Batwoman: Power

I’m going to find this script-writer’s address. This was a rough season on me.

The surprisingly good second season of Batwoman finally comes to an end with “Power.” Black Mask makes his big play, alliances shift and reform, there are some more surprises and nods to the comics, and one issue I’ve commented on that puts Batwoman at a disadvantage compared to most of the other Arrowverse heroes finally gets rectified. They had a lot to wrap up here, did a great job, and laid some hints for things to come. I was impressed. With this being a season finale and a few weeks late, there will be spoilers below.

At the top of the show, Black Mask takes a page from the supervillain handbook that has become so common people don’t realize how impressive it is. He gives a speech to Gotham, urging people to attack the various institutions, in part by taking over all the channels on tv (and presumably radio). That’s not an easy thing to do, and I kind of wonder how Black Mask pulled it off since we haven’t seen any real technical skill from him, or any sign of some evil version of Felicity or Cisco working for him. As he rants, we see Kate/Cerci gearing up in her version of the Bat-suit. Another neat technical stunt: at a key moment in his speech, Black Mask makes a reference to losing power, and the entire city is blacked out. This, too, is not easy to do. To paraphrase from a much earlier bit of Bat-history, “Where is he getting these wonderful toys and tech wizards?”

Apparently the blackout is wider-ranging than we realized, and, in a bit of extremely unlikely and incompetent planning, even the Batcave is without power. I find it hard to believe that given the place was originally put together by Bruce Wayne, and then was under the stewardship of Luke Fox for so long, there’s no backup power supply. That’s really poor, sloppy planning. While Ryan writes an open letter to the city, Mary comes up with an ambitious, if vague, to-do list to save the city. The team is not optimistic and Ryan points out the serious lack of assets they have at present. Luke manages to find some coms for them, although they are not at all as impressive as their usual gear. He and Ryan try and figure out where Black Mask is broadcasting from, but things aren’t looking great as Luke’s laptop battery fades. He, too, doesn’t have any kind of power backup or charger.

Black Mask rhapsodizes about missing Batman, of all things. Of course, most of this is an excuse for him to boast about the trophies Kate captured in her raid on the cave. That brings up another question for me, actually. Ryan was apparently surprised to find out about the trophy room. Luke apparently knew about it, but how did Kate/Cerci find out about it? I know she was reading Kate’s old journals, but I had the impression Ryan had done that as well, so if that’s where “Kate” learned about it, shouldn’t Ryan have known too? If it’s not, how did she know? Maybe she got lucky in her search of the place. As this all goes on, various henchmen work on Tavaroff, combining some stuff from the trophy room with some current toys from Black Mask, and getting disappointing results. This ends up with a joke about animal testing from the makeup and cosmetics mogul.

Going very old school, Luke uses paper files from his father’s office to help steer Ryan and Sophie in the right direction to track down Black Mask. The riots building in the street spill over to the area around the Hold Up, and Sophie and Ryan wade into the mob to rescue some folks trapped in their cars. One of them, somehow, turns out to be the mayor, and Ryan gets Sophie to stay with him while she goes after the villain. Since the mayor is generally shown as anything from incompetent to corrupt, I’m not sure why saving him is so important, but apparently it is. With Sophie busy, Ryan turns to one of the competent fighters left that she knows: Alice. The two argue about Kate, Ryan’s taking over for her, and what Ryan needs to do in order to get Alice’s help. Luke rummages more in his father’s workshop and makes a discovery the comic book fans have been looking forward to since we first saw Luke on screen here.

As she herself predicted, Mary’s clinic is getting swamped as casualties roll in from the fighting in the streets. They even end up with Tavaroff, discarded after Sionis’ experiment didn’t go as the villain had hoped. Mary examines what was done to Tavaroff and gets a desperate idea. Ryan and Alice cruise the streets in the Batmobile (not a great move out of costume) and argue about whose life is worse. The two are very uneasy allies at best, although it says something about the magnitude of threat Black Mask has become that they are working together at all.

Mary explains her plan to Luke, and then gets interrupted when Tavaroff recovers enough to become an active threat. Mary manages a very entertaining line that is so perfectly her and shows she’s been listening to Luke’s lessons about radio discipline. The fight rages on in the streets, with Black Mask’s earlier message been replayed to egg people on. How they are doing this without power, I’m not sure. As the chaos gets worse, and an iconic piece of the Bat-mythos gets tossed in the streets, Alice and Ryan find Black Mask’s base. Their plan about using masks for disguises lasts about two seconds before they take them off, and wouldn’t have worked anyway. Ryan’s civilian clothes are fairly generic, but Alice’s look is a lot harder to miss. The two end up in a pitched battle with Kate/Cerci and Black Mask, and Alice is once again willing to take big risks to save her sister.

Mary keeps fleeing Tavaroff, and I don’t blame her. I would have too, and I fight better than she does, at least from what we’ve seen so far. That chase goes badly for Mary and she almost falls to her death, but a new hero emerges and saves the damsel in distress. Mary hands off her idea to Ryan with some last minute cautions. The people of Gotham do something unexpected with the masks Black Mask was handing out to encourage people to be part of the mob, and it shows what side they’ve chosen to support. Mary uses this as a way to encourage Ryan, who takes off in pursuit of Kate/Cerci. Not only does Ryan want to try and restore her injured mind, but the current villain has run off with most of the stolen trophies from the Batcave.

Alice and Black Mask fight, and the cocky man with a plan keeps critiquing Alice’s villainous career. Alice has managed to snag one of the trophies, and uses it to recreate something that happened, albeit a bit differently, in the comics. She then somehow manages to catch up with Ryan and Kate, who are fighting on a bridge. I have no idea how Alice knew where they were. With some teamwork, Ryan and Alice execute Mary’s plan and then accidentally recreate a major traumatic incident from the past that has shaped a lot of the show. Alice gets a weird trip down memory lane, some insight on recent events, and advice for the future. Kate’s head-trip takes her back to the infamous cell in the Cartwright house as her younger self manages to find Beth. Eventually, Ryan catches up with them (again, not clear on how) and then, after some high drama, Kate seems to be recovering. This is when the GCPD shows up, actually does something effective, and arrests Alice, dragging her off. The former leader of the Wonderland Gang is presumably too rattled to fight.

A lot has happened this episode and this season, and we get a few big developments that wrap up plots and seed stories to come. Vesper responds to the letter we’ve heard about, and offers some good counterpoints. Ryan attends a very important meeting and gets some help from someone we saw convert to her side a little while ago. I’m hoping this character sticks around as a source of information and maybe even bringing cases to Team Batwoman in the future. It would really fit with the social justice themes of this season. Mary and Luke regale Kate with stories about the “I’ll Give You A Clue” episode, which was a great one (I hope Stephanie comes back, too). Kate talks about her feelings for her crazed sister now, and then has a private talk with Ryan. Kate is taking off, there’s a brief mention of a visit I hope (but doubt) we get to see, and they at least leave the door open for her to return. Kate also takes her leave of Sophie in a very emotional scene.

The last few scenes are teases in a way for season three. Ryan makes some plans that expand on the future of Mary’s clinic and some things we’ve seen throughout the season, and it really sounds like something that will be good for the city. Ryan then goes to visit Alice, taking advantage of the corruption that’s endemic throughout the city. We get a brief glimpse of another prisoner, and see the writers still don’t get how asylums work. They have their confrontation and Alice drops an interesting detail about Ryan’s past. And, in the last scene, some of the lost items from earlier are starting to have an influence on their surroundings.

What I liked: The team worked well together. It sounds like Batwoman is finally getting some help in the field, which every other Arrowverse hero has. I’m glad something that’s been hanging over Ryan’s head seems to have been resolved. I’ll miss Wallis Day as Kate, but I get what she left to do, and I really, really hope that bears fruit at some point. Mary’s idea enacted by Ryan saved the day and, as is often the case, Mary had most, if not all, the best lines. I’m intrigued by what might be Luke’s new role, but, if that happens, they need to train someone else to do what he’s been doing.

What I didn’t: There were a few odd bits, like the Cave not having backup power, Black Mask’s address being replayed in a blacked out city, and a lot of “How did they know where to go?” moments. I’m hoping we’ve seen the last of Safiyah and Ocean both, although the Alice/Ocean scenes were usually amusing. They seem to be a bit slow to hunt down the various dangerous items that are still unaccounted for.

It was a good ending to a season that I found impressive on many levels. I hope they maintain this level of quality for season three. I’ll give the finale a 4 out of 5 and the season the same.

One big dropped plot point I hoped they’d get back to: Earlier in the season, Julia Pennyworth was investigating Dr. Rhyme. This turned out to be Enigma, the mind control specialist. Julia suddenly, randomly decides to move to Berlin. I can see no one getting it at the time, but really, none of these supposedly skilled investigators put that together later? Poor Julia.

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