[Review] Batwoman Episode 2×11: “Arrive Alive”

written by Kate Danvers

We here at Made of Fail have been known to use the “Tell Her the Truth” GIF with regard to gaslighting friends and loved ones about superhero identities. I would like to propose two exceptions to this:

-Is she a cop?
-Has she already been given a mountain of clues she’s ignoring?

SPOILER WARNINGS ARE IN EFFECT

Black Mask has drivers in flashy, high-performance sports cars transporting stolen goods for him, because that won’t draw attention at all. He’s also mad at Angelique for turning on him and threatens that if she doesn’t make more Snakebite, he’s going to dissolve her in the highly acidic version of Snakebite his guys keep producing.

Sophie calls Ryan to tell her about Angelique. Ryan wants to help, but Sophie doesn’t understand how she possibly could, so she tells Ryan to sit and wait. Luke and Ryan know that Black Mask needs Angelique to make Snakebite, and Luke has noticed the aforementioned heists of materials needed for the drug. False Face just needs fear toxin now, so Luke is going to figure out the most likely target. I love the idea that there are just warehouses of fear toxin around Gotham.

Alice is still in Evelyn Rhyme’s office and a new patient mistakes Gotham’s most wanted criminal – who has appeared on TV – with a therapist so famous she’s on magazine covers referring to her as “the therapist to the stars.” Evelyn walks in, so Alice kills the patient and calls her “Enigma.” Evelyn assumes Alice wants her memories back, but Alice says “Keep ’em. I don’t need the hassle.” That’s a mood. She tells Enigma that she wants to forget Kate.

Another heist is going down and the three sports cars are back. Batwoman stops one and pulls the driver out of the car. She removes the driver’s mask and sees that it’s Sophie. The Crows arrested the driver and Sophie took his place, but now she’s been “burned” because she didn’t make it to the drop-off point in time. The heist has been called off and the phone they gave Sophie has been wiped.

Bloodstain on the couch, therapist’s wrists are tied, dead body in the corner…but goddamnit, at least she’s in therapy.

Alice describes her hallucinations of Kate. Evelyn draws attention to how Kate appears as her thirteen-year-old self in the hallucinations and asks Alice if she knows why. Oh! I know! Is it because the actress who played the adult Kate quit? No, it’s because young Kate represents Alice’s lost innocence and that the memory of Kate is her moral compass. Alice looks at the dead patient and cheekily says she’d hate to lose that. Evelyn thinks that excising the memory of Kate would radically alter Alice’s personality and make her act on every dark impulse she has. Alice threatens her, so Evelyn agrees to do it, but she has to do it safely – Alice has to first confront the hallucination.

Jacob loses his shit at Sophie over the botched undercover operation. He says she’s too personally involved because she guaranteed her informant’s safety. He’s appointed Russel Tavaroff to be the new agent in charge of the operation. Sophie thinks Tavaroff is a loose cannon who will go in guns blazing and get Angelique killed. Jacob just loses his shit some more.

Let me just read up on the comic version of Tavaroff…oh. Oh, this is going to go wonderfully.

Sophie drinks at the Hold Up and tells Ryan about the botched heist. Sophie sees no way back in other than sending in another driver. Ryan convinces her to let her do it because she and Sophie were the ones who got Angelique into this mess.

Evelyn puts Alice under with hypnosis. Alice envisions herself in a car with the younger Kate, who’s trying to convince her there’s still good in her. Which means that’s actually a part of Alice trying to convince herself there’s still good in her. Alice thinks she was born a terrible person. Oh, but Ocean is driving the imaginary car, and combining that revelation with being unable to get rid of Mini-Kate tries Alice’s patience.

An undercover partner who smiles this much is exactly what Sophie deserves. This statement is true no matter how you take it.

Sophie has convinced Mary to lend her car to the cause offscreen. Mary does not appear in this episode and we’re all poorer for that. Sophie stresses the importance of knowing car stuff so Ryan will seem convincing. Ryan is just like “fast car go vroom,” which I can relate to. As for getting Ryan an interview, Sophie knows a trustworthy guy who can set things up.

Yeah, it’s Luke. And now Ryan and Luke have to pretend they don’t know each other. They come across less as strangers and more as friends being little shits to each other, but the act is for Sophie, so…you know, it works. It’s a great scene. Luke does hacking magic to give Ryan a fake identity as someone with a long rap sheet for street racing and stuff, then spoofs a text message from a known False Face Society gang member to another to recommend her for the job.

Once Sophie steps away, Luke gives Ryan some Bat tech: comms to communicate without Sophie hearing them (remember that), a tracking device to put on the Fear Toxin, and a portable version of the Batmobile A.I. Aww, Ryan thought she was getting better at driving. Turns out she’s been using Aim Assist for months without realizing. He also warns Ryan that teaming up with Sophie puts her at risk because Sophie is smart and will figure out who Ryan is.

What? I did that rant already.

Meanwhile, back in the U.S. healthcare system…

Evelyn thinks they’ve made a breakthrough – Kate sticking around in Alice’s brain, plus Ocean’s presence, plus the way part of Alice’s lost memory was restored just by seeing Ocean proves Alice really does have good in her! She can’t kill that. Alice is like “I did, though” and tells Evelyn about how she killed Ocean.

Rachel Skarsten is so good in these scenes. She’s fantastic in this role every episode, but scenes like this where it’s one on one with someone else and she’s flitting between emotions is where she really shines. I honestly can’t tell when Alice is going to stab someone and when she’s going to break down crying.

Ryan’s audition goes well. She does the necessary street racing stunts like drifting and…okay, I really only know drifting. The False Face goons test her knowledge of the car, and she passes. They hand her a mask and a phone. That night, she’s working with three other drivers, waiting for directions on her phone. She gets a call from Crowphie (seriously, that’s the name in her contacts) informing her that False Face has a drone in the sky watching the cars. Ryan won’t be able to pull over to plant the tracker. Ryan thinks she can do it without stopping and ignores Sophie’s order to abort.

While the fear toxin is being loaded, Ryan asks how good the A.I. is. Luke says it works just like the Batmobile. Ryan says she misses her Batsuit. Luke guides the car remotely while Ryan plants the tracker on one of the canisters. The car is shot at by Crows, but Luke gives them the slip and the rest of the heist goes off without a hitch. Except Crowphie isn’t there to meet Ryan and Luke – she’s going to take down False Face alone.

Ryan added Sophie to her contacts, but still calls her “Crowphie.” It’s progress.

Alice is put under hypnosis again. This time she’s making out with Ocean in the abandoned subway car they were hiding in several episodes back. He asks why she killed him. Back in Evelyn’s office, Ocean breaks in and points a gun at Alice. Both Alice and I wonder if this Ocean is real or a hallucination for a moment. Yep, he’s real. With a little prompting, Alice figures out that of course, Safiyah gave her the dagger to use and that dagger was dipped in Desert Rose. No wonder he’s alive!

Come on y’all, Alice shouldn’t have pieced that ludicrous plot twist together. She’s insane, not crazy.

Alice calls him out for working with Safiyah, and rightly so. He’s mostly there to ask Alice why she “killed” him. She tells him she thought it was the only way to save her sister, and admits she regretted it…but then she clobbers him and wrestles him to the ground. Evelyn has decided she’s had enough of this hetero nonsense and says “Mockingbird Anew” – a trigger phrase that unlocks their memories. While they’re dealing with that, she slips out.

Sophie tries to find Angelique herself, but Black Mask gets the jump on her and ties her up. Batwoman comes in and starts fighting Black Mask while Sophie gets loose. They’re about to take Black Mask into custody, but he calls the goon watching Angelique and tells him to kill her if Sophie and Batwoman don’t let him go. They do.

Later at the actual lab, Angelique produces a batch of Snakebite, but she’s not sure if it’s poisonous or not. Black Mask is about to test it on her regardless, but she bargains her way out by offering to help him find Ocean.

Alice and Ocean walk and talk. He found her because Safiyah gave him Evelyn’s contact info in case he needed help, and Evelyn told him that someone was following her. He’s in Gotham looking for the last Desert Rose, the one he gave to Angelique. Safiyah, Ocean, and Alice are all pretty sure Batwoman has it. Ocean wants Alice to make her feelings clear, because the whole stabbing and the hitting thing was a little vague. He asks again if she regrets killing him. She dodges the question as much as she can before shoving him against a dumpster and making out with him.

Yeah, that’s still mixed signals. Sorry.

Agent Tavaroff finds Batwoman’s blood at the warehouse and takes a sample. Didn’t find any blood from Black Mask even though he had a Batarang stuck in his back, though? Okay. Sophie finds the comms/Batmobile A.I. thing still attached to Mary’s car. Apparently it’s a recording device too, because she plugs it into her laptop and it’s coincidentally on that part where Luke says “your Batmobile” and Ryan says she misses “my Batsuit.” Sophie says “Oh my god!”

“Oh my god, Ryan Wilder is Stargirl!”

Well, it had to be spelled out for her again, but she got there. I wonder if this will lead Sophie to quitting the Crows? With Jacob’s erratic behavior and Tavaroff leading the False Face investigation, Sophie may go to the extent of stealing the blood sample to protect Batwoman’s identity. I can’t believe that in an industry with so much copaganda, there’s actually a show where someone quitting being a cop would be a legitimate avenue of character development.

Sophie has had an interesting arc this season, and it’s been a more subtle one. She found out Kate had been Batwoman the whole time, was kind of at odds with the new Batwoman, eventually accepted the new Batwoman (albeit grudgingly), and now she’s left with a dilemma over outing Ryan or protecting her. Something just hit me, though: Maybe she already has been protecting her.

I think it was the second episode where Luke and Mary were brought in for questioning about Kate being Batwoman. She was suspicious of both of them, but let it go. Then when Ryan was dying, Sophie accused Luke of working with Batwoman again and he confirmed it this time. She didn’t question him further or arrest him or tell any of the Crows. When Batwoman lay dying at her side on Coryana, Sophie never attempted to remove her mask – she even brought her back to Gotham to get the cure without unmasking her. And she ignored obvious clues that could have helped her easily figure out Batwoman’s identity.

What am I getting at? Sophie isn’t stupid. We’ve seen her use detective skills with and without the Crows’ resources. She could have figured out who the new Batwoman was, but on some level, I don’t think she wanted to. Maybe she’s evaluating her relationship with Kate and thinking about the compromising position that knowing her identity could have put both of them in. Maybe she wants to correct the Crows’ past mistakes with the first Batwoman by doing right by the new one. Or maybe she’s hiding from what she knows she would have to do if a Crow like her knew Batwoman’s identity.

I like the Alice stuff, but I’m afraid of what they’re hinging her possible “redemption” on. If Enigma’s mindfuckery is what turned Beth into Alice by removing her capacity for empathy and love, fine. That’s okay. We can work with that. But if the show is going to tell me that all that stood in the path of Beth Kane becoming a serial killer was the love of one dude, I’m going to fucking riot. I’ve said this with other “redemption arcs” that hinged on a romantic relationship: If you are all that’s stopping your significant other from being a genocidal sociopath, then you’re in the wrong relationship and your S.O. is an irredeemable fucknugget.

Next time: The teaser for 2×12 is vague as hell, but the synopsis says we’re getting Kate back in some form. Betcha she’s going to be Roman Sionis’ “daughter.”

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Batwoman airs Sunday nights at 8 Eastern/7 Central on the CW. Kate eagerly awaits the Fast & Furious sequel where the main characters are forced to get legit jobs as competitive pizza delivery drivers. Follow her nonsense on Twitter @WearyKatie.

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