“Batwoman” did not have many nice choices going into season 2. Not solely did the CW collection lose its star when Ruby Rose determined to depart, however the first season wasn’t capable of be filmed in its entirety as soon as the coronavirus pandemic shut the trade down final spring. Even although the final episode to air (“O Mouse!”) ended with a decently intriguing cliffhanger, it nonetheless did not have practically sufficient time or foresight to wrap up the whole lot that wanted wrapping earlier than leaping into one other character’s story.
In that respect, the premiere of the second season has a collection of extraordinarily powerful jobs to do, narratively talking. “Whatever Happened to Kate Kane?” has to clarify the absence of Rose’s Kate Kane, take care of the truth that her psychotic sister Alice (Rachel Skarsten) has outfitted certainly one of her goons with Bruce Wayne’s face (performed on this disguise by Warren Christie) and, most crucially, go the Batwoman torch from Kate to Ryan (Javicia Leslie), who might be carrying the Batsuit till additional discover. Any a type of storylines may have individually powered a whole episode, however the extraordinary set of circumstances that introduced the show thus far mandates that all of them must collide onscreen concurrently. The result’s messy, as was perhaps inevitable — but it surely’s additionally not significantly satisfying, which was far more avoidable.
The quick aftermath of Kate Kane’s disappearance unfolds as could possibly be anticipated. Luke Fox (Camrus Johnson) and stepsister Mary (Nicole Kang), Kate’s coworkers in vigilante justice, are in shock. Her father (Dougray Scott), a police commander who made it his enterprise to declare struggle on Batwoman, is disoriented and in denial. Her ex Sophie (Meagan Tandy) is devastated to the purpose that her new love curiosity, Julia Pennyworth (Christina Wolfe), begins asking questions. Meanwhile, Alice spends her waking hours furiously scuttling about within the sewers in elaborate mourning costumes and plotting revenge on whoever stole her probability to kill Kate on her personal phrases.
Skarsten is as dedicated as ever to creating Alice the show’s personal unhinged twist on the Joker, however her twitchy model of villainy grates much more when Kate — her apparent foil and most well-liked goal — is nowhere to be discovered. At one level, she even meets somebody’s “why are you doing this?” query with a shrugged, “no cause in any respect, as a result of cause does not matter!” Chaos for chaos’ sake is not unfamiliar villain territory, however for a serialized show wherein she’ll presumably stay the largest antagonist, it is neither sustainable nor significantly compelling.
Still: the primary two episodes aren’t about Alice, as even Alice herself appears to understand in her sporadic matches of fury. In truth, the largest situation (as Alice would most likely agree) is that they are largely about Kate — though they’re ostensibly laying the groundwork for her alternative to take over.
We first meet Ryan as she sleeps in her van, which we shortly be taught turned her dwelling after she was framed for promoting medicine and her adoptive mom was murdered. She will not be, as she and the show typically remind everybody, Kate Kane, whose riches supported and insulated her throughout her time as Batwoman. With a lot else occurring within the show, the primary two episodes of her season barely have time to develop Ryan in a lot depth, not to mention let Leslie construct a plausible efficiency. We discover out in passing that she, like Kate, is homosexual, and that she additionally has intensive martial arts coaching, thus sidestepping any initially awkward battle makes an attempt. And since she does not have anybody in her life to speak to moreover a plant, there’s not a lot we will study her life organically outdoors of her personal flashbacks and clunky exposition from different characters with Google. Every so typically, she will get to quip on the dangerous guys in a manner that is extra Spider-man than Kate Kane, but it surely’s not lengthy earlier than the show’s preexisting mythology intervenes and swallows her again up in it. And whereas it is vital to the story that Ryan has to fairly actually hit the bottom operating as Gotham’s new Batwoman, it is nonetheless disappointing how a lot the show rushes her discovery of the go well with, its powers and her emotions about all of it.
With treasured little time to commit to Ryan’s introduction, “Batwoman” takes some removed from delicate shortcuts. After seeing a flashback wherein she will get horribly overwhelmed up, for example, we see her herself carrying the Batsuit and declaring, “Time to be highly effective!” When Mary asks her why she thinks she’s “worthy” of turning into Batwoman, for an additional, Ryan replies with a righteous speech about how she’s not “a logo, or a reputation, or a legacy.” It must be an inspiring second — and virtually is, particularly when Ryan factors out that her life, in contrast to Kate’s, has ready her to know how Gotham’s seedy underbelly thrives. But it is her subsequent frustratingly blunt rationalization is that she’s “a quantity,” giving her inmate consumption quantity and the truth that she was “the 327th child of a Black lady who died in childbirth that 12 months” as explanations. Given sufficient house to breathe, this data may make for compelling character moments. Without that, it feels just like the show ticking bins that show why Ryan is A Different Kind of Batwoman earlier than barreling into one other nonsensical plot twist that does her character no favors.
The season can have much more highway for Ryan to go down, and hopefully Leslie will get to discover extra components of her character past her foundational traumas. But if not, her Batwoman simply may get misplaced within the margins of Kate Kane’s story in spite of everything.
The second season of “Batwoman” premieres January 18 on the CW. The first season is presently obtainable to stream on The CW and HBO Max.