Sunday, September 24, 2023

Batwoman: Season 2 Premiere – “What Happened to Kate Kane?” Review

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Batwoman was already going to face an uphill battle heading into Season 2, only because of the ongoing challenges posed by the pandemic. The fact that the series must also adapt to the sudden departure of star Ruby Rose certainly doesn’t make things easier for the cast and crew. But the good news is that the series has a new lead in Javicia Leslie and will continue to move forward without Kate Kane of Rose. There’s no way around this sudden change of plans, but the Season 2 premiere handles the reshuffle as well as expected. As previously reported, the writers have made the decision to do away with Kate and frame Season 2. around this mystery rather than just killing off the character. Maybe that means we’ll see Rose return in a more limited capacity later on. But Kate’s sudden disappearance in a suspicious plane crash seems like the best way to deal with a bad situation. Given that Season 1 never even came to its conclusion, there’s no getting around the fact that Kate was in the middle of a longer character arc when Rose gave up. At least this approach tries to build a new long-term scenario from there. And as much as Kate’s disappearance mirrors that of her cousin Bruce, at least this particular mystery has a greater sense of urgency.

Batwoman: “What Happened To Kate Kane” Photos

So the big question coming up in Season 2 – is Leslie’s Ryan Wilder a worthy heir to the Batwoman mantle? It is certainly too early to draw a big conclusion, but it does look pretty promising. Leslie at least has the right energy for the Arrowverse. We’re getting a decent amount of scope from his performance in this first appearance. We see Ryan as the comic beginner heroine who learns the ropes in the midst of beating up criminals. We also see undertones of a much darker character, as Ryan clearly has a life of rage and resentment fueling his actions. There is a more dynamic quality of the character that may well pay off in Season 2. That said, we can only judge on an episode basis. As it stands, the premiere is a little too preoccupied with Kate’s disappearance and the supporting cast’s collective shock and heartbreak response, and not enough to establish Ryan and his story. For now, Ryan looks more like a new supporting character than the driving force behind the show. Over time, it may be necessary to phase out some of the returning cast to make more room for Ryan and his world. Are characters like Sophie, Mary and Jacob still needed in the long run?

The premiere also has a nasty habit of flooding viewers with information about Ryan’s past rather than allowing the character to develop organically. Its origin story, so to speak, is unnecessarily complicated for a character who apparently was fortunate enough to inherit the Batsuit. She has the traditional superhero motivation to want to avenge a dead relative. She’s also a walking indictment of the prison industrial complex who is happy to release stats whenever someone insists on her personal life. And to top it off, she also has a personal grudge against Alice. Maybe this will all come together into an effective whole, but it seems the writers are trying too hard to give Ryan a tragic story. Why not just focus on the idea that Ryan is someone who has been chewed up and spat out by Gotham’s failed system and leave it at that? Why can’t we have more superheroes who aspire to fight evil for fun and not because they mourn a loved one?

The most encouraging conclusion from the premiere is that Kate’s disappearance could work in Alice’s favor. The fact that Kate was missing before she could complete her Season 1 arc plays directly into Alice’s story now. She never had a closure with her sister. We find out her endgame for Kate and see her grappling with the frustration of having been denied the chance to complete it. Not to mention the real heartache over all that is left of Beth Kane. She is perhaps the most compelling character on the show now, as she goes from Batwoman’s main antagonist to … everything she’s meant to be now. This episode also wisely avoids going too far in trying to humanize Alice. Her occasional killing of innocent bystanders shows that she won’t magically become a hero overnight. Regardless of what role Alice plays in Ryan Wilder’s story, it won’t just be as a villain reformed.As promising as Alice’s story may seem right now, it’s a shame to see the whole thing Tommy Elliot as Bruce Wayne wrapped in the duration of a single episode. This definitely comes across as an unfortunate side effect of the pivot to the new head. Faux-Bruce had a lot of potential to play a recurring role on the show and slowly find his way through Team Batwoman’s life. But unfortunately. It’s also unfortunate given that Warren Christie’s performance is much stronger when he specifically plays Tommy Elliot, a deranged escapee from Arkham, as opposed to an approximation of Bruce Wayne, a handsome billionaire playboy. This episode doesn’t do much to generate excitement for Christie’s prospect of returning to play the real Bruce Wayne, but now the Arrowverse has effectively made it into that casting pick. All the more reason for the series to focus on building the new Batwoman rather than dwelling on Kate Kane’s extended family.


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