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As the new Batwoman fights against the False Face Society and the proliferation of their Snakebite drug across Gotham City, a chance encounter forces Ryan Wilder to confront an unpleasant part of her past. Meanwhile, the friends and family of Kate Kane confront the idea she's still alive somewhere, leading to a number of unexpected alliances and betrayals.
Batwoman: Rebirth (character of Safiyah Sohail)
Linda Kash, who is best known for her comedic performances and voice work, turns in a truly terrifying performance as The Candy Lady, purely because of how sweet and kindly she does seem despite being a vicious child trafficker. The fact that this sort of person exists in the real world and the unspoken question of just how many children she made disappear over the two decades she was at work before Ryan stopped her only adds to the horror of the episode.
Javicia Leslie does some fantastic silent acting as she expresses Ryan's terror at confronting her childhood abuser and the anger she feels as she overcomes that fear and steels herself for the sake of a lost boy.
The flashback sequences set in Ryan's childhood are suspenseful and terrifying, seeming more like something from American Horror Story than a superhero show.
The day-glow mask worn by the False Face drug dealer Ryan chases in the opening scene looks a lot like the mask worn by the Flash villain Murmur in the comics. However, the Arrowverse version of Murmur (last seen in A417) did not wear a mask.
It should be noted that Ghost Kid, Ryan's favorite superhero, is not a previously established DC Comics character.
Eagle-eyed viewers will note that the Free Comics rack at Hero Galaxy Comics in the modern day holds a copy of Green Lantern Corps: Edge of Oblivion #6. This suggests that the Green Lantern Corps exist in some form in the post-Crisis Arrowverse and may be known to the people of Earth, even if they are presumed to be fictional characters. (Or that the props master wasn't careful about what books they put on the rack. But it's more fun to think this is setting something up!)
The rack also contains Looney Tunes, Claw the Unconquered and Kamandi: The Last Boy on Earth comics - all series published by DC Comics.
Snakebite is a party drug which took its name from the dual-pronged injector needles that distribute the drug. Delivering a dose of "fantasy and fright," Snakebite is a mixture of psychedelic mushroom oil and Scarecrow's fear toxin. It is as lethal as it is addictive.
The Batmobile is equipped with a bolo-style towing rope, capable of non-violently snaring a running person.
According to Luke, Coryana must have the most advanced blocking technology on Earth, as it does not show up on any satellite maps of Earth.
(Luke annoys Mary with his belief Kate is still alive, based on Sophie's testimony.)
Mary: Yeah, and the person who told Sophie that Kate is alive is named Alice, And Alice heard it from some mystery woman named Safiyah, Who just hired a hitman to try and kill me! So we are playing a game of Telephone with a bunch of homicidal women.
(Sophie finds Alice in her kitchen, cooking breakfast.)
Sophie: What the hell are you doing in my condo?
Alice: Sampling the products in your guest bath. (winces) Of course your theme is lavender.
(Alice is disappointed in how bad Sophie is at searching for information.)
Alice: In hindsight, I don't know why I thought you could help me figure out who this person is, considering you didn't even know you were swapping spit with your former flame.
(Ryan goes to confront The Candy Lady)
Mary: Wait. Aren't you gonna suit up?
Ryan: No. She needs to see my face.
Mary: Well, how can I help?
Ryan: You can clear out my bedroom, Which you're currently using as your walk-in closet.
(Alice is raiding Sophie's fridge.)
Alice: Do you have anything with actual calories in here?
Sophie: There's rat poison under the sink.
(Alice licks the bell pepper she was holding and puts it back in the fridge once Sophie isn't looking.)
(Ryan is bound and dazed from the drugs, recalling the last time she was locked in the attic room and how Angelique and she escaped before.)
Young Angelique: C'mon Ryan! We've got to go before she wakes! Ryan! Ryan, you've got to fight this! Fight!
(Young Angelique glances at the unconscious Candy Lady. Inspired, she tries something else.)
Young Angelique: Fight like Ghost Kid would fight! Remember when he lost his lame-ass invisibility and everyone kept throwing crap at him, but he kept fighting anyway? Ryan! Get up!
Young Ryan: (smiling softly as she stirs) You read Ghost Kid?
(Young Angelique smiles as the flashback fades back to the adult Ryan as she shakes off the drug and begins straining against her bonds.)
Ryan experiences a twinge of pain that makes her space out while chasing a drug dealer. This is caused by the wound she acquired in 201, which still has not healed.
While questioning the drug dealer, Ryan hears a nearby alarm go off. This alarm was revealed to have been set off by a young boy, who was hoping to get Batwoman's attention since he couldn't get to the bat-signal. He tells Ryan about his older brother, Kevin Johnson, who disappeared between home and school three months earlier.
Jacob Kane offers a $1 million cash reward for information on Kate's whereabouts. This is said to be the largest reward for a missing person's case in Gotham City history.
Mary is still skeptical about Kate being alive, despite what Sophie apparently told them, given that the source of the information is Alice.
Ryan asks Mary to help her with finding Kevin Johnson.
Kevin Johnson is a black male foster kid who has been in Juvenile Detention. Ryan says this is probably why the police have not spent much time looking for him.
Ryan used to live in a group home in the same neighborhood as Kevin when she was a teenager; Wayside Heights, AKA Wasteside. This was several years before she was adopted.
Ryan's adoptive mother's name was Cora Wilder.
When she was 12, Ryan's favorite color was yellow and her favorite animal was the snow leopard.
Ryan liked comic books and her favorite hero was Ghost Kid, because his only power was being invisible, which was how Ryan felt most of the time.
Ryan befriended another girl who agreed to watch her back in exchange for Ryan opening their bedroom window to let her back in after she snuck out. This girl is later revealed to be Ryan's ex-girlfriend, Angelique Martin.
Mary had no idea that Ryan was living in a van.
Mary loves vintage vans.
Hero Galaxy Comics is a comic shop in Wayside Heights which Ryan frequented as a kid. It is still around in modern day Gotham. It has a rack of free comics on the street for poor kids to take.
Ryan was apparently a fan of Looney Tunes comics as well as Ghost Kid.
When Ryan was 12, she was abducted by a woman known as The Candy Lady, who lured children into her van with candy and comics, broke their wills and sold them to gangs. Ryan theorizes the same woman may have taken Kevin Johnson.
Sophie lives in a condo that is large enough to have a guest room and guest bathroom.
This episode takes place 2 days after the events of 203 and Alice and Sophie's return from Coryana.
Alice reveals that the task Safiyah asked her to complete involves tracking down a man callled Ocean. She suggests that she and Sophie work together to do this.
Jacob Kane puts an Crows agent named Whelan in charge of tracking down the Jack Napier painting mentioned in 203. It was apparently stolen from an active crime scene and is now bouncing around the black market.
The Candy Lady locked Ryan in an attic room with a jar full of 60 jellybeans. She removed one bean for every day that passed, claiming Ryan could go home as soon as someone came looking for her. This preyed upon what Ryan said was the worst fear of every foster child - that they wouldn't be missed and nobody cared about them.
Ryan did have one moment of hope during her captivity when a group of volunteers from Gotham University came to the house looking for a missing girl. That hope was dashed when she heard the description of the missing girl: "Fair Hair. Blue Eyes" Last seen wearing a red-stone necklace.
Mary realizes the missing girl the volunteers were looking for was Beth Kane, which inspires her to retrieve the records Kate kept regarding every search party that looked for her sister to see where they hadn't checked.
This establishes Ryan Wilder as being a year younger than Beth and Kate Kane, who were 13 at the time Beth and Ryan both disappeared.
According to Alice, Coryana is not big on last names.
Alice claims that the only reason she wants to work with Sophie is because she's equally driven to find Kate; not because she's particularly talented or even competent.
Mary is now living in the loft above Kate's bar, as it made the commute to manage the bar easier and Kate had plenty of room.
Mary offers to let Ryan move into the spare bedroom of Kate's loft. She accepts.
Angelique rescued Ryan from The Candy Lady by letting herself get captured. Ryan says this was the first time in her life she felt she mattered to anyone.
Ryan reluctantly calls Angelique on the off-chance she might remember where The Candy Lady's house was. Angelique says she has the wrong umber.
Mary and Ryan are able to use Kate's records to narrow down the neighborhood searched by the Gotham University volunteers on the day Ryan remembered seeing them.
Ryan elects to confront The Candy Lady out of costume.
Alice reveals that she was told to kill Ocean after finding him.
Luke stops by Sophie's apartment and is put to work on the search for Ocean.
Jacob Kane gets a tip on Kate's whereabouts in Wayside Heighs, which he goes to check out personally.
Ryan finds The Candy Lady's house but Kevin Johnson has already been sold off.
Ryan is tasered and drugged by some gang members working with The Candy Lady.
Luke is able to find an address, but communicates to Sophie not to tell Alice through a typed message while Alice isn't watching the computer screen.
Luke is allowed to go back to Wayne Enterprises to use their superior system to search for something.
Sophie goes to check on Jacob Kane and his lead, instructing Alice to stay in her apartment.
In the past, Angelique tried shooting The Candy Lady with a slingshot. She tried to drug Angelique, but Ryan stepped in and took the shot. This gave Angelique time to grab the jar of jellybeans and throw it her face, knocking her out.
Ryan is able to escape by breaking the Candy Lady's jar and using it to cut her bonds.
Ryan beats The Candy Lady until she reveals she sold Kevin to the False Face Society.
The lead Jacob Kane was going after is revealed to be a trap set by the False Face Society, who plan to initiate Kevin into the gang by having him kill Jacob.
Luke reveals that the address he found was provided by Julia Pennyworth, who was already looking for Ocean. She narrowed his whereabouts down to four addresses. Two were demolished. One was now an ice cream parlor. The last one was am abandoned building next to a pizzeria in Gotham City.
Ocean's hideout contains a small lab. Upon entering it, Sophie is jumped by a woman who claims to be a burglar casing the joint.
Sophie is saved by Alice, who followed after her. The burglar flees, saying they can have whatever is in the lab as it is clearly more trouble than it is worth.
Sophie seems to recognize the burglar briefly.
Alice knocks Sophie out. It is unclear what happens after, but Alice apparently took Sophie home as Sophie later shows up at Crows HQ while Alice goes back to search Ocean's lab.
Alice admits she is only trying to find Kate so she can kill her herself.
Ryan saves Kevin and Jacob Kane from the False Face Society as Batwoman.
A radio report reveals that The Candy Lady was arrested and that her real name was Candice Long.
Both Batwoman and Jacob Kane are credited with rescuing Kevin in the press.
Jacob reluctantly admits that he'd be dead if it weren't for the new Batwoman.
Sophie tells Jacob that Alice is looking for Kate and they have to find her first.
Ryan's Kryptonite wound is still not healing.
Mary admits that her reluctance to thin Kate is alive came from her not wanting to believe Alice was right or telling the truth about something.
Ryan gets a call and rushes off to answer it. This turns out to be Angelique.
When Alice searches Ocean's lab, she finds a card dropped by the burglar - a key card for Room 11 at the Burnside Motel
Alice also finds an envelope with writing on it. It reads DROP THE MERCH AT THE HOTEL BEFORE 5 PM TOMORROW - OCEAN.
Alice also sees a picture of a man which triggers a flashback to her time on Coryana and a man who was apparently Ocean, whom she apparently knew.
Ryan tells Angelique that the Candy Lady has been caught.
Angelique is revealed to be the burglar who almost killed Sophie.
Angelique and Ryan haven't talked for two years.
Ryan says she's missed the woman who always had her back.
The final scene with Alice makes reference to Alice's past on Coryana and suggests that she might not remember all of her own time on the island as she has a flashback suggesting she knew Ocean.
The Killing Jokes
Sophie continues to be more than useless and the only reason it doesn't come off as sexist is that she's being propped up by other female characters. (i.e. Alice and Julia)
Jacob Kane doesn't fair much better, going off to investigate a lead by himself, with no back-up.
The Bottom Line
A solid episode where the sections centered on Ryan overpowers the subplot with Alice (for once), presenting an all-too real evil that is more terrifying than the likes of Zsasz and Hush.