Batwoman Season 2 Episode 18 “Power”
Director: Holly Dale
Starring: Javicia Leslie, Rachel Skarsten, Meagan Tandy, Nicole Kang, Camrus Johnson, Peter Outerbridge, Wallis Day, Nathan Owens, Gracyn Shinyei, Ava Sleeth, Jesse Hutch
Runtime: 42 minutes
It’s been two years since Batwoman premiered, and three since it was first teased in the Elseworlds Arrowverse crossover but Season 2 Episode 18 is the show’s first legitimate season finale. COVID forced the first season to end abruptly with “O, Mouse!” and while that had some conclusive elements it wasn’t really an ending to the first season arc. You can tell the creators were excited to finally deliver an actual finale, as “Power” is jam-packed with action, big reveals, pay-offs, and set up for the future. Ryan proving herself once and for all as Batwoman! Batwing! The full return of Kate Kane! This episode has it all and more and while there are definitely some head scratching and disappointing moments and developments overall I was impressed with how many of Season 2’s many plot and character arcs were brought to satisfying closes.
This season really did have a lot going on, especially considering the short episode count, but the writers made the very smart decision not to leave absolutely everything open until the finale. Before the episode starts Safiyah (Shivani Ghai) is already disposed of, as Alice confirms, and the Crows have been shut down. This allows the show to focus on Team Batwoman’s final conflict with Roman Sionis/Black Mask (Peter Outerbridge) and his forces. Ryan begins the episode with her confidence shaken after Kate Kane (Wallis Day), still believing herself to be Roman’s daughter Circe, defeated her and escaped with the weapons of many of Batman’s enemies that were stored in the Batcave. Ryan writes a letter to the people of Gotham in which she doubts her own worth as a hero, especially without the Batsuit. But Sophie of all people gives her an effective pep talk, asserting that suit or no suit she is Batwoman and will stop the Sionises. Again, I’m not crazy about how Batwoman keeps using the Batsuit as a significant part of the narrative but I did like the choice to have Ryan fight without it here, emphasizing that she’s the hero regardless of whether she has any inherited gadgets from Bruce or Kate. I also liked the choice of Sophie as the one who believes in her, as the journey those two have gone on from adversaries to uneasy allies and friends has been a strong part of the season. Alice waltzes in to propose a team-up to battle Black Mask and Circe, still hoping to free her sister from Circe’s mental influence. Sophie stays with the mayor after he’s shot outside the bar, before Ryan and Alice head off. There’s some of the typical wisecracks we’ve come to expect from prior times Ryan and Alice have been forced to work together but the episode also digs into the nasty core of their dynamic. Seeing that Ryan still views her as a villain Alice lashes out, ranting about how Ryan is more responsible for the death of her biological mother, who died in childbirth, than Alice is for her gang killing her adopted mother. As likable as Alice is and as much fun as her team-ups with the heroes have been as she’s become more of an anti-hero this is a welcome reminder of how twisted and cruel she can be and Ryan not forgiving her is a good demonstration of her character’s sense of justice and how she brings a necessary outside perspective to the convoluted drama that those involved with Kate and Alice are all involved in. As usual Javicia Leslie and Rachel Skarsten work wonderfully together and Skarsten continues to shine when highlighting how deranged Alice really is.
Black Mask plans to use the Rogues Gallery’s weapons to build a super-army before he swoops in to take down a patsy wearing his costume so that the public will love Roman Sionis. He attempts to enhance racist ex-Crow Russell Tavaroff (Jesse Hutch) with Bane’s Venom but it seems to kill him. But after Black Mask’s people dump him in the streets Tavaroff awakens and goes on a rampage. This eventually leads him to Mary, who he attacks outside the clinic but she’s rescued by Luke, who arrives in an armored supersuit, finally making his heavily promoted debut as Batwing. Luke had discovered drawings he made as a child of a black Batman stored in the secret room of the Batcave along with the armor, which his father had designed based on his son’s work. I think some fans will prefer if Luke made the suit himself and I understand that sentiment but his relationship with his late father has been such an important part of his arc on the series, and this season in particular, that I also appreciate how this version of his origin is constructed. Unfortunately, his actual action scene as Batwing is a bit anti-climactic. After catching Mary he proceeds to fall out of the sky with her, saying that he’s still working out the kinks in the suit but then dispatches with Tavaroff with a single punch. It’s too easy both as an ending for the intense feud between the two characters and as Luke’s first foray as a superhero. Seeing him become Batwing is definitely exciting but I also hope Batwoman hasn’t bitten off more than it can chew in terms of the budget and visual effects required for the suit and that Luke can get some better action in Season 3.
At Black Mask’s hideout Ryan and Alice take on him and Circe. The show handles the more grounded fighting better and there’s a great quip when Alice’s knife bounces off Circe’s modified Batsuit and she asks Alice if she was really going to stab her sister in the back, to which Alice replies, “That’s kind of our thing.” After being pinned down by Black Mask’s fire Alice urges Ryan to chase after the escaping Circe and save her sister while she handles the villain. After getting the upper hand Roman begins mocking Alice, stating that her conflicted choices and remaining humanity keep her from being a great villain. Alice sarcastically thanks him for the branding advice and cites the Joker as a truly great villain before spraying Roman in the face with the Crown Prince of Crime’s acid flower.
Ryan follows Circe, with them coincidentally arriving at the same bridge where Kate’s family had their fateful car crash years ago. The two women fight, with Circe snarling that it’s “Time to give up, Ryan,” to which Ryan replies “Call me Batwoman,” before getting the upper hand. Alice arrives and sprays Circe with Snakebite (which Mary theorized may be able to trigger Kate’s memories through Enigma and Roman’s brainwashing) and also seems to accidentally inhale some herself but as Circe continues to struggle the two of them wind up throwing each other into the river. Drifting down the water both see important visions. Alice sees Ocean (Nathan Owens) who tells her now that she’s experienced love again to continue searching for it before she says a final, tear-stained goodbye to him. Kate sees her younger self (Gracyn Shinyei) looking for her sister (Ava Sleeth) in Cartwright’s house, but this time she senses Beth’s presence, opens the door and finds her. Alice wakes up and pulls herself and Kate out of the water, doing what Kate never could and saving her sister. On the shore Ryan performs CPR until Kate wakes, free of Circe and recognizes Alice, who she refers to by her real name. But the reunion doesn’t last long as Gotham police then arrive and drag Alice away as she cries for her sister. This was a terrific, moving sequence and an appropriately bittersweet wrap-up to the Season 2 story threads of saving Kate and Alice reclaiming some of her humanity and all three actresses, but especially Rachel Skarsten, do excellent work.
As the city returns to normal (whatever that is in Gotham), Vesper Fairchild (Rachel Maddow) declares over her radio show that the people do not accept Batwoman’s retirement (I guess Ryan actually published a version of the letter somewhere? This was a bit of a weird moment.) Meanwhile, Ryan herself is released from parole, with her PO, whose life she recently saved, now supporting her. This is definitely more an optimistic ending than a realistic one for this storyline given how the prison system makes it nearly impossible for former prisoners, especially black ones, to remain free but it’s the only way the arc was ever going to end on Batwoman and optimism is a big part of the appeal of superheroes so it fits.
At Wayne Enterprises Ryan finds Luke and Mary catching Kate up on everything that’s happened in the past year. It’s not all laughs, though, as they ask what her current feelings on Alice are. Kate says that she can’t save her unless she actually wants to be Beth. She then asks Luke and Mary to give her and Ryan a moment alone. Kate states that Ryan understands even better than she did what Batwoman means to the helpless people of Gotham and that the mantle is hers forever. She continues on to say that she’s leaving the city to look for Bruce. The passing of the torch was expected and handled well and Kate’s exit at first seemed to be a tantalizing hint at future appearances, possibly with Batman himself along. But the creators have since confirmed that they viewed this as a more final ending for the Kate character and that while they won’t rule out changing their minds they currently don’t have plans to bring Wallis Day back to reprise the part going forward. This was massively disappointing as it made the whole arc about saving Kate seem like a bit of a waste, despite what it did for the other characters’ development. Plus it makes the full debut of the main Arrowverse Batman seem like it’s not happening any time soon, when the rest of the season made it feel like it was closer than ever. Even worse, Kate’s journey ends with an out of character moment in her turning her back on Alice, which makes absolutely no sense as her sister is arguably closer to redemption than she’s ever been.
Ryan winds up paying more attention to Alice than her own twin and goes to visit her at Arkham. At first I got the sense she might break her out but while she does seem a little sympathetic to her enemy (even though she says she hopes they never see each other again) Ryan states that her decision to leave Alice in jail despite their alliance is motivated by her desire to see the criminal justice system work properly for once and get justice for her adopted mother. Alice mockingly drops the bombshell that Ryan’s birth mother is alive, presumably planning on dangling information about her for some kind of deal. We’ll have to wait and see if the idea of Alice knowing secrets about Ryan’s family, which seems pretty random at first, is explained sufficiently but the idea of Ryan consulting her in a Silence of the Lambs-type set up is definitely exciting.
The closing scene of the season sees the stolen Rogues Gallery weapons, which fell out of Kate/Circe’s backpack when she and Alice went into the river, floating along the water. The creators have teased Season 3 featuring a mixture of classic villains retrieving their toys and new characters getting hold of some of them, which seems logical and we already get a look at one big name when one of Poison Ivy’s plants begins to grow with supernatural speed, suggesting that Ivy herself will be appearing. It’s an exhilarating way to set up the next season and is a good exclamation point on which to end what was a very strong sophomore run for Batwoman. Season 2 in general and “Power” specifically have both been held back a bit by the occasional odd creative choice (mostly relating to the Kate Kane of it all) but the show’s execution is good enough to make up for most of these issues and is why I’m reasonably confident it will continue to thrill in Season 3, even if I do still have some concerns.
- Also not returning for Season 3, Dougray Scott as Jacob Kane, who is also entirely absent here. Jacob improved a lot as a character in the second half of Season 2 but he is still the least compelling member of the cast so this isn’t really a huge blow. Still him being written out in addition to Kate adds to my concern about the minimization of the Kane family’s importance on the show going forward, as the remaining members are the strongest parts of the series. Writing off Kate Kane is one thing but Batwoman won’t survive without Mary and Alice. About Jacob himself, if his ending is really just that he’s serving a long prison sentence that’s pretty bleak for a character who has already been through so much.
- Another weird thing about Kate’s exit is that when she says goodbye to Sophie she says she doesn’t think they can be together at the time and Sophie agrees only to say that she hopes whoever Kate finds for herself next can top this before passionately kissing her. I guess they were going for a star-crossed lovers kind of moment but the flirting and kiss didn’t really create the proper tone for that and both characters are still clearly into each other so the whole thing highlights that Kate’s exit is something the show is forcing, not a natural development.
- Fans of Ryan Wilder have reason to rejoice as she’ll be making her first crossover appearance when Javicia Leslie appears in The Flash’s Season 8 event Armageddon. As excited as I am about that, however, the crossover I really want to see for Batwoman is Alice on Legends of Tomorrow.
Batwoman Season 2 Episode 18
Aside from a few odd decisions Batwoman's finale provides a strong ending to an impressive second season.