Season two has created an entirely new status quo from that of the first season, and even that keeps shifting for the characters on Batwoman. Alliances and feuds come to an end, strange partnerships emerge, and a steady, solid presence on the show is going through some major changes. With so much in the process of changing in different ways, “Rebirth” was a great title for this episode.
Thing start off with a man clearly in great fear, trying to make it to his car. He does get there, but then falls afoul of a sword-wielding ninja who has blades that aren’t impressed, or impeded, by the car’s roof. The ninja is intent on stealing the man’s briefcase, but has to change her focus when Batwoman drops out of nowhere (really, where was she? It was a dramatic entrance and all, but she can’t fly). The two fight, but the ninja gets away after a swords vs batons duel. For all the stick training they did on Arrow, this might be the first time two staves are actually used in combat in the Arrowverse. Batwoman faces the classic hero dilemma and calls for medical help for the man who got on the wrong end of the ninja’s blades. Her attempts to get help don’t go smoothly as her calls to the Cave go unanswered, and we see Luke, nowhere near as formal as usual, sitting outside on a ledge taking in the city. Batwoman drops by to check on him and find out where her backup went, and Luke says a few things that startle her.
The news covers the disappointing but not surprising release of former Crow Russell Tavaroff. Tavaroff smirks at the reporter covering the story as he passes, and then the scene shifts to Roman Sionis watching and being annoyed that the media called Jacob Kane a hero. This scene reveals a surprising alliance as we see that not only is Safiyah in Gotham, but she’s working with Roman. The two argue about her using Cerci/Kate to help with some business in town, and then Safiyah tells Roman something important he didn’t know about Alice. Cerci herself is busy working out, but gets taken at the end of it by the strange team up of Alice and Jacob, who are doing a sort of kidnap from the cult rescue. Alice gets in a decent line about Cerci’s wardrobe on the way out. Personally, I’d still like more detail on what links the queen of a hidden island nation and a cosmetic mogul/underworld drug lord. It doesn’t seem like a natural match. Where would they even have met?
Adapting to what they have to work with, Mary is on coms as Batwoman breaks into a government safehouse. They learn more about the man who was supposed to be sheltering there, and Batwoman gets in another reference to her time in Blackgate. In short order, she finds a body, has another fight, learns who the ninja is, and lets her get away for the second time. Batwoman is having a rough day. In the now abandoned Crows’ Nest, Jacob and Alice confirm that Cerci is, in fact, Kate Kane. Cerci and Alice have some amusing wordplay, and then Alice ends an attempted escape. Things turn to the amusing as Jacob and Alice argue about how she stopped Cerci, Ocean shows up, introductions are made, and it’s a fun spin on meeting the parents. Alice finds herself bemused by the turns her life is taking, and it’s a lot of changes from the psycho, literary quote spewing killer she’s been in the past.
Mary and Sophie (How is she paying her bills now? She’s unemployed and the Crows are gone anyway) compare notes in the cave, and agree they really need Luke. Tracking him, they find he’s at a high-stakes poker club (I guess gambling is legal in Gotham?) and are both surprised. Luke bluffs his way in and has a confrontation with Tavaroff. Luke is definitely not acting the way he usually does, but Tavaroff remains the same smug jerk he’s been. Luke does a nice power play at the bar, and then randomly runs into special guest star David Ramsey, returning to his role as Arrow’s former righthand man John Diggle. Cerci pokes through the items Ocean brought to help jog her memory, and there’s both banter and tales of Kate’s early life. Jacob also learns a bit more about what happened to Alice, and is clearly affected by this. Cerci suddenly gets an odd image of her/Kate’s younger self in the infamous basement cell of the Cartwright home where Alice/Beth spent so much of her childhood. The two women start to form a bond, with a few more amusing lines from Alice. I’m a bit unclear on how Cerci/Kate is having sense memories of someplace she never spent any time.
Luke gets pulled out of his game by Sophie, who has come to both ask for his help and check in on him. I’m not sure why this meeting takes place outside. They hinted earlier the club was Law Enforcement only, but as an ex-Crow, Sophie would have just as much right to go inside as Tavaroff. And the place can’t be too inherently racist as both Diggle and Luke made it inside. At any rate, Sophie finds out something about Luke’s time in his coma that stuns her, and he leaves to get back to the game. Jacob calls Mary with the shocking news of Kate’s survival, and urges her to give them some time and space as they try and deprogram Kate/Cerci. They start trying to puzzle out the connection between Safiyah and Roman Sionis. This gets cut short as the False Faces, led by Tatiana, attack, capturing Jacob and then Alice, but not before Alice gets Kate out of harm’s way. This is another superhero trope I’ve seen time and again: a nearly unstoppable villain reforms, and suddenly is much, much easier to beat. Alice getting swarmed by False Face lackeys was disappointing at the very least. Pulling up outside the fight, Batwoman finds a confused Cerci/Kate and offers her a ride. I get they’re not close, but I was a bit surprised Batwoman didn’t try and go save either Jacob or Alice. This Batwoman definitely doesn’t have the more paladin-like code of heroics.
At the club, Diggle, Luke, and Tavaroff are all in the same game, somehow or other. I’m also not sure why Diggle is here at all. In the many seasons of Arrow, I don’t recall him ever mentioning enjoying gambling. At any rate, it turns into a showdown between Luke and Tavaroff, and Luke gets in some good, if very out of character, lines. Jacob is not at all enjoying Roman Sionis’ hospitality, and the villain does a bit of a monologue, liberally laced with threats. Roman then plays a trump card and we see just how bad Jacob’s situation is.
The poker game has a sequel out in the alley, and while he gets a few good shots in, Luke doesn’t really have a chance with Tavaroff. This is when Diggle steps in, and he handily beats Tavaroff into the ground, which I was happy to see. Considering their respective backgrounds, this makes complete sense. Batwoman, once again embracing the unmask for no good reason rule, brings Cerci to the Wayne Enterprises office, where Cercie is very confused by Mary’s outpouring of affection and relief. Everyone has resigned themselves to the fact that it might take a while to get her memories back, when Sophie comes in and Kate zeroes in on her. Aside from a passing comment, there’s remarkably little concern for Jacob Kane.
The heavy tension in the air leads Cerci to another of her odd visions and she ends up attacking Mary, surprising everyone. This also lets us see a conflict raging inside Cerci/Kate’s mind. Mary proves remarkably resourceful and well-equipped. The others debate what they should do next and the price of rescuing Alice from Safiyah. Diggle and Luke talk in the aftermath of their fight, we learn a bit about what’s going on with Diggle (which supposedly ties in with that great final scene of his in Arrow), and the Luke gets called away in a very noticeable manner. Not at all subtle, guys.
The tried-and-true trope of Plot Point News Network shows up again as we see Jacob dealing with the aftereffects of Roman’s plan. He has some nice things to say about Alice/Beth for the first time, and she’s clearly struck by this. Alice doesn’t get much time to reflect on this, as she is brought to Safiyah (again, with remarkably little struggle) and the queen voices her displeasure. In the cave, Mary and Ryan break the news about Kate to Luke, who really isn’t having the best day.
Things get tense in a big scene where Safiyah is pondering what to do with Alice in retaliation for the madwoman’s arson back on Coryana. Safiyah is clearly not impressed with Alice in general, but does get intrigued when Batwoman arrives bearing something valuable to trade. There are a lot of sharp words exchanged before the deal is struck, and Alice hears something near the end that sends her running off just after Batwoman frees her. In an entirely predictable scene, Cerci and Sophie have a bit of a talk before Cerci sends her off on a distraction. Err, errand.
Things keep building as Alice deals with someone from her past and then makes a heartbreaking discovery. Jacob calls Mary and they get in what is for all intents and purposes a goodbye as Jacob is off to another famous DC city. He lays a heavy burden on her, but also offers encouragement. Ryan and Luke patch up some of their earlier tension. The final scene shows Cerci going to confront her father, showing she’s not happy with what he’s done, and Safiyah sticking her nose in where it doesn’t necessarily belong.
What I liked: Some shows would gloss over the trauma that Luke suffered. Batwoman is showing Luke’s mental and philosophical struggling in a very believable way. It was great to see Diggle again, and I enjoyed Tavaroff’s beatdown. I thought Wallis Day was one of the best parts of the short-lived Krypton series, and I’m glad she’s joined the cast here as Kate 2.0.
What I didn’t: It felt like they tried to cram a bit too much into this one. Diggle’s sudden interest in poker came out of nowhere. I really question the wisdom of giving what they did to Safiyah. Alice and Jacob both went down too easily. I don’t like what they did with Alice near the end of the episode.
Overall, it was a good episode, with a few really well-done moments. I’ll give this a high 3.5 out of 5. Things will be interesting from this point forward.