Sunday, March 14, 2021

REVIEW: 'Batwoman' - Alice Learns About Her Past with Ocean While Ryan's Health Deteriorates in 'It's Best You Stop Digging'

The CW's Batwoman - Episode 2.07 "It's Best You Stop Digging"

As Ryan's condition worsens, she questions Batwoman's "no killing" code when she realizes the opportunity to avenge her mother is slipping away. Tatiana fills in the gaps for Alice about her time on Coryana and her history with Ocean.

In 2020, the television industry aired 493 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 next episode of The CW's Batwoman.

"It's Best You Stop Digging" was written by Jerry Shandy and directed by Avi Youabian

The narrative established a deadline for itself through Ryan's Kryptonite injury. Each episode has increased the stakes of how much this wound has incapacitated her. It has suggested a quickly deteriorating condition. However, it also feels the urge to prolong the final outcome for as long as possible. That involves a lot of suffering for Ryan. Plus, it also produces the story saying over and over again that time is running out and every quick fix from Mary is unsustainable. And yet, Ryan is still out in the field as Batwoman. She certainly isn't as capable here as she has been previously. Angelique is powerful enough to defeat her. That almost leads to Batwoman's discovery. The lines are increasingly becoming blurred in that endeavor though. Mary is in constant communication with Sophie about retrieving the map to Coryana. They need the miracle cure to heal Ryan. Moreover, Safiyah is the one keeping Kate prisoner. Everyone feels the urgency of the moment. However, the narrative struggles to make that apparent in ways that don't just feel like prolonged suffering. This episode provides context for how Alice and Ocean's relationship developed. Moreover, it reveals that Safiyah is the reason why Beth became Alice. It was so much more than her journey through captivity and only finding comfort in Mouse. She was always firmly planted on her path towards revenge against her family. She had memories of her time on Coryana. However, Ocean got her to change her perspective on the world. Safiyah let Alice in as well. She shared the secrets of the island. She detailed the history of this place and the Desert Rose. It must be protected at all costs. Wars could be fought over this one valuable resource. So many conflicting parties are trying to get their hands on it. That chaos informs the story. That can be overwhelming as well. It contributes to the overall idea that Catherine Hamilton was keeping even more secrets. She was conducting experimental research that mostly left people permanently scarred and not cured. Jacob and Mary have to pick up the pieces of that. Catherine's death also provided resolution to a certain extent of the revenge plots elsewhere. Alice is still devoted to exacting her vengeance against her family for giving up hope for her survival. And yet, Ocean was able to convince her that she shouldn't waste her second chance at life on that. It was because Safiyah messed around with her mind that Alice remained steadfast on this path in Gotham. Alice's actions on Coryana were a betrayal. That is an extension of her refusing to love Safiyah in the way she wanted. Alice never understood that. It was obvious to others. They were the ones making these big power moves. Alice was caught in the crosshairs. She has still exposed the world to the Desert Rose. She still presents as a threat. Tatiana will kill her the first chance she gets. Alice looks for information. She only finds confirmation that she cannot escape this world. She has been set on this path. It wasn't her decision. It's out of her control. And so, she dresses up for the occasion. Ryan is the only potential disruptor to this plan. Even then, Alice doesn't understand Ryan's story or appreciate the weight of the destruction she has brought onto Gotham. Alice changed Ryan's entire world. Ryan is dying and wants to kill Alice as well. That's not who she fundamentally is though. Her world is confusing. She is hallucinating. Those moments are incredibly melodramatic. Again, the show is slowly teasing all of these big developments. It makes for a less exciting and visceral viewing experience. It's mostly just to create the circumstance where Ryan can plant a tracker on Alice. That ensures the conflict will be coming to Coryana next. These dynamics have to explode one way or another. That climatic moment must happen soon. The show has established that at this point. As such, it has a high bar to clear because it has already exhausted a lot of emotions out of the situation. If the evolution of what happens next isn't compelling, then the show could just be going around in circles with nothing more interesting to say about power and the morality of being heroic in an incredibly heightened and dangerous world. Alice delights in being the reason why two Batwomen were created. That's her takeaway from all of this. She has no personal stake in Ryan's journey. The audience should though. This episode sidelines her in a way that is true to the circumstances without presenting something new to the conversation. It's annoying as a result. Moreover, nothing new is introduced with Alice's plight either. Her time on Coryana was transformative. That is crucial. But her story as the villain can only grow so much more complicated before it all strains credibility. That means the show may be hitting the point of diminishing returns with her despite Rachel Skarsten's still entertaining and expressive performance.