Batwoman – Season 2 Episode 6
“Do Not Resuscitate”
Batwoman furthers the concerns around Ryan’s injury as Alice tries to piece together her missing memories of Ocean and Safiyah’s island.
Different characters have their attention in different directions but everything continues to be in service of finding Kate. The default belief has changed from her being dead to her being kidnapped which gives pretty much everyone motivation to find a solution quickly. This has its drawbacks in that the show is about a character who is currently absent while the new lead is trying to establish herself though there are still plenty of opportunities for Ryan to assert herself.
The Kryptonite injury has been a less than welcome plot because of how it has been handled. Ryan has suffered with it since the first episode but chose to keep it to herself despite it not getting any better while demanding that Luke put his trust in her. Character flaws aren’t a bad thing as it makes them feel more real but having someone so driven to be accepted while keeping an injury a secret raises some red flags. Most significantly is that there’s no reason she should keep the injury secret as it doesn’t hinder her credibility as a vigilante. Injuries are part of the job and it would make sense to be upfront about being shot by an alien rock to the people that most likely know something about it.
As often happens the injury is used as an excuse to manufacture drama that doesn’t need to exist. So far this season has mined a lot of material from the tension between Luke and Ryan with Mary acting as a major supporter of the new Batwoman. It has made the dynamic interesting to watch and has been well executed with the core element being Luke’s unwillingness to accept a new person in the Batwoman identity. It makes sense to an extent that Ryan wouldn’t feel comfortable going to Luke about the injury for that reason though she is generally pragmatic enough to swallow her pride in the face of doing what is necessary based on what has been shown so far. The injury is used as the catalyst to resolve the tension between them when Luke realises that Ryan has been operating as Batwoman while being handed a death sentence.
Luke sees her selfless actions even in the face of her own death as being a defining heroic trait and appears to fully accept her. The previous episode had them finding some common ground over their hatred for the Crows that started an organic journey towards them resolving their issues so it’s surprising that there would be such a forced resolution when such strong work was ongoing. It’s a positive step forward for Luke to see Ryan for who she is rather than who she’s isn’t but getting there another way would have served this development better.
Not only that but the terminal diagnosis is going to be easily resolved through gaining the Desert Rose. Its miracle cure properties will be able to save Ryan’s life and her career as Batwoman can progress without that handicap. It does add personal stakes for Ryan in the search for Safiyah and adds an objective unique to her to the search for Kate but it feels forced because the injury has lingered in the background while having no real reason to be there. If the Kryptonite had a more meaningful purpose and was something the current iteration of Team Batwoman continued to wrestle with then it might have more significance but for now it’s an awkward plot point.
More interesting content for Ryan can be found in her relationship with Angelique. There’s an inherent contradiction to this relationship as Ryan knows that Angelique is still selling drugs. She has a blind spot for Angelique in some ways though is pursuing a relationship with her despite knowing that her occupation is morally and legally questionable. It makes for an interesting conflict for the new Batwoman to be involved with a criminal and turning a blind eye to what amounts to one of Gotham’s most significant issues. She persists with this because she is under the mistaken impression that she can save Angelique from the life she has chosen to lead but Angelique doesn’t want to be saved because she likes her life and likes to be an indispensable source for Gotham’s societal elite. It’s a position of power that she has managed to attain and in a lot of ways she’s swapped one addiction for another as shown by her desire to hold onto it.
So far this dynamic is interesting as it highlights flaws in both characters. They have reconnected after years apart with each of them forgetting why the relationship didn’t work before and they seem to be retreading the same issues that drove them apart in the first place. This works because it’s a very real depiction of a toxic relationship and will hopefully build towards a shared understanding that despite their feelings they aren’t compatible as a couple because there’s so much that neither is willing to change for the other. They are at an impasse because Angelique loves her lifestyle and doesn’t want to leave it behind where Ryan doesn’t agree with what she’s doing so wants her to stop. This puts them on opposing sides of an issue with neither of them prepared to budge which means that their days are numbered as a couple because as long as the issue exists then it will continue to drive a wedge between them. It could end with Angelique abandoning her current lifestyle for Ryan which would be unrealistic as there is plenty of evidence pointing to it being something she greatly enjoys.
Doomed relationships are a CW staple but when done well can be a really good source of character growth. In this case Ryan’s relationship with Angelique is incompatible with being Batwoman so it either has to end because they can’t meet in the middle or Angelique’s stance has to change because it’s highly unlikely that Ryan will accept this part of her life due to her commitment to being a hero. Ryan and Angelique being caught up in the romance of reconnecting only to realise that nothing has really changed once the haze lifts and they start to see their relationship with greater clarity. They appear to part ways in this episode but the story is unlikely to end there considering Angelique’s connection to Ocean and the seedy underground attached to Gotham’s elite.
Ryan is presented with a difficult choice around Angelique beyond whether they belong together. Sophie asks her to bug Angelique’s phone so that she may lead the Crows to the painting pointing the way to Safiyah’s island. It’s a plot contrivance for sure but it also sets up an interesting dilemma for Ryan who has to wrestle with whether to betray someone she cares about for the greater good. To sweeten the pot it’s agreed that all evidence implicating Angelique will go away if Ryan does this which allows her to proceed under the erroneous belief that betraying Angelique in one way is actually benefiting her in another. Of course Angelique doesn’t see it that way when she finds out and Ryan doesn’t really have a leg to stand on when it comes to assertions of trust being betrayed. Ryan taking the moral high ground with Sophie around supporting and fighting for those she loves lacks weight because of Ryan’s choice but having compromised morality around Angelique is exactly the point here and finding a way to convince herself that she’s doing the wrong thing by her for the right reason is a big part of why this conflict is so interesting.
Another relationship that is tested is Jacob and Mary who both find themselves kidnapped again, this time by Aaron Helzinger aka Amygdala (RJ Fetherstonehaugh). This version of the character is the product of experiments that were designed to fix his mental issues but ended up infecting him with cancer. His loyalty will be rewarded with a cure once the compound that miraculously cured many of much more than the recent poison epidemic is identified. There isn’t much to say about the character beyond his unpredictability heightening the tension during the kidnapping plot and his backstory making him somewhat sympathetic. In a less busy episode he could have been a really compelling villain but instead he’s more of a means to an end to introduce the presumed ongoing threat of Dr. Rogers (Milo Shandel).
In terms of of Jacob and Mary, their relationship hits a significant impasse after the loss of Kate brought them closer together. Pushing them apart is Jacob learning about the clandestine clinic Mary has been running. After they are freed from being kidnapped Jacob wastes no time in declaring his intent to shut the clinic down and lists all the criminal charges that should be associated with it. Mary’s pleas for Jacob to see where she’s coming from and why the clinic has to exist fall on deaf ears because Jacob is so hung up on how illegal it is. Naturally the real issue is that Jacob is faced with the reality of having another daughter living a secret life that he failed to notice which is understandably an upsetting prospect for someone who prides himself on his ability to observe. There is a brief discussion about the reality of life in Gotham where those that need medical care can’t afford to secure it legally so are forced to make use of Mary’s clinic.
It’s a systemic issue that plagues Gotham with Jacob being a major contributor to it because of what the Crows represents. His black and white approach of Mary conducting illegal experiments because of her lack of qualifications shows a significant misunderstanding of reality both in terms of how Gotham City operates and how intelligent Mary is. It’s a compelling complication in their relationship and it will be interesting to see what Jacob does next now that he knows the truth and knows how passionate Mary is about what she has built.
Alice and Ocean spend the bulk of their scenes mulling over how they might know one another. Alice has memory flashes of a romantic connection between them and Ocean’s understanding is that he tried to sneak the Desert Rose off the island before being discovered and deposited in Gotham with no memory of where he had been. Alice assumes that they tried to sneak the Desert Rose off the island together and were both caught so they both hatch a plan to work together against Safiyah so that they can understand what it is they have lost. Safiyah assures Alice that the training she supplied is worth her loyalty though there’s definitely more to the story than is currently known and I suspect loyalties will continue to shift as time goes on. Alice putting a replica of Ocean’s face on another body is unlikely to fool her but it’s a way back to the island which pushes things forward and the tease of an intimate history between Alice and Ocean carries this plot nicely. I’m sure the goal here is some form of redemption for Alice though whether that can be achieved is unknown at this time.
A strong episode that presents an interesting less than ideal romantic relationship for Ryan, creates a compelling rift between Jacob and Mary while the Alice/Ocean dynamic builds further intrigue. Ryan and Angelique’s relationship seems doomed to fail because they’re at an impasse created by an issue neither of them are willing to budge on. Angelique likes her life selling drugs to Gotham’s elite and Ryan doesn’t approve of it but hopes she can convince Angelique to change. Their relationship is incompatible with Ryan being Batwoman because it means turning a blind eye to the selling of drugs which amounts to one of Gotham’s biggest problems. This conflict is very real as the romantic haze is lifting to give way to the realisation that the problems pushing them apart in the first place are still there. The only way to resolve this is for Angelique to change or for them to agree to go their separate ways as Ryan continuing to allow drug dealing is out of the question given her current role. So far it’s an interesting toxic relationship that compliments the associated plot well. Ryan’s misguided assumption that bugging Angelique’s phone is in her best interests as it means immunity for her is interesting as well as it means convincing herself that she’s doing the wrong thing for the right reason even if it means betraying her. It makes her less than convincing when chastising Sophie for not supporting those she cares about and highlights Ryan’s current blind spot.
Mary and Jacob’s relationship is tested in compelling ways when Jacob finds out about Mary’s clinic and almost immediately looks to shut it down because it’s illegal and Mary isn’t qualified to run it. Their conversation covers systemic issues within Gotham that Jacob has a part in upholding, Jacob’s ignorance of another daughter living a secret life under his nose and Mary’s passion for what she is doing. Jacob sees the situation in black and white terms and it creates a major rift between them that could head in really interesting directions as it’s unclear what Jacob will really do next. Alice and Ocean make for a fascinating pairing as the work to understand what memories have been taken from them. Alice remembers a romantic entanglement and Ocean remembers trying to sneak a Desert Rose off the island to help people. The working theory is that they tried to do this together and were caught but to get more information they have to stage a deception around Alice succeeding in her mission. It’s unlikely to fool Safiyah for long but it gets them access which moves things forward. The tease of the intimate connection between them carries this plot nicely though it remains to be seen if Alice can be redeemed. The Kryptonite injury continues to be a clumsily handled issue as it doesn’t make sense for Ryan to have kept it hidden for so long and the introduction of it creating a terminal diagnosis for her with the cure almost within reach is less than interesting. Having the terminal diagnosis be the catalyst for Luke seeing her for who she is rather than who she isn’t is less realistic than them gradually finding common ground and brings an unnatural end to the tension between them. The Kryptonite poisoning could have been deployed in interesting ways but instead is used for artificial drama which is unfortunate.
- the realistic toxic relationship that exists between Ryan and Angelique
- setting up the insurmountable impasse that exists between them
- Ryan being faced with difficult choices around Angelique and having her morality tested
- the compelling rift between Mary and Jacob
- highlighting systemic as well as personal issues in Mary and Jacob’s argument
- the strong Ocean/Alice dynamic
- a sympathetic villain that could have been stronger with more focus
- the Kryptonite injury leading to forced drama
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