Female Fury: Batwoman Episode 202, "Prior Criminal History"

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Batwoman 202 Prior Criminal History

Alice (Rachel skarsten) takes the next step in her plan to bring terror to Gotham. As she leans over the dead body of her former cohort, Mouse, we get a flashback to a scene where bats invade her hiding spot so that we can be reminded that 'bats eat rats.' This is important to what Alice is doing now, which is catching a rat and duct-taping it to Mouse's dead chest so that it will attract bats to come take nibbles of Mouse as well.

Cut to two months ago, and a pre-Batwoman Ryan Wilder (Javicia Leslie) being rescued from a Halloween night mugging by Batwoman (in shadow, so it's not a Ruby Rose cameo). We then see Ryan interview for a security job and being turned down for it because she pled guilty to 18 months in Blackgate. This is all to establish more of Ryan's backstory to provide motivations for why she would want to take over the role of Batwoman and what she might do with the title.

As the media turns public opinion against The Crows, Gotham's "screw the police, our private security firm will do the job better" agency, we see Jacob Kane (Dougray Scott) confronting his stepdaughter, Mary (Nicole Kang) about what she knew about her sister Kate having been Batwoman all this time. At the same time, Sophie Moore (Meagan Tandy) is grilling Luke Fox (Camrus Johnson), Kate's 'real estate assistant' about the same thing. Both of them deny having known anything, and the interrogations pass quickly. Sophie then encounters Julia Pennyworth (Christina Wolfe), whom she believes knew for certain that Kate was Batwoman, providing more tension between the former lovers.

Ryan is in a convenient store asking if a canned good comes in a generic, because every c-store is just like a Walmart, only smaller, when the place gets robbed. Ryan puts her martial arts skills to good use, but still gets clocked by the robbers as they make their escape. She awakens to check on the injured cashier just in time to be arrested for the crime. But -- mirabile dictu! -- she gets interrogated by Sophie, and it turns out this isn't their first encounter. Either Gotham City has a really, really tiny population. or all the lesbian characters just know each other. When the store security camera backs up Ryan's story, she's still bitter toward the crows, and says that she's been questioned more times for things she didn't do than Alice has been arrested for things she did do. Sophie goes on the defensive, thinking Ryan is talking about Alice being Kane's daughter, but it turns out that Ryan was just talking about Alice getting a lighter treatment because she's white.

Sophie's slip-up does clue Ryan in that Alice is actually Beth, and she goes to Mary's clinic with this information, where she also learns that Alice killed Mary's mother (see last season for that plot-important event). While they discuss, the body of Mouse is brought into Mary's secret clinic, as opposed to a morgue. (In fact, lots of injured victims make their way to Mary's apparently "not so secret and why is she even trying to keep it secret in the first place" clinic in this episode.)  When Mouse's corpse begins to move, a bat flies out of him, causing Ryan to scream because "I really hate bats!"

Back to Julia Pennyworth once more, who gets surprised in her car by Alice, who proposes a supervillain/superspy team-up, stating they both have a common enemy in the person behind the plane crash that seems to have killed Kate Kane. It's Safiyah, another former lover from Kate's past, and something of a Ras al Ghul stand-in. She then stabs Julia (non-fatally, on purpose) to drive her point home and deliver a message to the bat-crew.

Outside of the headquarters for The Crows there's a rally being held in support of Batwoman, demanding she be brought back. Luke enters with the message from Julia that Alice is planning something large and terrifying for Gotham, and Ryan deduces the best crowd right now would be the Batwoman rally. She proposes to put on the suit to give the crowd what they want and urge them to disperse. Mary is for it, but Luke says it won't work because, "Hello! Black!" But atop a 20 story building, nobody would notice that.

Except Jacob Kane, because binoculars are a thing. He orders the crows to get Ryan off the roof where she's urging people to leave. Ryan, in bat-suit, turns back to find Alice atop the roof waiting for her. Ryan then gets into the battle with Alice, threatening to kill her despite Luke's urgent communications that "Batwoman does not kill." But Ryan reminds him: "I'm not Batwoman."

Alice's ace in the hole is a remote detonator device she uses which activates a sonic fequency emitter somewhere in the crowd. This stunt is basically a direct lift from Frank Miller's BATMAN: YEAR ONE, as it summons a swarm of bats to it. But not just any bats -- these are all bats that have been nibbling at Mouse's corpse, and are thus carriers of the poison that killed him -- the same poison that killed Mary's mother! Apparently bats are immune to the toxin and just act as carriers once they ingest it. (They don't actually say this in the story, I'm trying to give the writers an 'out' for faulty applied science.) The bats start biting everyone, causing a panic and infecting dozens. Many of these end up at Mary's clinic later, because of course they do.

Ryan uses the suit to locate the transmitter and gets it into the Batmobile, driving away from the crowd. She drives erratically, because she isn't used to driving this fast, and ultimately cooks up a plan to get rid of the bats by stopping a security bus, commandeering it at gunpoint, then putting the transmitter inside it and allowing the bus to fill up with the bats. Sealing them all inside, she throws a bomb under it, blowing it to bits and assuming (a) that will incinerate all the bats and none of them will survive and fly off, and (b) PETA won't notice.

But she misses that there's a homeless person on the street, complete with a pop-up tent, and she covers that person with her body to protect her from the explosion. This starts the rumor later that hope has returned to Gotham, as news spreads there's a new Batwoman in town. Ryan tells Team Batwoman that she wants to stay on, and Luke reluctantly submits to the request, so long as Ryan holds to the "No Killing" code -- and only until Kate gets back. (Since there was no recovery of Kate Kane's body in the airplane wreckage, in true comic book fashion there cannot be definitively a character death. This could mean that Ryan Wilder's tenure as Batwoman is a trial balloon from the CW, and that they are giving themselves an 'out' to bring back Kate Kane, possibly recast, possibly undergoing facial reconstructive surgery, maybe even currently being held prisoner by Safiyah, who tried to kill her.)

Speaking of Safiyah, Sophie tracks down Alice's hiding place and captures her. This, on the heels of Alice giving Mary the cure to the plague she just spread, the "desert rose" serum still active in a bag of Mary's blood that she handed over to Mary, and which was then used to mass-produce a cure at Hamilton labs. That's when Alice tips her hand to the real plan: the plague wasn't the attack, but the distribution of the desert rose cure was, because it attracted the attention of Safiyah -- who sends her own agent, Tatiana (Leah Gibson), to take Alice away from Sophie at sword-point. And that's the big "end of episode" cliffhanger.

 

Grade: 
3.0 / 5.0