If there’s one thing a DC CW show loves, it’s someone taking over the airwaves in a time of crisis. After terrorizing the children of Gotham, Roman Sionis, a.k.a. Black Mask, signs off calling for a Purge-like night, saying “You know what they say about power: ‘Use it or lose it.’” Given that the episode’s also titled “Power,” it’s a little too on the nose, but the season-two finale does dedicate itself to an exploration of that subject.
From the jump, it was clear that Ryan (Javicia Leslie) had different intentions for the Batsuit than Kate Kane did when she first put it on. Their upbringings, financial backgrounds, and general hardships in life were completely different. They’d both experienced loss, but the suit didn’t just give Ryan a kind of power that she could wield with her fists. It also gave her family and a life that she didn’t expect when she was first introduced in the season-two premiere.
When Ryan stepped onto the scene this season and the chance to become Batwoman almost literally hit her on the head, she didn’t take it because it offered her a chance at glory or personal gain. She took on the mantle to find a way out of her situation but also to seek some sort of vengeance for her adoptive mother’s death. But Ryan quickly realized that a hero shouldn’t wear a symbol for those reasons and became Batwoman on her own admirable terms.
This makes Ryan’s revelation in the season-two finale all the more frustrating a development. She’s convinced that she’s nothing without the Batsuit since Circe/Kate (Wallis Day) stole it, and because she couldn’t stop Sionis from terrorizing Gotham. A lot of superheroes go through a moment like this, where they let their suit define them. Tony Stark’s “If you’re nothing without this suit, then you shouldn’t have it” exchange with Peter Parker in Spider-Man: Homecoming is one that comes to mind. The Batsuit famously has many bells and whistles, and Ryan is feeling inadequate without them while Circe is in control of Kate’s body and Roman Sionis is wreaking havoc. Interestingly enough, Ryan isn’t roused by her found family, Luke (Camrus Johnson) or Mary (Nicole Kang), but instead by Sophie (Meagan Tandy).
In the end, when Kate compares their two journeys and says Ryan wore the suit to “survive,” it not only puts into perspective how different the two Batwomen are, but how much Ryan embodies the hero. Not that Kate wasn’t a good Batwoman, but Kate’s point is that Ryan knows the plight of the most-wronged citizens in Gotham, those that have “no hope left.” She’s not just a hero helping her city by “giving back”—Ryan represents Gotham and its heart in a way Kate can’t.
With all that talk of “putting on a suit doesn’t make you a hero,” Luke Fox does don a suit, which isan interesting juxtaposition. For much of the second half of the season, Luke has been dealing with feeling left out and powerless in his own right. Ryan even called him a bystander at one point, which caused him to try and stop a carjacking, leading to some crooked Crows shooting him. This leads to him pulling a Buffy Summers and being unhappy he’s brought back to the land of the living. He feels useless, although he is a big help to the team.
But finding the Batsuit that his own father gave him doesn’t detract from Ryan’s arc of being a hero with or without a suit. Luke—and Mary for that matter—has already proven he’s a hero without his suit. The suit is more of a way to tie him to his father Lucius Fox, a connection Luke lost when he was kept from meeting his dad in the afterlife, which really took a toll on him. He needed that suit probably more than he realized. Plus, without it, Mary would have died.
While a lot of Kate’s issues with committing to being Batwoman or her problems with being Batwoman for the right reasons in season one stemmed from trying to save Beth from the confines of Alice’s (Rachel Skarsten) mind, it’s quite interesting how it’s resolved in a throwaway line in this finale. When Kate tells Luke and Mary that she’s leaving, she also notes that she can’t save Beth until Alice “wants” to be Kate’s twin again. It pains her, which is clear, and after the emotional turmoil both twins just went through this past season, Alice especially, it’s heartbreaking to see them separate again like this. But Kate finally realizing she needs to let Beth/Alice go is a relatively tiny development. It’s not necessarily a bad thing, but it’s clear that it’s because Kate’s leaving and probably won’t be dealing with this onscreen, at least for a while.
Alice’s story in season two is probably one of the best as audiences got to see a new side of her, one that was more grounded in reality, thanks to Ocean (Nathan Owens), her love interest. These last few episodes didn’t feature a lot of the “crazed” Alice that we saw in season one; instead, they showed an Alice that was still hardened, dark, and diabolical (at times) but who seemed to be a tiny bit saner. Just a bit.
And of course, the best moments in this episode involve the emotional depths of Alice and other characters. The first was Ryan and Alice’s fight in the parking lot, which has been a long time coming. Alice’s gang was, of course, responsible for Ryan’s adoptive mother’s death. And the other sees Alice saving Kate from the river. This was a full-circle moment from when they were teenagers, and Kate couldn’t save Beth. Now, as adults, Alice pulls Kate from the water in a striking scene, with Kate finally remembering her sister.
At the start of the season, I was pretty deadset on the fact that I didn’t want to see Kate Kane brought back. However, Batwoman did a great job incorporating this new “face swap” storyline while also honoring their new Batwoman. The final half of the season was solid, and it has a lot of promise and momentum for season three.
- Thank you for dropping back in for the finale! The posting schedule was different this season, but this season was no less interesting.
- Like I said before, the “face swap” storyline with a main character very much gives me Bolt vibes, however, it worked with Batwoman. And I’m genuinely glad it did.
- I really like how they tied up Coryana, Safiyah, and Sionis in this episode. Although... now that I think about it... with Alice taken away to Arkham, is Safiyah just laying on that beach still? Until some poor person finds her body, removes the knife, and realizes she’s not actually dead. Whoops.
- I think whenever civilians are brought into these Arrowverse shows, it makes it all the cornier when there are children involved. The “I’ll be damned” moment is a great example. But, cute concept with the masks!
- Can we give a BIG round of applause for Luke’s “Justice,” line and how very Batman it was? He’s done his homework.
- I really like the agency Ryan had in her parole hearing and I’m glad that’s over for her now.
- When Kate said she was heading to National City to see a friend! Will we get a Kara and Kate reunion?? It might not mean the same or be the same, but their friendship was the best. Fingers crossed?
- I wasn’t the biggest fan of Kate and Sophie, but Tandy and Day had so much chemistry in the short time they were together.
- I love Rachel Skarsten as Alice, but that reveal that she knows something about Ryan’s birth mom was a little too soap opera-y for me. It’s definitely something to look out for next season, but it was too much of a “Gasp!” moment.
- And HELLO!! Poison IVY! Is that the next Big Bad we’re getting? I am the biggest spokesperson for more live-action Poison Ivy, so if we can get Dr. Pamela Isley in the Arrowverse and then the DCEU and then beyond? Sign me UP!