Batwoman -- “Antifreeze” -- Image Number: BWN304b_0032r -- Pictured: Rachel Skarsten as Alice -- Photo: Dean Buscher/The CW -- © 2021 The CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Some of my favorite Batwoman moments have been when the show gets truly macabre. Each of the CW superhero shows, despite being in a shared universe and sharing a lot of visual styles, and has its own look. Batwoman has a darker tone than other shows in the lineup overall, and is at its best when it doubles down on that darkness. Spoilers follow for Batwoman Season 3, Episode 4, “Antifreeze.”

“Antifreeze”

THE FREEZE OUT — When Ryan (Javicia Leslie) makes Gotham’s “30 Under 30” list, Luke (Camrus Johnson) worries about how Marquis’s (Nick Creegan) involvement in Ryan’s rising popularity as Wayne Enterprises’ acting CEO will land with Jada (Robin Givens). Mary (Nicole Kang) returns from a late night out not feeling quite herself, while Alice’s (Rachel Skarsten) hallucinations grow stronger. And when Sophie’s (Meagan Tandy) sister, Jordan (guest star Keeya King), goes missing, she and the Bat Team quickly realize that Freeze’s missing weapon hasn’t been fully contained.

After some increasingly frustrating episodes that squandered tons of potential, Batwoman is starting to show its hand for the season ahead. Last episode’s Freeze storyline bleeds over into this week as we get more information about the mysterious client the no-name thugs kept referencing.

Shattered and Scattered

Things start out horrifying with the cold open. Pun intended. A person is looking around frantically, but something is wrong. As the camera pulls out, it becomes clear that the person is frozen solid. A man in a black at tells the person they’re free to go, and they stand up, only for their legs to break off at the knee, with the person collapsing and then shattering on the ground. Just the use of the actor’s eyes makes this whole sequence grisly in a way that really stuck in my head.

I hated last week’s episode. Like, really hated. But the storyline this week does two things. One, the creepy nature of the plot this week pulled me in immediately, ratcheting up the tension and putting a hard timer on everything going on. Second, it laid pieces that we can look forward to.

The villain we’ll be dealing with is the Black Glove Society. That’s a little too similar to the Black Mask Gang, but okay. In the comics, they’re a society of wealthy people who will use any means necessary to retain their power. One of them is Jezebel Jet in the comics. The character in Batwoman is named Jada–probably because of the misogynistic implications of the name/word Jezebel.

It’s the System, Man

Some of Batwoman‘s strongest work has revolved around systemic problems, and the ways the rich or well-entrenched can use their power to take advantage of others. Batwoman battling a cadre of gross rich people bodes well for this season.

And while we haven’t met Poison Ivy yet, her intervention in this episode makes it feel like she might be a sort of anti-hero for the season. I have to wonder if the writers maybe took a page from the Harley Quinn animated series. While Poison Ivy has historically been a seductress who happens to control plants, Harley Quinn leaned into her activist roots to emphasize that she’s not just targeting random people. That she kidnaps Mary Hamilton to seemingly give her a cure for this Freeze Serum means we could be in for a fresh take on the character. Maybe. It’s so hard to tell with Batwoman.

Another strong point of the episode comes with the interaction between Sophie and Alice, something that improves both characters. Sophie is supposed to be smart and badass enough to have been a high-ranking officer at a security firm, but the show often has nothing for her to do. By having her go off investigating with Alice, we get to see her, first, kicking ass when the BGS appears in her sister’s apartment and then show that she’s not a space case when she reveals that she’s aware of what’s happening with Alice.

It’s hard not to see Meagan Tandy as being in a similar situation to Candice Patton in The Flash. Both have been placed in the role of a supposedly capable character, but then relegated to looking worriedly at computer screens by the writers.

The Family Business

The part of the story that I didn’t really enjoy is the new weird family dynamic and boardroom crap happening between Ryan and Jada. I think back to Marvel’s Iron Fist show and how that story–similarly about a person newly-burdened with being CEO of a large company–got lost in boardroom drama instead of doing superheroics, and how that helped make the first season the worst of the Netflix Marvel shows. For this storyline to work, they need to be constantly tying it back into actual Batwoman stuff. We’ll see if that works.

Superhero stories often fall victim to Soap Operatics, so this kind of stuff is not unexpected, but it’s still something I hope the writers can avoid moving forward.