Wednesday, March 31, 2021

Batwoman Episode Guide: Season 2, Episode 9 - Rule #1

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


As Kate Kane's friends and family make some difficult decisions, Alice takes a wild trip down memory lane. Meanwhile, Ryan faces the leader of the False Face Society -the fearsome Black Mask!


The Pre-Crisis Batman comics featuring Black Mask.


It seems highly unlikely the Police Commissioner of Gotham City would be leaving his day-long meeting alone or without a security detail.


Peter Outerbridge utterly dominates as Black Mask.


The design for the Black Mask costume is truly terrifying.

Bat Trivia

This episode offers the first view of Black Mask in the post-Crisis Arrowverse. Apparently reality has been rewritten so that nobody knows Black Mask's identity in the revised reality, as Black Mask's mask was among the objects in storage in Arkham Asylum during the Elseworlds event.

First appearing in Batman #386 in August 1985, Black Mask was created by writer Doug Moench and artist Tom Mandrake as a more mature take on the older villain False Face. He was also intended to be a dark mirror of Bruce Wayne and Battman, being the scion of a rich Gotham City family with a double life, only as a crime boss instead of a crime fighter. He was also a failed business man, as opposed to the successful Bruce Wayne.

One trait Black Mask originally had in the comics was a hatred of hypocrisy, which fueled his obsession with masks and the "false faces" people presented the world. This was inspired by his appearances-obsessed parents, who mocked their rich "friends" in private while devoting their lives to impressing the people they despised. This is reflected in the Arrowverse version of Black Mask, whose motivation is to bring down the hypocritical "agents of justice" running Gotham City; i.e. the GCPD, Crows' Security and Batwoman.


The material used to confirm Kate's death was a parietal skull bone found off the coast of Bludhaven.

The time stamp on the security footage at City Hall indicates that someone scrubbed several minutes before and after the murder of Commissioner Forbes.

The NTSB report on Kate Kane's plane crash suggests that based on the weather and atmosphere that night that a lightning strike could have knocked our the controls and that a recalled circuit breaker could have sparked an electrical fire in the cockpit. 

Dialogue Triumphs

(Ryan narrates the opening scene, as we see Kate Kane's funeral.)
Dear Kate... It doesn't feel real to say good-bye. Unbeknownst to us, Julia Pennyworth spent months with a recovery team combing the ocean floor for any sign of you. She found something caught, a parietal skull bone in the shores outside of Blüdhaven, had different labs match it to your DNA. It was enough to confirm you were gone, and since I can't exactly be there to say good-bye in person, I'll say it here in the place where I feel like I know you the best, and since I can't lay flowers at your gravesite either, I have another idea. This plant was my connection to my mama. Then it turned out to be more than a plant. It's a Desert Rose from Coryana, probably snuck over to the states by an islander named Ocean, who eventually gave it to my ex for safekeeping, who then gave it to me, having no idea that its serum was actually a miracle cure. Like you, this plant is one of a kind, and like you, it gave me a second chance. Beyond all earthly words and songs of blessing, praise, and comfort. So now when I look at it, I won't just think of my mama. I'll think of Kate Kane, and I'll think of the woman who saved a hell of a lot of people, the woman who created a family for everyone, the woman who could keep us from surrendering to our demons, the woman who inspired people to stay true to themselves even when it felt impossible, to always be there whenever someone needed them, who brought out our humanity, even in the darkest of moments, and the woman who changed me. Like everything good in my life, I thought my time as the Bat was temporary, but it's for real now, and I'm not in your shadow anymore. I'm it. I am Batwoman. Good-bye, Kate Kane. Thank you for changing my life. May your memory be a blessing. 

Angelique: I said some pretty awful things to you a while back.
Ryan: Well, I mean, in your defense, you were in the process of dumping me. 

(Team Batwoman spots Jordan Moore's graffiti. Ryan and Luke start talking as Mary looks at her phone and starts typing.)
Ryan: Someone could have been tagging the building while the shooting was happening.
Luke: Then got the hell out of Dodge, left behind work in progress. 
Ryan: Which means the tagger could have seen the shooter!
Luke: And the shooter could have seen them. So how do we track down a potential witness and protect them solely based off the words "Defund the police?"
Mary: I think I found it.
Luke (flabbergasted) Literally how?
Mary: Social media. Figured the "X" inside the "O" and the monochrome on top of the neon was some sort of signature.
(Mary hands her phone to Luke as Ryan looks over.)
Ryan: Definitely could be the same artist.
Luke: I'll get the user's info. 
(Mary does an exaggerated bow.)

(Alice has a tea party with a hallucinatory teenage Kate.)
Alice: I just spent the last two weeks in the bowels of a ship, trying to escape a godforsaken island. Trust me. If I were to conjure up some fantasy, this would not be it.
Teen Kate: You mean the same island you risked everything to get to in order to see me again? Well, here we are.
Alice: Of course. I ask the universe for my sister, and this is what I get.
Teen Kate: I'm not sure why that's surprising. You never get what you want.
Alice: Cheers to that.
Teen Kate: Nothing about your plan unfolded the way you wanted. After we left you in this cell for years, you set out to make sure your family never left you again, but Dad helped lock you at Arkham, and I'm dead.
Alice: Am I so mentally disturbed that my imagination created you to rub it in?
Teen Kate: You created me because you were always the one who got us into trouble, but I was always the one clever enough to get us out of it.

(Jacob asks Julia to investigate the investigation into Kate's death.)
Julia: I take it I'm reading their report because you don't believe that?
Jacob: Well, in the last few months, I've discovered that one of my daughters is Batwoman while the other ran an illegal underground medical clinic, so I'm not taking anything at face value anymore. 

Ryan: So she's somewhere inside a janky, old sawmill?
Luke: Gotham bad guys wouldn't have it any other way. 

(Batwoman has just witnessed Black Mask sawing one of his men in half.)
What the hell are you doing?
Black Mask: It's an HR matter. What are you, OSHA?!
Batwoman: I'm here for your prisoner. Let her go. She's not like you.
Black Mask: Oh, please. Enlighten me. Who am I?
Batwoman: You're a sadistic drug lord.
Black Mask: Okay. I can see why you might think that, but it's Gotham that's sadistic, not me, and they say the best way to change the system is from within.
Batwoman: You're not changing crap.
Black Mask:And you are?
Batwoman: I'm doing my best every damn day!
Black Mask: Your best isn't good enough, and I know that better than anyone. My daughter was imprisoned by the Crows and killed by Batwoman.
Batwoman: I never killed anyone.
Black Mask: But you've taken on the symbol of the woman who did. So tell me is that change? Or is that just pandering to a sick city that worships extremist Crows and Bats? Maybe you wouldn't bother me so much if I said I was a squirrel.
Batwoman: You've really convinced yourself this creepy mask is a symbol for, what, a concerned citizen?
Black Mask: No. It's a symbol of liberation from people like you. People who think they'll never be held accountable as long as they pretend that what they do is justice.


Kate Kane's funeral is attended by Jacob Kane, Mary Hamilton, Luke Fox, Julia Pennyworth and Sophie Moore.

Julia Pennyworth, unbeknownst to everyone, had a ocean dive team searching the coast for signs of Kate. They recovered a skull bone that belonged to Kate.

Ryan plants the Desert Rose plant that saved her life in the Batcave as a memorial to Kate.

The crime boss called Black Mask is revealed to have Kate.

Police Commissioner Forbes, last seen in 106, attends a day-long budget meeting one month after Kate Kane's funeral.

Commissioner Forbes, unlike Jacob Kane, welcomes Batwoman's help in dealing with the Snakebite drug and the False Face Society. 

Commissioner Forbes is confronted by an activist on the way to the meeting. This activist is later revealed to be Jordan Moore, Sophie Moore's younger sister.

Apparently the GCPD killed four unarmed black me in the past year alone.

Ryan makes good sweet potato pancakes; a dish Mary had never had before.

Angelique shows up at Mary and Ryan's apartment, claiming that she's ready to change her life to get back together with Ryan.

Alice is hiding out in the old Cartwright home. 

Alice hallucinates a teenage Kate coming to her to have a tea party.

Commissioner Forbes is gunned down on the steps of City Hall by two members of the False Face Society. This is witnessed by Jordan Moore, who was in the middle of spraying anti-police graffiti on the side of the building.

The morning after Commissioner Forbes' death, local billionaire Roman Sionis, CEO of Janus Cosmetics, makes a public statement offering his support to any solution that can end the gang violence in the city.

It's common knowledge among the city elites that Forbes was cheating on his wife.

Ryan notices Jordan's graffiti on the altered security footage of City Hall at the time Forbes was murdered. This leads to the search for Jordan after they realize the footage was altered.

This also indicates that whoever killed Commissioner Forbes has access to Gotham City's CCTV feed.

Mary is able to identify Jordan Moore based on her graffiti tag - an x inside her letter o's.

Ryan is unsure whether she should get back with Angelique or not.

Jordan goes to Sophie for help, but refuses to testify to the Crows.

The False Face Society attack Sophie and Jordan in the parking garage at Crows Headquarters.

Batwoman arrives just in time to save them.

Jorfan tells Batwoman that Commissioner Forbes was killed by two men in masks - a gas mask and a hockey mask. Their getaway driver was a woman in a babydoll mask who had a bracelet with a big gold key on it.

Ryan recognizes this description as a distinctive bracelet Angelique always wore.

Ryan confronts Angelique over how she didn't really get out of the False Face Society.

Angelique asks how Ryan knows this. Ryan half-lies and says that she knows Batwoman.

Angelique claims that she was able to get out after agreeing to act as the getaway driver on one last job.

Ryan says she can get Batwoman to help Angelique if she agrees to testify against Black Mask. Angelique asks for time to think about it.

Luke and Mary are both skeptical about Angelique doing the right thing, given that she let Ryan go to prison over her crime.

Mary points out that Kate was similarly blind to Alice's inability to change until after Alice murdered Catherine Hamilton.

Julia claims she never thought Safiyah was responsible for Kate's disappearance, as it didn't fit her MO.

Jacob doesn't believe the report which says a lighting strike or recalled circuit breaker could have caused Kate's plane to crash.

Jacob asks Julia to investigate the investigation into Kate's plane crash and confirm that noneof her enemies or his enemies could have been responsible.

Jordan stays at the Hide Out while laying low.

Jordan has issues with authority in general, including Batwoman, seeing the cops, the Crows and the costumes as "suits who shoot first and ask questions later."

Jordan is working with several grassroots groups to get a new community center built in the worst part of Gotham. She also phone banks to keep new jails from being built and is on a council trying to get more money spent on neighborhood-led safety initiatives than police weaponry.

Jordan and Sophie's mother told Jordan about Sophie coming out to her. Unlike their mother, Jordan has no issue with Sophie being a lesbian. Indeed, she encourages her to ask Ryan out.

Sophie says that will never happen - not even an enemies-to-lovers maybe.

Sophie calls Luke and asks if he can tell her why Batwoman seemed to single out the clue that the False Face getaway driver wore a key bracelet. Luke lies and says he'll check with her.

Luke tells Mary that he's trusting Ryan's judgement and that the Bat team only works when they trust each other and have each other's backs, even when they don't agree.

Angelique calls Ryan and says she's ready to make things right. However, when she goes to pick her up as Batwoman, her apartment had already been ransacked and she was gone.

Luke is able to track Angelique's phone to an old sawmill in the West Yard district.

Batwoman is swarmed by the False Face Society and tied up to be sawn in half in the sawmill.

Batwoman watches Black Mask kill one of the masked men she fought who was sent to capture Jordan Moore.

Black Mask reveals that his daughter was imprisoned by the Crows and then died because of the original Batwoman. It is implied that she was innocent.

Sophie shows up to save Batwoman, having been called by Luke who got worried when Batwoman's comms were shut off.

Batwoman rescues Angelique, who turns herself in to Sophie.

Sophie confesses to the murder of Commissioner Forbes.

Sophie gives Ryan Angelique's key bracelet. She says that Angelique asked her to deliver it because Angelique agreed to take the fall because Black Mask had threatened to kill Ryan if she didn't. 

Julia calls a man named Kurt about the loaders at National City's private airport. He claims to have spoken to Julia a month ago and that they talked about her accent and how they both went to camp in Oxfordshire. Julia has no memory of this conversation.

Ryan creates a set of rules for the Bat Team. There are three rules.

3. Support - We have each other's backs.
2. Accountability - We hold each other accountable.
1. Legacy - We build something better, rather than just beating bad people senseless.

In accordance with Rule #1, Ryan suggests they all help Jordan with getting her community center built. Luke and Mary agree.

Alice digs up her dead cat and hallucinates that it is still alive.

Realizing that she's having a psychotic break, Alice decides to just forget Kate existed rather than grieve her.

It is revealed that Black Mask kidnapped Kate Kane from her plane and that her face was messed up during the fiight.

Black Mask employs Enigma, the same hypnotist used by Safiyah, to start reprogramming Kate Kane.


The episode is set in Gotham City, but jumps forward one month in time after Kate Kane's funeral.

Untelevised Adventures

We don't see what  Alice was doing in the past month it took her to get back to Gotham, including two weeks in the bowels of a ship. 

The Fridge Factor

Ryan doesn't come off well in this episode, being easily overpowered by the False Face Society. 

The only reason Sophie is able to help rescue Ryan is because Luke told her where to go.

The Bottom Line

If I had any doubts left that the main reason to watch this show was Alice, this episode eliminated them. Despite this, the show does a fantastic job setting up Black Mask as the main villain for the second half of the season and does bring Ryan's arc with Angelique to a satisfying conclusion. Yet I still wish the story were focused on Julia Pennyworth, because it seems like all the most interesting things are happening to her off-camera. 

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