Sunday, January 24, 2021

Batwoman Episode Guide: Season 2, Episode 2 - Prior Criminal History

For a summary of the episode guide layout & categories, click here.


After Julia rejects Alice's proposal of an alliance to take on Safiyah Sohail together, Alice enacts her own devious plan to get back at the woman who killed Kate Kane. This drags Ryan back into the Bat-Suit and her first confrontation with  her mother's killer, but can she place her need for revenge over the needs of the city when the heat is on?


Batman: Year One (Alice's bat-summoning gadget is exactly the same as one Batman used in this story, the general theme of a new vigilante just starting out.) and Batwoman (Ryan being saved by Batwoman mirrors Kate's origin story in the comics, where Batman came to save her from some muggers only to find her in the middle of fighting her attackers.)


The caption and set design for the flashback where Kate saves Ryan suggest it is Halloween (Ryan is in a cat costume, a jack-o-lantern is seen on the street  as a decoration) but the caption at the start of the scene says it took place 2 months ago. That would place this episode sometime in January 2020, which is just barely possible if all the events of the second half of Batwoman Season 1 are crammed into the better part of a month.(Most of the episodes take place over a span of days, so this is possible, but it didn't seem to be that short a span stretched out over several weeks.)

About 10 seconds pass between the pharmacy robbers fleeing the scene and a Crows agent showing up to arrest Ryan as she goes to check on the injured clerk. Granting that the GCPD/Crows are one step above the Keystone Cops, how could the cop fail to notice two masked me (one of them limping) leaving the scene of a robbery? 


Again, it has to be said that Rachel Skarsten is the best thing about this show. What's damnable is that despite having become even more unhinged in the face of Kate's death, she's still one of the most sympathetic characters on the shows and it's a wonderful defiance of the usual comic book clichés that our chief villain is the one who proposes working together against a common enemy. Creepy as her sing-song nursey rhymes are, she's engaging and Skarsten is clearly having the time of her life with this role.

Two episodes in, Javicia Leslie is making this her show. She gets more material and more chance to interact with the cast this time around, showing us who Ryan Wilder is rather than telling us. When Ryan tells Alice she is going to kill her, you believe it and believe she's capable of it.


The fight scene in the pharmacy is incredibly intense for its brevity.

The scene where the bat emerges from Mouse's corpse is an effective gross-out and a fantastic jump-scare.

It's amazing they were able to simulate a bat attack on a televiison budget and do it as well as the similar sequence from Batman Begins.

Bat Trivia

The cat costume Ryan Wilder wears for Halloween seems to be a nod to Eartha Kitt's Catwoman suit from the 1966 Batman show.

Batwoman showing up to save Ryan seems to be a nod to Kate Kane's origin story in the comics, where she was inspired by a show of respect Batman made when he came to save her from muggers only to find she was holding her own in a fight.

The device which Alice uses to lure her poisoned bats to the Batwoman rally seems to be based on a similar device used by Batman in the comics. The device first appeared in Batman: Year One and was used to create a distraction when Batman was cornered by a SWAT team made up of crooked SCPD officers.

At one point, Luke tries to guide Ryan to the Schwartz Bypass as she is driving around. This is likely a nod to Julius Schwartz - a long-time editor at DC Comics.

The assassin who comes for Alice in the final scene of the episode is said to be named Tatiana. Advanced press notices for the show identified this character as an assassin called The Whisper. This may be an adaptation of the League of Assassins member called Whisper A"Daire; a shape-shifter and immortal with some snake-themed powers including an acidic venom she can spit like a cobra and a hypnotic gaze. The Whisper displays no such powers in this episode.


Gotham City is 330 square miles.

The Desert Rose toxin (at least, the variant Alice uses) is not lethal to bats. They can become carriers of the toxin and infect people with their bites.

Alice uses some kind of sub-sonic device to lure the bats to the site of the Batwoman rally.

Ryan is able to use the Bat-Suit's echo-location abilities to find the transmitter for Alice's bat lure.

Julia was able to track down Alice's hideout by analyzing the dirt Alice left on her floormats. The dirt contained traces of tri-ethyl benzene - a biproduct of tire manufacturing. Her best guess is Alice is hiding out in the abandoned Dresner Motor Plant.

Dialogue Triumphs

Alice: (singing softly, as bats swarm around her)

Twinkle twinkle little bat.
How I wonder where you're at.
Up above the world you fly
Like a tea-tray in the sky.
Twinkle twinkle little bat.
Up until your plane went splat.

Sophie: (accusingly) How could you not know?! You two spent nearly every day together. You were her associate.
Luke: Assistant, actually. And it looks like she was good at keeping secrets from both of us.

(Sophie apparently asked Luke about Kate's plain being sabotaged.)
Luke: I thought you said it was an accident?
Sophie: We're not ruling anything out. Just looking into any possible enemies.
Luke: (dryly) You mean other than every agent in this building? Right? Or maybe just the ones who lured her into a trap? Tried to gun her down on he 50 yard line? You know, it's too bad she didn't  have someone who loved her watching her back.
(If looks could kill, Luke would be dead from the glare Sophie gives him.)

(Alice has suggested teaming up with Julia.)
Why would I ever work with a psychopath?
Alice: Because there's another psychopath hunting you who is even scarier than me?

Alice: Retribution is coming for both of us, Pennyloafter. We can work together and get to that sister-killing psycho-bitch before she gets to us. (cheerful) You know? Have each other's backs.
Julia: (laughs) Ha! Yeah. Until you stick a knife in mine.
Alice: Well, we could do a couple of trust falls first. Hmm? Work up to the idea? How does that sound?
Julia: Sounds like you're desperate. Kate was the only person who had any sympathy left for you. (chuckling) Now that she's gone, you don't have anyone.
Alice: (thoughtful) Hmm. You know what else I don't have? A knife sticking out of me.
(Alice stabs Julia in the side.)
Alice: At least it wasn't in your back.
(Alice exits the car and skips away, waving at Julia as she writhes in pain.)

Alice: What exactly are you doing in my sister's hand-me-downs?
Ryan: The one thing she wouldn't do. I'm going to kill you.

(Alice pulls two pistols and unloads in Ryan's direction. She throws up the cape and the bullets fall harmlessly to the ground.)
Alice: (sighing) Well! The suit's for real. (drops her guns) What about the girl inside?
Ryan: Let's find out.
(The two charge at each other and begin sparring.)

(Alice tosses a bag of blood onto Mary's desk.)
Mary: You're giving me your blood?
Alice: (looks confused for a second) Oh! No. Actually, that's your blood. I swiped it from you when Nocturna tried to drain you. (winces) So... technically it's a regift.


The opening flashback scene of Mouse telling Alice that bats eat rats comes from 120.

Ryan was saved from muggers by Kate Kane on Halloween Night 2019. In the middle of the fight, Ryan picked up a discarded Batarang and used it on a mugger who had recovered his gun.

Ryan has been trained in half-a-dozen forms of martial arts.

Ryan spent 18 months in Blackgate Penitentiary as part of a plea-bargain deal in exchange for a guilty plea. Ryan figured it was a better alternative than fighting false charges with a free lawyer and getting 15 years instead of 18 months.

Ryan applies for a job as a security guard, but they refuse to hire her because of her criminal record as an ex-drug dealer.

Video of The Crows betraying Batwoman and ambushing her in 120 is leaked to the press. This spurs someone to organize a rally in support of Batwoman.

Jacob interviews Mary over whether she had any idea Kate was Batwoman. Mary denies everything, asking if Jacob seriously thinks Kate would trust her with anything after rejecting all her efforts to reach out to her and try to be a sister.

Sophie interviews Luke about his connections to Batwoman. Again, Luke denies knowing anything, but he is much more pointed about The Crows trying to kill Batwoman and Sophie treating Kate terribly.

Sophie figures out that Julia must have known that Kate Kane was Batwoman, reasoning there is no way she'd be trusted with the location and combination of  her secret safe and not her secret identity.

Ryan is still suffering from the wound she acquired after being shot with Kryptonite in 201.

Sophie and Ryan know each other. Apparently Sophie was one of the Crows agents who framed Ryan for drug-dealing and she has picked Ryan up on suspicion of other crimes since Ryan's release from prison.

Ryan is able to deduce that Alice is Beth Kane, based on a slip of the tongue Sophie makes after Ryan says she knows why the Crows haven't just shot Alice dead by now. While she's implying that the Crows are racist and go out of their way to take the white serial killer alive, Sophie thinks Ryan somehow knows about Alice being Jacob Kane's daughter.

Ryan goes to Mary's underground clinic and tells her she knows Alice is Beth. She asks if the entire family keep secrets. 

Mary gets angry when Ryan accuses her of trying to protect Alice, saying that she would love to see Alice die because she killed her mother in 108.

Ryan tells Mary about how Alice killed her mother as well.

Mouse's body is found by some of the homeless people who come to Mary. They bring his body to her.

Alice ambushes Julia in her car at Crow's HQ, telling her she's planning something big and public. She proposes an alliance against Safiyah Sohail, whom she tells Julia is taking credit for the plane accident. Julia refuses and Alice stabs her.

Mary's toxicology study of Mouse's body determines he was killed by the same toxin from the Desert Rose plant that killed Catherine Hamilton.

Ironically, Ryan has a feat of bats.

Ryan guesses that Alice is probably going to try and attack the Batwoman rally.

Ryan offers to wear the Bat-Suit and try to end the rally before Alice can enact her plan. Mary is on-board with the idea. Luke is reluctant but agrees because he can't think of a better plan and Julia is too injured to play at being Batwoman.

Jacob is able to identify Ryan as an imposter through a pair of binoculars.

Ryan is able to hold her own against Alice in a one-on-one martial arts fight.

Alice gives Mary a bag full of blood which she took from Mary after the fight with Nocturna in 113. She says this can be used to create a cure for the toxin.

Ryan takes the Batmobile and drives it to lure the bats away from downtown Gotham. 

Gotham City General Hospital reports 250 victims of the bat bites.

Mary tells Sophie about the blood she was given from Alice and decides to take it to Hamilton Dynamics to see if they can synthesize an antidote from it.

Ryan deals with the bats by trapping them inside a Crow's prison bus and blowing the bus up.

To Mary's annoyance, she isn't credited for donating the blood sample that Hamilton Dynamics used to create a cure for the Dessert Rose toxin.

Sophie and Mary agree Alice has a reason for poisoning the city and then offering up the cure for free. It is later revealed that Alice did this to make Safiyah Sohail's trademark poison completely useless by making a mass-produced antidote possible.

Julia does not know who the new Batwoman is. 

Julia and Sophie's romance is officially confirmed to be dead; both because Sophie no longer trusts Julia but also because she isn't Kate.

Julia is able to give Sophie a lead on where Alice is hiding out. Sophie goes after her alone and tells Julia not to tell anyone what she's doing.

Julia guesses that Kate told Sophie that she loved her in the letter she left for Sophie.

Jacob apologies for grilling Mary over Kate being Batwoman and asks for her help in searching for Kate, who he believes is still alive somewhere. She agrees.

Luke agrees to let Ryan continue working as Batwoman until Kate comes back, on the grounds that the city needs a hero. Ryan agrees not to kill as Batwoman in accordance with Kate's code.

According to Vesper Fairdhild, some people reported a new Batwoman protecting the city during the Bat swarm. This means that some people have noticed Ryan's presence on the streets.

Ryan reads Kate's journals and discovers that Kate wrote about her encounter with Ryan on Halloween. She says that Ryan reminded her of herself: scared yet fearless and determined not to let the darkness of Gotham get the best of her. She also said that "People like her are the hope this city needs."

Ryan starts a journal of her own, writing letters to Kate as Kate was writing letters to Bruce. This means, logically, that Ryan probably knows that Bruce Wayne is Batman now. (As if getting into the Bat Cave through his office weren't clue enough.)

Sophie ambushes Alice in her new hideout, only to be knocked out by an assassin named Tatiana. Alice is also knocked out by Tatiana. 


The flashback in which Ryan is mugged and is saved by Kate takes place on Halloween Night 2019.

This episode takes place one week after the events of 120, according to a news report that Batwoman was last seen publicly when she was ambushed by The Crows.

Untelevised Adventures

Reference is made to Alice and Julia Pennyworth both having a past with Safiyah Sohail.

The Bottom Line

Another great episode with a clever script that elegantly explains away some issues you think would have come up, such as why nobody has connected Kate Kane's disappearance with Batwoman vanishing. The only real sour note in the whole episode is the writers thinking we should give a damn about Sophie, despite her literally being the worst. 

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