Kate Kane Looms Large Over Impressive First Episode With New Batwoman
The season 2 premiere of Batwoman debuted Sunday night, and there are two things about it that are true. The first is that there was really no great way to handle the Ruby Rose Batwoman departure. The second is that Javicia Leslie is a great Batwoman, and the first new episode with her in the title role delivered. Easily the most exciting and interesting moments of the episode were scenes in which Ryan Wilder played a role. Yet, considering the Batwoman season 2 premiere was titled “Whatever Happened to Kate Kane?” she loomed large over the whole thing. (Also, the “Whatever happened to…” titling convention is very common on the comics side of DC.) The real question now is how often will we hear the name “Kate Kane” going forward?
Before we get into spoiler territory, however, the first episode with the new Batwoman in action did not disappoint. The episode made very economical use of its time, establishing Ryan’s credentials and backstory while still leaving plenty of room to explore her trauma throughout the season. We all know that the key to making a good Bat-person is plenty of trauma. Yet, thus far, the personality that Leslie brings to Ryan is very different from Kate Kane. Ruby Rose opted to go with the more stoic, dark knight version of her alter-ego. Ryan lets her personality shine through both in and out of the mask.
Finally, Rachel Skarsten’s Alice continues to be one of the best performances in the series. However, the series continues to lean on this great character in ways that feel discordant with the rest of the show. What do with Alice is a question that plagues both the characters and the storytellers.
Spoilers to follow.
First Episode With New Batwoman Has a Lot Else to Do
Image via Warner Bros. Television
The season 2 premiere needed to accomplish a lot of things. First, it had to establish Ryan as a character. Second, it had to pay off the “Bruce Wayne” angle, as Warren Christie stepped in for Gabriel Mann as Hush. Finally, it had to give the characters space with which to react to and grieve Kate’s loss. She’s not exactly killed off. It’s a comic book show, so walking off a plane crash is no big deal if Ruby Rose returns. Because, other than recasting or killing the character, there is no reason to do what they did. While everyone on the cast performed admirably dealing with Kate, the meta-knowledge of Rose’s Batwoman departure reason made it feel empty to me.
Yet, our new Batwoman, Javicia Leslie, stole the premiere episode. In one scene she reads an article in a newspaper about who Kate Kane was as a person. This was one of two scenes that made me feel the loss of this character. It also endeared Ryan to me, as she came to the realization that her quest for vengeance was best left behind. However, when Hush confronts her for the Batsuit, we see that there is some fire inside the character. She literally beat his face off. Not only does it wrap up the Bruce Wayne thing (which doesn’t play as well without his cousin Kate), but it served as a great character moment for Ryan.
Ironically, after talking about how Kate loomed a little too large over the episode, the best scene was about her. Alice faces off against her father, Dougray Scott’s Jacob Kane, in a powerful scene in Wayne Manor. She not only tells him Kate was Batwoman. She eviscerates his soul over his quest to end the hero.
The Ship has Sailed for Batwoman Shippers
Image via Warner Bros. Television
The other big problem the first episode with the new Batwoman had to solve was the romance angle. Kate and Meagan Tandy’s Sophie were obviously the “endgame” relationship for the series. Yet much to “Sophice” shippers’ delight, that ship has sailed. (Pun intended, both times.) It also seems that the burgeoning romance between Sophie and Christina Wolfe’s Julia Pennyworth is also over before it began. In fact, so long as Kate could be alive, Sophie is stuck in a very weird place in terms of romance. Baked into the series from the beginning, Sophie’s journey back to Kate (and, also, self-acceptance) felt like a big part of her arc. Let’s not forget, these series are on The CW, so romance is a big part of these shows.
However, the entire cast of characters is basically due for a ‘reset.’ Remember, this was the first episode with our new Batwoman. It’s going to take the characters some time to reestablish their relationships among each other. For example, Nicole Kang’s Mary Moore has been a part of Team Batwoman longer than actual Batwoman, and she only just joined!
Still, if you’d asked me a week ago, I’d have said that the episode we got tonight was impossible to pull off. Sure, some of the exposition seemed a bit on-the-nose (and aimed at Complainers Online™). The way Ryan’s parole officer casually mentioned that she was a martial arts expert sticks out in my memory. Yet, the first episode with the new Batwoman had to do a lot, so there wasn’t time to waste. They delivered an episode that wrapped things up as neatly as they could be. They also introduced a new central hero, and successfully made me want to see more of her in action.
Batwoman airs Sunday nights on The CW.
What did you think of the first episode of season 2 and the new Batwoman? Share your thoughts, reactions, and theories about where they’re going in the comments below.
Featured image via Warner Bros. Television
Joshua M. Patton is a father, veteran, and writer living in Pittsburgh, PA. The first books he read on his own were comics, and he's loved the medium ever since. He is the greatest star-pilot in the galaxy, a cunning warrior, and a good friend. His book "What I Learned: Stories, Essays, and More" is available in print from Amazon and from all electronic booksellers.