Sunday, March 28, 2021

REVIEW: 'Batwoman' - Ryan Discusses the Transformative Justice That Gotham Needs With the Bat Team in 'Rule #1'

The CW's Batwoman - Episode 2.09 "Rule #1"

Batwoman confronts Gotham's biggest foe, while new information forces those closest to Kate to make some difficult decisions. Ryan's feelings for Angelique puts her partnership with Luke and Mary at risk. Alice goes on a warped walk down memory lane.

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.

"Rule #1" was written by Nancy Kiu & Maya Houston and directed by Michael Blundell

What does transformative justice look like? It's a widespread concept that is worthy of in-depth discussion and examination. So often, it is dismissed as an idea. The systems being targeted are simply too big and corrupt to ever transform in a meaningful way. And yet, people are still motivated to speak out against injustice. They stand firmly in their beliefs that the way things have always been isn't what they should view as acceptable. Kate and Ryan both became Batwoman in order to make a difference in Gotham. Now, it can be debated how successful they have both been with that goal. Various criminals still roam the streets. They terrorize the city. Corruption still plagues all forms of institutional power. Secrets have been exposed this season. However, that hasn't fundamentally changed anything. The underlying issue still hasn't been addressed. And now, Ryan has the time and opportunity to analyze these issues more clearly. Previously, she saw her service as a hero as being limited. She would only be Batwoman for a certain amount of time. She was simply a placeholder until Kate could return. This wasn't a permanent job. The team has bonded with her. She would remain a part of this operation. She wouldn't be out in the field actually fighting the criminal elements. However, everyone now believes Kate to be dead. Julia returned to Gotham with the evidence proving that to be true. Of course, the audience knows better. We know that Black Mask has her. She has been horribly disfigured. And now, Enigma has come along to further torture her. That has the potential to connect all the various elements of the season together. Black Mask emerges as a new visible threat here. His connection to Enigma though also bonds him to Safiyah who previously used her services to alter Alice's mind. That was fragile to begin with. That is on full display here as well in the most tangential story of the episode. It builds to the idea that hopefully Alice can remove all memories of Kate from her mind. She can alter her reality once more. That doesn't particularly seem healthy. Plus, it's so far removed from everything else that is happening. It stands out in an odd way. Alice has long been an entertaining character. Here though, she doesn't feel like a chief concern. That's a waste considering her connection with Kate. That bond between the sisters even provides a valuable lesson to the Bat team. Ryan realizes that they must hold each other accountable. The latest villain has risen because he believes that people in this city can do whatever they want. He functions in the same way Batwoman does. He simply has a different moral code. He stands by it. His rationale is solid in his mind. He believes he is justified to act this way because Batwoman killed his daughter. That seems like the perfect motivation for him blowing up Kate's plane and torturing her for months. It still needs more of an explanation to reveal how he has shaped all of this into fruition. It doesn't make sense. And yet, his power now looms over Gotham. This is the way the city has always operated though. It has had vigilantes, villains and law enforcement. It has gone unchanged for decades now. Ryan hopes to forge a better path. She has a game plan for how to address these issues before they rise to the level of criminality that has long defined this city. Everyone has such love for Gotham. And yet, that too comes with the solemn acknowledgement that it is a corrupt place that can never escape from its seedy elements. Those will always remain in charge. The police chief is killed. Someone better could theoretically run for that elected office. It takes people on the inside with a willingness to change the system to work alongside the activists who hold them accountable. It's still an examination of the longterm planning needed to address the issues that plague communities across the world. Batwoman's existence was one example of how to fight back. It's not the only way. The team can aspire for more. Their influence can create change. They have to think differently. They can't take the same actions hoping for a better outcome. That has only led to more darkness. They have to address the mistakes of the past and hope for a better future. It's aspirational in a way the show needs right now. It provides a direction even though it remains absolutely dark and twisted with its villains as well. It's heartbreaking too because Angelique loves Ryan so much that she isn't willing to risk her life in order to identify the true killers. That's a sacrifice she is willing to make. But it also highlights the dysfunction of the system condemning people for their pain without trying to alleviate it with a full understanding of the cost of it all.