[Review] Batwoman Episode 2×03: “Bat Girl Magic”

written by Kate Danvers

I had a 4,500-word poem planned to memorialize Kate’s iconic red wig, but I ran out of things that rhymed with Party City. Also, my editor was about to quit her own site in protest.


We start off with Victor Zsasz killing a couple in a hotel room. He’s been hired by the man’s wife to murder him and his mistress. After doing so and arranging the bodies, he carves two tally marks into his own flesh in shots that linger way too long. As he adds the second mark, he comments that he’s “close to retirement” – in other words, when he’ll have covered his body in tally mark scars. I don’t know what I find more disturbing: that he killed that many people, that he’s running out of space and has his head left, or that he somehow marked even those hard-to-reach spots on his back.

Ryan stops a drug deal while bantering with Luke, including a comment about Ryan wasting batarangs. Glad to see the snark on the comms is still going strong, even without Kate. Also: batarangs are $1,000 each? Are those not reusable? Holy crap, money is wasted on the rich.

The next day, Ryan has Mary tell Ryan’s parole officer that she hired Ryan as a bartender at the Hold Up. Mary rolls with it, since it gets Ryan’s parole officer off her back and explains why Ryan and Mary hang out so much. Ryan asks if Mary really believes Kate is coming back because this is starting to sound long term.

Jacob briefs the Crows on a new designer drug the False Face Society has been pushing. Afterward, he’s given Kate’s phone that was found in the wreckage of the plane. It’s password locked, so he needs someone who might know the password, like Sophie.

Meanwhile, Sophie wakes up next to Alice on a beach. Alice lets her know that she purposefully got herself captured to kill Safiyah. Alice is taken away for a meeting with the queen herself.

Make sure you’re pruning a houseplant in your introduction, so the audience knows you’re a cultured sociopath.

Zsasz breaks into Hamilton Dynamics, kills two people, and steals something off a computer. The Bat Team are on the case, but not before Ryan notes that Mary is a multibillionaire but is only paying her $12.50 an hour at the bar. Ryan recognizes Zsasz and gets Luke to run a search for a special kind of skincare product he uses, the name of which translates to “the baby’s butt.”

Safiyah invites Alice to have lunch with her. She’s not happy about Alice spreading the toxin and the cure all over Gotham, but she’s not going to kill her. She also denies blowing up Kate’s plane, but indicates someone wants Alice to think that she did. There’s also the implication of a history between the two which…okay, fine. Kate isn’t around to have that storyline, but now Alice is a former student of Safiyah’s and she left Coryana five years ago.

Ryan breaks into Zsasz’s apartment in broad daylight. She recovers the hard drive he used to steal the data from Hamilton, but Zsasz himself is there. She tries to find a batarang to throw, but Luke tells her she’s out. Seriously, are they not recyclable? Zsasz critiques Ryan’s costume for not being “her,” then pulls a rocket launcher on her. She barely escapes off the balcony.

Back at the Batcave, they find that the drive contains a list of names of random people from seemingly random backgrounds. Ryan then goes undercover as herself, trying to hire Zsasz to kill Alice. Zsasz still has his previous job to finish first, and he’s tight-lipped about who hired him. Since Ryan got a sniffer device close enough to the assassin’s phone, Luke is able to check his contacts for his likely boss – it’s Safiyah.

Don’t mind me. Just thinking about height differences.

Safiyah continues to deny that she had anything to do with Kate’s plane crash. She also hints that she had nothing to do with the deaths of the Wonderland Gang. She’s upset that Alice gave the Desert Rose to all of Gotham. Attention like that brings outsiders to the island looking to strip it of its resources. Alice says that she only gave the Desert Rose to one person…who gave it to all of Gotham. Annnd I just figured out what the victims on Zsasz’s list have in common and what he stole from Hamilton Dynamics.

Mary asks Luke why he’s been so snippy with Ryan. He’s bothered that Mary is treating Ryan’s stint as Batwoman like a permanent gig when it’s just until Kate returns. Right? …Right?

Mary finally bursts from bottling everything up. She doesn’t think Kate survived the plane crash. Mary has given up hope of finding Kate alive, but she hasn’t given up on giving Gotham hope through a new Batwoman, so that’s why she’s been so supportive of Ryan. I’m probably going to have more to say about this as the season goes on, but I’m mixed on how they’re handling Kate. Stuff like this is good. Seeing her loved ones grieving and trying to figure out how to move on really really works, especially in Mary’s and Luke’s cases.

Later, Ryan stares at the Bat-suit, contemplating something. One of the other doctors at the clinic brings Mary some test results for a cancer patient who was also a bat bite victim. The cancer is gone, thanks to the Desert Rose miracle cure…and the people on Zsasz’s list are all people treated for bat bites. Mary calls Ryan and Luke to tell them just as Zsasz kills the other doctor outside Mary’s office. She calls for help and then starts to fight off the assassin.

I love Mary. She’s scared, she’s running, but she gets a few good hits in.

Ryan goes to suit up and help Mary. Oh, and she’s made some alterations to the suit because if she’s going to be Batwoman, she’s doing it her way.

LUKE: “But the suit is perfect.”
RYAN: “Have you seen the damn wig?”

Look, I love Kate’s classic Batwoman look. I’ve loved it since she debuted in the comic. I even loved it on the show. But Ryan is right. Batwoman arrives on the scene to fight Zsasz.

Bask in the awesomeness of the new look…debuting in a scene with not-great lighting that shows none of the new details.

Sophie is still on the beach being watched over by Tatiana, the assassin who captured her and Alice in the first place. Tatiana wants to know whether Sophie will let Alice roam free if Safiyah decides she can leave the island alive. Sophie intends to lock Alice up the first chance she gets, which pushes Tatiana’s “kill the witness” button. The two begin to fight.

The fight between Ryan and Zsasz is pretty evenly matched, with Zsasz even commenting that he hasn’t been kicked like that since Batman was around. Ryan finally wins the fight when she knocks him out with her collapsible staff. Mary digs Batwoman’s new look. Me too, honestly.

We learn a bit more about Alice’s history with Safiyah. They met shortly after Alice left the Cartwrights, when she had just killed Mabel and while Mouse was was in Arkham. Safiyah can’t understand why Alice went from where she was when she left to wanting to see Kate dead so badly that she’s getting revenge on the person she thinks killed her. Alice says she thought she and Kate were the same, but she was wrong. Safiyah holds her hand, and Alice uses that moment to try to stab Safiyah. But when Safiyah gets the upper hand, she doesn’t kill Alice. Instead, she shows her that she has Kate’s necklace, asking Alice how that could be if she’d blown up the plane while Kate was still onboard.

They go to the beach in time to stop Tatiana from killing Sophie. Sophie is given a drug to knock her out, so she misses Alice saying that she’s not leaving without Kate. Safiyah replies that she moved Kate off the island as soon as she brought Alice there, and she’ll move her back once Alice leaves. She’ll give Kate back to her, but she needs Alice to do something for her first. Sophie and Alice then wake up in an alley back in Gotham, and Alice gets out of being immediately arrested by telling Sophie about her deal to get Kate back. She adds that Sophie being alive probably means Safiyah is crushing on her.

This isn’t how it looks. Every other lesbian reviewer of this show probably screencapped Safiyah on top of Alice or Alice on top of Safiyah, so I had to do something different.

Ryan meets with her parole officer again and finds out she’s a fan of Batwoman. The P.O. is happy that Ryan found a job, but now she has to find housing. She also gives Ryan a lot of “Why can’t you be more like Batwoman?” grief.

Later, Luke visits Ryan while she’s working at the Hold Up. He gives her a gift-wrapped batarang – he made more as an apology for being so hard on her. Ryan promises to work on her aim and asks that Luke give her a chance until Kate comes back. Luke agrees, but draws the line at her making upgrades to the Batmobile. Luke is grieving, but he’s still working, and he’s making an effort with Ryan. Good on him.

At a makeshift memorial for Kate, Mary places a card which reads “May your memory be a blessing.” Luke isn’t ready to give up on Kate yet, but Mary feels how she does. It’s interesting to see them change positions from Episode 2×01, and kind of fitting. Back then, Mary gave Luke hope that Kate was still alive while she was struggling with her doubts on the inside. Now she’s able to express that outwardly, but those to whom she gave that hope are carrying it forward.

At Crows HQ, two agents discuss a photo of the leader of the False Face Society: a man wearing a black wooden mask. Oh noooooooo. Jacob looks through photos on Kate’s phone, including one of a painting by Jack Napier with Safiyah’s name written across it. Damn, that phone survived the plane exploding and plummeting to the ground? Let’s be generous and assume it didn’t end up in the river, but still, damn. The screen isn’t even cracked! Sophie enters and tells Jacob that Kate may still be alive.

“May your memory be a blessing.”

Okay, a few quick things before the long thing that’s going to make me go over my usual word count. I love the new suit. I’m a big fan of Kate’s Batwoman look with the bright red wig, but I’m really glad Ryan made it her own. It’s still the same general look, still instantly recognizable as Batwoman, but it’s a look that distinguishes Ryan from Kate.

They did all right with Zsasz, turning him from a serial killer into a hired assassin. I also like the introduction to Safiyah, whom we first heard about in Season One and now get to finally see. She’s got a quiet and powerful menace to her. I really want to see what she’s planning and how Alice is going to carry it out. Though I found the thing with her denial of bombing Kate’s plane confusing. Is she telling the truth? Did she abduct Kate beforehand and someone else destroyed the plane and sent the note claiming credit for it?

Let’s talk about Kate, because the show obviously wants us to. I know we’re only three episodes in, but I’m starting to wonder how long they want to keep this thing going. Ruby Rose isn’t coming back. Javicia Leslie is our Batwoman going forward. So what’s the point of teasing us that Kate is still alive or that Safiyah is holding her against her will? I was opposed to replacing Kate, but I’ve definitely come around on Ryan, and now I think they’re doing Ryan a disservice by dangling the possibility of Kate’s return in front of the audience.

On the other hand, parts of the story are handling Kate’s disappearance very well. How Mary and Luke have been dealing with Kate’s disappearance over the past three episodes has made it feel like the character still has a presence and will still be remembered. Her legacy is being carried forward by Ryan, who seems to be trying her best to live up to who Kate was as Batwoman, and not just be Batwoman in name only.

In fact, the card Mary leaves at Kate’s memorial is sort of a blueprint of the theme they’re going with. “May your memory be a blessing” is a Jewish saying used to honor the dead. I’m not Jewish, nor have I studied any of the religion, philosophy, or teachings in any capacity, but I did look up the meaning of that phrase when I first came across it. To my limited understanding, it’s not about just remembering a person or putting them to rest. It’s about reflecting upon the person they were and using that as a guide so we can carry on the good deeds they did in their life. That’s what Luke and Mary are doing: bearing Kate’s memory to keep the positive things she did in her life and carrying on that legacy. That’s what Ryan is doing when she puts on the suit. Kate’s work and and her legacy as Batwoman live on in Ryan, Luke, and Mary. That’s how the show can keep her alive.

I feel like teasing Kate’s possible return diminishes that somewhat. Ryan isn’t going to be seen as anything other than a temporary replacement as long as they keep the Kate kidnapping plot going. I know they don’t want to do “bury your gays” – I don’t want them to do it, either – but maybe a little closure would help.

Next time: There’s some kind of football game or something next week, so we’re back in two weeks with kidnapped kids and an alliance between Sophie and Alice that I give about forty minutes to last.


Batwoman airs Sunday nights at 8 Eastern/7 Central on the CW. Kate Danvers has conditioned her phone to suggest “lesbian” every time she begins a word with “L”. Lesbian for her lesbian tweets on Twitter @WearyKatie.

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