This week's Batwoman takes both huge and well-aimed swings this week, but it's the quieter part of the story that makes "Rule #1" the best episode yet.
- 🦇Jordan's introduction is a hugely exciting addition to an already stellar line-up of complicated and interesting women.
- 🦇Black Mask is appropriately psychotic.
- 🦇Ryan steps into the leadership role with just the right level of complication.
- 🦇The idea of the Bat Family fighting for a better Gotham rather than just a "safe" one is huge for the future of the series.
It's a big week for Batwoman. Major villains coming out to play isn't new in Batwoman's Gotham, but it's exciting to see one as prolific as Roman Sionis joining the fray. With Alice continuing to take baby steps toward a life with maybe a little less villainy — though probably not much more sanity — it's great to see what the plans for a future antagonist look like. Though, through it all, the biggest moment of what ended up being the best episode of the season so far is Ryan Wilder herself. Kate Kane is laid to rest (as far as the characters know, at least), and the weight of the cowl is now fully on Ryan's shoulders. She's always been Batwoman, but it's different now. She can't "just" be a symbol anymore. She has to be a leader as well.
Roman Sionis (Peter Outerbridge) makes his debut after GCPD Commissioner Ford is gunned down on the steps of City Hall. He talks of the future of the city, and supporting the police in any way he can. While viewers know the character's evil roots, there is a portion of what he's saying that's true. He repeats his manifesto to Batwoman later in the episode, insisting that Gotham's a city rotting from the inside, where even its heroes murder people on streets.
Along with Sionis comes the introduction of Sophie's (Meagan Tandy) younger sister, Jordan (Keeya King). After witnessing the murder while tagging City Hall, Jordan runs to her sister for help with little success. Sophie wants to involve the Crows, but Jordan has some well-earned trust issues against any law enforcement institution. (Huge shout-out to any episode of television not afraid to say "defund the police" in its first five minutes.) While the two squabble, the False Face Society catches up to Jordan and nearly gets the drop on the sisters. Batwoman joins the fray just in time, but it's ultimately Sophie vouching for the Bat that makes her little sister talk.
Jordan's introduction is a refreshing one, to say the least. Her views align more with Ryan's (Javicia Leslie) than Sophie's, but even Ryan is now tied to a symbol. There's a strong future advantage to having a character whose voice isn't tied to law enforcement or vigilantism in any capacity. Even better, her and Ryan's powers combined seem to have been exactly what it takes to pull Sophie out of her fog. "Rule #1" already sees confirmation that the Crow came out to her parents, and she finally acknowledges that the system she benefits from is a broken one. Better still, the relationship between these sisters is a warm one. It's not sunshine and rainbows all the time, but at the end of the day they've got each others' backs. Sophie's currently feeling ostracized from her family, and Jordan is the perfect reminder that the world isn't just made up of people like their parents.
The rest of the episode largely ties Angelique's (Bevin Bru) complicated relationships with both Ryan Wilder and the False Face Society. After a month away, she decides that she wants Ryan back and she knows that to do that she has to get out of the gang. In an effort to do so, she drives the getaway car from Ford's murder. It's a naive move from a life-long drug pusher, but we all do dumb things when we're in love.
Ryan does her best to save Angelique, despite trepidation from her team. Both Luke (Camrus Johnson) and Mary (Nicole Kang) have major reservations about trusting the woman who's constantly burned their friend, but Ryan assures them it will all be ok. Luke comes around, but Mary makes a very pointed statement about Angelique's path and the fact that no one just "becomes an Alice." Alice's are created when people allow them to be. But, despite the Bat Team's spat, Angelique makes the right call. That is, until she's kidnapped by Black Mask who then threatens Ryan's life the dealer doesn't take the fall for the False Face Society.
The major swings in "Rule #1" all connect, but it's the "smaller" story that speaks the loudest here. After Angelique heads to jail, Ryan establishes some ground rules with the team. Number one? Legacy. It's no longer enough for whoever wears that cowl to wipe out the bad guys on the streets of Gotham. They have to start replacing the evil with something meaningful, otherwise the city will continue to rot from the inside. To do so, they decide to help Jordan Moore with the community center she intends to build. The decision's thrilling for a multitude of story reasons, but none so much as the fact that it means we'll be seeing much more of Jordan, and we'll have an additional player calling out Sophie's nonsense.
Credit where it's due: this was a huge Sophie episode. We saw growth from her in Season 1, but a lot of that had to be rehashed after the loss of Kate. This season's narrative has certainly been more meaningful, but there has been a certain level of deja vu that came along with The Crow's second in command. Change doesn't happen over night, but the strides we saw this week were enough to curry a huge amount of favor with the character. She's out, she's learning how to be proud, and she's finally acknowledging that she's a part of the problem.
Writers Maya Houston and Nancy Kiu deserve huge praise for what they created this week. Batwoman has said a lot this season, much of which has been both poignant and impactful. But this week hits different, and their writing is a huge credit to that.
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