Batwoman 2×14 Review – Man Down

Batwoman -- “And Justice For All” -- Image Number: BWN214a_0247r -- Pictured: Camrus Johnson as Luke Fox -- Photo: Bettina Strauss/The CW -- © 2021 The CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Even when Ruby Rose was the face behind the cowl, the CW’s Batwoman was no stranger to trying to face social issues. With Javicia Leslie now in the role, this element of the series has only ramped up. Protests over police brutality came to a head in the United States last summer, and the heat hasn’t really died down yet. Batwoman is diving in head first. Spoilers follow for Batwoman Season 2, Episode 14, “And Justice for All.”

“And Justice for All”

This episode of Batwoman is rough. Not because it’s bad, though. In fact, most of the plot beats actually hit for once. They’re just really rough plot beats for some.

The episode sets the tone quickly and does a little bit of foreshadowing when a pair of cops interrupt a fundraiser at the Hold Up, Kate’s bar. Ryan, Luke, and friends are holding an event to raise money for Ryan’s community center when the cops walk in citing a noise complaint they received about a mostly-empty bar doing a community fundraiser in the middle of the day.

It’s immediately clear that the cops are more interested in exercising the immunity they have to torment whoever they like, and it’s not long before Ryan’s quick temper and distaste for cops lands her and Luke in cuffs, followed directly by Sophie, who tried to use her Crows clout to intimidate the same cops. In jail, the three talk about the handling of that situation–Ryan pushing for the cops to behave better, Luke trying defuse the situation, and later Sophie trying to play the part of a female officer of color trying to positively affect the system. Luke and Sophie have good intentions, but the show doesn’t have any good news for them.

While the trio is behind bars, the False Face Society is trying to keep the money train known as Snakebite rolling but without the help of their chemists, Angelique and Ocean. For some reason, this broken version of the formula gives anyone who takes it literal snake eyes and an inhuman hunger that essentially turns them into zombies. This is silly nonsense, but Snakebite in general is silly nonsense, too, so we’ll overlook it.

Menace 2 Society

While Black Mask is ostensibly the big bad for the season, though, it’s Crows Agent Russel Tavaroff (Menace in the comics) who is causing trouble this week. With Jacob out of pocket, Tavaroff sees a power vacuum–since he doesn’t see Sophie as a leader worth respecting. When Tavaroff encounters the Snakebitten homeless, his response is to line his officers up and gun them down as Sophie listens in helplessly over the radio.

Later, Luke spots the car thief who was hanging out in their jail cell trying to steal yet another car. Luke snaps a photo but then tries to talk the thief down just in time for Tavaroff to show up. When Luke goes for his phone to show the photo, Tavaroff guns him down without hesitation. This moment is genuinely shocking. I could see it coming from a thousand miles away; as soon as Luke went to talk the car thief down, I knew it how it would go.

One of the most shocking things was how the thief, Eli, handled the situation. He had no interest in being talked down by Luke, but when the cops showed up he switched into White Victim mode in a split second, saying that Luke was trying to steal the car.

Is Luke dead? Well, this is a show that has cut peoples entire faces off, let them survive exploding planes, and more. It’s more grounded than, say, The Flash, but not by a whole lot. It seems unlikely that Batwoman is going to kill off a core cast member.

Real World Problems, Comic Book Characters

These parts of this episode, though, are disconcertingly reflective of real events; of police officers with racist agendas abusing power to scare and hurt black people, of white people weaponizing the police for their convenience, and of heavily-armed, heavily-armored officers shooting without provocation without showing any interest in de-escalation.

All of this hits because all of it is way too real, and it’s not a problem Batwoman can solve. By the end of the episode, not only is Luke bleeding out, but Sophie has finally ended her other bad relationship–she leaves the Crows. Jacob is the only protagonist still in the ranks. One of the “B” stories this week has Jacob talking to Mary about his addiction and seeing all the good she does with her back-alley clinic, so it seems like the show is setting him up for a change of heart that will put him at the wrong end of Agent Tavaroff’s itchy trigger finger. While Sophie has realized she can’t fix the Crows, Jacob can.

In a Snap

The other “B” story is Alice’s quest to recover Kate. This, too, seems like a redemption arc; Alice is tormenting a villain to save her sister and bring her back. Things go sideways when she enlists Ocean’s help. Right as Enigma is about to give Alice the code word to break Kate out of her trance, Ocean snaps Enigma’s neck.

Again, this is really shocking–the show had been warming her up to be this insidious, dangerous villain who can rewrite peoples minds. In an instant, she’s dead. Ocean walks Alice through his explanation about how Kate ditched her, betrayed her, and so forth, and I’m honestly surprised she didn’t straight-up stab in right then and there. Instead, she’s tearfully nodding along.

I’ve never really enjoyed the energy Ocean brings to the show; he has Standard Issue Hunky Guy look that CW shows like to cast when they have a character they don’t know what to do with. I’m all for hot people making out, but with Alice this storyline has never felt right. There’s nothing about this guy that feels like a fit for her. Ocean is a bad match for everything about her character, and his presence has done little more than drag her down. And three times now, the show has teased us into thinking we’re finally done with him. Alice deserves her freedom.

This is one of the better episodes of Batwoman this season thanks to it finding some genuinely shocking moments either drive points home or move the show forward. Many of the moments with Luke and Sophie helped ground the show, and Jacob’s move toward sobriety is a relief after the last few weeks of his strange behavior.