Monday, May 3, 2021

REVIEW: 'Batwoman' - Ryan and Alice Team Up to Rescue Ocean and Angelique From Black Mask in 'Initiate Self-Destruct'

The CW's Batwoman - Episode 2.12 "Initiate Self-Destruct"

Ryan is faced with a difficult decision that could expose her as Batwoman, creating a rift in the Bat Team. Black Mask's plans for Kate Kane begin to unfold. Alice is reunited with someone from her past. Sophie must decide where her loyalty lies.

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.

"Initiate Self-Destruct" was directed by Glen Winter with story by Zack Siddiqui and teleplay by Jerry Shandy

The audience has known for a couple episodes now that Kate Kane is still alive. However, this is the first episode where she becomes an active character in the story once more. Offscreen, it appears that Enigma has done her work deconstructing her mind and replacing it with Roman Sionis' daughter, Circe. Now, the audience still doesn't known the entire backstory of what happened with this particular family and Batwoman. As such, that lessens the twisted nature of Black Mask destroying Kate's plane in order to stage her death and transform her into the daughter he lost. That relationship has no real meaning at this point. It still produces an episode where both versions of Batwoman face off. Both characters now occupy the same space. The action calls attention to the fact that there are no slips in Kate's mind either. She exists fully as Circe at this point. Seeing Alice again doesn't shatter her resolve. Nor does seeing the Bat suit in action. This identity is unwavering at this point. Sure, she resisted before this transformation was fully activated. But now, everyone is under the full understanding that she no longer exists as Kate. That has been stripped away from her. It all has the potential to be emotionally devastating. The loss is significant. The characters have had time to mourn this loss. They no longer see it within the realm of possibility that Kate is still alive. They don't question this figure hidden behind a new mask. Alice simply appreciates the style she brings to this drab gang. Alice and Ryan are only working together now because Ocean and Angelique have both been taken and forced to produce more Snakebite. This won't be Ocean's final interaction with Batwoman. He is still determined to find the final Desert Rose plant on the planet. That is still his core objective. Ryan views herself as his savior. She is rescuing his life with the intention of exposing just how bad Alice truly is. He already knows that. Ryan's story is incredibly personal. The narrative also calls out the fact that Alice does remember what her gang did to Cora. That action had an impact. It's not enough of an emotional appeal for Ryan to intervene when Circe is threatening to kill Alice. That action doesn't occur though. Alice is still alive. Black Mask still needs her for some reason. He initially gives the order to kill. He retracts it a moment later. That has no clarity in the moment. The show seems to enjoy that delayed satisfaction lately. This season has overall been well-structured. That is particularly apparent with introducing a new Batwoman while still telling a story with the old version as well. It had the potential to be awkward. However, the show has mined all of these emotions well while still fundamentally telling a superhero story riddled with outrageous transformations. It's more personal to the audience at this point than the characters. That has the potential to become a problem. The characters should be just as invested. Ryan does find some closure with Angelique. She is choosing to stay in Gotham because she still believes in the potential of this city. Angelique will be better served starting a new life elsewhere. That's the best action for her right now. It means an end for them. However, they are grateful for the past. It has been traumatic. They are now both given opportunities to escape to something better. That is rewarding in its own way. Of course, it's up to Sophie and the rest of the team to actually protect Batwoman's identity. Ryan isn't really concerned with that at all. That's strange. It mostly just places the urgency on Sophie. The final outcome was a little too inevitable. Her discovering that Commander Kane has become addicted to Snakebite is the more dramatic reveal. She has access to effect change within the Crows. However, she now has even more reason to be distrustful of the leadership. She can make a difference for Ryan. She does so because she knows the truth. She isn't being open about that now. It's still a big deal when Mary presents as a Batwoman ally to Sophie. It's too much dancing around the subject in the hopes of that being dramatic enough. It would be more satisfying with everything out in the open so that those involved can actually appreciate and understand the sacrifices made. That acknowledgement may be on the horizon. It hasn't actively happened yet though. Ryan is too busy doing other things to really see the conflict elsewhere. Her character arc is all about the moment of leaving Alice behind because she truly believes this villain can't be saved.