“What Happened to Kate Kane?” was the set up for the second season, setting in motion new storylines in the wake of Ruby Rose unexpectedly resigning from the series’ lead role. Now, with our new status quo, we have Ryan Wilder as a very unlikely Batwoman, and Kate’s former allies (and enemies) are trying to adjust to the changed circumstances. Everyone has a lot of adjustments to make in “Prior Criminal History.”
The episode starts with Alice, down in the sewers where she seems to be spending her time lately. She still has Mouse’s body, which you’d think would be more decomposed than it is, if it’s been a week since the season finale. Alice has never struck me as stable, and she seems even further over the edge now than usual. She chats with her dead brother, and starts to put in motion a new plan which is grotesque even by her standards. She gifts us with some new lyrics to an old song before we cut to a new opening sequence.
After the intro, it’s flashback time, as we move back two months. Ryan is being followed by some unsavory looking types, and ends up getting mugged by some of the Wonderland Gang. They’re about to take their frustration at her being broke and a wise-ass out on her when Batwoman arrives and ends the fight quickly. Ryan gets a chance to help, although the formidable fighting skills we’ve seen from her before seem to be missing. In the present, Ryan tries for a new job, but the title of the episode gets in her way. Since it’s no real secret she’s going to be sticking around as Batwoman, it raises a few questions for me, but we’ll see how events develop.
The Crows’ ambush of Batwoman is getting a lot of airtime in the news, although I’m not clear on where the footage came from. Since Batwoman became a symbol of hope to so many, the people are demanding she come back, and are blaming the Crows for the Red Knight’s disappearance. Commander Kane watches the footage and looks shaken, given what Alice told him about Kate and Batwoman last episode. I’m really not sure about their authority to do this, but the Crows bring in Mary and Luke and grill them about everything they knew about Kate’s big secret. Luke and Mary hold their own, and Luke gets in a few nasty jabs at Sophie during the questioning. Pissed off, Sophie stalks off and has another unpleasant conversation with Julia. I haven’t been wild about Julia’s character, but I do feel bad for her in all this. She was in a really bad position, did what she thought was right, and is getting screwed for it.
Proving she has about as much bad luck as Peter Parker, Ryan goes shopping and is there when the store gets robbed. She does what she can, but things don’t go her way and there’s a mistaken assumption by one of the Crows. I guess the GCPD has more or less ceased to exist at this point? Ryan gets “interviewed” by Sophie, who is completely unsympathetic and leaps to a few assumptions. Ryan also gets in a few great points. Sophie is not having a good day today.
Somehow or other, presumably through “word on the street,” Ryan finds Mary’s hidden clinic. So many people know about this now, I have no idea how it’s not public knowledge. Ryan levels some accusations against Mary, and gets shut down hard as Mary snaps about something painful in her past. This, too, should have been well-known, but I guess I can see how Ryan missed it. Their argument/reconciliation gets interrupted when some people bring in a gurney (Why didn’t they go to the hospital? Unclear.) We see Mouse’s dead body, and both Ryan and Mary are surprised for different reasons. Elsewhere, Julia makes an amateur mistake that I guess is required in the Thriller Handbook ™ and ends up having a very pointed conversation with Alice about recent events and a new foe.
Luke joins Mary and Ryan at the clinic, although he’s clearly not happy to see the second. They get yet another surprise involving Mouse’s body, which I’m not quite sure how Mary missed in all her tests. Ryan reveals an ironic very strong dislike that never gets mentioned again. Mary and Luke theorize about what Alice is up to, and Ryan provides some needed prospective. They come a conclusion about what’s going to happen and the only way to stop it, although Luke isn’t happy about this at all.
The big pro-Batwoman protest is surrounded by the Crows, and things are looking like they’re going to go very badly. Sophie argues for a bit more control and compassion than the Commander seems inclined to use. Then, Batwoman shows up. In a nice touch, she’s clearly not as smooth in some things as Kate was. Batwoman tries to get everyone to leave, but they’re not listening. Seeing this is clearly not Kate, an enraged Commander sends Crows after her who never make it up there. What happens instead is that Alice shows up. The two fight, and I don’t recall Alice being this skilled at hand-to-hand. Alice springs a trap and gets away after Luke has to yell at Ryan to protect the people instead of seeking revenge.
Alice’s bizarre trap leads to a few strange things, including some unusual injuries and one of the strangest car chases I’ve seen. Batwoman resolves the danger with quick thinking and a carjacking. Back at her clinic, Mary gets a series of surprises as the wounded start pouring in and then she gets an unexpected and unwanted visit from Alice. The two talk, and Alice explains what needs to happen and leaves a creative “re-gift.” Mary proves to be very perceptive and Alice gets in a few good parting shots on the way out.
Mary gets a visit from Sophie. They argue about what to do next, but Mary has a plan, taking advantage of Allice’s gift, which was callback to a previous episode. Things start to look up when a solution is found, and Ryan has an encounter with a grateful citizen. Sophie argues with Julia about the new Batwoman, and that gets ugly. Commander Kane’s brooding gets interrupted when Mary shows up and they decide on a plan for the future.
Back in the Batcave, Ryan has put the suit back on its display mannequin, although I’m not sure how she got in there. She, Mary, and Luke talk about what comes next, and Ryan makes some good points. Luke reluctantly agrees, while Mary is much more excited. After a voice over from Vesper Fairchild (Rachel Maddow), Ryan prowls the cave. She finds some of the journals, reads a bit, and then starts making her own entry, continuing a tradition from last season that I enjoyed and felt faded away near the end. The episode ends on the streets of Gotham, where Sophie somehow manages to find Alice as she wanders around. Their confrontation gets interrupted when a new bad guy shows up. I expect this is the setup for the season’s Big Bad. I’d be really curious to see how the aftermath of this scene plays out, but I suspect next episode will skip over it.
What I liked: There are some good touches in this episode. Ryan not automatically being perfect at everything, Luke not being happy about how things proceed, Mary seeming to suddenly remember something important and traumatic from her past that got glossed over for a while. The dynamics of shifting relationships are interesting to watch, and it makes sense after the loss of an important person in so many lives. Alice’s weird plan made a bit of sense at the end. I give them points for showing how hard life can be for someone with Ryan’s history.
What I didn’t: There were a few small plot holes that bugged me a bit, but aren’t hugely important in the long run. Mary’s clinic is becoming too much of an open secret for the Crows, and then Jacob, to not know about.
They are going to need to find a way to address the shared world problem soon, or it becomes unbelievable. There’s no way that Lawful Good characters like Supergirl and Flash wouldn’t come see what was going on after Batwoman was missing for a week and then was rumored to be replaced by someone else. That to one side, if someone important to me was missing, and I had a way to, I’d sure as hell call in people with superpowers and enhanced senses to help with the search.
I’m enjoying the new season, my few quibbles above to one side. I’ll give this a 3.5 out of 5. I’m intrigued to see how things play out, learn more about the new Big Bad, and see how/if they handle the other characters in the Arrowverse.