Batwoman – Season 2 Episode 15
“Armed and Dangerous”
Batwoman deals with the fallout of Luke being shot and has Jacob question what the Crows stand for.
There may have been a great deal of contrivance leading to Luke being shot at the end of the previous episode but that didn’t prevent it from being a shocking moment. The way it was presented was incredibly impactful and it set up the direct exploration of particular issues that this episode doesn’t shy away from covering.
One notable detail is that the characters are keenly aware of the universe they live in and what is possible. Specifically, Luke’s condition isn’t seen as anything more than an inconvenience because Team Batwoman have access to the Desert Rose which means that as long as Luke’s alive then he can be saved. No time is wasted in establishing that the plan is to get the Desert Rose to him and use it to heal his injuries. Having something like that readily available runs the risk of devaluing any threat to the characters though that’s a system issue that Batwoman has as a show because of the Bat Suit being practically indestructible. The Desert Rose is an extension of that and is a crutch the show could end up leaning on therefore rendering jeopardy all but meaningless.
That isn’t the case here because Luke’s condition still has a great deal of urgency attached to it. The early conversation between Mary and Ryan highlights the severity of the situation and the main obstacle is revealed to be Mary getting access to him in order to administer the Desert Rose. She is blocked by two Crows agents who won’t let her see him and her usual tactic of throwing her name around does no good because they are operating on Jacob’s direct orders. This creates jeopardy through a ticking clock albeit in a very manufactured way. It definitely works and serves as a reminder of the ongoing story around the Crows being a major problem though it doesn’t develop it in any meaningful way.
That particular problem is resolved with the help of Evan aka Wolf Spider who sneaks into Luke’s hospital room as Mary distracts the Crows. Nicole Kang is as always a delight playing Mary using her ability to get attention in order to create a distraction but it was a little too ridiculous as a sequence and felt at odds with what the rest of the episode was trying to achieve. It does accomplish the goal of giving Luke a dose of the Desert Flower and it was a nice touch to bring back Evan in a way that made sense. The clunkiness of the sequence is unfortunate but with a few tweaks it could have been far more in keeping with what the episode was trying to achieve.
Luke’s injury may not be considered a major problem to the other characters but it creates an opportunity for him to do some soul searching through talking to a manifestation of Bruce Wayne in his subconscious. Characters being near death and finding themselves tackling doubts or insecurities through some form of vision is typical for shows like this, most likely because it’s a stylistic way of bringing in elements that aren’t possible in the real world. In this case, Luke sees his father obscured across the room and is unable to speak to him. The manifestation of Bruce -hereafter referred to as Bruce- is the sounding board for what he is dealing with and his inability to speak to his father reinforces the distance that existed in that relationship. Luke has always felt unable to live up to his father’s brilliance so it makes sense that his subconscious would prevent him from interacting with a manifestation of him as those feelings of inadequacy will facilitate that. It’s well established that he knew Bruce well and that they were friends so he would be more comfortable interacting with Bruce.
The interactions are simple but interesting. Bruce lays out the facts as they exist and informs Luke that he has a straightforward choice; he can either go back to the real world where he will continue to deal with racism and persecution or he can let go and be with his father again. It may seem like there’s no choice to be made as living is surely better than being dead but Bruce makes some points that prompt Luke to reconsider that assumption. The circumstances that led to him being shot are central to that with a very powerful statement about the brutal reality of the situation being made. Bruce points out that all of the people Luke has helped to save when working with Batman and both Batwomen really makes no difference when he is gunned down simply for being black with lots of people believing that he deserved it. With this being Luke’s subconscious it means that on some level he feels that his accomplishments are meaningless because he happens to be black and that’s enough to sap his will to continue. The moment of decision comes after the Desert Rose is administered with Bruce pushing him to make his choice before it’s taken from him. He makes the choice to give up so he can be with his father and be free of the struggles that come with living as a black man in a world where there is massive inequality.
His choice ends up being irrelevant as he comes back to life almost at that exact moment meaning that he is now among the living against his will. This creates a number of possible development opportunities for Luke. It’s possible he will be bitter and maybe even suicidal because the opportunity to be with his father again was taken from him or maybe he will be filled with a drive to tackle racial inequality in his own way. Either way the idea of Luke being ready to give up and not return to life was incredibly shocking but entirely earned by the scenes building up to his decision.
Ryan spends the bulk of the episode working to clear Luke’s name with the help of Sophie. There is a great deal of frantic Batwoman action that is entertaining by itself but the plot really suffers in the Sophie/Ryan interactions. Most of their discussions retread old ground with Ryan’s opinion of the Crows and Sophie making a case for why she left them. They follow the standard beats of corruption being unacceptable, Sophie failing to change the culture and being guilty by association. It’s less than compelling because prior interactions suggested they had moved beyond those sorts of conversations when Sophie proved to Ryan that she had decided she couldn’t be a part of it any more. Some allowances can be made for Ryan being worried about Luke but it’s still a redundant argument and gets in the way of coverage that could be far more interesting.
Body cam footage was doctored to support Tavaroff’s claim that he was armed so it’s down to them to gain possession of the real footage to clear his name. This furthers the idea of Tavaroff being a ruthless opportunist with no boundaries when it comes to advancing his career. The ethical issues with doctoring body camera footage to support his story don’t enter his mind because he fully believes that the results he achieves justify the mistakes he sometimes makes when acting too quickly. It’s a dangerous and damaging mindset that perpetuates the racial inequality while also highlighting that Tavaroff is morally bankrupt.
Jacob questions what the Crows have become which prompts Tavaroff to stage a coup when he realises that his actions will no longer be supported. Discrediting Jacob involves exposing him to Snake Bite so that his death will look like an extension of the addiction he has knowingly been battling. Once again it shows that Tavaroff has no boundaries while also being fiercely intelligent in terms of how he goes about framing the narrative in a way that supports him. He doesn’t win in this instance because Ryan shows up and stops him making sure he sees her beat him as a form of catharsis to avenge Luke. It’s a satisfying victory from Ryan’s point of view and it’s a nice touch to have that come at the price of clearing Luke’s name which means that his reputation will remain tarnished while Tavaroff remains clean in terms of how the legal system sees him. As an aside, I recently spoke to Agent Tavaroff himself. Check out my interview with Jesse Hutch.
The shift in Jacob’s viewpoint is believable considering the work has been done to challenge his assumptions over the course of the season. He looks at the facts and easily concludes that Tavaroff’s claims about Luke make absolutely no sense when considering the facts around Luke’s history and what Jacob knows of him as a person. Added to that is the knowledge that Luke worked with Kate so he is aware that his daughter vouched for him. This marks a significant development for Jacob as he no longer proceeds with wrong-headed assumptions in order to preserve what he believes to be the integrity of the Crows. In many ways Tavaroff’s cavalier attitude to morality has made him more aware of how broken the organisation is.
His decision to disband the Crows doesn’t quite make sense though it’s easy to see why he would feel like it’s the only option considering he has lost the respect and loyalty of so many of his agents. Arguably the corruption is so deeply ingrained that it would now be impossible to restore the organisation to what it is supposed to stand for. Jacob has to accept a great deal of responsibility for this as he allowed this to happen through ignorance, inaction or turning a blind eye depending on the situation. He was also responsible for some of the corruption through several of the actions he has taken in pursuit of particular goals so in many ways he has been leading by example.
Disbanding the organisation is very much a morality driven decision on his part and an open declaration that such a thing can’t be allowed to continue but it does raise significant questions around what will follow. It is well established that Gotham City is overrun by crime that can’t be controlled and the Crows help to keep that in check at least to some degree. Not everything they do is corrupt so they do on occasion bring down actual criminals as well as provide security for certain events so it is documented that they have prevented certain situations from escalating. With them gone it could mean that the police are overwhelmed by a criminal element that now feels like it has nothing to fear. In effect it creates a major power vacuum that will be filled one way or another. It also probably won’t solve the problem as Tavaroff and those loyal to him will likely find another way to operate. It’s certainly a fascinating setup that is very worth exploring.
The Alice and Ocean portions of the episode unfortunately retread a lot of old ground by simply offering reminders that Dr. Rhyme’s death means that the key to unlocking Kate’s default personality is currently inaccessible which massively upsets Alice. Ocean reminds her how strong their connection is and that they started to remember one another purely based on the strength of that connection so the suggestion is that the same could be true for Kate. Alice goes to Jacob to enlist his help in jogging Kate’s memory which counts as sensible plot progression there and sets up a potentially intriguing father/daughter dynamic as they are forced to work together. In terms of Alice and Ocean’s relationship there isn’t anything new to consider though the actors continue to do a great job portraying their relationship due to their excellent chemistry. It remains to be seen what development there can be but for the moment it’s at least watchable if repetitive.
A strong episode that covers major issues, provides excellent introspection for Luke and offers meaningful development for Jacob as he takes responsibility for the downfall of the Crows. Luke doing some soul searching with the aid of a manifestation of Bruce Wayne in his subconscious is simple but interesting. Bruce making a persuasive case for giving up and joining his father in the afterlife works because of the reasoning given. Luke is forced to confront the prospect of everything he has accomplished in his efforts to save others being meaningless because he happens to be black and will always deal with inequality because of that. He was gunned down because of the colour of his skin and there are people out there who believe he deserved it. The choice he has to make is whether to go back and continue to face that or give up and be with his father in the afterlife. Curiously he chooses to give up but is forced back to life thanks to the Desert Rose. This opens up a number of possibilities as to where Luke could go next but it’s really well done in the context of this episode as it highlights established aspects of his character such as his feelings of inadequacy when compared to his father. Mary and Ryan aren’t all that concerned about Luke’s injuries because they know they have access to a miracle cure so a ticking clock is created around the complications getting that to him. It’s good to see behaviour associated with the awareness of the universe they live in while still being able to create jeopardy though there is still the risk of the Desert Rose being a crutch the show leans on similar to the nearly invincible Bat Suit. The comedic edge to Mary distracting the Crows as Evan sneaks in doesn’t gel with the rest of the episode though it does allow for a quick reminder that the Crows are an obstacle.
Ryan and Sophie working together to clear Luke’s name isn’t as engaging as it should be as their interactions largely retread tired arguments that have largely been resolved in prior episodes rather than concentrating on how they move forward after Sophie proved herself. The doctored Body Cam footage clearly shows Tavaroff to be a ruthless opportunist with no boundaries getting in the way of pursuing his own agenda. He firmly believes that everything he does is necessary and the mistakes he does make are acceptable when considering the bigger picture. He is morally bankrupt and further shows that when staging a coup against Jacob when he resolves to take action to counter the problem that exists within the Crows. Jacob’s realisation makes sense given the challenges to his viewpoint that have been seeded throughout the season. He also claims responsibility for the Crows being what they are as he has contributed to that significantly. His decision to disband them is unexpected and will likely create a power vacuum that will have far reaching consequences but it’s easy to see why he would believe that the damage is irreparable. The Alice and Ocean portions of the episode retread a lot of old ground in terms of their relationship though the actors sell it really well and the progression founded on the possibility of Kate’s identity reasserting itself through a similarly strong connection moves things forward while presenting an opportunity for an engaging father/daughter dynamic involving Alice and Jacob.
- characters being keenly aware of the capabilities that exist within the universe they inhabit
- the simple yet effective soul searching for Luke prompted by a manifestation of Bruce Wayne in his subconscious
- Luke considering the reality of being black and what that will mean for his life
- his decision to give up and join his father in the afterlife along with that choice being taken from him when he is brought back to life
- reinforcing Tavaroff as a ruthless opportunist
- his carefully considered coup against Jacob
- Jacob taking full ownership for the downfall of the Crows
- the intriguing prospect of the power vacuum created by them being disbanded
- Alice realising that Kate might have her memory jogged through a strong connection
- not shying away from big issues
- repeating the argument between Ryan and Sophie that has already been resolved
- the repetitive Alice/Ocean relationship content
- the comedic edge of Mary’s distraction tactics not gelling with the rest of the episode
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