s heady and well choreographed premiere of season 2 of Batwoman, I hoped it could keep the momentum going. And for the most part they succeeded. My only issues with this episode were some suspension of disbelief moments. I know those happen a lot in fiction, especially comics, but I still expect a general cause and effect rule. But I’ll get into that later. For now, let’s cover the second episode of season 2, called Prior Criminal History.
Alice looms large in this episode. Things start with her talking with a rat, then duct taping it to the corpse of Mouse to draw the attention of a swarm of bats. I’m not sure taping a bat to a corpse usually has that sort of effect, but it does serve a purpose here. After this, we get a flashback to 2 months prior during Halloween. Ryan is still a homeless and vulnerable woman, and she’s harassed by masked goons trying to loot her. When she gets in their faces about not having any money, they draw guns on her, only to be saved by the original Batwoman. Not content to sit and be a victim, Ryan joins the fray, and shares a glance with Kate before she grapples away. This then segues into Ryan trying to get a job in security and failing miserably. Her stint in Blackgate is preventing her from getting a job, despite her martial arts expertise.
Batwoman of the Past and Future
Last week I pointed out that Jacob is fired up and determined to discover what happened to Kate, and that’s only made more urgent with the knowledge that she was Batwoman. This leads to Luke and Mary being interrogated by Jacob and Sophie about their prior knowledge of Batwoman’s identity. They both play it cool, and there’s a particularly pointed moment when Sophie is criticizing Luke and he turns it around on her by saying it’s “too bad someone that loved Kate wasn’t watching out for her”. Obviously Sophie and Kate had a lot of history, and he uses it deftly by rubbing salt in the wound to deflect attention. It’s clear the Crows are on the rampage, and it probably doesn’t hurt Kate’s father and former lover are leading the charge.
Ryan is then looking for Ibuprofen at a store for mysterious injuries she sustained last week (you can watch episode 1 to see what I’m talking about) when two criminals barge in. They’re holding the store’s cashier at gunpoint when Ryan jumps into the fray. Even without the Batsuit, she holds her own, and manages to take down one criminal, but she gets blindsided by his partner. The crooks escape, and Ryan goes to check on the cashier, only to be found looming over his body by a cop. I honestly was a little perplexed by this, since I thought the Crows had taken over for Gotham PD, but it all leads to Ryan being in cuffs in a room with Sophie. To my surprise, the two have past experience with each other. Not sexy experience, but perp and cop experience. Ryan blames the Crows for her stint at Blackgate, and while she talks with Sophie, she comes to realize that Alice is Kate’s sister.
Speaking of the crazy twin, she finds her way to Julia. As Julia gets in her car, Alice holds a knife to her throat. She proposes a truce so they can deal with Safiyah, a criminal alluded to first season who apparently is responsible for the plane crash in the first episode. Instead of taking the bait, Julia mocks Alice for losing the only person that cared about her, which understandably results in Julia getting stabbed. Honestly, random knife attacks aside, it’s a hard episode for Julia. She’s lost the trust of Sophie, who wants nothing to do with her after discovering she knew about Kate’s dual identity and said nothing.
Creepy Science (Fiction)
The real thrust of this Batwoman episode involves Mouse’s corpse. It makes its way to Mary’s clinic, which Ryan is inexplicably visiting. I found that odd as well, since the first episode didn’t involve the clinic at all, to my recollection. Regardless, Mary and Ryan are quickly joined by Luke, and Mary discovers that Mouse was killed by the same poison that Alice used to murder her mother. Then we get a chest buster moment, cause this episode loves bats. Ironically, Ryan is terrified of bats, which is hilarious given her new role as the masked crusader. The team comes to realize that Alice is going for a mass casualty event with a crowd of agitated fans demanding Batwoman returns. There’s a great back or forth where Mary, Luke and Ryan talk about who should put on the suit, and Luke is aghast when Ryan volunteers, saying “Batwoman isn’t black”. To nobody’s surprise, Ryan winds up in the suit on top of a skyscraper.
Ryan gets hilarious notes from Mary on how to stand like a hero, and she tries to convince the crowd to disperse. Meanwhile Jacob spies her through binoculars and orders his men to arrest the imposter. Which would have been a problem, except Alice reveals her hand. She draws guns and blasts Ryan, but the Batsuit holds up. A raging fight ensues, and it’s quickly made clear Ryan is ready and willing to break Batwoman’s code and kill Alice. Despite a tongue lashing from Luke, Ryan mutes him and manages to beat Alice. Unfortunately, Alice is several steps ahead and draws what looks like a detonator, pressing the button. After a moment, nothing happens, and suddenly a swarm of, you guessed it, bats comes racing past, and heads for the crowd below. Turns out, this is the reason Alice was playing with duct tape and rats earlier. All the bats have feasted on Mouse’s corpse, and picked up the poison that killed him. Now they dive into the crowd, and everyone could die.
She’ll Get There Eventually
Ryan’s heroism wins out over her murderous intent, and she finds the hidden transmitter summoning the bats. Luke tells her to destroy it, but she reasons that would just unleash the poisoned swarm on the city. Instead, she runs and then there’s a fun sequence with her driving the Batmobile. She eventually finds a bus, takes it forcibly and puts the transmitter in. The bats take the bait, and she blows them up inside the bus, saving the day and a random homeless woman. As this is happening, Alice inexplicably goes to Mary with the cure, which happens to be a large dose of Mary’s blood taken by a vampire bitch in season 1. Mary confronts Alice, seeing it as a cry for help (spoiler alert, it’s not). Luckily, Mary gets the blood to Hamliton Dynamics, and they synthesize enough cure for everyone.
Perhaps the highlight of the episode for me was the return of Rachel Maddow’s voice as Vesper Fairchild. I really missed her in the first episode of season 2, and feel her dulcet tones add a lot to the show. Things end with Ryan in the Batcave after convincing Luke and Mary to let her help. She’s reading a journal entry from Kate where the Halloween incident is touched upon, and Kate refers to Ryan as the hope for the city. Finally Alice’s true goal is made abundantly clear in the final moments. Overall, a solid episode, despite some random things happening without enough context. Here’s hoping they continue to build on Ryan’s character and this fascinating universe next week.
Final Verdict: 4/5