The Arrowverse is back, and it was well worth the wait. We all knew that this would be a new era for Batwoman, but I felt like the pressure was on to get the show off to a fast start. How would the show deal with the absence of Kate Kane? What about “Bruce Wayne”? How will everyone in Kate’s life react? Here are my impressions of “What Happened To Kate Kane?”
(Warning! SOME SPOILERS AHEAD FOR THE BATWOMAN SEASON 2 PREMIERE!)
Who is Ryan Wilder?
The biggest thing that the series had to do was introduce a new star in it’s sophomore season. The interesting choice here was, the Batsuit almost literally landed in her lap. Kate’s plan crashes right near Ryan’s van that she’s been living in. Coincidence? Sure, but it also gave me a different vibe. It’s almost like when a Green Lantern dies, the ring chooses someone else. I’m not saying that Kate is dead, but it sure feels like fate chose Ryan.
We quickly learn a lot about her past, and it’s easy to want only the best for a character like Ryan Wilder. She gets the only piece of happiness that she has ever had torn away from her, she’s wrongfully imprisoned and she’s homeless. So sure, the vengeance aspect is there, which is very Bat Family. What we also get in Ryan is thissadness, which seems to tie in to her not having (and possibly never having) a family of her own. She’s even rejected by the Team Batwoman at first, but you can hardly blame them given the circumstances.
She’s inexperienced, but the girl can fight. The show gives her an established martial arts background and it shows. It’s also hilarious watching her try to navigate the Bat suit for the first time. Not dragging out any training when it comes to combat skills is a smart move looking ahead to the rest of the season. All in all, I liked Ryan Wilder almost immediately and could immediately feel a difference between her and Kate Kane.
Anger, Guilt And A Lot Of It
When Kate goes missing, it sends shockwaves through the entire returning cast. It’s also a good reminder that they have all lost something or someone. Luke already had issues with guilt because of his dad, so of course he is going to blame himself for what happened to Kate. Then you have poor Mary, who has already lost her mother and now Kate after finally learning the truth and becoming closer to her. Everyone is dealing with it in their own way.
The most compelling to me had to be the combined dynamic of Jacob Kane and Alice/Beth. When Alice laid out her plans for what she wanted to do to Kate, which involved their dad, my eyes were wide with shock. It was evil to the nth degree. Fast forward to their confrontation in this episode, and that might have been the best scene in this first episode. Javicia had a lot of great moments too, but watching Alice slowly break and mentally destroy her father was on a other level. Not just great writing, but great performances by both actors as well.
Finally we have poor Sophie, and Meagan Tandy warned us when I spoke to her before the premiere. Not only did she not get to tell Kate how she really feels, but Kate’s letter really had a huge impact on Sophie. This also makes her current relationship with Julia that much more complicated. I’m very interested to see how this drives Sophie going forward. Will this light a fire under her or lead her down a more destructive path? I think it’s probably the former, but don’t rule out the latter based on how much she is hurting. Either way, this adds even more depth to Sophie’s character, when she was already very interesting.
Ripping Off The “Bruce Wayne” Band Aid
Perhaps the smartest thing in this episode was not letting the Bruce Wayne story drag out. Tommy was doing a horrible job filling the shoes of his perceived best friend, and it was obvious that pretty much everyone was going to find out rather quickly. One set of finger prints and several punches to the face later, the mask is literally and figuratively removed.
Sure they could have dragged this out and gone a different route. At the same time, they have several smart and intuitive characters on this show. That was well established in the first season. It would have really dumbed down those characters to let it drag out. Sure Luke fell for it at first, but he was still dealing with what happened with Kate, so he wasn’t thinking as clearly as he normally would. Had Kate remained in this second season, perhaps it plays out differently. In this case, this was the smart play.
Yes it was used, yes it punctured the Bat suit, but could there be another layer? I was just as surprised as you were when Ryan got up. Now she has that wound, and the kryptonite seems to me coursing through her veins. I’ll admit, I’m not sure about this one. Will Ryan get powers now? Will this lead to a deadly illness?
This could also be another one of those things that gets dealt with and dismissed rather quickly. Team Batwoman could discover it, find a way to cure/remove it and be done with it. On the other hand, this could create a sense of urgency throughout the season for Ryan, trying to get her revenge before the kryptonite consumes her. Ultimately she would be cured by season’s end, but we wouldn’t know that right away.
Would it be the end of the world if she got abilities? I’m not saying give her the ability to fly or have heat vision. What about a healing factor or some enhanced strength (but not Supergirl level)? I wouldn’t hate it, but it would have to be handled very carefully. Ryan’s relatable character is one of her strengths, and giving her abilities could dampen that. That’s another reason that I’m not sure that they go this route.
All in all, give the writers credit for a smooth transition to this fresh and new second season. It’s not easy to begin a new season, without your main character, and not scrap anything. The way they connected Ryan Wilder to this existing world, and giving her a connection to Alice, was very well done. Javicia Leslie also gives this show a completely different energy. It’s vibrant, hopeful and how could you not root for her? If you left Batwoman last season, I encourage you to give this new season a shot. Come for the fierce new Batwoman, stay for the Batmobile.
Photo Credit: The CW