Coming off a streak of solid episodes that set up lots of fun dominoes to knock over, Batwoman‘s Season 2 finale had everything going for it. The news that series co-star Dougray Scott was unceremoniously leaving the show ahead of Season 3, though, came out the morning after the finale and it feels kind of apiece with the finale we got, which ended up a mixed bag. Spoilers follow for Batwoman Season 2, Episode 18, “Power.”
This episode had a lot of work to do going in and it does almost too much, stopping just short of closing things up enough to be a series finale.
We left the Bat-Family in a tough spot last week as Circe-Kate made off with the Batsuit and a bunch of Batman’s dangerous souvenirs. This week, Black Mask’s plan is clear. With Batwoman out of commission and the police under his control, Black Mask does an all-channels announcement around Gotham, telling Gothamites that he’s left piles of masks around for them to pick up and wear to cause chaos.
Meanwhile, Ryan finished her farewell letter to the city. Of course, she doesn’t really get to say goodbye. She is the main character after all.
The event seems built clearly to connect to the Capitol Insurrection on January 6, 2021, and it’s hard not to think back to Bane’s takeover of Gotham in The Dark Knight Rises. It’s somewhere in the middle because Black Mask has some distressingly good points just like Bane did, but the imagery is meant to closer mirror something like the Purge films.
The show moves at a breakneck pace from here, and there are too many little moments to enumerate, so we’ll go through some of the standout ones.
The Odd Couple
Alice and Ryan team up because they have a common goal that Alice believes in enough that betrayal is highly unlikely. The two show up to Black Mask’s hideout where they fight Circe-Kate in her Red Hood-inspired outfit, a sort of Batwoman-meets-Tacticool look. It’s a fun battle, but the unlikely alliance is quickly split up when Alice tells Ryan to go after Circe-Kate when she escapes on the Batbike.
This takes us down two paths. One is Ryan chasing Circe-Kate’s bike in her Batmobile–an extended chase that has both hero and villain dropping every Bat Gadget they can. Meanwhile, Alice stays back to fight Roman Sionis. They have the usual villain “we’re not so different you-and-I” back and forth, but then Alice turns Sionis’ ego back on him. While Circe-Kate made off with most of Batman’s battle trophies, Alice managed to grab an important one, and she unleashes a jet of Joker’s acid from his lapel flower into Roman’s face and then slams his mask down. The acid apparently fuses Sionis’ face and mask together.
It’s horrifying, wildly unrealistic, and perfect Batman-style ironic justice. The man who ran a cosmetics empire and hid behind a mask to hurt and frighten people is now deeply scarred and unable to escape his uglier side. It’s deeply satisfying.
More like Bat-zing
Less satisfying, on the other hand, is the reveal of Luke Fox as Batwing.
It’s not all bad. We watch Luke searching around the Batcave looking for anything that might help when he stumbles across some childhood drawings he’d made imagining Batman as a Black man. Markings on the drawings lead him to a draped cloth with two pointy tips at the top. Seeing Luke, who was rendered so powerless just a few episodes ago, step into the suit is awesome.
But then the first thing they do with the suit is have him fly up to catch a falling Mary Hamilton… only to have the boosters fail and Luke to fall to the ground. The moment is meant to be funny, but the tone is all wrong for the episode and storyline. Is it plausible that a years-old high-tech Batsuit might have some kinks to work out? Absolutely. But it has no place in this episode that’s about good people finding their power and wresting it from those who would use it unjustly.
When Luke punches Russell Tavaroff, now in a Venom-enhanced rage, it’s good, but doesn’t make up for the tonal shift. It’s over too quickly, and the reveal is disappointing as a result. As for Tavaroff, the show did about what I expected. Instead of giving him a cool, weird costume, they just put him in a muscle suit and a gray henley shirt and had him rage around. Boo-ring.
Circe-Kate, now just Kate
Alice and Ryan manage to dose Kate with the tweaked Snakebite gas, and the quiet support of the Batwoman fans of Gotham who instead used their Black Mask-donated masks to create makeshift Bat signals, win out over the purgers. When Alice dosed Kate, she managed to dose herself. While Kate is unlocking her memories, Alice is having one last exchange with Ocean, in which she finally lets go of anger and embraces sadness. Cut to the next day.
Black Mask and Alice are behind bars. Kate is herself again, though with her new face. The show does a bunch of clean-up work here. Kate breaks it off once-and-for-all with Sophie and says she’s going to leave Gotham to find Bruce Wayne.
Depending on how that goes down, it could be a re-entry point for Batman. Can you imagine an Arrow-style Batman that switches between old Batman fights against villains, leading up to his disappearance, and modern-day new adventures in Gotham? It’d be rad, and if Superman and Lois is any indication, the CW still has tricks up its sleeves.
The season ends too cleanly. Batwoman was on her back foot, facing off against Safiyah, Alice, Black Mask, Circe-Kate, and Tavaroff from different directions. By the end of 45 minutes of television, Safiyah is out of the picture, Alice is semi-redeemed and contained, Black Mask is utterly defeated, and Tavaroff was just nothing.
There’s good stuff in the episode. Ryan’s arc is strong and enjoyable as she tries to set aside Batwoman before embracing it. She has a great scene where she talks to the parole board and speaks her mind. The Batwing suit looks rad. The Alice-Ryan-Kate-Black Mask fight was fun.
But with so much done in one episode, it feels like some of it wasn’t given proper lip service. Tavaroff is done in with a punch, with no words or story spent on it. Kate is back and then gone again in a flash. Dougray Scott’s Jacob Kane is fully written off the show with his last scene having been a generic prison “one phone call” shot. It seems like some of this season’s stuff should carry over, but it’s all just over and done with. There’s something to be said about not stretching it out, but another episode or so probably would’ve helped.
With all that said, the massively improved back half of Batwoman Season 2 has been enough that when Season 3 rolls around, I’ll be watching.