This week's episode of The CW's Batwoman feels a bit like a placeholder. While not quite a "bottle episode," many of the main characters sit in chairs on the same sets for long periods of time moving some exposition forward. While punctuated with a few moments of action, it's not quite as engaging as we've had so far this season, which has so far been quite excellent. As a reminder, for the last several episodes, Batwoman/Ryan Wilder (Javicia Leslie) and the Crows and Alice (Rachel Skarsten) have all been trying to track down a painting that holds a map to Coryana, where they believe Kate Kane is being held, alive and well. This continues to play out through this episode with not much resolution. Meanwhile, Alice continues to talk with the mysterious Ocean (Nathan Owens) and Ryan continues to ail from her kryptonite wound.
But other than the McGuffin chase and the painting changing hands several times, it feels like you could almost have skipped this episode and not been the wiser. There are, however, a couple of nice character moments that are worth sticking around for.
The first is we finally get some time with Jacob Kane (Dougray Scott) and step-daughter Mary (Nicole Kang). They are kidnapped and taken to Mary's underground clinic, forcing a confrontation of the truth of Mary's charitable, off-the-books nightingale activities providing free health care to Gotham's underclass.
But their captor demands access to the cure-all serum that was developed from Mary's blood to help him cure a malignant brain tumor that, of course, because he's a Batman-style villain, causes him to have emotional swings and violent tendencies. The truth-telling and emotional bloodletting between these two characters is good and a long time coming, even if it is unfortunately told against a mediocre backdrop that despite feeling bombastic we know is low-stakes.
What doesn't feel low stakes is the ongoing relationship between Ryan and her ex, Angelique (Bevin Bru), There are a couple of quieter moments between the two of them that help bring more pathos to the path Ryan is walking as Batwoman and the choices she makes to cooperate with Sophie (Meagan Tandy). In Ryan and Angelique's dialogue, there are also a couple of nicely-sharpened barbs about inequality in Gotham, implicit bias in medical care, and other social justice issues.
But at the end of the day, the kryptonite is killing Ryan, and it finally takes some intervention by Luke (Camrus Johnson) to make Ryan understand how serious her wound is. But it leads to a really nice moment between the two of them about the expectations and pressure she feels being Batwoman, making this several episode in a row where Johnson has been doing yeoman's work to bring the emotional heart of the episode home.
Oh, and we can't gloss over the romantic relationship (?!?!) between Ocean and Alice. First of all, Owens is a snack. Second, of all the improbably storylines for Alice to have in this season, a "romantic subplot" would never have been something we'd guess. But somehow, inexplicably, it all works. Chalk it up to the inherent charisma of Owens and Skarsten, who always seems to know exactly the energy Batwoman is running on. But sadly, despite the interesting idea behind their romance, they spend basically the entire episode hiding out on an abandoned subway car and talking about the plot and their feelings. Again, think "bottle episode."
There are things here to like, but this is one of those unfortunate filler episodes that all tv shows fall victim to. Batwoman returns in two weeks on Sunday, March 14 with Episode 7 of Season 2, "It's Best You Stop Digging"
CROSSING THE LINE – As Ryan's (Javicia Leslie) condition worsens, she questions Batwoman's "no killing" code when she realizes the opportunity to avenge her mother is slipping away. Tatiana (guest star Leah Gibson) fills in the gaps for Alice (Rachel Skarsten) about her time on Coryana and her history with Ocean (guest star Nathan Owens). Also starring Dougray Scott, Meagan Tandy, Nicole Kang and Camrus Johnson. Avi Youabian directed the episode written by Jerry Shandy.