Wednesday, June 19, 2024

More than Tea Spills on the Batwoman Premiere

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Welcome to the inaugural recap for Batwoman here on the Fandomentals! We’ve been fans of the series since Batwoman first appeared in the Arrowverse. But after watching Ryan Wilder step up to the mantle last season and her growth into a hero, I had to pick up season 3 as her story continued to unfold.

Last season on Batwoman, Ryan Wilder stepped into the suit and into her own power. But it wasn’t without a few missteps along the way. Being a vigilante is a learning curve. One such misstep that closed out of the season was several trophies from Batman’s rogues ended up being washed away in a river. One such trophy, the Mad Hatter’s top hat, is found by a random hiker who sells it online. The buyer, of course, isn’t some simple top hat aficionado. It’s Alice’s biggest fan.

Elsewhere in Gotham, Batwoman and her new sidekick — sorry, not sidekick — are kicking all kinds of behind in a weed den. And if their bantering about code names for Luke is anything to go on, they’re having some fun while doing it too. Sophie is spending her night pinning a pretty lady to walls, and Alice is reading postcards from her father when she gets told she has a visitor.

Batwing and Batwoman
Banter and Bats

Luke’s been combing the dark web for hits on the trophies, and Poison Ivy’s ivy showed up as being shipped to this pot operation. They find the sprig, which has sprouted into more of a bush at this point, but Luke doesn’t seem as concerned about the very sudden growth. Before they can properly secure it, gunmen rush into the room, opening fire. The Bat Squad takes cover, but Luke’s suit begins to malfunction, freezing up. Ryan takes out the men, saving Luke, but she’s not too happy about it.

Alice practically skips into her visitation until she sees Mary sitting on the other side of the glass. She’s only here because her dad asked her to check on Alice, so this is her keeping her promise. Mary’s jealousy can’t help but spike a little when Alice mentions Jacob writing to her, but she’s the one who’s graduating med school the next day, not Alice. She’s about to leave, but Alice has one more thing to say, a message for Ryan.

In the Batcave, Ryan and Luke return the Ivy to safe holding but it’s only one of many more they need to find.  Mary comes in bearing graduation tickets and threats that they better not miss the ceremony even if there is some villain threatening the city. She also vents about Jacob writing to Alice. To stop her spiral, Ryan reassures her that the Batfam will be there for her. This reminds mary of Alice’s message, asking about Ryan’s birth mom. Ryan plays it off as one of Alice’s many mind games, and it’s clear she hasn’t told Mary or Luke about the bomb Alice dropped on her at the end of last season.

Somewhere in the sewers, the Alice mega-fan is in his best Mad Hatter cosplay, making a video about Alice. And because, apparently, the Gotham sewers are a cool place to hang, he’s interrupted by two guys teasing him. Mad Hatter 2.0 tells them to pay her respect and one of the guys does just that but goes back to making jokes a moment later, trying to manhandle the Mad Hatter. When the Hatter gets the guy to back off just by telling him to, he realizes he can control people. His first instinct on realizing this power is to have the guy kill his buddy.  

In a basement office with rattling pipes and a leaky ceiling, there is a new face to Batwoman but certainly not a new face to Gotham (in more ways than one) if the collection of articles about Batman’s rogues pinned to the wall are anything go by. She gets a knock on her door, someone with a headline about the new Mad Hatter to show her. As she rushes out of her office, we see the name on her door: Renee Montoya.

Renee Montoya
A very enthusiastic welcome to you.

Heading to the crime scene, the detective on the scene seems annoyed she showed up. Still, he does let us know Montoya is the head of the Rogue’s unit. Ignoring his snide comments, she asks the kid for a description of the Hatter and it doesn’t match the Hatter she knew.

The video of the guy killing his friend has made its way around Gotham, including to the Batcave where the team figures out this is the work of Jervis Tetch — the hat is, at least. Tetch was a neuroscientist that invented mind control to make people listen to him. The bad news is there is no way to deactivate the hat remotely. The good news is Lucius Fox already discovered a frequency to disrupt the signal from the hat. Now, they just need to know where he’ll strike next, which circles back to being bad news. There’s one person who could help them figure out that, the one person Ryan wants to talk with the least: Alice.

Alice, being Alice, taunts Ryan about her birth mom and only gives a cryptic clue about the Mad Hatter planning a tea party. Later, in the loft, Mary and Sophie are trying to puzzle out what Alice meant. Ryan wants the Alice talk to shut down so Mary switches subjects to Sophie’s latest conquest, who is one of several women she’s seen recently, which she is completely in her right to do. When Ryan asks about Kate, Mary gives the whole ‘they’re friends but its complicated spiel’, which is an understatement.

Sophie and Mary
What is friendship if not relentless teasing about complicated exes?

Sophie doesn’t miss Ryan’s interest in her love life and Ryan deflects with a, ‘at least somebody’s getting some’. Mary pivots back to Alice and the Hatter and again, Ryan shuts down the conversation, hard. Mary and Sophie both realize at this point there’s something more going on with her than not wanting Mary’s day to be overshadowed.

So, when Ryan goes to pour herself another drink, Sophie quietly slides up to her, asking what happened. She knows Ryan wouldn’t get rattled by Alice easily and gently nudges her to open up. Ryan tells Sophie about her birth mother potentially being alive. Sophie reads from Ryan’s hushed voice that she hasn’t told Mary or Luke and offers to look into it on the down-low.

Sophie Moore
Its the gentle concern for me.

Meanwhile, the Mad Hatter is in an auditorium decorated for a graduation where he mind controls all the guards. Looks like Alice was right about that tea party.

Sophie wastes no time looking into Ryan’s mother, hacking into public records like it’s nothing. But the look on her face says whatever she found isn’t good.

Renee Montoya, meanwhile, has tracked down the mayor on her lunch run. She knows the Mad Hatter is a copycat but if his top hat is real, she suspects there could be more trophies from other rogues on the streets of Gotham. The Mayor is resistant to put funding into anything with ‘rogues’ in the title when she’s barely it a month in office. Renee warns her that if she does nothing, the city could become ‘Jim Gordon’s Gotham’.

At the graduation ceremony, Sophie and Ryan’s eyes meet across the lobby and Ryan’s smile is so bright it could probably be seen from space. Sophie can’t find it in her to return the gesture because she’s has to be the bearer of bad news. Ryan comes up with drinks for her and Sophie (presumably the only drinks she could get for the night because of a two-drink limit), and she can tell Sophie has something to say.

Unfortunately, Alice was right. The doctor who signed Ryan’s birth certificate also signed the death certificate for Nia A. Wilder, the name Ryan believed belonged to her mother. He was paid $2 million by a patient for surgery supposedly for an ovarian cyst, but more likely the money was paid to cover up Ryan’s birth. She gives Ryan an envelope with the information if she wants to know her mother’s name.

Meanwhile, Mary is practicing her speech when she can’t help but notice her classmate enjoying this day with their family. She doesn’t get too long to be sad about it because she turns and there is the Mad Hatter.

The Mad Hatter
Top hats were popular this week.

When Mary takes the stage, her speech isn’t the words of a new doctor excited to step into the field. It’s of someone who’s been shunned by the system. The Batfam know this isn’t the speech their girl has been practicing. They realize the Mad Hatter has her under his control. Luke sends a frequency to Sophie and Ryan’s ear bulbs to block the hat’s control, not a moment too soon because the Mad Hatter comes out on stage with Mary’s professor on an operating table. He orders the audience to remain seated and for Mary to remove her professor’s organs until he dies.

The Bat team can’t take him out without risking everyone he has under his control. Luke suggests there is one person he’ll listen too but Ryan doesn’t want to hear it. Unfortunately, they don’t have a choice.

In Arkham, Alice is talking about her father coming to save her. Her therapist tells her no one is coming for her and because dramatic irony is a thing, it’s right then the lights go out. Alice’s eyes fill with hope until she sees it’s Ryan, not Jacob who’s come for her. She runs back to her cell, insisting that her father is coming for her, showing Ryan the postcards. But for Ryan, there are no postcards or letters, just napkins and magazine pages. The letters from Jacob were figments created by Alice’s mind.

Ryan makes a deal: if Alice helps them, she’ll let her go. On the drive back to the graduation, Alice is uncharacteristically quiet, enough to prompt Ryan to ask if she wants to talk about it. Alice mutters quietly ‘there’s no point’ but moments later is quipping about needing new clothes to meet the Hatter.

Meanwhile, Luke’s made it to the roof and uses an antenna on the roof and a Wayne satellite to broadcast the disrupter signal to everyone’s phones. It won’t break the mind control, but it will stop them from having to listen to new commands. Realizing something is blocking his control the Hatter runs off to search for the source.

Sophie sneaks onto the stage to help Mary, but she’s run out of unnecessary organs and she can’t stop until the doctor is dead. Sophie suggests they kill him then. Stop his heart and then bring him back with a defibrillator.

The Hatter finds the circuit breaker, cutting power to the building and stopping the signal. He orders the graduates to strangle themselves. Luke tried to restore the power, but the guards Hatter took control of earlier get the jump on him. His suit freezes again, but Ryan swoops in just in time to save her #2 dude.

Back on stage, Mary and Sophie stopped the professor’s heart, breaking the Hatter’s control on Mary. She’s able to restart his heart. Now there’s just the matter of the Hatter himself. Alice skips into the room, looking delighted to meet her number 1 fan. He almost can’t believe she’s there.  Alice tells him to stop, and he doesn’t understand why. In his mind, they’re the bad guys. Using the hat, he asks Alice if she thinks he’s crazy. She smiles and says no. He breathes a sigh of relief and releases everyone. He asks Alice for a hug and she literally stabs him in the back.

Alice and the Mad Hatter
Really, though, when did they find the time to stop for Alice’s wardrobe change?

He calls her a monster when he realizes her betrayal and there’s something tragic in the way her chipper façade falls away. Alice is skipping away when Luke and Ryan stop her. Now the backstabber becomes the backstabbee. Ryan never intended to let her go. One good deed isn’t going to erase everything Alice has done. Alice lashes out, calling this Ryan’s payback against her because she can’t accept the truth of her birth family.

Later, back in the loft, Mary is giving her actual speech to the family who was there for her that day. She even acknowledges even though the Mad Hatter was clearly sick and needed help, he made some valid points about medical practices. Ryan, Sophie, and Luke couldn’t be prouder of their girl, and Ryan says as much in her toast to Mary.

Ryan, Sophie, Luke and Mary
To the Bat family.

Luke ducks out early to work on his suit, lest Ryan never let him be her wingman again. Ryan gets her trademark grin at the mention of wingman and points between them eagerly saying ‘Bat…Wing’. And a new hero is giving a name. Ryan asks to speak to Sophie alone, going down to the Hold Up. She returns the envelope with her birth mother’s information to Sophie. She’s wanted a family and now she has that in Mary and Luke. She doesn’t need anything more.

Somewhere else in Gotham, a helicopter just touched down and a woman who puts a capital P in Power Walk, struts out. One employee informs of her a security breach, and she wants to know why she’s being bothered with it until he mentions the information that was accessed was very specifically looking into her.

In the Batcave, Luke is working on the Batwing suit when he hears his father’s voice coming from the helmet. Mary opens a gift from Kate, her every own white coat, complete with a monogram.

This premier isn’t done giving yet. Renee Montoya has turned on the Bat-signal, wanting a word with Batwoman. She hands over a list of the missing trophies and Ryan wants to know how she has the list. She has an inside source: Alice.

In exchange for getting Alice out of Arkham, she cut a deal that Alice will help locate the missing trophies. Ryan refuses to work with Alice until Renee drops Ryan’s real name. Renee’s main concern is finding the trophies and she’s willing to threaten shutting down the Bat team to do it. So, the trio make a deal to work together.


What a fun return to Batwoman. The opening sequence especially was a delightful and energetic way to reestablish our main characters, and fill in what they’ve been up to since we last saw them. Ryan and Luke working almost seamlessly together as a duo; Sophie hook up and hopefully getting over Kate; and Alice with her father’s postcards, that was set up for the reveal she was hallucinating it.

Let’s dig a bit deeper into that for the moment. Between the Hatter’s obsession with it, Mary’s acknowledgment that there was validity to his statements. and with Alice working with the Bat team for the foreseeable future, it’s clear Batwoman isn’t done talking about mental health for this season. It wouldn’t be the first time in media the inmates of Arkham have been used as a lens to address mental health, as it’s been handled with varying levels of success in the past. But given how the series has balanced Alice between the lingering glimmer of humanity and her darker tendencies, I’m hopeful Batwoman can find a similar balance with a larger discussion on mental health.

Outside of the Mad Matter, the episode gave a good setup for the various arcs with the characters for the season. Renee Montoya (Victoria Cartagena) ‘returns’ to Gotham. I covered Gotham well after Renee’s run on the series, so I never had the chance to discuss how that series underutilized the character.

Mary’s a full-fledged doctor now, but her family isn’t around. As much as Luke, Ryan, and Sophie are her family now, it’s clear she felt the absence of her parents and Kate here. And now, the ‘family’ member who’s geographically the closest, Alice, is going to spending more time in the Batcave.

It’s not clear yet if the suit’s malfunctions are 100% caused by a mechanical failure or if there’s something more at play with Luke, but, the reveal there’s a message or AI in the suit from Lucius is a compelling enough hook for the first episode.

The biggest hook was Jada Jet’s (Robin Givens) introduction. She and Ryan are on a collision course already, and there’s the extra layer that Sophie knows Jada is Ryan’s biological mom, but Ryan doesn’t (okay, it hasn’t been officially said yet, but we know). Things are heating up, and I can’t wait to see where it goes this season.

Bat-astic Moments

  • I was not prepared for lady kisses so soon the in the episode. But here’s to Sophie finding her groove with as many consenting women as she pleases.
  • But also, if she and Ryan are going to keep smiling at each other like that, they need to hurry up with their slow burn.
  • Ryan and Luke’s banter in the field is delightful and I would have voted for the Dork Knight.
  • Mary was right about Gotham being under threat every other day.
  • Where did Ryan stop to get Alice’s new clothes? I want to know.

Images courtesy of the CW.

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