Female Fury: Batwoman Episode 201, "What Happened to Kate Kane?"

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When Ruby Rose decided to leave the role of the lead character on the CW's BATWOMAN, it put the writers into a bit of a tailspin. The easy thing to do would have been to recast the character with a different actress. In fact, I'll go so far as to say that the proper thing to do would have been to recast the role, because now you have to invent a whole new reason for why Kate's gone, who takes over being Batwoman, and next thing you know there'll be more actresses in the suit than have flown a Tardis.

However, rather than do the sensible thing, the writers chose to write out the character of Kate Kane -- no small deal, as Kate Kane is still the identity of Batwoman in the comic books. You know, the intellectual property source material upon which these television shows are loosely based? So now the new Batwoman will be Ryan Wilder (Javicia Leslie), who finds the famous bat-suit in the wreckage of a jet that explodes over Gotham City. And presumably on that jet would have been Kate Kane, returning from National City to have a discussion about destroying a piece of kryptonite with a certain super girl she knows there.

Let's back things up a moment. Kryptonite is deadly to kryptonians. Why does Batwoman have it? Because it's the only thing that can, apparently, penetrate the batsuit. Ergo, a kryptonite bullet could kill Kate -- or anyone who might have gotten their hands on the suit for nefarious purposes; at least that's the reason given. Never mind that the kryptonian in question could have flown to Gotham in an eyeblink. Also never mind that the writers won't commit to finding Kate's body in the wreckage so that we can get some closure -- Ruby Rose isn't coming back, folks.

Ryan Wilder, like Kate Kane, is a lesbian. Unlike Kate Kane, she's homeless and living out of her van. She can't find a job because she has a record for a crime she claims she didn't commit. So she doesn't work anywhere, even though she has years of experience teaching martial arts!

How convenient!

When she gets the suit, she knows just what to do: hunt down the killers who killed her adopted mother. And the fact that they happened to be members of the Wonderland gang just means that we get to see more of Alice (Rachel Skarsten) in this second season.

When Ryan puts on the suit, she ends up activating it, which sends an alert to a distraught Luke Fox (Camrus Johnson), Batwoman's aide, and Mary Hamilton (Nicole Kang), Kate's stepsister. Finding the suit in use is just more chaos for Luke, who is reeling with the sudden return of Bruce Wayne (Warren Christie) -- who is actually Arkham Asylum escapee Tommy Elliot, given a new face by Alice. (Yes, I know that Bruce Wayne was previously played by Kevin Conroy in the Crisis crossovers, and that Kate recognized him upon seeing him; don't overthink it.)  Moreover, Luke has led Tommy right to the batcave.

Things get more and more convoluted from there. The episode has some cool points -- okay, one cool point. We get to see the Batmobile, which Luke didn't even know was in there until Tommy found it behind a wall of rock. Alice gets to finally tell her father, Commander Kane (Dougray Scott), that Batwoman was his daughter Kate. And Tommy/Bruce chases down Ryan for the suit, shooting her with the kryptonite bullet.

Unfortunately for Tommy, he's not a great shot. So it penetrates the suit but doesn't kill Ryan, who then beats his face off -- quite literally. The false Bruce Wayne face is beaten off him.

We're then left with some mysteries. Like, who sends the mysterious message to Alice that prompts her to prepare for war? And why do we get to see traces of kryptonite radiation running around Ryan's wound when she examines it? Are they going to make her a metahuman? Was this a kryptonite fragment from the Smallville universe that bestows powers on anybody it comes into contact with?

Beyond that, if you're a fan of Kate Kane in the comic books, consider her days numbered. Because the Ryan Wilder character has already made her comic book debut in Batgirl, so it's only a  matter of time before the editors shift her into Kate's role. It wouldn't be the first time television portrayals have dictated changes to existing comics -- the Barbara Gordon character of Batgirl was created in the comics explicitly at the request of Batman producer William Dozier so there'd be a comic book basis for introducing her into the television show. Seeing history repeat itself here would hardly be a surprise.

Grade: 
3.0 / 5.0