Thursday, July 18, 2024

The Big Bad Pyg Comes to Batwoman

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Batwoman opens on movie night at the Moore residence, which includes comfy pajama attire, extra-large popcorn bowls, and Alice watching the scary movie through her fingers. Their bickering is interrupted by a bump in the night. Maybe they’ve been watching the scary movie too long because they both grab empty bottles and creep towards the balcony where the sound came from. There is a brief resume to the bickering when Sophie sees Alice’s empty bottle was wine she’d been saving.

But the bump in the night is none other than Batwoman, there to pick up Alice, as Montoya has a lead on another trophy. There’s a dead body strung up by what Montoya thinks is Catwoman’s whip. Ryan on the other hand isn’t so sure. The real whip is enhanced by Wayne tech (stolen by Catwoman after one of her hook-ups with Batman) and Ryan doesn’t believe it could be cut through like the one in their possession is. As delighted as Alice is to get the gossip on superhero hook-ups, she’s more than happy to let Renee think this is Catwoman’s whip and cross it off their list, but Ryan wants her to figure out who really killed their victim. But Alice won’t have her help on this one, because Ryan has dinner plans with her mother.

At Wayne Enterprises, the financial situation hasn’t improved since Jada leaked their accounts, despite Ryan and Luke’s best efforts on damage control. Mary joins him, irritated that Ryan hasn’t thrown away Jada’s invitation to dinner. She’s even more irritated that the invitation was printed on paper instead of sent via email, clearly the superior option because it produces the smaller environmental footprint.

When Ryan says she’s going to the dinner to investigate Jeturian’s links to the Bee Gees, Mary’s irritation only grows. But mid-rant about the risks of seeing Jada, Mary gets thirsty. Very thirsty. Ryan hears her concerns about needing to be careful, which is why she’s bringing back up.

Ryan Wilder
I’ll give you one guess why her smile is so big.

Said back-up is Sophie. Sophie in a fine dress I might add. Alice is teasing Sophie about her ‘not a date’ with Ryan. Sophie says it’s not a date, but between the dress, the low-key obsessing over her make-up and hair and, oh yeah, the fact she’s wearing a push-up bra all speak to the contrary. At the very least, they speak to Sophie’s own hopes that there could be something more.

Alice would feel bad about introducing the Jet Mama drama into their lives, except her meds have kept her blissfully hallucination free and she’s been enjoying her ‘vacation’. Renee calls her to her office, reminding her that her vacation is anything but.

Ryan and Sophie arrive at chez Jet, absolutely failing to look like two people who have only reconnaissance on their minds for the evening. Ryan has been thrush back to her days of being the out-of-place foster kid. Sophie soothes her, telling her this is all to intimidate Ryan, to make her feel like she’s less than.

Jada join them, surprised to see Ryan brought a friend. And then Sophie, without any tactical rhyme or reason for the recon she’s there to help with, introduces herself as Ryan’s girlfriend. Her girlfriend. Like this is the tropey fanfic out of my wildest dreams.

Ryan and Sophie
It’s about the height difference for me.

Meanwhile, in the kitchen, the chef is getting very talkative with a pig’s head. And, just in case that wasn’t enough to clue you in to the fact this man is the episode’s villain, he starts laughing mechanically.

Back in the fake dating AU, Ryan and Sophie are almost effortlessly regaling Jada with the story of their first encounter. It was a Taco Tuesday and Sophie valiantly saved Ryan from a chip induced coughing fit with the offer of a drink. And some real feelings slip into this fake date when Ryan references Sophie always being there to assure her everything would be okay, even if she were dying. And the main moment being referred to here is Coryana, when Sophie did hold Ryan as she was dying, but there’s also the unsaid of every moment Sophie has stood by Ryan since they became friends. Every moment she’s offered her an ear, or been her back up.

Ryan and Sophie
Enemies to Lovers, Fake Dating AU. 100,000+ words. Completion status: In progress.

Speaking of, Sophie excuses herself to find the bathroom, i.e. ‘find the bathroom’ here means ‘plant a listening device in Jada’s office’.  Ryan on the other hand is done with the wine and dine niceties. She wants to know why she’s really here. Jada cuts to the point: she wants Ryan to cut all ties with Marquis. Ryan tries to play coy about her involvement with Marquis but Jada isn’t fooled. The man himself joins them right then and he’s not happy Ryan didn’t tell him about dinner.

Meanwhile, Sophie’s found Jada’s study with Luke on comms. She plants the device, taking an extra minute to snoop around the family photo. She finds a man, presumably Jada’s husband and Marquis’ father, literally folded out of the picture. As she’s asking Luke to run facial recognition their comms are cut. And to make matters worse Jada finds her before she can leave the room.

At Renee’s office, she to figure how who the whip belongs to, if not Catwoman. She hands Alice a stack of files and tells her to figure out who fits the MO. She doesn’t find a match for the kinky whip murder, but she does notice the file on one Pamela Isley is more robust than any of the others. Almost like Renee’s concerned about her in particular.

Nothing gets past Alice.

Back at family dinner, the pork might be roasted but the tension in the air is as cold as ice. Marquis’s date, Zoey, obviously never learned how to read a room and tries psychoanalyzing the family dynamic while the chef is serving wine. She does bow out to use the ladies’ room before the real fireworks begin. Ryan, Jada, and Marquis have a go at it, each one pointing out how the other has their own agenda. Ryan takes the moment to thank Jada for giving her up. Because while she didn’t get the mansions or butlers, she got a real family and the love of a real mother. And that cuts through some of that harden mask Jada’s been wearing.

In the bathroom, Zoey finds herself struggling to move her arms when the chef wearing a pig mask comes up behind her with a cleaver and the next thing we see is a splatter of blood across the mirror. Oh yes, this is a horror episode of Batwoman.

While Marquis is trying to one-up Ryan’s dramatic speech, everyone at the table begins to realize something isn’t right when their limbs aren’t responding the way they expect them to. The chef reveals he put a paralytic in their wine, introducing himself as Lazlo Valentin, aka, Professor Pyg. A disgruntled former Jeturian employee whom Jada fired. Now, as revenge he’s going to make her watch as he slowly kills her children. Ryan manages to stab Pyg in the leg with a knife.

Marquis, who drank the most, is struggling to move on his own. Sophie and Jada help him, while Ryan goes to look for Zoey. She finds Zoey dead and returns to the others as they realize they’re locked inside with cell service knocked out. Jada leads the way upstairs but Lazlo grabs Sophie on the staircase. Ryan grabs the nearest thing with some heft and smacks Lazlo off her girl and right down the stairs. They all make it into Jada’s panic room (because of course the Gotham millionaire has a panic room), but Marquis begins seizing.

Meanwhile, Alice is hearing the story of Renee/Pamela, university sweethearts! They were together at Gotham U until a rival classmate of Pamela’s injected her with deathly chemicals, but instead of killing her, it changed her physiology and personality. It was too much of a strain on the relationship for the young lovers and Renee didn’t know how to save her. As far she knows, Batman locked Poison Ivy up somewhere deep under Gotham, away from water or sunlight because she asked him to.

Renee Montoya
Renee/Ivy was not a ship I was expecting.

Before Alice can take her line of questioning any further, she opens a file and several postcards from Jacob fall out. The hallucinations aren’t fully gone.  She makes an excuse about seeing Mary about the victim and runs off before Renee could notice the panicked look in her eye.

Meanwhile, at the house of Pyg, this would be the beginning of the third act of the horror movie. After barely surviving the crazed killer, something forces our hero from their temporary safety. In this case, it’s Marquis’ condition. His blood pressure is dropping and he needs adrenaline. Good news, there are epipens in the house. Bad news, they’re in the basement. Worse news, the way to the basement is through the kitchen, which happens to be where Professor Pyg is building a bomb.

Using the intercom, Jada distracts Lazlo so Ryan can slip past. But because this is the horror episode and Ryan and her limbs aren’t 100% communicating right now, she knocks over some pans, drawing Lazlo’s attention to her presence. She manages to escape to the basement but just barely.

Back in the panic room, Jada asks Sophie if she’s really Ryan’s girlfriend. Sophie says she’s Jordan Moore’s sister (and doesn’t say no to being Ryan’s girlfriend). Jada doesn’t seem to know about Jordan or the experiments conducted on her and her friends. Nor does she seem to know about the deaths involved, but Sophie isn’t convinced.

In the basement, Ryan continues to be unable to catch any breaks because the camping gear with the epipens is on the top shelf. As Lazlo is breaking down the door, she tries climbing to reach the shelf. The cabinet falls over on top of her, allowing Lazlo to catch her.

Meanwhile, at Mary’s clinic, the number of plants has multiplied, something that isn’t lost on Alice. Those plants helped save Jordan because plants are smarter than humans — Mary’s words. Alice opens up about the hallucinations being back and needing help. But, instead of offering help like Mary once promised to, she gives Alice a vicious garden metaphor about this being a garden Alice made for her own burial.  Oh, Mary’s also scratching at the spot on her arm she pulled a thorn out of not that long ago. She took a cutting of the vine and Alice puts together this ivy isn’t just any ole’ plant.

Mary Hamilton
Fun buns: stylish, functional, and foreshadowing.

Back at the mansion, Lazlo is using Ryan as bait to draw Jada out, and it works. Jada even calls Ryan her daughter. While Lazlo is distracted by Jada, Ryan uses an epipen on herself, throwing the rest towards Sophie. Back on her feet, she’s ready to throw some fists. Sophie injects herself and Marquis and then joins Ryan in the fight with Pyg.

Ryan pushes Sophie out of the way from Lalzo’s meat cleaver and then, mid-fight, with the man actively trying to kill them a few feet away, Ryan and Sophie take a moment to stare into each other eyes as they’re on the floor. Marquis gets the drop on Lazlo, stabbing in from behind. And he does it again. And again.

Ryan and Sophie
This is fine. Never mind the man actively trying to KILL you a few feet away.

Back in Renee’s office, Alice skips in, giddy because she’s figured out who’s responsible for the bullwhip-hung body and that she’s found some poison ivy. She hands it over to Renee, casually calling it her girlfriend because this show is nothing if not delightful. But Renee looks anything but pleased because the only way one of Ivy’s vines would wither is if it’s infected a new host.

Meanwhile, the cops have arrived at the mansion. Ryan’s sitting on the steps outside wrapped up in a blanket. Sophie asks for her thoughts, to which Ryan makes a joke about dessert. Sophie doesn’t trust Jada. She knows there’s something she’s hiding. Ryan thinks it’s about time she find out what.

She takes the blanket from her shoulders and wraps it around Sophie (!!!!!) promising to call her the next day. As Ryan’s walking away, Sophie says ‘great first date, huh?’ She says it half teasing, ready to brush it off as a joke if Ryan doesn’t respond in kind. But, with the widest, warmest smile Ryan responds with ‘definitely memorable.’

Sophie Moore
I’m not sure. Is this Sophie’s dream? Or mine?

Jada is in her office, where she’s found the listening device Sophie left. She claims she doesn’t know about Jordan or any of the others. She says the whole point was that no one else get hurt and Ryan wants to know what the whole point to what? Jada asks Ryan to keep what she’s about to tell her a secret, but she makes no promises until she knows what it is.

Jada recounts an incident Marquis had with the Joker as a child where he was shocked in the head, and since when his actions have been…twisted. Ryan can’t believe it at first, because Marquis has been nothing but kind and charming to her, but Jada gives her some tapes of Marquis growing up, showing him delighting in hurting insects and escalating the violence more and more until he gives his father some food he’s deathly allergic too.

Jada admits to being behind the freeze serum, but that she didn’t know they were doing human experimentation. She pushed Ryan away to keep her safe from Marquis, but now that she knows, she wants Ryan’s help.


Remember last time when I said I was looking forward to the shenanigans bound to happen with Alice and Sophie living together? Especially if it happened to involve teasing Sophie about her feelings for Ryan? It’s safe to say this episode more than delivered my hopes and wishes there. Enough praises can never be sung about the chemistry between this cast. And Rachel Skarsten’s comedic timing in any given scene is a delight. But this season is really digging into Alice’s more vulnerable side as well.

It’s not a big logical jump to put together that Alice enjoys living with Sophie so much (besides getting to constantly tease her about her obvious feelings) because for the first time since she fell off a bridge, she has something that resembles a stable home. And, while no one in the group would admit it, least of all Alice, she also has people who care for her. Granted, the Bat team helping Alice is anything but altruistic, helping her helps them all in the long run. But their help still comes with genuine effort on their part, Mary’s current Ivy-addled personality aside.

Speaking off, how ironically poetic that Alice, the one who told her the bat team doesn’t see her, is the first one to figure out what’s happening to her. Mary can go bad for a few episodes, as a treat. But joking aside, this growing Ivy plot has already taken some surprising twists. All of which have been delightful so far. Renee and Pamela as exes is a twist I would have never guessed before the start of this season but I’m here for it. We know the real Poison Ivy will be making her appearance, probably sooner rather than later, but I’m excited to see what happens with Mary and how she plays into that.

To actually get into the A-plot of the episode: A horror episode! Horror and Gotham go together like peanut butter and jelly. I’m almost sad that Pyg dies by the end of the episode, but I’ve been around long enough to know that just because he dies here doesn’t mean we won’t see Professor Pyg again, be it a new character taking up the cleaver and pig mask or Lazlo himself returning in some way.

As for the reveal at the end of the episode, I knew not to trust either Jet. I still can’t help but like them thought. It’s wonderfully frustrating to not know how much Jada is being truthful about. If not for her scene last episode with the BGS where he didn’t tell her about the human experiments, I wouldn’t have believed her claims about not knowing about Jordan here. As it stands I still don’t know if I believe she was completely in the dark about that.

But I do believe, above all else, she’s a mother trying to protect her children. Are her methods of protection morally reprehensible? Absolutely. But hey, it wouldn’t be the first time in the Arrowverse a mother has done some awful things for the sake of her children. But the real question isn’t how much I trust her, it’s how much does Ryan trust her.

I could not put this recap to rest until I talked about the heart-eyes-shaped elephant in the room. Ryan and Sophie’s journey from enemies to friends to lovers has been a gift that keeps on giving. We had a callback to season 2, with Ryan’s subtle reference to Coryana. We also had Ryan putting the blanket around Sophie’s shoulders, a call back to one episode ago, when Sophie had a dream involving Ryan taking care of her. This is a relationship that’s truly being built on all the moments that have come before.

Bat-astic Moments

  • The opening scene with Sophie and Alice is everything I could have asked for any more. Both of them in casual wear, with their hair tied up and bantering endlessly.
  • Mary was sporting some Uma Thurman inspired fun buns this episode, and the comparison only gets stronger in the next.
  • “It’s not a date. Its recon.” “But you’re wearing a push-up bra, sooo it’s a date.”
  • They really gave us faking dating. They have a list of fanfic tropes and they’ve been ticking them off.
  • Talia Al Ghul got a name drop. Wonder what she’s up to these days? And how’s her sister doing.
  • It’s at this point I’d make a joke about in a house full of black people, the white girl is one who dies first in the horror episode, but Batwoman herself already did it for me.
  • Glad to see with the paralytic dulling their usual combat skill, Ryan and Sophie both subscribed to the Peggy Carter School of grabbing the nearest heavy object and smacking a man upside the head with it.
  • Ryan’s height became a genuine plot complication this episode. As a short person I relate. As a fan of smol and tol ships, I am endless amused by this acknowledgment of her short stature.
  • First fake dating, and then staring at each other in the middle of fight, this episode served some choice tropes.
  • On the rewatch I realized this episode was directed by Diggle himself, David Ramsey. That would explain the exceptionally tense and excellent fight scenes.

Images courtesy of the CW

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