Batwoman: Pick Your Poison

Whose idea was it to fight her in a garden, of all places?

Batwoman has had a very busy third season, as new versions of Bat-foes emerge, family complications ensnare everyone, and difficult choices loom. Now we see Mary infected by Poison Ivy, Alice causing her usual chaos, and a new threat emerging. Things aren’t going well for the heroes, as you might surmise from the mid-season finale title, “Pick Your Poison.”

Clandestine meetings in parking garages rarely go well, and the start of this episode is no exception. Marquis (somehow pronounced Marcus) and Ryan keep a scheduled rendezvous and things quickly change as we can see there were some very different agendas here. By the end of it, Marquis is out of action and Jada is willing to help Ryan with a special project. Given what she’s trying to do, I have to say this is another example of Ryan being really, really bad with the secret identity concept, not to mention that she has other allies she could have turned to, like, say Caitlin Snow over at STAR. Vesper Fairchild returns with some voiceover commentary about the decade-long absence of Poison Ivy, and we see Sophie dealing with the morning after. Well, it could have been more awkward, so there’s that. Getting to Wayne Enterprises, Sophie meets with Luke, gets caught up on recent events, and is immediately suspicious on learning of Jada’s role in things.

Speaking of, Jada is doing some really odd things in the name of helping her son, and using her scientific development team to honor the rest of her agreement. We get a mention of Swamp Thing, who hasn’t appeared in the Arrowverse directly yet (not counting the odd, world-skipping end of Crisis). Down in the Cave, Sophie continues to rant about Jada not being trustworthy, and Ryan keeps holding on to a secret that would explain everything… because the writers decided it made more drama this way, I guess? Things keep getting worse as they get a warning about Alice, and Sophie admits her complete dereliction of duty in regards to the homicidal maniac.

Said homicidal maniac has stolen a new vehicle, as she and Mary Ivy go on a road trip. Mary wakes up, very confused, and Alice fills her in on what’s been happening. For some reason, Mary believes her, which I certainly wouldn’t. Mary gets flustered as she hears more and more bad news, and then makes a decision and throws her lot in with Alice. I will say that, a lot of the time, when a hero or ally goes bad, it seems to come out of nowhere and makes no sense. They’ve set up Mary’s turn really well, and I can absolutely understand her decision. I don’t agree with it, and I don’t fathom how she trusts Alice, but I get the choice she made. Between them, they hatch a plan to free Alice of the tracking nanites Luke injected her with.

The next scene manages to cram a lot of bad stuff into a short space. Batwoman, in costume, driving the Batmobile, has Sophie riding shotgun (at least give her a mask! What is she, John Diggle?), which is great for the ol’ secret ID. Then, they find out Alice’s signal is acting up, pull over some poor guy who is a big Batwoman fan, then miss something glaringly obvious just to make for a dramatic reveal a moment later. This was a really poorly done scene. Stopping at a bar, the Dastardly Duo make some new discoveries and start their plan to help Alice. As usual, Alice gets to deliver some great lines.

Back in the Batmobile, Batwoman and Sophie-Girl try to come up with a new plan. Sophie admits a bit more about what happened last night, and Batwoman is very understandably not pleased. Jada has what could have been a very emotional scene with Marquis, but she gets suckered in as we see the next step in the evolution of a new supervillain. Which is just what Gotham needs. Ryan and Sophie arrive on the scene too late to do anything useful, and hear assorted bad news. Trying on his new blatant supervillainy, Maquis pays a call on Wayne Enterprises. Luke does a good job trying to stop him, but is injured and out of his league. Alice and Mary comb though some potential resources, and finally find what they need for their plan.

Jada, trying to recover some poise and control, brings Ryan and Sophie to where their serum awaits, and makes another new and horrifying discovery. Marquis has been busy. Ryan goes back to the office, finds Luke on the floor, and has a confrontation with Marquis. The man holds all the cards, and knows it. He’s really out there at this point, and revels in his insanity. He forces Ryan into a really bad deal, there’s a continuity glitch with a special pen, and he walks out, finally tossing Ryan what she needs. It’s a testament to Nick Creegan’s portrayal that I really can’t stand Marquis. He makes an interesting, if troubling, point about the Joker on his way out.

Now alone, because…. well, that’s never explained, Batwoman tries to run down where the villains are hiding. Sophie is trying to patch up Luke, while at the same time explaining this is something she’s really bad at. So maybe she should have gone someplace to play to her strengths, like with Batwoman? Luke does some reflecting on things Mary has said to him, and then has an epiphany about her habits and gets a clue to help find the bad girls. Alice and Mary have done what they wanted to, and have an oddly sentimental moment. I don’t get why they are suddenly bonding. Mary has a lot of reasons to not trust, and even hate, Alice, and Alice is a sociopath. While they work some things out, Jada gets an ominous call from Marquis.

With that set up, Alice and Mary start their escape, only to be stopped by Batwoman. She confronts the villains, and tries to get Mary back on her side. Mary, however, isn’t interested, and turns on her former friend with a vengeance. Everything Batwoman has been trying to do this episode gets smashed, figuratively and literally, as the villains make their escape. Then, the writers up the stakes before the mid-season break ends.

Ryan meets up with Sophie and Luke and brings bad news and a sad, but accurate, observation, and we learn how much they’ve lost. Mary and Alice enjoy their road trip, and Marquis holds a press conference. It’s a decent piece of writing, playing with a lot of double meanings that people are going to figure out when it’s far too late. The last thing we see is Alice recovering from their wild trip, and Mary debuting a new look that really works for her.

What I liked: Nick Creegan is doing a great job as the villains Marquis. Nicole Kang really sells Mary’s turn to the dark side, and Rachel Skarsten is always amusing as Alice. The Bat-Team is in a bad place, and it’s going to be interesting to see how they adapt to their new circumstances. I like that Luke made a halfway decent showing against Marquis, even though the poor guy didn’t really stand a chance.

What I didn’t: There were a lot of bad choices here. Ryan is really playing fast and loose with her identity, but that seems to be an Arrowverse-wide failing. Her riding around with Sophie was just a horrible decision. Sophie’s one night stand is having some serious consequences. I don’t get the affection or trust Mary seems to have now for Alice.

This was a very uneven episode, leaning towards the not-great. I’ll give it a 3 out of 5. We’ll see what happens when they return from the break.