Batwoman: Bat Girl Magic!

New Batwoman vs. New Zsasz

Batwoman’s second season continues to impress as we see the adventures of Gotham’s newest crimefighter. We learn some of Alice’s history, get conflicting stories about Kate’s plane crash, and learn about Safiyah, a name that’s been floating around in the background for some time now. There’s a lot going on in “Bat Girl Magic!”

Of course, the title brings to mind another unaccounted for family in the Bat-Mythos. We keep hearing bits and pieces about various Bat-Family characters. There’s even been a mention of a Robin. Conspicuously absent so far is any mention of Commissioner James Gordon and his daughter, Barbara, variously known as Batgirl or Oracle. What became of the Gordons in this world?

The show opens with a new live action version of Victor Zsasz. This fairly obscure character is now on yet another live action incarnation, which is impressive. Anthony Carrigan did a stunning job in the role on the series Gotham. There were much less notable versions of the character in Batman Begins and Birds of Prey (the movie with the ridiculously long title, not the short-lived tv show). This new one is played by Alex Morf, who gave an entertainingly deranged performance as the highly skilled hitman. He kills a man and his lover with some interesting flair, makes some interesting statements about his client, and then gives himself his trademark cut to mark off the deaths.

Out on the streets, a man in a devil mask makes a drug deal, and then gets interrupted by Batwoman, who is still learning the ropes of her new calling. She and Luke are clearly still not getting along, and then she runs off when her phone alarm reminds her that she’s due to check in with her Parole Officer. I grant Gotham always seems to be dark, but I’m not aware of any PO that keeps office hours in the middle of the night. To make Ryan Wilder’s new life even more complicated, her PO (who still doesn’t seem to have a name) is a fan of Batwoman but not inclined to give Ryan any breaks. It’s almost as bad as that old Clark/Lois/Superman love triangle.

While Vesper Fairchild does some on-air wondering about the new Batwoman, Mary is checking with some patients at her impossibly-still-secret clinic. Ryan comes bursting in and, barely in time, gets Mary to cover for her with the Parole Officer. One odd thing- Mary is now the owner of the Hold Up, Kate’s bar. But, with no body, all Kate’s assets would be in legal limbo. Even if Kate’s body had turned up, the bar would most likely be in probate for a time. I believe the usual time frame to declare someone dead with no body is seven years. In a world where people come back from the dead, I can’t believe it would be shorter.

It’s interesting to watch the split between Mary and Luke in the wake of Kate’s death/disappearance/being written off the show. Mary has become Ryan’s biggest cheerleader, and Luke is far from pleased with her. Both reactions seem a bit strong to me. At the Crow’s Nest, Commander Kane is lecturing his… troops? Officers? Guards? Thugs for hire? about a new drug on the streets. We also get a mention of the False Face Society, which is usually depicted as the gang tied to Bat-foe Black Mask. They tried to use that character in the recent Birds of Prey movie and it really didn’t work that well. I question the use of him again this soon, but we’ll see how it plays out. Kane gets Kate’s phone (which should be with the NTSB, not a private security company). Kane wonders what Kate’s password might be, which is when he finally notices Sophie’s not around. He could have asked Julia about Sophie, but Julia doesn’t seem to be around this episode. I guess she took the day off from the Crows.

Sophie is, in fact, way out of town. Sophie and Alice have both been brought to Coryana, the small island nation Safiyah runs. I admit to being unfamiliar with Safiyah. She has pretty much only appeared in the Batwoman comics, and I don’t read those. Alice and Sophie compare notes on the criminal queen, and then Alice gets taken off to see Her Majesty, leaving Sophie with the humorless henchwoman Titiana, AKA The Whisper. DC Comics does love its fictional cities and nations.

Back in Gotham, at Hamilton Dynamics, which now seems to be the only high-tech company in the city, Szasz shows up again to make another kill and talk fashion. In the Batcave, we learn a bit more about Mary’s business dealings, Ryan has some questions about her wages, and Luke is surprised to learn Ryan’s working at the Hold Up. Somewhat improbably, Ryan knows Szasz. This really kind of strained things for me, but I’ll give them this one. If it’s a recurring thing, I’m going to question some of the writing. Ryan once again gets called away to deal with her PO checking up on her.

Back on Coryana, Alice meets with the Queen. Throughout the episode, Safiyah (I’d love an easier name to spell) makes conflicting claims about being involved (or not) in the explosion that killed Kate. Unless it didn’t. Batwoman confronts Szasz in his apartment (I’m not clear on how she knew where to go). He’s unimpressed with the new hero, they banter for a bit, and then she makes a hasty, rocket-propelled exit. Regrouping back in the cave, the team goes over the flashdrive that Batwoman managed to steal. After some disagreement, Ryan proposes a new plan.

Again, I’m not clear on how she knows where to go, but Ryan meets up with Szasz in a bar, but as herself, not the masked hero. We learn the nature of their past connection, and Ryan makes Szasz an offer that had to be cathartic for her. The proposal falls flat, but it was a ruse anyway, and a very clever idea executed by Ryan and Luke. While Alice and Safiyah go around and around about murders in Gotham, Sophie argues with Tatiana. Showing the utter lack of care for other people we’ve grown to expect from Alice, she gives a name to Safiyah about someone that knows her secret.

In Gotham, Mary and Luke have what starts off as a conversation about the mysterious Safiyah. This quickly turns into an argument about Ryan, Kate, and what comes next for Team Batwoman. They have some very different ideas about Ryan, Batwoman, and hope. In the cave (I guess she has her own access now?) Ryan looks at the costume and seems unsure about something. While Mary gets some surprising news about one of her patients, Luke and Ryan argue about altering the Batsuit. Ryan apparently did some of this on her own. How she knew how to work on cutting-edge armor is never addressed.

Mary has, unfortunately, managed to come to the attention of Szasz, and he pays a visit to the clinic. Mary gets in some good lines and runs away a lot (I’m not mocking her, I’d run from him, too). Ryan somehow suits up and gets across town in no time flat, showing up to fight Szasz again. He’s a bit more impressed now, and actually favorably compares her to Batman, something I don’t recall ever happening with Kate. While those two fight, we cut back to Coryana. Sophie and Tatiana go from talking to fighting, and, after a much more involved conversation that sheds light on Alice’s past, she and Safiyah do as well. Ryan and Sophie pull some cool moves to win their respective fights. Alice and Safiyah do battle in between periods of conversation, and Safiyah then produces some evidence that seems to contradict her own earlier claims. Our time on the island comes to an end with vague threats, implied deals, and more drugging.

Ryan has another frustrating meeting with her nameless PO, who continues her Bat-Worship when not giving out ultimatums. Sophie and Alice recover from their journey, and Alice manages to prevent Sophie from attacking her with an interesting argument. After this, it’s on to some wrap up scenes.

At the Hold Up, Luke comes by to apologize to Ryan and offer her a gift. He also has a heartfelt conversation with Mary about Kate. Most interesting, Sophie gets back to the Crows’ Nest as Kane goes through Kate’s phone. He makes a very important name drop just before Sophie stuns him with some news of her own to end the episode.

What I liked: Ryan is finding her way into her new role nicely. This new Szasz is very entertaining, and I hope we see more of him. Luke and Mary’s opposing views on what’s next both make sense, and their lack of communication about it makes perfect sense for grieving people. I’m very intrigued by the name Kane mentioned in the final scene.

What I didn’t: Where was Julia? I’m not loving Safiyah, and her constant reversing herself on what happened to Kate seemed utterly pointless. Ryan seems to be able to teleport/magically track her prey, which was a bit odd.

Despite a few quibbles, I enjoyed the episode, and I’m liking the new season. I’ll give this a 3.5 out of 5. I wonder what’s coming next?