Batwoman: Freeze

We made it through another episode.

At the end of season two, Batman’s trophies were stolen from the Batcave (the city one, we still haven’t seen much of Wayne Manor or the original cave in this world) by Kate Kane, the original Batwoman under the mental control of Black Mask via Engima’s mental conditioning. Boy, that was convoluted. At any rate, the trophies, each a dangerous artefact, are the focus of season three, with them loose in Gotham City and creating new villains. That formula is slightly veered away from as we see some curious developments with an old supporting character, find a new villain, and learn the fate of another Bat-foe. It’s not hard to guess which villain’s trophy comes into play from the title, “Freeze.”

The show opens with a kid on a bus, anxious to show his friend something he found. This sort of scene rarely goes well, and this is no exception. A really obnoxious businessman misses the bus, which turns out to be a good thing, and then revels in the misfortunes of others, but does explain “Why would anyone live here?” The fate of the kids involved is never revealed, or, if it was, I missed it. The news covers this incident as Ryan has a third meeting with Jada Jett, Ryan’s birth mother. It’s a short, ugly scene, and it makes absolutely no sense. This was covered when they met up at the end of last episode. Ryan also meets Marqus Jet, her half-brother.

Upset by this meeting, and very understandably so, Ryan gets sympathy from first Sophie and then Luke and Mary. Alice is about as supportive as you’d expect as she perches on one of the computer consoles. At least her newest outfit is kinda cool. Luke briefs everyone about Freeze’s special cannister while Alice whines about not feeling well. We also learn Mr. Freeze isn’t around anymore. In the Titans show, Freeze killed Commissioner Gordon, and I wonder if some variation of that is why James and Barbara Gordon have been so notably absent from this series. They haven’t even been mentioned. I also wonder how long ago Batman’s career was, since we keep hearing the stuff with Mr. Freeze happened some twenty years ago.

Batwoman goes to GCPD and breaks into the evidence room, because I guess Renee Montoya can’t help? They find what they need is gone, and Luke figures out what happened with some quick detective work. While Batwoman sighs and says she understands why Batman had his own facilities, we see two older women talking about a new acquisition. We learn their connection to Victor Fries, but before they can do anything about their new plan, a gang breaks in and captures them. How did they know to look for them, or where to find them? We never find that out.

Luke lays out his case for who was behind the theft, and does some amusing reflecting on supervillain names. One quibble point: he talks about Captain Cold in the past tense, although that villain’s death isn’t common knowledge since it happened with the Legends outside the flow of time. I’m not sure how Luke would have known. Their planning session gets interrupted when Ryan gets a visitor in her office: Marquis Jet. Her half-brother comes by to make a few surprising revelations and with an even more surprising proposal.

In another odd development, we learn the cryo-chamber Freeze used to preserve his wife Nora (who we saw a few years ago during the Elseworlds event that gave us our first glimpse of Batwoman in the Arrowverse) is at Ace Chemical. Ace is the place usually featured in the origin of the Joker. Why Freeze was using the place, or how his equipment ended up there, is another unexplained issue. The older sisters we saw before do their best in their captive state, but the people who captured them aren’t impressed with the notebooks of Mr. Freeze. The head of this gang is a very impressive woman who fights well, but is only listed as “Head Mercenary” in the show credits. I have no idea who she might be, or if she has ties to any extant character, Bat Family or otherwise. As the sisters get the chamber working, Mary examines Alice, and finds nothing wrong, although Alice complains of a “dangerously high fever.” The crazed villain is clearly faking a cough, but her fever is never confirmed or disproven. Alice starts playing head games with Mary about Luke’s current medical problems. Mary really should keep her files better protected. To her credit, Mary displays some concern for her evil half-sister. There’s a lot of family drama on this episode, now that I think about it.

At Ace, Batwoman is creeping inside, getting some guidance from Luke over coms. The opposing mercenary force is of impressive size, and we hear references to a mysterious “client.” Whoever this is never gets identified, adding to the many unanswered questions about this episode. The two sisters are working at slightly cross purposes, with some very different goals, which annoys the Head Merc. We learn that Nora Fries was not only suffering from the made up “McGregor’s Disease” (which Clock King had on Arrow and Flash), but suffered some strange and unlikely adverse reactions when she eventually emerged from her suspended animation. Batwoman bursts on to the scene, has a brilliant exchange with one of the sisters, and fights Head Merc. This mystery woman holds her own with Batwoman in a melee fight, which was impressive. Batwoman falls prey to superior numbers and shows why Batman’s cowl is more practical than pretty much anything else anyone in the Bat Family wears. Batwoman ends up in a classic villain death trap and, per supervillain union rules, is left unattended.

Recovering slightly, Batwoman calls the cave for help, and urges Luke to suit up again, but not to help her. Batwoman made a promise to help someone, and wants Luke to take up her burden. Luke gives a dire summary of Batwoman’s danger, and takes off to keep her word. One of the sisters has ended up at Mary’s clinic, and she is a very entertaining woman with a realistic but humorous outlook on life. Alice tries to take her hostage to force Mary to take the tracking nanites out of her, but the woman’s reaction shocks both Mary and Alice in another very well- done moment for the show. An annoyed Alice stalks off after a tongue-lashing from Mary, and the not-quite hostage offers some surprising insight and even sympathy for the psychotic villain.

I’m not sure where she’s been during the rest of this, but Sophie has shown up at the Cave and is now doing her bit to help Batwoman over coms. As capable as Sophie has been shown to be, and as much as Batwoman still needs help, I’m wondering if Sophie will eventually be some version of Batgirl or Robin. At any rate, for now, she’s just an annoying voice in Batwoman’s ear, trying to keep the hero from passing out. On the edge of losing consciousness in spite of Sophie’s best efforts, Batwoman sees Batwing arrive, take on the gang, and free the captured hero. The fight being from Batwoman’s POV was entertaining and a nice touch. Batwoman never asks Batwing why he’s not doing what she asked, and the gang gets away as he stops to help her. In a typical move of modern hero drama, Batwing does some posing and looking concerned with his visor up, revealing his face in the midst of an enemy stronghold. Brilliant move if he cares at all about his secret identity.

Recovering from near death amazingly quickly, Batwoman is behind the wheel of the Batmobile as they give chase to the bad guys. Head Merc proves to be remarkably resourceful and ruthless, there’s some major damage to some Gotham City infrastructure, and Batwing does something amazingly creative to continue the chase, while a disapproving Sophie plays the voice of reason over coms. Eventually, the heroes manage to save a hostage, recapture the trophy, and then inexplicably stand there and watch the mercenaries escape. I mean, they’re in an SUV, so I guess there’s no way a man in flying armor or a woman with one of the most high-tech cars around could have caught up with them?

A lot of this episode feels like they are using it to build up to new things, and the series of closing scenes continues that impression. Alice gets returned to her cell at Arkham, and there just may be some truth to her claims of the nanites bothering her. That or she’s hallucinating again. Back at the cave, Ryan restores the captured trophy to the evidence room/vault. Luke evades a question Ryan asks and then Mary decides to do what she thinks is right. I get where she’s coming from, and there was no good choice here, but I’m worried she’s falling prey to Alice’s games, and she’s certainly straining her relationship with one of the Bat-team. Later, Sophie and Ryan chat at the bar Ryan used to work at, and Ryan decides to do something for the good of the team. The final scene has Mary checking up on a patient, some interesting decisions, and an ominous attack that looks bad for one of the team.

What I Liked: This was a well written episode. They took some of the established lore about Mr. Freeze and gave it a new spin. I’m impressed and intrigued by the mysterious “Head Mercenary” There was a lot of creative problem solving, and I was impressed with the woman who refused to be a hostage, and amused by Alice’s reaction to her. I liked the nods to some other bits of Batman’s history.

What I didn’t: There are a lot of unexplained questions from this episode. If they’re using those to build subplots, that’s fine. A slow burn can be great. If they’re just skipping over stuff, it’s not. I’m not finding myself interested in Ryan’s family drama. Her mother is just horrible, and her brother is a bit smug. Ryan’s also folding too easily on his offer from what I’ve seen of her. I’m also curious about the timeline in this world for Bruce/Batman’s life. I don’t get why the heroes let the bad guys get away at the end.

Overall, I was impressed. I hope they follow up on most of this. I’ll give this one a high 3.5, almost a 4, out of 5.