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'Batwoman' 2.02 Review: Prior Criminal History

Batwoman is finding its stride!

Javicia Leslie as Ryan Wilder in 'Batwoman.'
(Image: © The CW)

Our Verdict

Ryan Wilder is starting to find her home with the Bat Family.

For

  • 🦇Sophie's interrogation with Ryan showcase the character's continued struggle when identifying with her communities.
  • 🦇The episode has no trouble pointing out that if Alice were Black, she'd be dead.
  • 🦇We see the fact that who wears the cowl isn't as important as keeping the symbol alive.
  • 🦇Characters are finally allowed to grieve a little.

Against

  • 🦇Why did Alice give Mary the cure?

This post contains spoilers for Batwoman.
Check out
last week's review here

Batwoman is finding its stride! We’re still very early on in Ryan Wilder’s (Javicia Leslie) story, but we’re seeing things progress at a perfectly reasonable clip. Regardless of the circumstance, losing a series lead is rough. Last week’s episode might not have been my favorite entry in the show, but it set up enough groundwork for “Prior Criminal History” to shine the way it needed to. Change might be hard, but it’s clear that the cast and crew are dedicated to this new story direction.

This week we see Ryan’s first face-to-face meeting with Alice since the day of her mother’s death. In a cry for attention, Gotham’s leading bad gal infects a bunch of bats with the toxins she used to kill Mouse (Sam Littlefield) and Catherine Hamilton-Kane (Elizabeth Anweis) in an attempt to draw out Safiyah (actress TBA). She gets her wish—but first she hands the cure over to Mary.

As you may recall, Alice poisoned both Mary and her mother and only gave them one dose of antidote. Because Mary took said antidote, her blood is the only thing that can help cure all of the ailing Gothamites. Alice’s Safiyah-calling-tantrum makes sense. The decision not to off all of those people, on the other hand, is interesting. Mary calls it out, but the helpfulness only throws her and Sophie for a loop because they weren’t aware of the Safiyah plan. They think her assistance is the beginning of a bigger plot, when instead her motives begin and end with a meeting with the woman who killed her sister.

Alice and Ryan’s first meeting comes as a lead-in to the bat attack. It hints at the obvious future between the two, but it doesn’t make either too familiar with the other. As of right now, Ryan Wilder feels almost like a guest star in her own show. I balked at this at first—but now that we’ve had two weeks with this new character, I wouldn’t have it any other way. They’re ensuring that Ryan comes onto this team organically, and her progress with her future Bat Fam is occurring at just the right pace. The one downfall to this is that a lot of the action happens around Javicia Leslie at this exact moment, rather than necessarily including her. But that doesn’t mean she doesn’t get any big moments as the team gets more comfortable with her. 

One person who’s probably not going to be super on board for a while? Sophie. This puts Meagan Tandy in the unfortunate position of sort of rehashing her character’s closed-off tendencies (something that’s also kind of frustrating as a viewer), but at least we’re seeing the Crow Agent keep her friendship with Mary afloat while she pushes everyone else she loves away.

Sophie and Ryan meet twice in “Prior Criminal History.” The first time is during an interrogation after Ryan’s brought in as a suspect in a robbery and assault that she stopped while the second is a brief encounter as Batwoman. The latter meet-up is mostly inconsequential, but Sophie’s investigation shines a light on one of the best moments of this new era of Batwoman so far. While Sophie interrogates Ryan over her involvement (something that Ryan rightfully calls out is below her paygrade) she lets slip that Colonel Kane’s (Dougray Scott) relationship with Alice is complicated. But Ryan didn’t bring Kane’s murderous daughter up because of their familial ties—she brought her up because if she were a Black woman she would have been dead after her first crime.

We learn that Sophie’s investigated Ryan before, but the most interesting part of the interrogation is what it tells us about The Crows’ second in command. This isn’t the first time we’ve seen Sophie’s choices hurt those around her. While there are important conversations about only coming out when you’re ready, her decisions and lies about her sexuality actively harmed Kate in Season 1. Now we see Ryan in front of her as a Black woman highlighting prejudices that Sophie is very aware exist, but finds herself “safe” from as a member of the Crows. While it’s rough to watch in the moment, I do hope it opens up a larger conversation and more opportunities for dialogue between Sophie and Ryan.

Though Luke Fox (Camrus Johnson) is downright hostile toward Ryan, “Prior Criminal History” showcases that the cowl was never about who was underneath it. When Ryan saves a homeless woman from an explosion, she insists that she’s not really Batwoman. But she was Batwoman to the lady that she saved. Luke might be going through it, but what he wants here isn’t important. Gotham needs a symbol, and it looks like Ryan’s ready to take on the mantle.

Next week we’ll see Alice get her wish. Safiyah is paying attention, and she’s not very happy with her ex’s sister. While Alice will undoubtedly make it out of this meeting alive, it does make you curious as to how she’s going to pull it off. Safiyah, in theory, just blew Kate Kane out of the sky. If she can take out Batwoman at the drop of a dime, who could possibly save miss Alice from the red queen?


Batwoman airs Sunday nights on The CW.