Who likes riddles? Apparently every deranged person in Gotham. The Riddler is busy this week, but don’t worry, because another question-asking weirdo who likes to play games (no, not Jigsaw, or Ghostface) is ready to hassle Batwoman and a few of her closest friends. Spoilers follow for Batwoman Season 2, Episode 13, “I’ll Give You a Clue.”
“I’ll Give You a Clue”
I’ll say it up front: this is a pretty good episode of Batwoman. I’m surprised, too.
Things start off strong with a fight scene in media res. Batwoman is chasing down a lead on Black Mask, beating the snot out of a whole cadre of False Face Society members. The fight looks great. It’s fluid, fast, and exciting, right up until the Crows–led by Agent Russell Tavaroff–interrupt her interrogation. Then, Batwoman lays it on thick, explaining to the mercs how much they screwed up, giving her time to whip out a classic piece of Batman gear, the portable zip line.
It’s fast, fluid, and actually pretty funny.
The core of this episode is about a classic DC villain named Cluemaster, or “what if the Riddler sucked even more?” That’s a comment on the villain–not on his portrayal in Batwoman. Like Victor Zsasz earlier this season, Batwoman actually gets a lot right with this character. Let’s start with the casting of Rick Miller as Arthur Brown/Cluemaster.
For reference, here’s a look at the version of Arthur that graces the pages of DC comics:
Okay, that’s pretty good. His plan, the execution of it, and its eventual failure are all a blast, too. The writers didn’t half-ass this one. Not only is Cluemaster here, but so is his daughter, Stephanie. She doesn’t call herself by this name in the episode, but in the comics she’s been known previously as The Spoiler, a vigilante hero who exists for the express purpose of spoiling her father’s ridiculous/deadly plots. In the comics, she does a stint as Robin and Batgirl, too.
More of this, please
While it’s unclear right now if Stephanie (and actress Morgan Kohan) will be back again, the show strongly suggests it, and we could see her have a long arc with the team if the writers want her to. Stephanie has great chemistry with Luke, too, giving him something to other than wring his hands about everything.
Thankfully, this isn’t just a villain-of-the-week episode, though it’s clearly also that. Aside from laying the potential groundwork for another supersleuth to join Team Batwoman, it also acts as a stressor between Ryan and Sophie. Cluemaster is targeting Sophie for revenge, and Ryan ends up in the trap.
Ryan’s earned distrust of Crows and, by association, Sophie herself clashes against Sophie’s genuine desire to be trusted and help out Gotham’s newest crimefighter. Sophie has, without Ryan’s knowledge, already proven herself by deleting Ryan’s data from a database that would’ve incriminated her, and it’s only when their lives are truly on the line that Ryan manages to get over her stubbornness.
This arc for Sophie has been pretty organic, all told. She eased slowly from being a ride-or-die Crow–married to her job (and a man)–to become out-and-proud woman and newly trusted member of Batwoman’s inner circle. I feel like Sophie earned this, even if the show hasn’t always given her enough to do. Maybe that will change from here.
I know that face
Meanwhile, elsewhere in Gotham, Black Mask straps Alice’s hand into a device that will slowly peel back her fingernail as a form of torture. Her capture gives Alice the chance to see Kate-Circe Sionis up close, though, and Alice is quick to offer her services as a face seamstress, which is a weird pairing of words. Once Alice applies Kate-Circe’s new face, she immediately realizes who she’s looking at, letting this plot get moving.
This is, for Batwoman, a really strong episode that keeps the story moving, offers some good action, fun casting, and important character development. In other words, all the stuff a superhero show should have (and something too many of the CW shows are lacking lately). Let’s hope that this is a sign of things to come.