Thursday, October 21, 2021

REVIEW: 'Batwoman' - Ryan and Alice Are Tied Together in Their Pursuit of a Villain Who Lurks Below the City in 'Loose Tooth'

The CW's Batwoman - Episode 3.02 "Loose Tooth"

When a new incarnation of Gotham's swamp slumming Killer Croc surfaces and starts racking up a body count, the inaugural team-up of Batwoman and Alice is put to the test. But Alice isn't the only unwanted intrusion into Ryan's life when Jada Jet shows up at Wayne Enterprises, insisting on meeting the company's new CEO. Luke and Mary's relationship is strained under the weight of a secret Luke is keeping, while Sophie finds herself becoming part of Ryan's inner circle.

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.

"Loose Tooth" was written by Chad Fiveash & James Stoteraux and directed by Jeff Hunt

A new generation has taken over Gotham. Batman is no longer the caped crusader serving as a vigilante in this city. Batwoman has taken his place. Even she has gone through two iterations at this point. And yet, echoes of the past reverberate through the present day. That's a result of Batman's trophies from his various fights with iconic villains having been released onto the world. As such, each brutal attack that produces similarities is immediately framed as being the second coming of that particular villain. That was true in the season premiere with the Mad Hatter. It's true now with Killer Croc. Both episodes have even had news reporters positing that question to their audience. Were these recent actions a result of the same villains who plagued the city all those years ago and framed epic stories for Batman? Or are these simply copycats stepping up to start the tragic cycle all over again? The familiarity lingers over Gotham. The city has been through these events before. Batwoman has her own history in this city. Alice stands out as a major villain as well. And yet, the priority of their presence is lessened due to the sudden introduction of these famed stories. It's not personal because it's not the same villains that Batman faced once upon a time. It's simply strangers who picked up some random items on the streets. Those have had perilous consequences. People die as a result. That places some immediate urgency into the proceedings. These items need to be found as quickly as possible. Renee has the authority to put together a team for that direct purpose. Ryan and Alice have to work together. They know how the heroes and villains of this city think. As such, they should be able to make quick progress with this mission. Of course, all of this is personal for Renee too. She teases a history with the original Poison Ivy. She confirms that the plant Batwoman previously recovered isn't the same weapon that was once used. That particular trophy is set up to have more importance than all the rest. That's what the tease at the end of the second season was all about. It hasn't been contained yet. It's going to be of ongoing importance. The rest can simply be episodic concerns. Batwoman faces off with the man who found Mad Hatter's hat. And now, she contends with the man infected with the same vicious disease that transformed Killer Croc. Again, this trauma is being inflected onto a new generation. That symbolizes that the previous one didn't do enough to curb these issues so they would never be prominent again. The cycle repeats itself. How interesting is that for the audience though? It takes some of the personal stakes away from the core characters. It leaves them stretching for grounded moments of connection and catharsis. It's a specific premise meant to bring all of them together despite how stiff and awkward it can be. Yes, Alice has a personal connection to being a young girl held captive by a deranged mind. That only distracts her for a moment when she plots her grand escape. Even then, Luke has a solution that should have been implemented in the first place. That would have ensured that Ryan doesn't have to worry about Alice all the time when they are out in the field together. That concern should still be a priority. It doesn't have to dictate every single action. Similarly, everyone should fear Luke's well-being because he insists he's fine even though the Batwing suit shuts down when it detects medical distress. That could warn some ominous things for the future. That's foreboding while offering nothing new or transformative by the end of the episode. And finally, Ryan's wishes aren't respected regarding her birth mother. She wanted to know if Alice was telling the truth. She ultimately decided against knowing who her mother was because she had already found a loving family. The show forces her hand by bringing Jada Jet into the proceedings. She makes her presence known which leaves Sophie with very little choice but to tell Ryan the true scope of the situation. It's not a mystery that is allowed to fester for very long. But it's also melodrama following a similar pattern. Ryan was previously walking in Kate's shadow. She was unable to break free of the drama that swallowed her family. That was resolved. And now, Ryan is given her own family to take over that corner of the show. It may have prominence and insight eventually. At the moment, it's still awkwardly being introduced. That familiarity may be reassuring to some. It also comes across as the show being comfortable with itself. It's not challenging itself in a way that rewards the depths of who these characters are and the people watching them on this journey.