Batwoman: Broken Toys

Hey! Threatening people is my thing.

The Batwoman team have had a very busy season. As if Batman’s trophies being released last season by a mind-controlled Kate Kane wasn’t bad enough, now the trophies are spawning a new wave of villains, which one news report called “Flashback Villains.” I like the term. Then there are the added complications of the Jet family drama, between Jada being revealed as Ryan’s mother and Marquis being a Joker-wannabe. Now, the team races to recover a lot of lost items (they really need to get better at holding on to their stuff) and a new character is introduced to the Bat-mythos that fills a role I don’t think they’ve ever touched on before. They really are having a lot of problems with “Broken Toys.” The episode also continues the Arrowverse tradition of letting the cast direct, as Camrus Johnson (Luke Fox) takes over for this episode.

Last episode had a lot of unfortunate twists, including Marquis Jet recovering from his comatose state thanks to Poison Ivy’s attack on Gotham Dam (anyone notice far too many things in the city are Gotham Fill-In-The-Blank? They need better names). Batwoman races to Arkham to check on their dangerous foe, but it’s too late and he’s left a creepy surprise behind. Once again, a close ally of Batwoman’s is out in public with no disguise, although Batwoman’s secret is supposedly important to her, and I somehow don’t see Bruce or Luke adding ground effect lighting to the Batmobile. That embellishment was just silly for the sake of looking cool. In Mary’s clinic, she and Ryan clear away some of the Ivy-induced overgrowth and Mary starts to feel the weight of what she did under Ivy’s influence. Ryan tries to reassure her, but Mary’s combination of intelligence and morals don’t allow her to let herself off the hook that easily.

At the bar, which seems to be their new headquarters and never has any customers (or staff), Luke tries to figure out how to repair the Joker’s joy-buzzer, which is supposedly the only way to restore Marquis’ sanity (which I still find questionable at best). Luke thinks they need the AI version of his father for some technical advice, but Mary has more bad news and regrets about her actions as Ivy 2.0. This is when Alice interjects with her combination of snark, comic relief, and useful information. We get introduced to Kiki Roulette, who, aside from the odd name, was apparently Joker’s gadget girl. I don’t think I’ve seen this idea played with before, and it does make sense that the madman and archcriminal might not have had the time or expertise to sit at a workbench and craft his various toys. I can see him being more of an idea guy, and we never have actually seen any version of the Joker so far in the Arrowverse. With some internet sleuthing, they get a lead on the location of the tinkerer, Ryan gives out some assignments, and Alice gets in another few good lines.

No matter how high the stakes are, there’s apparently still time for emotional drama. Sophie pulls Ryan aside and they have a fairly intense discussion about their recent kiss and Ryan’s lack of follow up, or even talking about it, since. Luke interrupts (he’s doing that a lot, lately) and tells them Marquis just got a lot easier to find. The crazy man of the hour is actually giving a press conference about his using Wayne Enterprise’s funds to essentially take over Arkham Asylum. If this doesn’t bring Bruce out of hiding wherever he is, nothing will. Marquis rambles a bit and makes the team worry he’s about to blow Ryan’s secret, but he doesn’t, at least yet. Sophie and Ryan talk about how to take him down, and Ryan decides she needs to go visit Jada again. Because that’s been going so well.

Inside Arkham, Marquis is getting a VIP tour, and making the director very nervous. The man seems glad enough to get Marquis’ money (Ryan’s, actually, I guess), but isn’t happy about where Marquis seems to be going with his ideas. Of course, legally, Marquis wouldn’t be able to do any of this, but A) it’s a tv show and B) it’s Gotham, so I can suspend my disbelief that far. Marquis gets a private interview with a familiar face, and the two of them seem to be making an alliance that can’t be good for anyone in the city. Mary and Alice are on the trail of Kiki, and come to a run-down halfway house. Before they go in, Mary shows how rattled she is by asking Alice for advice. I mean, I get they’ve gotten closer, but really, why would anyone want to ask her about morals or guilt? After Alice’s snarky answers, they go find the counselor, learn a few things, and then Alice gets them better information with her own unique style.

Left unattended, Luke and Sophie plan some larceny as Sophie continues to rant about how frustrated she is with Ryan. Luke, good friend and wise man, more or less just nods in the right places. Ryan goes to see Jada to once again plead for help in dealing with the obviously out of control Marquis. Jada is, as usual, overly protective of her son. Their discussion gets interrupted by the man from Arkham showing up. Considering how far Arkham is usually shown to be outside the city, he must have made great time. Jada ends up with another opening in her security staff (the woman is really going to start having problems hiring soon) as the felon does the first part of what he came for and renews an old acquaintance. He is another very cheerful psychopath, and I really wish he’d get a scene with Alice at some point. Following his instructions, although I’m not sure why he’s so devoted to them, the man makes some demands, does some petty theft, and sets a deadline.

Having finally found Kiki, Alice and Mary need to persuade her to help them. The woman reflects on her past, talks about her therapy, and tells them they need to go someplace else to get the infamous buzzer repaired. Alice, of course, gets in more great lines. The hostage situation in Jada’s office continues, with a lot of family drama that seems ill-timed at best, although the hostage taker seems to be enjoying the show. Finally out of ways to stall, Ryan saves the day and reveals more than she hoped to. Unfortunately for Ryan, Jada, while she has her blind spots, isn’t stupid.

Kiki leads Alice and Mary to the Joker’s former workshop, which has all sorts of devices that are familiar to comics readers and a few new ones. Alice seems really taken with one in particular, and Kiki rattles off the stats of the damage it caused. Not at all sounding like she’s boasting, Kiki talks about atoning for her past, which of course strikes a painful chord with Mary. Having done their preparations, Batwing and Sophie go ahead with their burglary. Once again, it’s a masked hero and a civilian ally, which seems like a really dumb move. Even mid-crime, Sophie and Batwing chat about the Ryan/Sophie ‘ship, delighting some fans, I’m sure. They find what they were after, take a big risk that no one even comments on, and then decide to press their luck. Military advisors will warn you against mission creep, which should be something Sophie is familiar with. You achieve your objective, you stop, not go on with no real plan.

Ryan and Jada have some words, and lots of drama, about their past. Jada makes a comparison between her children that I’m sure would infuriate Marquis. Then things start happing really quickly. Sophie and Batwing make some discoveries and start sending out warnings that are too late. Alice and Mary run into some complications and Alice falls for an old Joker gag. Batwoman charges off to the rescue and there’s a really well-done fight with some great cuts back and forth between Sophie and Batwing versus a lot of thugs and Alice, Mary, and Batwoman versus even more.

Eventually, the fights end with the good guys winning but the major bad guys getting away after some more threats. In a series of small scenes, Jada and Batwoman have a chat that involves Ryan once again unmasking in public. Really, what is it with that? Luke gets to work on another project and gets some words of reassurance from a respected voice. Mary makes a very unusual house call, does some bonding, and then gets placed in a really bad position that’s going to set up even more drama in these final two episodes of the season. Marquis makes some plans with a new ally, and there’s another weird limit introduced to something important that makes no sense to me. Ryan and Sophie end the episode with some developments in their relationship.

What I liked: The big fight near the end was really well-executed with some excellent camera work. If that was Johnson’s doing, he needs to direct more. Rachel Skarsten, as always, is very entertaining as Alice. The guest-villain this week is another enjoyable foe who gets some great lines. I’m glad Mary isn’t just ignoring the things she did as Ivy 2.0. The introduction of Kiki was an interesting development and her story worked pretty well.

What I didn’t: Some parts of the episode veered into soap opera territory. I’d really like the ongoing issues around Ryan/Jada and Ryan/Sophie to get addressed and dealt with so we can move on. The limits on the buzzer seem forced and make no sense. Sophie should have known better than to stay longer once they achieved their goal. Luke took a huge risk with something important that, while it worked out, was brushed aside so much that I’m guessing the writers didn’t even think of it.

While it had some flaws, it was a good episode overall. I’ll give this a 3.5 out of 5. They have a lot to resolve in two more episodes. It will be interesting to see how they manage it.

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