We All Wear Masks
I have mixed feelings about this week’s Batwoman. Not cause it’s a bad episode, mind you. It was actually pretty amazing. The problem is the CW, in their infinite wisdom, changed when the show airs. And since I happen to watch a lot of other shows that all compete for the same time slot, this means my coverage of Batwoman is gonna be a little bit later than before. But, with that out of the way, let’s talk about Initiate Self-Destruct. Silly subtitle aside, this episode did a lot to move things forward in a satisfying fashion.
Though last time ended with Sophie’s revelation of Batwoman’s secret identity, the episode doesn’t start with her. No, it starts with Roman Sionis being creepy in his mansion. He’s waxing nostalgic about the function of masks, and mentions how in every generation his family received a death mask. Which brings us to his latest project, Kate Kane. Initially I wasn’t a fan of the show keeping her character alive, but now I am. Mostly cause of how insanely twisted and creepy turning the old Batwoman into a villain is. It also doesn’t hurt that the new actress playing Kate, Wallis Day from the tragically short-lived Krypton, does an amazing job in the role. She somehow manages to convey the mannerisms of Kate while still appearing as something alien and fascinating. Which is good, since now Kate is fully hypnotized by Enigma, and believes herself to be Roman’s dead criminal daughter, Circe Sionis. And to mark the happy occasion, she gets a lovely death mask to hide her identity.
Alice is actually in a relatively good place at the beginning of this episode. Reconnecting with Ocean has her acting more human, but it goes sour quickly. She gets out of his bed to escape quietly, and opens the door to False Face goons. Though she takes one out with a handy liquor bottle, another tazes her and they take Ocean. Black Mask is really adamant about getting his Snakebite formula perfected, and nothing will stand in his way.
It’s Not a Pager
Sophie is comparing images of Ryan and Batwoman, and we can practically hear her slapping her head about how blind she was. Tavaroff is geared up to upload the DNA sample to reveal Batwoman’s identity. Sophie tries and fails to get info out of him, and when she goes to Jacob, he continues to be a problem. Or rather, his addiction does. When Sophie attempts to reason with him, saying Batwoman isn’t the problem, Black Mask is, he counters saying Batwoman ruined the last Crow operation. So they need to treat her as a criminal. Sophie suggests he’s not angry with Batwoman, he just sees his dead daughter in her. He takes that poorly, and kicks her out of his office. Leaving her to find some way to protect the identity of the hero.
Luke and the gang realize they can track the IP address from the live feed Black Mask used to communicate with Angelique last time. Before Ryan can rush off, the Bat Signal gets activated by Sophie. She tells Batwoman about the blood sample, and teases that it won’t be an issue unless the sample can be compared with another hit that’s in the system. She doesn’t outright say she knows her identity, and seems to be holding onto that for now. Ryan is more concerned about Angelique and still holds it against the Crows that she got taken. Sophie promises she’ll try and destroy the DNA sample while the Bat goes after her love.
Ryan goes to the last location of her ex while Luke and Mary try and convince her over coms it’s more important to protect her identity. After all, Black Mask won’t kill the golden goose, right? Luckily she doesn’t want to listen, and finds herself faced with a violent tableau. Looks like Alice got there first, looking for the newly kidnapped Ocean. She’s in the midst of barbecuing a False Face goon when Batwoman finds her, and suggest they team up. Hesitance aside, Batwoman knows Alice is the only one that can help her find Angelique, so she reluctantly agrees.
Enemy of My Enemy
Then we get a delightful scene of both women in the Batomobile. Alice is randomly asking what buttons do before pressing them. Sure, she’s a dangerous psychopath, but she’s also delightful. Not to mention smart. She quickly realizes Angelique must be important to the hero and asks how a drug cook got mixed up with a hero. Ryan isn’t pleased, and counters her banter with angry assertions that only seem to entertain Alice. A particularly special moment is when Luke and Mary are talking about the ill-advised team up and say how they’ll need to deep clean the Batmobile afterwards.
Back with Sophie, she tries to get to the DNA sample but it’s being babysat by one agent. She calls Luke and says they’ll need a Plan B, but Luke isn’t having it. They can’t protect Batwoman’s identity unless she steps up. If the sample is analyzed, the Crows will upload it to a database and spread the info to all law enforcement. Which would mean game over for the newly minted hero. Luckily the Bat gang hatches a plan. Mary visits Sophie and gives her a bright pink bag with a gift. It’s a drive that will let Sophie kill the digital DNA sample, rendering it useless. But first, Mary has to distract her father, since the drive needs to be plugged into the computer in his office for tier-1 access.
Despite the stakes being so high, I really loved the team up. Sure, False Face wants to get the formula and kill the captives, but it’s still really fun watching Batwoman and Alice work together. I chuckled when Alice asked why she can’t have any Bat toys. When Ryan angrily tells her to draw the attention of the goons, she boldly honks the horn of the Batmobile. Which initially only brings one goon, but then a whole swarm of them. The women fight them off, and Alice nearly kills one with a car door. As she interrogates another, Batwoman realizes Alice loves Ocean and calls her on it. When she says sarcastically “you know I killed him?”, Batwoman responds smartly with “that’s not a no”.
As Sophie works to erase the sample in Jacob’s office, there’s a complication. The Crows are planning on uploading the sample with a ton of others, from rapes and murders. And since there’s only a numerical system and not names, Sophie would have to erase everything uploaded to protect Ryan’s identity. Mary works to distract her father by taking him to her clinic, saying how she’s going legit. He seems far less interested than usual, and she can tell something is different about him. But he deflects, saying how he’s happy the clinic is legit, even though she’s not taking all the steps necessary to make it so. Then Sophie finds some way to only erase Ryan’s information, and as she cleans up her trail finds a Snakebite dose in Jacob’s trash. She talks with Mary about it but Mary is blind to his addiction. Still, Sophie leaves the dose with her, hoping she’ll open her eyes.
You Can’t Save Everyone
The last main arc involves the rescue of the two captives. Ocean tries to slow down the process, knowing they’re dead once the cook is done. Batwoman and Alice use walkies to trick Black Mask into sending backup, and follow them to the facility. Alice warns the hero she can’t save everyone, right before Batwoman handcuffs her to a building. She promises she’ll save them both, and will help save Ocean from Alice. But then the real attraction arrives – Circe. I love this new villainous persona, since it’s imbued with Kate’s skills but none of her morality. She questions Alice, not recognizing her own twin, and goes after Batwoman.
Batwoman manages to find the captives right after Ocean gets shot. And Angelique and him escape right before Circe attacks. Then follows an epic fight between the two. Circe is clearly winning before Alice intervenes, bashing her unexpectedly. It’s a temporary reprieve, and Circe turns her dangerous attention to the lunatic. Alice calls Batwoman for help, saying she remembers her mother, trying to show her humanity. Batwoman coldly responds “you can’t save everyone”, leaving Alice to her fate.
In the end, Angelique is joining witness protection and asks Ryan to come with her. Ryan says home is in Gotham, and she wants to fix it. And the last moment is the reveal that Alice is alive, but at the mercy of Black Mask and Circe. Overall a very solid and well written episode. I’m curious to see where the Circe story leads, and whether or not Kate can be snapped back to her former self. Either way, I have high hopes for the rest of this season of Batwoman!
Final Verdict: 4.5/5