[Review] Batwoman Episode 2×08: “Survived Much Worse”

written by Kate Danvers

This is the episode where they totally definitely without a doubt find Kate. Yup. They’re going to find her on Coryana, still played by Ruby Rose who didn’t actually leave for some reason, and she’s going to take over as Batwoman for the rest of the season.

I mean, why else would they write an eight-episode arc about trying to find her if they didn’t intend to make her the main character again?



We start with Ryan and Alice both writing letters to Kate in a sequence I really like and to which I can’t possibly do justice by describing. Both are determined to see their current objectives through to the end.

Ryan then prepares to inject herself with some drug combination so she can survive long enough to get the Desert Rose and save Kate. Where did she learn to do that? YouTube. Oh honey, no; YouTube also has a guy who thinks he can telekinetically alter the shape of clouds. Mary shuts that down right away because while it would put Ryan back on her feet, she’d likely die within twenty-four hours due to the drug speeding up her cell decay.

Luke hands the tracking information over to Sophie who wants to know how he’s able to track Alice when the Crows can’t. BECAUSE THE CROWS SUCK! *ahem* Sorry, no, Luke says “I’m sure you’re familiar with the concept of ‘don’t ask, don’t tell'” and Sophie looks just as unamused as she should be. She just says it: Luke is working with Batwoman. Luke doesn’t deny it, and goes as far as telling Sophie that Batwoman is dying and needs the Desert Rose. Unnamed Crow #2 then reports to Sophie that surveillance spotted Ocean boarding a flight to Rome. Sophie and Luke both realize that Alice is carting a fake Ocean to Coryana. This limits their timetable to save Kate, because everyone knows that Alice only knows one trick and she’s going to get found out.

Can we just take a moment to appreciate Luke Fox, the man who’s so dead-set on keeping the Bat-secret that he’ll deny working with Batwoman to your face while you’re standing in the Batcave looking at him adding gadgets to the Batsuit. That Luke Fox just walked into Crows HQ and admitted to working with Batwoman just so he could save her life.

He’s still the Luke who says shit that gets women to make this face at him, so there’s that.

Jacob and Sophie don’t even make it out of the parking garage before they’re kidnapped by Safiyah’s goons. They’re on their way to the airport, so now Ryan has no choice but to take the drug cocktail and jump into action. They lost track of Alice’s signal over the Mediterranean. Luke thinks that’s because there’s some electromagnetic shenanigans going on to cloak the island. Okay, sure, why not.

Ryan asks the big question: What happens if she brings Kate back and both of them survive? Are there two Batwomen? I guess technically it’s “Batwomans” since the plural form of a name just adds the S, like you wouldn’t say “the Normen” to talk about Norman Reedus and Norman Osborn and I’m clearly stalling because that’s what the show is doing. [EDITOR’S NOTE: She is also giving her editor a migraine because it’s “Batwomen.” Trust me; I’m a professional.]

She’s asking a good question, though. One that might be relevant later.

Ryan gives Mary her plant and asks her to take care of it, revealing that Angelique initially gave her the plant, and Ryan was going to give it to her mom as an apartment-warming present. It’s all she has left of her mom, and she wants it taken care of. Mary’s like “Then you better live, because I’m shit with plants.” It’s sweeter than it sounds.

Alice delivers “Ocean’s” body to Safiyah and confronts her about the erased memories. Safiyah says she erased their memories because Alice was a bad influence on Ocean. Alice demands to see (and kill) Kate, but Safiyah calls her foolish. Just when Alice thinks she’s been found out, Safiyah says they found a tracker on her boot.

Ryan stows away on a cargo plane flying over the island because the Batplane doesn’t exist in the Arrowverse and the Bat-Sub is still a work in progress. It’s also very amusing that Luke didn’t tell her how she would be getting onto Coryana until she was actually on the plane and over the island. He tells her she needs to do a HALO jump.

LUKE: “Ryan, hurry up! If you miss your window, you’re going to end up in the ocean and there’s no shark repellent on the utility belt!”
RYAN: “Why not?”
LUKE: “Because that’s stupid. Now go!”

I was about to call out Luke for disrespecting a classic, but then I remembered that the shark repellent is stored in the Bat-copter.

*watches clip again* …Why did it explode?

HALO stands for “High Altitude, Low Open.” Not to be confused with NOHI: “No Open, High Impact.”

Jacob and Sophie wake up in a cell on Coryana. Tatiana brought them there because Alice wants Jacob to have a front-row seat to Kate’s death. Safiyah herself wants Sophie to join her army. Sophie doesn’t want to join an army of ruthless killers. Tatiana correctly points out that she already does belong to one: Jacob’s. But while Safiyah’s army is committed to protecting their people, the Crows oppress Sophie’s.


Ryan drops an EMP grenade on her way in, which disables the electronic handcuffs on Jacob and Sophie. They get free and knock Tatiana out. Ryan parachutes in elsewhere on the pine-tree-covered Mediterranean island, but she’s overpowered by Safiyah’s goons.

Safiyah plays armchair psychiatrist with Alice, summing up her desire to kill Kate as “Daddy didn’t love you enough.” Alice still wants to go through with it, so Safiyah takes her to–ah no, wait, the goons drag Ryan to Safiyah. Ryan wants to bargain information for a Desert Rose and Kate. She tells Safiyah that the fake Ocean is fake. Alice and Ryan are locked up together.

Sophie and Jacob find the EMP grenade and figure out Batwoman is on the island. Jacob questions Sophie about what she knows – why she’s working with Batwoman, who she is, etc. He says the Crows and Batwoman abide by two separate ideologies. Yeah, Batwoman wants to help people and the Crows fucking don’t. Nah, something about accountability, which makes Sophie bring up how the agents who ran over Evan Blake on the tarmac the other night were only fired instead of being thrown in jail. They smell fertilizer, which is great both for bomb making and also growing the Desert Rose. Oh, and there’s a plane! Jacob prepares to get it running while Sophie goes searching for Batwoman and Kate.

Is it time to defect, Sophie? Crowphie no more? Or is that Crowphie NoMoore?

In their shared cell, Ryan gives Alice her second therapy session of the day. Ryan doesn’t think Alice is going to kill Kate because she just wants Kate back. Alice counters by bringing up how Ryan blames her for Cora’s death, but Ryan remembers Alice saying “It’s not my fault.” She wasn’t just talking about killing Cora; she was talking about all of it: the reason Beth is Alice. She won’t kill Kate because she’ll lose that last sliver of humanity, and then it will be her fault.

Safiyah enters and offers Ryan whatever she wants. Ryan asks for the Desert Rose and Kate. Safiyah will only give her one, so Ryan chooses the flower, leaving Kate for Alice. Ryan will get the Desert Rose, but first, Alice has to fulfill her end of the deal: kill the real Ocean, who Safiyah has located by searching Alice’s phone. She even gives Alice the same dagger from the fake Ocean to do the deed.

Luke argues with Mary about how she’s just standing there tending to Ryan’s plant instead of obsessively pacing while they wait for word. When the plant was first mentioned in this episode, I told Dayna it would turn out to be the Desert Rose. I repeated the theory during this scene. She said that would be stupid. Stick around to see who was right! (Spoilers: we both were.)

I like what Luke says here: Getting both Kate and Ryan back would be a great problem to have, mostly because they’d, y’know, both survive. Mary and Ryan are both totally valid for wondering about Ryan’s future on the team once Kate’s back, but Luke’s right to be more concerned with just getting them back. Their argument is interrupted by one of Safiyah’s assassins attempting to kill them. Mary does a pretty damn good job dodging those attacks from a trained assassin. She also knocks out the assassin by hitting her with some of Bruce’s booze. Luke wants to escape to the Batcave, but Mary needs to get Ryan’s plant and the assassin fell on it and is bleeding all over it.


They snag the plant and run just as Julia arrives to throw a dagger into the just-awakened assassin’s heart.

They painted the Batmobile, smashed his liquor, and killed an assassin in his office. Bruce is going to be pissed.

Safiyah wants Ocean dead because he supposedly framed her for Kate’s “death” by sending the note to Alice and killing her gang. He’s still denying it, and adds that the frame job is only a cover for Safiyah’s real motive: jealousy. Alice is fixated on getting Kate, though, so she stabs Ocean.

Alice is taken to a room where Kate supposedly is. We flip back and forth between scenes as this happens: Alice; Tatiana and Ryan talking about how Alice won’t kill Kate; and Julia revealing why she came to see Luke and Mary. The room Alice enters is full of replicas of Kate’s necklace hanging from the ceiling. Alice frantically asks where her sister is. Meanwhile, Julia tells Mary and Luke that body parts were found off the coast of Blüdhaven and that “they” (never specified) ran the DNA. It matched Kate’s. She’s dead.

Alice starts tearing down the necklaces, crying, and screaming at Safiyah, accusing her of killing Kate. Safiyah once again denies her involvement – she just took the opportunity to make Alice and Ocean pay for their betrayal. She has guards escort Alice out. Then Safiyah goes to Ocean’s body, pulls out the dagger, and suddenly he’s alive again. Safiyah explains to Tatiana that the dagger was imbued with the Desert Rose, so it automatically seals the arteries when someone is stabbed with it. Aaaaand Batwoman just had its frozen laser beams moment. Sure, whatever. I guess she would have been really disappointed when she tried to revive that corpse that Alice got from the morgue, dressed up like Ocean, and put a dagger into.

Safiyah makes it out like she just “saved” Ocean by proving that Alice doesn’t actually love him.

OCEAN: “You’re sick!”
SAFIYAH: “I’m not the one who just put a knife through your heart. Alice’s loyalty will always lie with her sister, just as yours should always lie with me.”

SHE PUT A KNIFE IN HIS HEART BECAUSE YOU GAVE HER AN ULTIMATUM! You know, if the brainwashing, murdering, gaslighting, armchair psychiatry, and stringing up dozens of replicas of Kate’s necklace to fuck with Alice weren’t enough to indicate just what a sociopath Safiyah is, I hope this scene really bring that point home. She’s legitimately like the queer-coded psychopath villains of old, and I can’t even really complain because this show has good queer representation elsewhere.

“Loyalty is everything to me, but only your loyalty to me. I don’t have to be loyal to anyone or respect their own wishes and autonomy.” HOW IS ANYONE LOYAL TO HER?!

Speaking of lies and lack of loyalty, Safiyah has figured it out: Tatiana killed Alice’s gang and sent her those notes to start a war between the two. Safiyah “worked hard to forget her” but couldn’t, so Tatiana set all of this up to get rid of Alice once and for all. Safiyah isn’t happy about this betrayal, so she stabs Tatiana with the magic “only dead as long as it’s sticking out of you” dagger. Fucking hell. She tells Ocean to keep the dagger in Tatiana until she decides to forgive her. So now Ocean just works for Safiyah again? Are we to assume that weak argument convinced him that Safiyah is the only one who cares about him? Oh, who am I kidding? Of course he’s loyal to her again.

Across the island, Alice is being dragged to the plane. She overpowers the guards, kills them, and then tosses a torch into the field of Desert Roses. I’m glad we got that line about the explosive/flammable fertilizer earlier, because those flowers turn into a raging inferno fucking fast. Alice states that now she and Safiyah “both have nothing.” Elsewhere, Safiyah watches from the balcony and sobs. Why? She doesn’t use them for anything other than absurd party tricks.

Sophie sees the burning fields and finds Ryan (still masked) leaning against a rock, having escaped when her guard ran to try to put the fires out. Sophie asks if she got a Desert Rose, which she didn’t. Ryan tells Sophie that according to Tatiana, Safiyah lied about Kate being on the island. Sophie says they’re hot-wiring the plane to get out of there, but Ryan knows she’s not going to make it and asks Sophie to sit with her so she doesn’t die alone. Sophie lays down and apologizes for how she treated Batwoman. Ryan understands that it was because she wasn’t Kate. Sophie holds Ryan’s hand during her final hours…

BUT WAIT! Sophie suddenly gets a call from Luke – they need to get back to Gotham ASAP because the Bat-Team has a cure! Yep, the blood from the assassin that dripped all over Ryan’s plant? It caused it to bloom. It’s a Desert Rose that Angelique apparently got from Ocean and gave to Ryan. It’s dumb, but it’s not “magic healing dagger” dumb. And at least Ryan lives!

Shame about Kate, though. May her memory be a blessing.

BUT WAIT! We cut to the basement of a Gotham barbershop, where a badly burned and bandaged woman is slumped against a wall. The woman’s wearing Kate’s necklace. Audio flashbacks to Kate’s past where the meaning of the necklace is explained indicates that yes, this is the real Kate Kane.

“Horrifically Burn Your Gays and Lock Them In A Basement” doesn’t quite have the punch of “Bury Your Gays.”

Okay, quick wrap-up because this is getting long. I watch the episodes the afternoon after they air, so I was slightly spoiled about Kate’s survival by a headline saying that Wallis Day was replacing Ruby Rose as Kate Kane. I have some speculation about why, and theories about what they’re going to do going forward, but I won’t get into them.

Short version: Even with Kate eventually coming back, I don’t think Ryan is going anywhere, and really, she shouldn’t. I was elated when I first heard we were getting a Batwoman TV show. I was sad when they said they weren’t going to recast Kate and instead bring in a new character. Kate means a lot to me as a lesbian who has had to hide who I am. Seeing a lesbian superhero whose origin includes a bold coming-out moment getting a major TV show was huge. So imagine what a black lesbian Batwoman fighting injustice at every level means to other fans who have never experienced representation on that level. They can’t just take Ryan away now.

Also, I would not complain about the show having two Batwomans. [EDITOR’S NOTE: BATWOMEN. It’s like Spider-Men. I WILL DIE ON THIS HILL.]

Next time: Ryan is back on her feet and Angelique is back on her bullshit.


Batwoman airs Sunday nights at 8 Eastern/7 Central on the CW. Looking for more great content like this? Well, we hope you find it. Oh, and Kate is on Twitter @WearyKatie.

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