NOTE: Full spoilers for this episode of, “Batwoman” are present in this review
Batwoman has started to shamble its way to a potentially interesting Season 2 endgame, possibly making up at least some of the fact that this entire season has overall felt like a confused, infuriating mess. “Kane, Kate”, this season’s penultimate episode, fortunately continues on a fairly decent note this week as well, presenting a twist that, in hindsight, feels pretty inevitable, one that in turn leaves Team Batwoman at a major disadvantage ahead of next week’s season finale. At the same time, Alice mourns Ocean by spreading his ashes at Gotham’s waterfront (how the hell did she get Ocean cremated that quickly?!), only to face her latest encounter with Safiyah.
Previously, it seemed unclear as to why Safiyah is sticking her nose into the affairs of Black Mask and the False Face Society. This episode finally sheds a bit more light on why Safiyah would align with Roman Sionis and his agenda though, even if it still doesn’t completely explain why Safiyah indirectly caused Kate’s plane to be sabotaged at the very start of this season, before she inexplicably lied about it. Safiyah’s return also plays off of that big twist I mentioned previously, a twist that makes Team Batwoman look laughably incompetent in several respects (more so than they usually do anyway), though it does at least somewhat resonate when it comes to the heroes’ stubborn desire to bring Kate Kane back into their fold.
Yes, as some no doubt predicted, “Kate” was a sleeper agent for Black Mask the whole time. Circe was simply playing Team Batwoman since last week, having them believe that Jacob and Alice managed to get through her mental conditioning, when in reality, Circe saw an opportunity to take advantage of how soft and naive this show’s heroes are. I have to admit, this is a surprisingly candid bit of self-awareness on Batwoman’s part, rightfully challenging its protagonists stupidly believing that Kate could be restored to full lucidity with a few memories and pep talks. That naive belief has a major snowball effect as well, one that leaves Black Mask more powerful and dangerous than ever in the end, while also providing the latest opportunity to call back to the Arrowverse’s Batman tenure that we never saw.
Making matters worse is the fact that Ryan has retreated away from her friends, in a struggle to come to terms with having to hand the Batwoman mantle back to Kate. This is a really inspired idea that the show ultimately spends very little time exploring, making for what’s easily the biggest disappointment of this episode. Nonetheless, Ryan is arrested on planted evidence by the GCPD, at which point she’s forced into an audience with Black Mask. Black Mask then reveals that she knows Ryan is Batwoman, thanks to Circe’s treachery, and explains that he wanted to right the wrongs of Gotham, and especially the ones presented by the Crows, by putting on a mask himself, and essentially perverting the Batman Family’s cause. This is kind of cool in concept, but it ultimately fails to explain why Roman Sionis believes that becoming a drug kingpin and profiting off of people’s misery is somehow sticking it to the Crows, or making Gotham City better. Yes, I know that his drug amends bad memories in the grieving, but this doesn’t change the fact that it’s a high, and that False Face’s drug market is dependent on people being destitute and miserable, making Black Mask just sound like he’s blatantly full of shit.
Perhaps that’s the idea though, particularly when Ryan is predictably attacked by corrupt GCPD officers, after successfully convincing her parole officer that she’s about to be killed. This allows Ryan to display some of her fighting abilities, thus seemingly proving her claim to her PO that she’s Batwoman, before Ryan is able to escape and rush back to Wayne Tower in time to see Circe capturing her friends. A brief scuffle between Ryan and Circe then ensues, which, again, doesn’t last long enough to truly satisfy. Even this big battle was merely Circe’s latest distraction anyway, since she was actually after Batman’s super-villain trophies. This is the latest annoying, but still fairly cool tease of Batman Family villains that exist off-screen in the Arrowverse, with props like Mad Hatter’s hat, Killer Croc’s tooth, Clayface’s mud, and Joker’s acid-shooting flower all being among the villain trophies stolen by Circe, and delivered to Black Mask.
This is a pretty awesome tease for next week’s season finale, particularly after Black Mask freshly recruits some out-of-work Crows, including Tavaroff. Among the spoils pilfered from the Bat Cave as well, Black Mask was chiefly after Bane’s Venom supply, which will presumably allow Black Mask to build his very own army of False Face mutants! Safiyah, meanwhile, gets her hands on one of Poison Ivy’s vines, which will allow her to use the lone Desert Rose she got from Ryan to quickly grow an entirely new garden of Desert Roses in short order, thus restoring Coryana to its proper glory. As I said, this finally adequately explains why Safiyah would ally herself with Black Mask and the False Face Society. Too bad Safiyah remains a bumbling arch-villain though, since she idiotically allows herself to be stabbed with a Desert Rose dagger by Alice while offering her a return to Coryana, pretty much taking Safiyah off the board before Batwoman’s Season 2 climax even properly unfolds. Well, that’s lame! Even worse is that Alice doesn’t have the decency to just kill Safiyah here either, meaning that we’ll no doubt have to suffer through more tedious Coryana storylines next season, even after Ocean has been killed.
“Kane, Kate” can be a little annoying in the sense that it sets up a season climax that actively exploits how incompetent Team Batwoman can truly be, but its eventual result still promises a solid final battle with Black Mask and the False Face Society next week. As much as it still sucks that the Arrowverse will no doubt never be able to feature iconic Batman Family villains like Poison Ivy or Bane in the flesh, it’s also a decent consolation prize to have their gear and abilities layered into the plots of the arch-villains that we do see here. Plus, despite Alice not ultimately committing to just taking Safiyah out for good here, it’s also welcome that Coryana seemingly won’t have a place in next week’s season finale storyline. This will hopefully allow Batwoman to go all in on Black Mask, Circe Sionis and the False Face Society as Season 2’s main arch-villains, who are a much better fit for Ryan’s Batwoman than Kate’s. On that note, I’m starting to wonder if the show might reverse course and kill Kate off for the end of Season 2 next week, thus leaving Ryan as the one and only Batwoman in the Arrowverse. Batwoman’s showrunners previously claimed that they wouldn’t do this, but they also previously claimed that they wouldn’t recast Kate either, ultimately not even making it out of this season before they reneged on that promise.
- Circe's surprisingly devious treachery
- Safiyah allying with False Face finally makes more sense
- False Face seizing resources from legacy Batman enemies
- Black Mask's motivations are becoming too nebulous
- Not enough focus on Ryan's struggle with handing back the Batwoman mantle