NOTE: Full spoilers for this episode of, “Batwoman” are present in this review
It’s taken a few weeks, but finally, Batwoman appears to be getting a handle on how best to develop its new lead heroine. “Fair Skin, Blue Eyes” at long last gives us a legitimately strong Ryan Wilder storyline this week, while also delivering an interesting villain-of-the-week, and some equally strong teases for the show’s new arch-villains, the False Face Society. At the same time, Alice and Sophie find themselves in an unexpected partnership, after Alice corners Sophie in her apartment, forcibly enlisting her help in pursuing a new lead related to Coryana, and Kate’s apparent location.
It’s good to see Batwoman finally achieving a foothold on its storytelling once again, even as the show tends to have a bad habit of losing said footholds from week to week. Still, at least Ryan is finally starting to feel like a true headliner-in-the-making as the Arrowverse’s second Batwoman, after she’s summoned by a distraught little black boy that triggers a jewelry store alarm, so he can tell Batwoman that his brother is missing. What follows is a core storyline that not only does a much better job of developing Ryan as a detective, not just a street thug in a costume, but also manages to do something legitimately interesting with Batwoman’s social justice leanings, namely featuring a child trafficker villain that primarily preys on children of colour, who are most often neglected by the foster system’s oversight.
As it turns out, Ryan is one such former victim of this trafficker, Candice Long, a.k.a. the, “Candy Lady”, who lures children from a comic book shop, and steals them away, promising that they’ll resign themselves to their fate after she finishes a bowl of sixty daily jelly beans. After falling for the Candy Lady’s ploy over a decade previous, Ryan spent almost two months in her captivity as a child, only to be eventually broken out by her one friend from foster care, who also turns out to be her ex-girlfriend, Angelique. After Angelique intentionally allows herself to be captured by the Candy Lady, she ultimately frees Ryan, and the two presumably flee together. This is a touching turn that finally starts giving context to the implied turbulent relationship between Ryan and her ex, which has felt like little more than a piece of side conversation before now.
Because of these positive developments, Ryan has also started better settling into her role as the new leader of Team Batwoman this week. She even gets a new place to live, alongside Mary, above Kate’s old bar, something that’s certainly not a bad idea as an ongoing development! Even Ryan eventually confronting the Candy Lady as an adult, and beating intel out of her before her capture, feels satisfying as both justice and character development, in turn allowing Ryan to save Jacob as Batwoman, after it turns out that the missing boy Ryan was looking for has become a new trainee for the False Face Society, one that Ryan thankfully saves before he’s forced to do something he regrets.
All in all, this core storyline is very well realized, especially when Angelique also ends up playing into this episode’s subplot. The only head-scratching element of Ryan’s storyline at this point is the fact that she’s inexplicably hiding her ever-worsening Kryptonite wound from Mary and Luke. Is there any reason why she would feel the need to do this? Even worse is the fact that Ryan almost plows into civilians in her new Batmobile at one point (another cool addition that this episode makes!), directly because of this worsening injury, and yet she still doesn’t say anything to Luke after he expresses concern! This feels annoying, and like it’s only meant to set up more contrived drama for later. Frankly, I’m a little surprised that Ryan’s Kryptonite bullet injury is still an issue at all in fact. Is the show planning to eventually turn her into a metahuman or something? Honestly, I hope not…
As for the previously mentioned subplot of this episode, centering around the new, begrudging partnership between Sophie and Alice, it’s also fairly decent, if not as engaging. This subplot does an acceptable job of rounding out the strong core storyline with Ryan and Team Batwoman, but it also drags in comparison, and doesn’t present a whole lot in the way of intrigue. Alice’s kooky jokes keep the levity going strong, but Sophie spends this entire storyline dryly hunting for a guy from Coryana, with some help from Luke, that she ultimately fails to track down. Instead, this merely ends up being a very long walk to the reveal that Angelique is seemingly cooking Snakebite for the False Face Society. Sure, there’s also the implication that the man Alice is trying to hunt down and kill is her secret lover or some such from Coryana, but how would she not know that? Besides, if Alice can unrealistically stalk Sophie even when she deliberately attempts to shake her, why does Alice need Sophie’s help in the first place? She seems to be managing fine on her own so far!
Still, credit where it’s due, “Fair Skin, Blue Eyes” is a solid Batwoman episode, and one that finally starts properly delivering on the lead character potential of Ryan. With an interesting threat, inspired backstory, and more effective efforts to integrate Ryan properly into Team Batwoman’s social circles, there’s little to complain about within the core storyline of Batwoman this week. By contrast, this week’s subplot is a bit less satisfying, mostly going in circles with a futile effort by Sophie to resist a partnership with Alice, a partnership that Alice debatably doesn’t need to resort to, but even that at least presents the effective promise of Ryan eventually having to confront Angelique over her connection to Snakebite and the False Face Society. Batwoman’s sophomore season finally appears to be taking shape, and, knock on wood, hopefully it can maintain this building momentum, now that Ryan is finally starting to feel like she fits in the lead ensemble.
- Interesting villain-of-the-week that better develops Ryan's backstory
- More inspired angles explored with the False Face Society
- Ryan rooming with Mary is a good idea
- Why is Ryan not talking about her Kryptonite wound?
- Alice/Sophie/Luke subplot drags a bit