I was talking with a friend the other night about something I like about the CW’s Nancy Drew. No, I didn’t expect to like it either. But I appreciate that none of the characters on the show are dumb. They’re faced with supernatural situations and behave believably considering the unprecedented nature of their adventures–there’s not exactly a Spirit World Field Guide for the kids to work from. In contrast, then, a good portion of Batwoman‘s main characters, including Jacob Kane, Sophie Moore, and even Batwoman herself–Ryan Wilder–are all dumdums. Spoilers follow for Batwoman Season 2, Episode 4, “Fair Skin, Blue Eyes.”
“Fair Skin, Blue Eyes”
Batwoman is still getting its footing after the surprise series reboot caused by Ruby Rose’s departure, but the show is starting to lay groundwork for the rest of the season. If you pay attention to Batwoman-related news, you already know that Roman Sionis, better known as the Black Mask, will be the other big bad for this season, along with the mysterious Safiyah, who we met last episode when she absconded with Alice and Sophie.
Batwoman is chasing down a lead on a new drug using the Scarecrow’s fear toxin when she meets a young boy whose brother, Kevin, has gone missing. She sidelines her one-woman DARE campaign temporarily to track the young man down partly because she’s a superhero, of course. But Ryan reveals shortly after that she was once abducted as part of her difficult childhood.
The story for this week is, overall, a little tough to stomach in terms of how coincidentally connected everything is. After Ryan saves the kid, Jacob asks her how she knew where to find him. She says, “Simple: I looked,” as if that was the whole story. From the title of the episode, you can probably guess, this referencing the idea that when a child of color goes missing, it receives little media attention, but when a child with “fair skin, blue eyes” goes missing, they become a major regional or national news story. And that’s legitimate, but the details of the story complicate it. The kidnapper of the child she’s searching for is the same person that abducted her when she was about the same age.
And not only that, but they find the woman’s home because the same volunteers who were searching for Alice back when she was named Beth stopped by the woman’s house while Ryan was captive and kept record of it. So yes, she looked, and put in the effort, and that’s important, but also she had multiple connects to the case through pure happenstance. So “I looked” is telling half the story at best; melodramatic contrivances undermining an otherwise good point.
Perhaps more important in the long run, though, is that the young man was kidnapped by a gang called the False Face Society. If you hang out in Gotham, you know that none other than Black Mask leads the False Face gang. So now we have a rough idea of how this season’s showdown will go: Ryan was at one time kidnapped by the False Face Society and has a vendetta against Black Mask for that in addition to her revenge quest against Alice, whose Wonderland gang killed her adoptive mother.
I’m Going In
In addition to all this backstory, the theme for this episode seems to be that these characters need to learn to depend on each other. Not once or twice, but three times, characters “go in alone.” Ryan approaches her former kidnapper, Sophie hunts down someone she thinks might be connected to Kate’s disappearance, and Jacob Kane meets someone he thinks might have information about the same. In all cases, the characters find themselves caught unawares and end up on their back heels as a response. These are, again, supposed to be people with awareness and training beyond our own. Jacob and Sophie are privatized cops, and Ryan has extensive martial arts training along with a stint in the slammer. They should all know how to case a joint and watch their own backs. Instead, they’re all idiots.
It’s tough to tell, too, who the show is suggesting they should trust. Sophie went in without Alice, but Alice is only trustworthy in the most specific of ways. Batwoman saved Jacob, forcing him to admit as much, but he didn’t trust her before that (and probably still doesn’t). And Ryan went in without… Mary the doctor? Her Batsuit? We’re not sure what the show is getting at here.
Where are we going?
And lastly, the show continues to develop the idea that Kate Kane isn’t dead, with Alice, Sophie, Jacob and Luke all actively looking for her. Once again, this whole storyline is strange because know Kate is dead–unless the CW decided to recast her or the developments with Ruby Rose have been a big ruse. Neither seems likely.
I want badly to like Batwoman, but the semi-reboot forced by Ruby Rose’s departure continues to shackle the show, while some of the attempts at facing social justice issues have fallen flat despite admirable intentions. I’m still on the hook, but the show has a lot of work to do.
Batwoman airs on The CW on Sunday nights at 7 PM Central.