Batwoman -- “Initiate Self-Destruct” -- Image Number: BWN212fg_0015r -- Pictured: Wallis Day as Circe -- Photo: The CW -- © 2021 The CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

The Arrowverse has seen villains trying to unmake the universe, blow up the world with nukes, turn humans and aliens against each other, and more. But the villains on Batwoman might be the most twisted of all. Season 1 brought us August Cartwright, who kept a girl hostage for 10 years so that she could sew faces onto people, and kept her dead mother’s head in the freezer so hat one day he could put her face onto his own mother’s. This season brings us Black Mask. Black Mask is different levels of twisted depending on who’s writing him, from gangster to serial killer to supervillain. Batwoman‘s Black Mask, though, might be the most twisted in the Arrowverse. He doesn’t have the highest bodycount, but his plan is sure to make you shiver. Spoilers follow for Batwoman Season 2, Episode 12, “Initiate Self-Destruct.”

“Initiate Self-Destruct”

Last week’s encounter left Batwoman’s identity in danger. Sophie Moore discovered her identity one way, while new Crows member Agent Tavaroff went the route of picking up a sample of Batwoman’s blood after her fight against Black Mask. This ultimately leads down some strange paths that lay some important groundwork.

On the one hand, we have Team Bat and Sophie, both of whom agree that Batwoman’s identity is worth protecting. Luke and Mary (and Jesus?) don’t yet know that Sophie’s already spoiled herself for Batwoman’s unmasking. This week’s story forces Batwoman to choose between protecting herself or others, and she ultimately chooses the latter. While she’s doing that, though, Sophie actively works to protect Batwoman’s identity, going so far as to delete Ryan’s records from the federal database so there’s nothing to match her DNA to. In the process, she finds out about Jacob’s Snakebite addiction and tells Mary about it.

Meanwhile, Ryan is focused on rescuing her kidnapped ex-girlfriend Angelique from the Black Mask and ends up running into Alice who knows where Angelique–and her beloved, Ocean–is being held. The take a predictably wacky ride in the Batmobile and fight Black Mask’s goons together.

Did we already do the Face/Off joke?

This is around when Black Mask reveals his plan for Kate, whom he’s been holding captive since the beginning of the season. Roman Sionis holds Kate Kane, the original Batwoman, responsible for the death of his daughter, Circe. And so because Kate took Circe from him, Sionis has decided that Kate will take Circe’s place by becoming her completely. The reconstructive surgery is meant to make her look like Circe, while Enigma has been using her hypnosis to let Circe’s personality run roughshod over Kate’s. Roman puts a white mask on her, and that seems to be the trigger to make her act as Circe.

Batwoman and Alice end up fighting Circe. Rather, I should say that Batwoman fights Circe-Kate, Alice saves her, and then Batwoman walks away while Circe-Kate beats the tar out of Alice. Alice confesses as Ryan walks away that she does remember killing her mother but, weirdly, that doesn’t help.

Ocean and Angelique get away, and Angelique goes into witness protection, finally. Ryan doesn’t go with her.

Twists and Reveals

Indeed, Black Mask’s plan for Kate is truly demented. He’s captured the woman he holds responsible for his daughter’s death, and is punishing her by rearranging her face and brain so that she can replace his dead daughter.

It’s absolutely chilling to contemplate. Kate is probably awake somewhere in her brain, screaming, while her body pretends to be someone else. Between August and Roman, Batwoman wins for the most screwed up villains.

Meanwhile, the show is slowly working toward moving Sophie over to Team Bat. The stuff she does this week puts her in serious danger–you know someone is going to figure out that she plucked Ryan’s profile out of the database. She also goes out of her way to taunt Agent Tavaroff. Tavaroff becomes a villain named Menace in the comics.

He’s bored!

The logical end-point here is that Batwoman rescues Sophie from Menace and leaves the Crows to strike out on her own. For Tavaroff, my hope is that he’ll soon have more to do than look like off-brand Ben Affleck; despite being an adversary for Sophie and Batwoman, he’s done little other than sit… menacingly.

Finally, there was Ryan’s decision to walk away from Alice just as Alice was starting to like her. Having a murderous psychopath like you is probably not ideal, but even so her decision to walk away from the fight between Circe-Kate and Alice is going to have repercussions for both. It will be interesting to see what happens when Alice and Kate realize who the other is.

This is a solid episode that ties a lot of stories and characters together with some satisfying twists. I’d like it if more of Batwoman‘s episodes were like this.