[Review] Batwoman Episode 2×12: “Initiate Self-Destruct”

written by Kate Danvers

Hey there Kate, what’cha doing with those knives?

SPOILER WARNINGS ARE IN EFFECT

The episode opens with Black Mask and Enigma in a room with a still-bandaged Kate Kane. He takes off his mask and reveals that he’s Roman Sionis! GASP! He’s got another mask, though: the white death mask of his late daughter, Circe, about to be reborn. Kate asserts that her name is Kate Kane, and tries to fight against it, but Enigma finishes the hypnosis and submerges Kate in the Circe persona. They also explain away the different voice by saying Kate’s larynx was damaged during her abduction. “Circe’s” injuries are explained by saying there was a fire when she broke out of Arkham.

Alice wakes up in bed with Ocean. She tries to do a walk of shame, but she’s jumped by False Face goons who knock her out and kidnap Ocean. You know, when Angelique said she’d help Black Mask find Ocean, I didn’t think she’d correctly guess that he was back in Gotham and point Black Mask to his shag pad. I thought Ocean was supposed to be better at not being found.

Sophie asks Tavaroff about the Batwoman blood sample he found in the previous episode that he’s having checked against the criminal database. She makes a good point about him pushing that DNA test through while rape kits go untested, but he says Jacob signed off on it. Sophie goes to Jacob and tries to get him to call it off by questioning his motives, since Kate was the last Batwoman. Jacob kicks her out of his office in anger. He’s meant to come across as being high on Snakebite at the time, but this tracks with normal dickish Jake behavior.

Luke uses Black Mask’s warehouse camera to trace back the IP address and find him. But Ryan can’t pursue that yet because she has to answer the Bat-Signal. On the roof of the GCPD, Sophie tells Batwoman about the blood sample. But that shouldn’t be a problem because Batwoman has never been in the system, right? Right? Riiiiiight? Yeah, I’m just going to spoil that: Sophie doesn’t admit that she knows at all this episode. To anyone. Batwoman tells her to destroy the blood sample, but Sophie isn’t sure she can, so Batwoman decides to make good use of the hours she has left.

I’m right there with you, Ryan. The Crows only get off their asses to catch the wrong people.

Luke and Mary want Batwoman to come home so they can deal with protecting her identity, but she wants to find Angelique. She checks out the False Face location Luke found, but someone has beaten her to it. There are dead bodies, and one guy is impaled on a pipe, letting off some steam. In the room, Alice is torturing a guy with a propane torch. What the fuck, Alice? Guess that answers the question of how much “Alice” is left after Enigma’s hypnosis got undone. She’s gotten the location of Angelique and Ocean out of the guy, but then she stabs him, so Batwoman kind of needs her as much as Alice needs Batwoman.

Cut to the two riding in the Batmobile. Alice, little gremlin that she is, starts pushing every button within her reach, including trying to “initiate self-destruct.” I haven’t really called attention to it yet, but while every Season One episode was titled with an Alice in Wonderland quote, Season Two pulls words or phrases either seen or heard somewhere in the episode. Alice also teases Batwoman about Angelique because she’s figured out they’re an item.

Sophie can’t get to the sample to destroy it, so she calls Luke. The ticking clock of this subplot is that the Crows are going to sequence the DNA sample, upload it to the registry, and then try to get a match.

Batwoman and Alice pull up to the harbor, where a large boat is docked. Inside, Ocean and Angelique are chained up and forced to demonstrate how to make Snakebite while the goon watching them records the whole thing on a camera like some kind of YouTube cooking show. I have to admit, this is showing more foresight than I would normally expect from a villain. They’re slow to cooperate, but they get cooking when threatened at gunpoint.

Jeez, I knew things at Bon Appétit were rough, but this is ridiculous. Five bucks says Angelique is getting paid more.

Outside, Alice complains about not being given any bat-toys and wants a Batarang. Just sell the ones that have been thrown at your gang in the last year. Apparently you’d be set for life. Batwoman orders Alice to draw out the lone guard on the outside so she can take him down, so Alice honks the horn of the Batmobile to draw everyone outside. I mean…it worked?

Mary drops by Crows HQ to deliver a little present to Sophie: a USB “kill drive” that will scramble the data and make Batwoman’s DNA profile unreadable…but they would still have the sample, right? Sophie says she didn’t know Mary was on Batwoman’s payroll.

*slams desk* FUCKING HOW?! Mary’s sister was the original Batwoman, she’s friends with Luke, she got caught helping Batwoman at the end of last season, AND YOU JUST FOUND OUT BATWOMAN 2.0 IS HER ROOMMATE!! Also, technically Batwoman is on Mary’s payroll because she works at The Hold Up, but Crowphie is pretending she doesn’t know, so…

Anyway, Sophie needs a computer with Tier 1 access and the only one that has that is in Jacob’s office. That’s why Mary delivered the drive herself – to be a distraction.

Batwoman and Alice fight goons. Alice repeatedly slams the head of one in the door of the Batmobile which, uh…is he dead? Are we okay with that, Ryan? Alice then threatens another goon, demanding the location of the cooks on the boat. Batwoman realizes how passionately Alice is going about all of this and deduces that Alice actually loves Ocean. They talk about their respective partners and feelings, and I actually like the way these two play off each other. They divert most of the goons inside to the north dock with a diversion, then Batwoman handcuffs Alice to a pipe outside. She still understandably holds a grudge with Alice over her mom, and she’s going to “save” Ocean from Alice.

I don’t mean this in a shipping sense, but these two have more chemistry than “TRUE LOVE” pairs elsewhere on this network. Yes, Dayna, I know I can just say Supergirl.

Sophie calls Luke to walk her through scrambling the data, but there’s a problem: They didn’t just upload Batwoman’s file. They uploaded DNA profiles from dozens of pending investigations and none of them are labeled, so the only way to protect Batwoman is to corrupt all of the files. Luke asks how serious the cases are and Sophie replies that since it’s Gotham, they’re not for jaywalking. Yeah, but also ACAB, so half of them probably are jaywalking cases. Fuck over-policing. Sophie has another idea.

Mary takes Jacob on a tour of her legitimized clinic. An address on a box reveals the location as 8845 Park Row. The significance of the numbers eludes me at the moment, but Park Row is straight from the comics. It’s also known as Crime Alley, the infamous neighborhood where Bruce Wayne’s parents were killed. In an effort to keep the Crows and Jacob off her back, she’s hired real doctors and passed a health inspection. Jacob is going through withdrawals at the moment, so he’s trying to hurry things along, including shrugging it off when he finds out that Mary’s fax machine for reporting gunshot victims is unplugged. Mary notices he’s not feeling well, but doesn’t push it.

Kate-as-Circe (hereafter referred to as just “Circe”) arrives on the scene wielding a pair of karambit knives and finds the handcuffed Alice. After some threats, Alice tells her where to find Batwoman. I’ve got to applaud the music, costuming, and Wallis Day’s performance here. Circe is terrifying, and gives off strong “slasher movie villain” energy. Also, Day’s face is almost entirely covered, so she has to put a lot of her performance in her eyes, body language, and voice. Circe sounds raspy, slinks and twitches like a creepy horror villain, and has murder eyes. Also she’s wearing this white coat over a pink dress suit, boots, and fishnets, so um…scary and hot?

I’d make a joke about how even brainwashed as Circe, Kate still lets Alice go, but…wait for it.

Tavaroff gathers agents around to reveal Batwoman’s identity. While the computer is searching for a match, Sophie puts her plan into action – she deletes Ryan’s profile. She can’t destroy the blood sample or corrupt Batwoman’s profile on the DNA registry, but she’s made sure there’s nothing to match it to. She mocks Tavaroff for wasting everyone’s time, then calls Luke to tell him Batwoman is in the clear.

Now that the video has been shot, Ocean gets shot, too…but only in the side? Not in the head or anything? That False Face goon is wasting ammo. Batwoman finally gets to the lab and takes out the goon before freeing Ocean and Angelique. She then sends the two hostages to navigate the ship on their own while she cleans up, but she’s attacked by Circe. They’re pretty evenly matched until Circe starts choking Batwoman. Alice jumps in with the save, having escaped her handcuffs.

Circe begins throwing both of them around until she’s got Alice pinned down, ready to kill her. Alice begs Batwoman for help, admitting that she does remember Cora, and even describes her. Batwoman coldly leaves Alice to her fate.

I’m not okay with this. Ryan has very valid reasons for hating Alice and wanting her dead. That part isn’t up for debate. What I take issue with is how Batwoman is just walking away from a villain killing another villain. Assuming Circe goes through with it like Batwoman clearly believes she will, Batwoman is dealing with one murderer by leaving her to another, and letting Circe go free. She’s selfishly electing to not stop Circe when she has the chance, meaning anything Circe does from this point forward is on her. It’s no better than the shit Kate did with Alice time and time again.

Stop having heroes on this show just walk away from bad guys they should be arresting, and especially don’t have them walk away from a crime in progress!

Also, the whole point of Circe going to the boat was to stop Batwoman and kill the cooks, so why is Circe suddenly so interested in Alice?

Batwoman v Batwoman: Dawn of Something

While covering her tracks by deleting her digital footprint, Sophie finds an empty Snakebite syringe and box in Jacob’s office. She goes to Mary with concern over Jacob’s behavior, but Mary brushes it off as Jacob being Jacob. He couldn’t possibly be doing Snakebite! Sophie tells Mary to talk to him anyway.

Angelique visits Ryan at her apartment. Ryan thinks Angelique is mad about being talked into talking to the authorities. Angelique isn’t mad, though. She’s admitting her own mistakes led to all of this, and she wants Ryan to come with her into Witness Protection. Ryan can’t leave Gotham because she’s trying to make it better. Angelique understands and they say their goodbyes.

Elsewhere, Alice is still alive. She’s tied to a chair in the same house we saw at the beginning of the episode. Circe brought her there because she thought Black Mask would want to talk to her…because she was helping Batwoman. Why didn’t she try to bring both of them in, again? Black Mask isn’t really interested, so he hands Circe a gun and tells her to kill Alice. I thought maybe this is where Kate would start peeking through, but Circe doesn’t even hesitate. She’s stopped when Black Mask changes his mind because Alice has something of interest, and he wants her locked in the cellar instead. Circe stares creepily at Alice for way too long, then knocks her out with the butt of the gun.

Not even the most dysfunctional “family” I’ve seen this week.

Right. So. The good first. The episode was well-paced and very good overall. Circe is creepy as fuck and a very intimidating villain, Sophie pulled off a great save, and the less-than-dynamic duo of Batwoman and Alice made for some fantastic scenes.

I called Sophie intercepting the blood sample to protect Batwoman’s identity in my last review, and I honestly think it’s really good character growth. She recognizes that Batwoman is better for the city than the Crows are, especially when they’re trying to expose and arrest the wrong masked person. I’m curious about how long she’s going to sit on the knowledge of Batwoman’s identity. Not to the Crows, obviously, but to Luke, Mary, and Ryan herself. I wonder if she’s just not ready to talk to them yet or if it’s one of those “the less I know, the better” situations.

I have thoughts on “Circe.” The name seems to be a reference to a former lover of Roman Sionis who helped him kill his parents. Uh…I’m glad they firmly established Kate’s new identity as Roman’s “daughter,” because if they’d even hinted at the two being lovers, I’d be done with the show. Even as it stands, I’m a little uncomfortable with the story. They took the main character of Season One – the Batwoman of the comics – and scarred her, stole her mind, and turned her into a villain. I can’t shake this feeling that the end of this storyline will write Kate out of the show for good. I love Circe as a villain, but I hate what they did to Kate to create her.

Also, Ryan just leaving Alice like that still bugs me. “I’m not going to kill you, but I don’t have to save you” energy aside, if that had been Black Mask himself about to kill Alice, would she have walked away? Ryan would not just walk away from a major False Face lead to screw over Alice. I feel like the writers went for a cold moment of badassery without thinking about the implications or the consequences.

Next time: Cluemaster is in town! Prepare for jokes about Spoiler warnings.

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Batwoman airs Sunday nights at 9 Eastern/8 Central on The CW. Kate thinks the most frightening slasher movie of all time is Smiley, but only if you imagine the villain as a grotesque version of the old Wal-Mart mascot come to life to stalk the poor defenseless people who only worked there because they were trying to pay the bills – not that the crappy wages allowed for that – and they thought they escaped but no, Wal-Mart is always there, lurking in the dark, whistling, waiting to strike. Learn more about Kate’s night terrors on Twitter @WearyKatie.

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