NOTE: Full spoilers for this episode of, “Batwoman” are present in this review
Well, hot diggety! Batwoman managed a pretty good episode this week! What a treat!
Indeed, it really seemed like The CW’s much-troubled DC drama had become stuck in a permanent quagmire over the past few weeks, with this struggling series being unwilling or unable to legitimately improve itself, amid plummeting ratings and more public scorn than ever in its second season. Every so often though, Batwoman seems to briefly pull itself together, and act like it’s at least able to hit the bare minimum for acceptable Arrowverse entertainment. This week happened to be one of those exciting weeks! “Arrive Alive” presents a fairly engaging core storyline that sees Ryan and Sophie forced to work together in a bid to save Angelique from Black Mask, while Alice delivers her own rewarding subplot, wherein she corners Enigma in her office, demanding that Enigma erase the memory of Alice’s dead sister from her mind.
Best of all, Batwoman decides to stop wasting time on infantile, obnoxious social justice rhetoric this week, and ditch its faux-woke soapboxing to instead focus entirely on just crafting a good storyline. It’s refreshing, though I confess that I don’t see this trend continuing when Batwoman returns for its next episode in May. Still, I’ll take small victories where I can get them with this series, and credit where it’s due, “Arrive Alive” is a huge step up for Batwoman. Its core storyline is a little bit cheesy, granted, presenting a street racing-inspired hook that’s probably the most conspicuous, blatantly obvious heist attempt that the False Face Society could have possibly put together. Even so, at least this episode is entertaining, while finding a fairly smart way to further the tense working relationship between Ryan and Sophie.
That relationship naturally hits another snag after Ryan, as Batwoman, accidentally intervenes in an undercover operation of Sophie’s, thus preventing the Crows from gathering vital intelligence on how the False Face Society produces and delivers Snakebite. Ryan then approaches Sophie as a civilian at The Hold-Up, and pretends to obliviously suggest that she should take over as the undercover driver. Sophie’s left with no real options anyway, because Jacob berates her and removes her from the False Face operation, replacing Sophie with another, more zealous and aggressive Crow named Russell Tavaroff. If that name sounds familiar, it’s because Tavaroff is a lesser-known Batman Family antagonist called ‘Menace’ in DC Comics lore, one with a specific animosity toward Luke Fox! I imagine that the Arrowverse will tweak the character a bit, but the setup for a Luke-focused baddie in the weeks ahead is certainly not without promise, even if Tavaroff unfortunately barely appears in this episode, let alone as Menace.
Thanks to some clever hacking by Luke however, one of Mary’s cars (Mary herself is absent this week) is wired with the Batmobile A.I., allowing Ryan to fake being a super capable criminal driver. One spoofed text later, and Ryan is successfully hired in Sophie’s place, allowing her to place a tracker on one of the canisters of stolen Scarecrow Fear Gas. Ryan even has to dodge the pursuit of the Crows at this point to boot, further bolstering what’s already a fairly impressive action scene, at least by CW standards. Either way, the Crows finally get a bead on how to keep pursuing False Face, thanks to Ryan’s efforts, with Ryan and Luke seemingly ready to meet for their next step… Only for Sophie to take the intel and go rogue.
Sure, Sophie is desperate to save Angelique and rectify the fact that she couldn’t protect her informant, but even considering that, Sophie’s recklessness and stupidity when it comes to charging at Black Mask does lead to a fairly contrived climax, even if it still has a good end result. After Black Mask predictably gets the drop on Sophie, because she’s an idiot, Ryan intervenes as Batwoman, and almost manages to subdue Black Mask, even if the resulting scuffle causes some of Ryan’s blood to be left nearby. This becomes important later. Even though Ryan once again comes that close to successfully defeating Black Mask however, one of the False Face thugs is set up to shoot Angelique if Black Mask isn’t set free. Oops. Yeah, this is a little bit predictable, since a good chunk of the season is left, and Black Mask can’t be defeated this early. Even so, Black Mask continues to impress as a villain, with the worst thing about him so far being that he’s stuck in the Arrowverse’s worst show, at least under normal circumstances.
Fortunately, like I said, as much as this climax is a little contrived, it does allow this episode to end on a very compelling tease. After Sophie discovers some of Ryan’s Bat tech in Mary’s boosted car (a bit negligent of Ryan to just leave that there, but I guess the Bat Suit doesn’t have pockets), she takes it back to Crows HQ, at the same time that Tavaroff takes a blood sample (oxidization is real slow in the Arrowverse, apparently) from where Ryan was injured by Black Mask. This puts the Crows on track to find out Ryan’s secret identity, which Sophie does in the final seconds of this episode! As much as this relies on a bit of plot convenience, Sophie discovering Ryan’s secret identity was inevitable, plus it’s smart to have this key turn occur right after Sophie has faced challenges with both sides of Ryan’s identity. This should hopefully lead to a strong kick-off for Batwoman’s next episode, set to air two weeks from now.
As for the subplot surrounding Alice and Enigma, it also proved to be surprisingly satisfying this week! After Alice crashes Enigma’s next psychiatry appointment, humourously killing her patient by declaring him a lost cause, Alice demands that Enigma remove the memories of Kate from her mind. This results in Enigma taking Alice through her fractured subconscious mind, which is ultimately interrupted by Ocean, both figuratively and literally! Yes, Ocean apparently tracked Alice down to Enigma’s office, having, “Other business” in Gotham, which eventually results in an exasperated Enigma restoring both of their lost memories. As much as I’m annoyed that Batwoman is bringing its lacklustre Coryana storyline back into the main narrative, Alice rediscovering her vulnerability through her affair with Ocean is another story turn that could yield potent dividends in the weeks ahead. Moreover, Enigma restoring Alice’s and Ocean’s memories is bound to get back to Safiyah eventually, who will hopefully make herself useful at that point, and start hopefully gaining a better hand in Gotham’s current villain affairs.
Batwoman has had an especially sub-par second season throughout most of 2021, but every so often, the stars align, and the show manages to deliver a pretty decent episode. “Arrive Alive” doesn’t completely shed some of Batwoman’s cheesy, occasionally cringeworthy ‘baditude’, but it does manage to present a legitimately solid advancement for Ryan’s and Sophie’s interactions, as well as the overall agenda of Black Mask and his Snakebite epidemic. Likewise, Alice’s unexpected reunion with Ocean, along with Enigma restoring both of their lost memories, thankfully heads off an unwelcome Alice pity party storyline before it gets too far off the ground. This surprisingly decent Batwoman narrative is made all the better by the fact that the show is taking next week off as well, before returning the week after, and moving into The CW’s Sunday 9:00 PM EST timeslot, while the soon-premiering sixth season of Legends of Tomorrow takes Batwoman’s former Sunday 8:00 PM EST timeslot.
I guess even a broken clock is right twice a day. I’m very far from having any kind of steadfast faith in Batwoman at this point, but it’s good to know that the series is still capable of decent storylines every now and again. Maybe we’ll get extra lucky in May as well, which promises to introduce a recast Kate Kane, while the Crows finally discover who’s taken up Kate’s old mantle in the time since her disappearance.
- Exciting race to rescue Angelique
- Sophie discovering Ryan's secret identity
- Alice's unexpected reunion with Ocean, along with their memories being restored
- Street racing hook doesn't feel necessary
- Sophie's idiotic attempt to single-handedly apprehend Black Mask