NOTE: Full spoilers for this episode of, “Batwoman”, including multiple major character deaths, are present in this review
Batwoman didn’t exactly find the most tactful way to kick its Season 2 storyline to the next level over the past couple of weeks. The series did at least make a big, effective change through the apparent destruction of the Crows (despite Gotham citizens still protesting the existence of the Crows? What?), as well as Luke being inspired to take a more active role in the battle against Gotham’s criminal element. Both of these positive developments were expanded further in this week’s episode, “Rebirth”, which is a huge improvement over the last two! Granted, Batwoman’s Season 2 endgame still seems to be taking some head-scratching turns, but at least the show is finally tightening its storytelling, and not tastelessly exploiting racially-motivated shootings and other pressing real-world issues for the sake of contrived drama.
This time around, the show’s heroes actually fare better than the villains in this week’s narrative, which is a noticeable switch from Batwoman’s usual storytelling strengths. Even Luke addressing his recent shooting by Tavaroff, and trying to come to terms with his unwanted survival thanks to Ryan’s Desert Rose, is done surprisingly well here, particularly when it brings back a familiar face that’s overdue for a return to the Arrowverse; John Diggle! After a ton of teases from The CW, David Ramsey’s Arrow vigilante is finally popping up in the Arrowverse again, starting with Batwoman, while subsequent appearances on Legends of Tomorrow, The Flash, Superman & Lois and Supergirl seem to also be in the works for Diggle later this season!
Diggle’s re-appearance in Gotham is more than a gimmick in this case as well. After Luke confronts Tavaroff at a secret law enforcement poker game, following Tavaroff getting out on bail, Diggle happens to be present at the same card game, where he keeps an eye on Luke. Luke naturally defeats Tavaroff at cards, and gets a beating in the alley for it, but Diggle nonetheless comes to Luke’s aid, at which point, Diggle reveals that he’s aware Luke is the son of the late Lucius Fox. Diggle then talks to Luke about his anger and despair over the battle for justice in his city, at which point Diggle instructs Luke to use his anger to directly take the fight to Gotham’s criminals. Yes, it would appear that Diggle is the main catalyst when it comes to the Arrowverse’s Luke evolving into his DC superhero identity, Batwing! That’s exciting by itself, but the tease that Diggle has recently been suffering from a spate of neurological issues, ranging from headaches to disorientation, is equally intriguing. This could suggest that there were some sort of strange consequences to Diggle’s encounter with that mysterious green object (that’s definitely not a Green Lantern Power Ring, obviously, *cough*), during Arrow’s series finale.
It was also great to see Kate finally start finding her way back to her old identity, after Jacob and Alice team up to snatch her from Circe’s old living space. Despite Jacob’s present difficulties and Alice’s longstanding crimes, the two are able to find common ground by coming to Kate’s aid, at which point they start using significant objects to try and restore Kate’s memory. Oh, and pep talks, lots of pep talks… And this mostly works. Take a shot. It seems evident that Batwoman didn’t quite know how to fix the issue of Enigma hypnotizing Kate, so it’s just falling back on the same tired trope of Kate being ‘inspired’ to remember who she is, which is pretty lame. This is especially eye-rolling when Kate later recognizes Sophie immediately at Wayne Tower, because I guess their love is so strong that it breaks through Enigma’s mental conditioning instantly? Oh, give me a break! Even by the standards of The CW, that’s really corny and stupid!
At least Kate’s subconscious struggle to try and break free from the memories of Circe Sionis is not bad though, especially when the attempt to free her from said influence eventually results in big trouble for Jacob and Alice. Of course, these tragic turns for both characters happen to come with another revelation that further convolutes and disturbs Season 2’s villain endgame; Safiyah’s return. Yes, as it turns out, Safiyah actually was in league with Roman Sionis and the False Face Society the whole time, and actually did tell Roman about Kate’s flight out of National City. So, I guess we’re backtracking on Safiyah being a neutralized presence? Once again, Batwoman’s Coryana storyline feels weird and needlessly confusing. Black Mask and the False Face Society function fine as villains on their own. They don’t need Coryana nosing into their affairs!
That being said however, this arch-villain alliance is at least paying some nicely tragic dividends for Alice and Jacob. This begins with Roman revealing to Gotham at large that Jacob is Alice’s father, something that’s easily done with several GCPD officers unsurprisingly being in Roman’s pocket. The result of this scandal is Jacob being arrested for aiding and abetting Alice, at which point he’s transferred to a prison in Metropolis. I don’t know if this means that Jacob is fully leaving Batwoman, or if he’s just out of commission for the rest of this season (all two episodes of it), but either way, this is another inspired method to allow Jacob to pay a penance for failing both of his daughters, more so than the Crows simply falling apart.
Safiyah’s contrived return also feels like a transparent way to clean up Alice’s shakiest story arc from this season. I’m of course talking about Alice’s relationship with Ocean, which is supposed to demonstrate that Enigma turned Alice into a criminal by taking away her ability to love, supposedly as punishment by Safiyah for unrequited affections. Yes, that’s still stupid, and yes, it does still deflate Batwoman’s best lead character. At least the show is taking steps to rectify this however, after Alice is captured by Safiyah again, forcing Ryan to turn over her Desert Rose in exchange for Alice, so she can fully restore the then-missing Kate’s memories. Yep, another handy way to clean house for Team Batwoman, who can no longer use Ryan’s uber-convenient Desert Rose to solve all of their problems. Alice does nonetheless receive a parting gift from Safiyah however, which she discovers after breaking away from Ryan again, which Ryan just lets Alice do for… Some reason.
Regardless, Alice runs into Tatiana in the underground tunnels at this point, and stabs her to death (more housekeeping!), though not in time to save Ocean, whom she finds dead in their subway hideout mere moments later. Like I said, Batwoman’s heroes see legitimately good development this week, with their story arcs nicely improving, and shedding elements from this season that didn’t work, specifically Ryan’s favourite Desert Rose ex machina, and Alice’s romance with Ocean. Even Jacob being thrown in prison is a solid turn, one that effectively follows the Crows being disbanded. “Rebirth” is further punctuated effectively by the return of Arrow’s John Diggle as well, however brief it was, who ends up inspiring Luke to embrace a new vigilante identity as Batwing.
Batwoman has made a lot of missteps throughout its sophomore season, but this episode at least manages to indicate that the series could close out Season 2 on a solid note. The foundation is there for an intense final battle with Black Mask and the False Face Society, something I’m looking forward to a lot more than yet more Coryana material, which Batwoman should’ve been rid of months ago.
- Kate's psychological battle against Circe's memories
- Luke's eventful encounter with John Diggle
- Jacob and Alice suffering tragic consequences from trying to restore Kate
- Enigma's hypnosis being unrealistically fragile
- Safiyah inexplicably being an arch-villain again