HomeTelevisionBatwoman Season 2 Premiere Review: A New Bat Rises

Batwoman Season 2 Premiere Review: A New Bat Rises

Batwoman Season 2 Premiere
Photo Credit: The CW Network

“What Happened to Kate Kane?” is not just the title of the Batwoman Season 2 Premiere. It is the question on the lips of every major cast member of the series this week and with good reason.

Viewers of Batwoman’s first season will remember that it was forced to end two episodes earlier than expected due to the COVID-19 production shutdown in North America and most of the rest of the world last spring. When last we saw Kate (Ruby Rose, Orange is the New Black), her father (Dougray Scott, Mission: Impossible 2) had just declared war on Batwoman, not realizing it was secretly his daughter, that her crazed twin sister Alice (Rachel Skarsten, Reign) had escaped from Arkham Asylum, that another patient (Warren Christie, The Resident) at Arkham was running around with Kate’s cousin, Bruce Wayne’s face courtesy of Alice, and that an unseen, ominous power player named Safiyah was still looming over things as a potential threat.

With all of this left unresolved from last season, viewers might wonder why the season premiere opens up with a brand new character in a van by the river, dreaming about her mother’s final moments of life before witnessing a shocking plane crash. This new character is Ryan Wilder, played by Javicia Leslie (God Friended Me), the new star of the series! That’s right, if you have not been keeping up with the trades, you may have missed that Batwoman star Ruby Rose left the series at the end of its premiere season due to a variety of unconfirmed reasons.

Ryan makes a bold, dynamic first impression rushing straight into the wreckage of Kate Kane’s plane looking for people in need. She revives a man who is amidst the wreckage, flashing back to her inability to similarly revive her mother after they were both attacked by members of Alice’s Wonderland Gang, before stumbling across Kate’s batsuit. Ryan, a woman living on the edge of society, decides to take the suit in order to get revenge for her adoptive mother’s killer. She blames Alice, which smartly gives this new Batwoman a personal stake in the villain after a full season where Alice’s real-life identity as Kate’s presumed-dead twin sister factored heavily into the events of the series.

Over the course of the hour, viewers begin to get to know Ryan’s story, which feels a bit like the writers room threw a bunch of potential answers to “How did this compelling, capable young Black woman end up living in a van by the river?” onto a wall before deciding to go with all of them. Her birth mother died during childbirth. Her father is MIA. She entered into the foster system. She eventually found a new adoptive mother who helped turn her life around, only to watch her be violently, senselessly murdered. Shortly after that, she was framed for a drug charge she did not commit and served over a year in prison, only to find her status as an ex-con to be an impediment to finding steady income and housing.

It is admirable that series creator Caroline Dries and her writers wanted to use the introduction of this new character to shine a light on the plight that many, especially queer women of color, in this country face. Being victimized by systemic racism in healthcare, social services, and the criminal justice system is a significant reality for many members of the African American community, and it is a nice change of pace for a Batfamily character to not be a beneficent billionaire. However, the choice for the character to suffer from almost every possible form of systemic racism and social injustice feels a bit over the top, and it’s hard to listen to the monologues that Dries gives Ryan and not feel a bit like they were checking boxes instead of trying to earnestly engage with a character from this background and what their lived experience might be.


With all that being said, Javicia Leslie does an admirable job acclimating herself to the dense monologues this show can often feel awash in. She clearly has a presence and charisma that shines through. There is a vulnerability in her dramatic moments and a lightness to her action sequences that allow her to feel incredibly relatable and accessible to the audience. It is a wonderful debut, one that sincerely makes me believe the creative team of Batwoman can rework the show around her, something I was quite skeptical about initially given how personally all the plot and character dynamics revolved around Kate last season. Rose always had a great screen presence and ability to land a cool one-liner, but she often struggled with landing some of the more dramatic moments, especially early on in the season before eventually growing more into the role. It seems unlikely Leslie will suffer similar growing pains as the new star.

Meanwhile, our other series regulars are reeling from Kate’s apparent death. No body was recovered, and part of the plane appeared to end up in the river, mirroring the car crash that took Kate’s mother and landed Alice in a house of horrors for a decade after being presumed dead. This feeling of history repeating itself seems to be a motivator for many to not immediately lose faith. Clearly, the writers left themselves room to both have closure for Kate’s character while also leaving the possibility for a guest appearance sometime. Scott’s Jacob Kane seems to be on the same page, vowing not to give up looking for her the same way he did Alice.

Alice, on the other hand, has no hope for a murderous reunion with her twin sister. Sure, she wanted Kate dead as revenge for Kate tricking her into imprisonment last year, but not like this. She explains her plan to acquire the batsuit-penetrating kryptonite bullet and leave it for daddy Jacob to find, so he can use it to kill Batwoman himself. Once she’s dead, Jacob would take off her mask and find out he had just murdered his own daughter! As far as evil plans go, this was a pretty solid one, so I don’t blame Alice for being pissed. Her consolation prize is spilling the beans to daddy dearest by letting him know that Kate was Batwoman and she spent her last days being hated and hunted by her own father.

The main episodic element of this episode gives Luke (Camrus Johnson, The Sun Is Also A Star) and Mary (Nicole Kang, Swallow), aka the Team Batcave, something to do while wrestling with their grief, as they meet Ryan and help her take down fake-Bruce Wayne. Meanwhile, Kate’s OTP Sophie lets her grief for Kate send her new romance with Kate’s ex and Alfred Pennyworth’s daughter Julia (Chistina Wolfe, The Royals) on the rocks while the two begin to dive deeper into Safiyah, who, by episode’s end, appears to be behind the plane crash. These pieces, taken together, seem to preview the season ahead.

Whether Batwoman Season 2 will be able to successfully remake their series on the fly is anyone’s guess. Certainly, the series already had its troubles in season one. However, it was course-correcting towards the end of last year, and Leslie feels like a strong new center to build the series around. If Dries and co. can build off of the parts of this episode that work and continue to utilize their series regulars’ strengths, Ruby Rose’s sudden departure from the series could just be the shot in the arm this series needed to get to the next level. I look forward to finding out.

Batwoman Season 2 Airs Sunday Nights on The CW Network and is Streaming on The CW App.


Alex Marcus
Alex Marcushttps://anchor.fm/CinemaJoes
Alex Marcus is The Pop Break's Podcasting Director and host of the monthly podcast TV Break as well as the monthly Bill vs. The MCU podcast. When he's not talking TV, he can be found talking film on his other podcast Cinema Joes, a podcast where three average Joes discuss the significant topics in movie culture. New episodes debut every other Thursday on Spotify, Overcast, Apple Podcasts, and more!

Most Recent

Stay Connected