[Review] Batwoman Episode 2×09: “Rule #1”

written by Kate Danvers

Rule #1 is “Don’t put a # in your episode title because it’s not going to show up in review URLs.” #relatable #Batwoman #octothrope #sharp or press the pound sign for more options.

SPOILER WARNINGS ARE IN EFFECT

We open on Kate’s funeral. Jacob, Mary, Sophie, Luke, and Julia are the only ones in attendance, either due to Covid restrictions for filming or keeping things deliberately private. I know the numerous reasons why they didn’t make this a crossover, but the lack of Kara, Barry, Jefferson, Sara, Clark, J’onn, etc. is a bit of a bummer. Then again, that would mean revealing some secret identities to three Crows. Maybe they had an off-screen memorial at the Warehouse of Justice. Hey, they’ve already got a convenient shot for that since they edited Batwoman out of one.

Ryan is also not in attendance, presumably because that would reveal her identity to the Crows. She’s now fully recovered and writing a letter to Kate. Her voiceover narration tells us that the remains Julia talked about last episode were a parietal skull bone which three labs matched to Kate’s DNA. As a memorial to Kate, Ryan replants her Desert Rose in a sunny spot in the Batcave…which is several feet below ground…under Wayne Tower…in the middle of Gotham City. Ryan commits herself to honoring Kate’s memory and legacy as Batwoman.

Elsewhere, Black Mask informs the imprisoned Kate that her family has declared her dead, but soon he’ll make them believe in life after death.

This is the most sunlight we’ve seen in this show. I’m not joking. Even the funeral – which I assume was happening at the same time – was overcast.

One month later, Commissioner Forbes is interviewed about how the GCPD has been working in tandem with Batwoman to try to eliminate Snakebite from the street. He’s then confronted by a woman advocating for defunding the police. To the show’s credit, they get it right – unlike a lot of news organizations. Forbes dismisses her rather rudely.

Mary thanks Ryan for being a good roommate and friend during her grieving process. Angelique stops by to apologize to Ryan and try to win her back. She promises she’s trying to get out and has actually turned down an offer to replace Ocean as the head of the drug lab.

Alice (who spent weeks in a ship escaping Coryana) is at the Cartwright house and back in the room she was locked in for years. She hears footsteps and thinks she was followed by one of Safiyah’s men, but instead it’s a young Kate. She’s here to join her sister for a tea party. We’re going to put a pin in this one, because it’s going to get rough.

That night, Commissioner Forbes is gunned down on the steps of City Hall by the False Face Society. They just miss the only witness to the attack: the same woman Forbes was talking to earlier, who was spraying graffiti.

The next day, the press interviews Janus Cosmetics CEO Roman Sionis about Forbes’ death. He expresses concern about the rampant crime in the city and offers whatever help he can to the GCPD. Even if I wasn’t overburdened by comic book knowledge, this guy would look shady as fuck.

The Crows and the Bat-Team both independently find that five minutes have been edited out of the security camera footage of the shooting, meaning someone had access to City Hall’s CCTV. Ryan notices that someone was painting graffiti at the time of the killing and Mary spends ten seconds on social media figuring out who, to Luke’s annoyance.

Multi-billion-dollar Bat-computers are less impressive in an age where detective work just takes social media access.

Luke tracks the social media login to a Jordan Moore. Mary immediately guesses she’s related to Sophie because Moore is such an uncommon name, right? Any Moores in a city like Gotham have to be related, right? …I hate that she’s right.

Sophie calls Jacob, annoyed that he’s not speaking publicly about Forbes’ assassination. Jordan is waiting in the backseat of Sophie’s car, and she needs her sister’s help. Crowphie suggests taking her upstairs to give a statement about what she saw, but Jordan knows the Crows’ track record. They’re attacked by the False Face Society, but Batwoman saves them. Sophie and Batwoman convince Jordan to tell what she knows, which isn’t much since the killers were wearing masks, but she saw a bracelet shaped like a key on the driver’s wrist. Batwoman tells one of the goons to go back to his boss and tell him that Jordan won’t talk.

Ryan goes to see Angelique, who admits to driving the getaway vehicle. She didn’t know they were killing the Commissioner; she was just told to drive the goons to a location as her last act before getting out. Ryan wants her to tell the authorities and offers protection from Batwoman since they’re “friends,” but Angelique needs time to think about it.

Luke and Mary are fine with Angelique testifying instead of Jordan, but not too happy about Ryan giving her time to think about doing the right thing. Mary compares the situation to Kate giving Alice second chances. Ouch. She’s right, but ouch. She gives Ryan an ultimatum: Either she gets Angelique to turn herself in, or Mary is going to turn her in.

Jacob meets with Julia in the cemetery. He wants her to investigate Kate’s plane crash to find out what actually happened. He doesn’t trust the report that blames bad weather and a control panel malfunction. Julia thinks the report is accurate and that Jacob is in denial, but agrees to investigate it herself to give Jacob some closure.

Juliaaaaaa! I missed you! And I’m so sorry for what’s coming.

Jordan and Sophie go to the Hold Up for drinks to ease Jordan’s nerves. Ryan is working and strikes up a conversation with the two. She’s impressed by Jordan’s activism efforts. Jordan notices something between Sophie and Ryan, so when she and her sister get a table, she offers to be Sophie’s wingwoman. Sophie’s mom told Jordan that Sophie is gay, and Jordan is actually very supportive.

Sophie calls Luke to ask what Batwoman knows about the lady with the key bracelet. Luke doesn’t give up Angelique, trusting Ryan to handle it. Ryan, meanwhile, gets a call from Angelique – she’s ready to talk to Ryan’s “friend” Batwoman. Ryan masks up and goes to Angelique’s apartment, but she’s been kidnapped.

Luke tracks Angelique’s phone to an old sawmill. Batwoman heads in, but she’s knocked out by False Face goons. When she wakes up, she sees Black Mask reprimanding one of his own guys for leading Batwoman to them. He then kills the guy by cutting him in half with a giant saw blade.

RYAN: “What the hell are you doing?!”
BLACK MASK: “It’s an HR matter. What are you, OSHA?”
RYAN: “I’m here for your prisoner. Let her go. She’s not like you.”
BLACK MASK: “Oh please, enlighten me. Who am I?”
RYAN: “You’re a sadistic drug lord.”
BLACK MASK: “Okay, I can see why you might think that.”

Goddamnit, they’re going to make me like Black Mask, aren’t they?

He claims that his daughter was imprisoned by the Crows and killed by Batwoman – not Ryan, but her predecessor. He sees himself as someone who’s liberating Gotham from people like the Crows and Batwoman, who are never held accountable while claiming to fight for justice.

Black Mask starts up the saw again, sending it toward Ryan, but Sophie shoots her way in and shuts the saw off. Black Mask escapes, and Ryan frees Angelique, who is surprised that Ryan actually does know Batwoman.

Always love a good classic death trap, especially the slowly moving saw.

Angelique gives her statement to the Crows, but it’s a confession. She’s saying she killed Forbes and that she acted alone. Sophie tells Ryan and gives her Angelique’s bracelet. Angelique knew that she would be protected if the False Face Society came for her, but Black Mask had threatened to go after Ryan if Angelique didn’t take the fall.

After Ryan walks away upset, Jordan tells Sophie how bullshit it is that the Crows know Angelique is innocent but still have to lock her up based on the confession. The system is fucked. Sophie agrees. She doesn’t know what she’s going to do about it, but she needs to do something. QUIT, SOPHIE! The Crows are not getting better! There’s no fixing a broken system!

Julia starts making calls about Kate’s plane. She speaks to someone who claims to have told her last month about a paperwork error claiming there was a third loader at the National City airport. The guy on the phone remembers Julia, but she has no memory of talking to him. Oh noooo…

Ryan calls a Bat-Team meeting. The Bat Code isn’t enough, they need their own rules. Rule #3: Support – they’ll always have each other’s backs. Rule #2: Accountability – like Luke and Mary holding Ryan accountable for getting Angelique to talk. And Rule #1: Legacy – they take the awful out of Gotham, but they need to put something good back to replace it. They’re going to help Jordan’s efforts to build a community center. I love this.

The hallucination of young Kate has a solution for Alice’s pain! She takes her to the grave where the cat from her childhood was buried. Alice digs it up and finds a live kitten inside. She cradles it as “Kate” helps her understand: Alice is having a psychotic break, just like when she first started sewing faces and when she found her mother’s head in the freezer. She’s not handling Kate’s death very well at all. But the power of that psychosis can help! She can pretend Kate never existed!

You know, I can’t figure out if she’s imagining all of this or if she actually dug up the kitten’s body, but either way this is disturbing as fuck.

AND FOR THE LOVE OF FUCK, SOMEONE HIRE SOME SENSITIVITY READERS BEFORE TRYING TO HANDLE MENTAL ILLNESS!

Black Mask leads a woman into Kate’s cell. The woman asks about Kate’s face and Black Mask says it’s from his goons roughing her up when they pulled her from the plane. Black Mask leaves and the woman introduces herself to Kate as Enigma. She takes Kate’s necklace and says it’s time to say goodbye to Kate Kane.

Wears green, carries a cane… Maybe she’s supposed to be related to Riddler or this Enigma?

Hey, Caroline? Can we talk? Um, I don’t mean to be a backseat showrunner here, but tread very carefully with this storyline. When you write a story about a hero being turned evil, that’s tricky enough, but when you have brainwashing involved, it becomes a bit trickier. There’s a storyline in the Batwoman comics that I utterly despise because it handled this kind of thing horribly. Also we’re really skirting the definition of “Bury Your Gays” by making everyone think Kate is dead, including Kate herself.

I can maybe see where this is going. I initially thought that Black Mask knew that Kate was Batwoman, but if his origin story is that his daughter was arrested by the Crows and died in custody, he may be punishing Jacob by taking his daughter from him…and to add to the fucked-upness of it all, Kate is probably going to be brainwashed into thinking she’s Black Mask’s daughter.

The twist with Julia there at the end is interesting, and probably explains why so many of Julia’s sources said Kate was dead and why Julia herself believes it was an accident. Though I’ve got to say, I’m not really thrilled with the stolen memories/brainwashing subplot going on because of my concerns above.

Adding to the general discomfort is Alice just completely dissociating from reality all episode. I really hope that for once in the history of the Bat-franchise, someone with actual medical knowledge was consulted about this story.

Who am I kidding? They had a +2 Dagger of Healing last episode.

Next time: Everyone is after Black Mask…including Alice?

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Batwoman airs Sunday nights at 8 Eastern/7 Central on the CW. Kate will stop making puns when they stop making her editor groan. Find more puns on Twitter @WearyKatie.

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