Sunday, January 17, 2021

REVIEW: 'Batwoman' - Ryan Discovers the Batsuit After Kate Mysteriously Goes Missing in 'What Happened to Kate Kane?'

The CW's Batwoman - Episode 2.01 "What Happened to Kate Kane?"

While Kate's friends and family hold on to hope that Kate may still be found, a homeless 25-year-old named Ryan Wilder stumbles upon Kate's Batsuit. Focused on no longer being a victim, Ryan takes the suit to use as armor and goes rogue in the streets of Gotham. Both Jacob and Luke launch searches for Kate, Mary grapples with losing yet another family member, Sophie struggles with things left unsaid to her first love, and Alice is furious that someone got to Kate before she could exact her revenge.

In 2019, the television industry aired 532 scripted shows across numerous outlets. The way people consume content now is different than it used to be. It happens according to one's own schedule. As such, it's less necessary to provide ample coverage of each episode in any given season from a show. Moreover, it is simply impossible to watch everything. As such, this site provides shorter episodic reviews in order to cover as many shows as possible. With all of that being said, here are my thoughts on the season premiere of The CW's Batwoman.

"What Happened to Kate Kane?" was written by Caroline Dries and directed by Holly Dale

It was shocking when Ruby Rose announced that she would be leaving the series after the first season finale aired. She was the lead of the show. Every character was essentially defined by their relationship with Kate Kane. Alice was her sister and the villain terrorizing Gotham. Jacob was her father who saw Batwoman as the biggest terrorist in the city. Sophie was her ex-girlfriend who still had lingering feelings for her. Mary was her step-sister who needed that family support. And Luke was her technical support as Batwoman. So many stories were defined by that close bond with Kate. Those actors shouldn't suffer from Rose deciding that she needed to step away for personal reasons. It also means that the new actress who steps into the lead role - Javicia Leslie - plays a character in Ryan Wilder who is quickly thrown into her own complex relationships with the many familiar faces. The action points out that Ryan is a hero as well. She saves a life when disaster strikes. She too can be blinded by her personal quest for vengeance against the person who destroyed her family. She only knows Kate as a member of the wealthy elite in Gotham. When she learns more details about her, she has immense respect for who she was and feels the pain of the loss her friends have in dealing with her disappearance. It's a vague enough explanation for why Kate is suddenly gone and someone new is wearing the Batsuit. Ryan finds it in the wreckage of the plane crash. Meanwhile, Kate's body is missing. It feels like history repeating in Jacob's life. He won't abandon the search for Kate like he did with Beth all those years ago. All of this has emotional resonance to it. The premiere also prioritizes Kate in a way that ties off all the loose ends from the first season while recognizing that it has to be Ryan's story moving forward. It's a complicated balance. Kate discovered that Kryptonite was the only material that could pierce the Batsuit. And now, Ryan is the one dealing with those consequences. By the end of this premiere, she understands the weight that comes from wearing the suit and serving as the masked vigilante Gotham needs. But the story also concludes with Alice welcoming the war that is coming to the city now that the hero has fallen. Ryan hasn't taken up the mantle of Batwoman just yet. It may be an inevitable moment though. Mary already feels a personal connection with her. That is a somewhat rushed moment mostly because the narrative needs it to happen. Mary and Luke have to quickly accept that someone else can be Batwoman. Kate isn't the only person who can serve as the hero of Gotham. This city still needs a protector like that as well. It appears as if Safiyah has struck a daunting and terrifying note off the bat in proving that she can eliminate Kate when others couldn't. She takes credit for the attack but only to Alice. That provides the scope of the conflict that is brewing amongst the villains of this world. Meanwhile, Jacob and Sophie find out Kate was Batwoman on their own. It's a shocking development to them. One that could traumatize them moving forward because of the dynamics they each had with the hero. It may make their interactions with the new hero even more charged. Ryan deserves to have her own unique bonds with this world though. She has her own unique identity that should be celebrated and emboldened in the storytelling. It's heartbreaking to listen to her remark about her life being a series of numbers because no one cares enough to see her humanity. That too may be a pivotal part of her journey. It's also one of incredible circumstances falling into her lap. She can suddenly make a difference in the world. It may not be how the system expects her to prove herself following her incarceration. It's still empowering though. She is making her own journey in the world. She also stops Tommy Elliot from acquiring the suit. That too shows off her bravery and heroism. She is skilled as well. That tease of Bruce Wayne appears to be contained to this premiere after the shocking reveal from the finale. But it's still clear that there will be consequences for everyone old and new in this world because of the impact Kate Kane made. The show should deal with those emotions. Her disappearance is worthy of more investigation. However, it shouldn't come at the expense of Ryan and the salvation Gotham needs as the enemies descend on it once more.