Wednesday, June 12, 2024

A New Poison Ivy Comes to Batwoman

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Batwoman opens on a ladies’ basketball team in the park, when a stray ball lands near the garden shed. One girl, noticing a strange substance leaking out of the shed goes to investigate. The strange liquid leads a man, wrapped up in vines and honeycombs. Worse yet, this poor guy is still alive.

When the area’s been sectioned off by the GCPD, Montoya arrives on the scene and immediately takes charge. She has the GCPD take the victim to Mary’s clinic for medical care. She finds his phone in the honeycomb and she tells the GCPD to get ready for all hands on deck because she knows this is only the beginning.

Later that night she’s briefing Alice and Ryan about the vic and her suspicion of it being linked to Poison Ivy. Ryan wants to know how Alice just happened to find Poison Ivy’s vine on her own, but Alice isn’t letting any secrets slip past her coy grin. When she hears their victim/main witness has been taken to Mary for treatment, she happily offers to check in on them. 

Renee hasn’t been able to get into the victim’s phone so Ryan offers to use the Batcave’s system. Speaking of the Batcave, one Sophie Moore has taken up residence with takeout and surveillance as her plans for the night. Takeout she hopefully has a buddy to share with, now that Ryan’s here.

Sophie Moore
Oh if only we could have stayed in this sweet moment.

Take heed, this is the last pure moment of the episode because the angst is about to begin and once Batwoman brings the angst, it does not let up once this episode.

Sophie’s looking for any signs of the good ole Bee Gees — the Black Glove Society — and the man who was behind the attack on Jordan. When Ryan never called about her info on Jada she assumed that was a dead end and is now hunting for information the old-fashioned way.

There’s a moment’s hesitation from Ryan, a soul-crushing instant because she knows the next thing she says is going to lead to hurt for them both. But, she feels like she has to say it anyway.  Jada isn’t involved. For a moment Sophie thinks it’s a joke until she sees the look on Ryan’s face and knows it isn’t. Then she thinks Ryan is being coerced in some way because surely Ryan would never keep something like this from Sophie. Not when she knows people were hurt and lost their lives. Not when Sophie was almost amongst the body count. The most heartbreaking moment is when Sophie accuses Ryan of protecting her mother, but Ryan can’t tell her she’s trying to protect everyone.

Because the episode knows there needs to be an emotional breather after that scene, the next one is with Alice and Mary, who are somewhere in the tropics. Oh no, they’re in Mary’s clinic but it’s a little hard to tell on account of the plants taking up every available space. Which is red flag number one. Red flag number two is when Mary asks why ‘Batwoman’ sent Alice. She calls her Batwoman and not Ryan.

Alice, who’s already caught onto every red flag, accuses Mary of being their new Poison Ivy. But Mary just scoffs and accuses Alice of gaslighting. That is until their victim wakes up and starts screaming bloody murder because the person who tried to murder him is in the room. (It’s Mary, if that isn’t abundantly clear at this point.)

She calls a team meeting to tell Ryan and Luke, hilariously having to explain she’s coming out as Poison Ivy and not as queer (because of course, this show manages to slide a coming-out joke into the most emotionally rife episode yet this season).

Ryan and Luke have seemingly forgotten they live in a universe where a kid was turned into a mutated croc by scraping himself on a tooth, not to mention the literal thousands of metahumans running around, because they both intensely try to deny that no, their sweet Mary can’t be Poison Ivy. Never mind the clinic filled with plants or the victim who ID-ed her. Or the fact that she just said it. They still won’t listen to her.

It’s not until Luke discovers text messages from Mary on the victim’s phone that they’re forced to believe it. As if she’s sensed the name Poison Ivy being said in sequential sentences, Renee calls Ryan right then, who mutes her call. She has no plans to tell Renee about Mary. For everyone’s safety Mary cuffs herself to a desk until they understand her triggers.

At City Hall, Sophie waltzes into Renee’s office like that’s a normal thing one does at two in the morning. This is the first time Sophie and Renee interact this season, yet in one minute they’ve established enough history and chemistry between them to presage something. It’s not clear yet what, but by the end of the episode, it certainly will be.

Renee Montoya
The ladies got so many great scenes together in this episode.

Sophie wants Renee’s information on the freeze serum and she’s willing to leverage ‘babysitting’ Alice to get it. Renee’s surprised she came to her instead of turning on the Batsignal, but that’s currently a non-starter for Sophie. Renee doesn’t have information on the Bee Gees, but she does have a warning for Sophie to be careful if she’s planning to tussle with them.

Back in the Batcave, the team’s uncovered how Mary encountered the victim: through a dating app. The guy seemingly turned her down, calling her sweet. The humor of Poison Mary then nearly killing the man with honey is not lost on Alice.

In Mary’s phone Luke finds records for the purchase of fertilizer and a plant pot, along with a ping for her location in a vacant lot. Ryan suits up to investigate the area along with Alice. While they’re there, Ryan is casting blame on Alice for not sharing the information about Mary sooner. Alice claps right back that if anyone should have noticed Mary’s strange behavior it should have been the person who calls herself Mary’s best friend and roommate. They find the Bee Gee behind Jordan’s kidnapping and freezing buried up to his head in the ground.

When they get back to the cave, Luke is able to backtrack through Mary’s searches to uncover how she found the Black Glove Society when no one else could. She used her MD credentials to gain access to confidential records which lead her to the Bee Gees. Alice wants to tell Sophie the man she’s been hunting down is now in the sewers under Wayne, but Ryan isn’t having that.

The Bat team is trying to understand her triggers. She isn’t targeting people who harmed the environment like OG Ivy. Mary thinks the Ivy pheromones are heightening her natural desire for justice to a dangerous degree.  While they’re hashing this out, no one notices Alice sending a message on her phone.

At the same time, Renee arrives the Wayne office. She got word about the second Poison Ivy victim and wants to know why Ryan didn’t call her. Ryan does her best to dissuade Renee, while the rest of the team watches from the bat cave. Alice gives Luke and Mary the abridged version of Pam and Renee’s tragic romance.

Alice is always a mood.

As the sun begins to rise, Ryan returns to the cave. Alice lets it casually slip that Sophie might be with the Bee Gees in their sewer because she couldn’t bear the thought of keeping her roomie out of the loop. Rayn heads down there to stop Sophie from doing whatever she plans on doing.

Speaking of, Sophie’s plan is to put the heat on the Bee Gee until he talks — literally put the heat. Homegirl has a blow torch. A twisted call back to the time he tried to burn her alive (is Alice rubbing off on Sophie?). She doesn’t wait to ask if Jada was the one who hired him. Instead of talking about Jada, he info drops on the first person who hired him, Tommy Elliot’s (aka Hush) mother. She and other wealthy Gotham families hired the BGS to help their children with ‘sensitive’ issues. Sensitive here is a word that means murderous and violent tendencies. Sophie only wants to hear about Jada, but before she can burn this guy’s whole face off Ryan stops her.

Ryan and Sophie
Several shots this episode were dripping with aesthetic.

Sophie is pissed (rightfully so) that she had to learn they found this guy from Alice and not from her friend. She’s even more pissed that Ryan is there, seemingly to protect Jada’s secrets, again. After all the time they’ve spent building the trust between them, all the Sophie’s spent, Ryan’s blown huge cracks in that trust in the course of one day. While they’re arguing, the Bee Gee uses the chains he’s hanging back to kill himself. Sophie congratulates Ryan because she getting to keep her mother’s secrets a little longer

Back in the Batcave, Luke hasn’t had any luck researching triggers for Poison Ivy. Alice notices the sunlight beginning to peak into the cave and she starts to poke at the insecurities of the team. How Ryan isn’t here, helping her best friend. Instead, she’s stopping Sophie from learning the secrets of her biological family. Luke tries to defend Ryan, but he’s too distracted to notice what’s happening with Mary.

Before he can react, Mary knocks him out. In the sunlight, Mary’s eyes turn green and she’s not our Mary anymore. Alice unlocks her cuffs. Poison Mary wants to know why Alice is helping her. Alice promises she’ll call to collect on this favor soon, but until then, she needs Poison Mary to not get caught by Renee.

Mary’s already one step ahead. She calls Renee with a tip about a Poison Ivy sighting at the botanical gardens. And Renee goes there. Alone? To a garden. To face Poison Ivy. When she realizes it’s Mary, she tries to reason with her. But there’s nothing to reason with. Mary taunts and guilts Renee with her history with Pam. Renee has her gun, but it’s clear she doesn’t want to shoot. Vines creep up behind her, pulling into the brush.

‘She wants to dance kill like Uma Thurman’

In the cave, Ryan finds Luke on the flood. Alice is long gone. They’re able to track Mary’s phone to the gardens and suits to join Ryan. His father might say he’s not ready to be in the field, but he’s not going to sit on the sideline when Mary needs help. Our heroes head out in the Batmobile.

At the gardens, they figure out almost immediately they’ve been lured into a trap. Vines pull them apart, separating them. Luke tries talking with his dad’s Ai, but there is no response. Poison Mary taunts him about needing his dad. Luke offers help, but Mary doesn’t want his help. She sees herself as finally being her best version, the version who doesn’t need her friends. She strings him up, revealing she took out the failsafe in his suit. But before any damage can be done a Batarang cuts the vines.

A still image does not do this moment justice.

Batwoman swoops down, apologizing to Mary for being a shitty friend. But it was worse than that. Mary reads Ryan for filth. She’s given more time, energy, and care recently to a woman who gave her away than she did to Mary. She didn’t hear her and now it’s too late. They hear the sounds of the GCPD outside and Ryan tries one last time to reach out to her, but to no avail. Mary wraps her in vines and slides away.

Renee shows up with an ax, cutting Ryan free. She blames Ryan for knowing about Mary and not saying anything and now, someone incredibly dangerous has been unleashed on Gotham. Later, in the Batcave Ryan and Luke are nursing their wounds. Physically and emotionally. They know now they dropped the ball with Mary and they vow to do everything they can to find a cure. Luke points out they’re going to have to issues with that part with Mary, so Ryan calls Jada for help.

Then, we go to the Hold Up. Sophie is drowning her feelings at the bottom of a glass when Renee joins her. After the day they’ve had, a drinking buddy doesn’t sound too bad. And when there are people who’ve upset more, drinking with each other is the clearly better option. They share some intense looks over the rims of their glass that say they might be looking for more than a drinking buddy. One scene transition later, Sophie Moore is pinning Renee Montoya to a wall.

Sophie and Renee
And I ain’t even mad.

Meanwhile, Alice and Mary meet up, driving off into the morning rays (in their stolen electric car). No doubt those two being together will bring nothing good.


So, a lot happened this episode and this wasn’t even the mid-season finale. While it’s easy to say this has been the strongest episode this season, its works as well as does because it builds on everything that’s been set up since the start of season 3. Or the case of Ryan and Sophie relationship, it takes everything that’s been built and turns it on its head.

If you’ve read any of my other recaps you’re aware I’m here for the Wildmoore endgame. That does not mean I’m not 100% thrilled by this turn of events. A love triangle where every axis is a black queer woman? Only a few years ago that sentence would have seemed inconceivable to happen on television. Yet, here we are. On top of that, each of these women have their own motivation and stakes in the current plot. This only makes me more excited to watch the romance between Ryan and Sophie unfold.

Every great romance story is marked with conflict and it makes so much sense for Ryan and Sophie’s character that this be the conflict that throws a wrench in their story. Ryan is trying to protect anyone in her life from a threat she doesn’t fully understand yet. She saw Marquis kill his own father. For all she knows he’s capable of far worse now so she’s trying to keep the people cares about away from him and Jada. But what she’s failed to realize is being the one with the emblem emblazoned on her chest doesn’t mean she has to be the one to stand in front of her team as their shield. What her team needs from her is to know that they’re heard and that they have her trust.

“If you want to earn my trust…” So much of their arc has been centered around this statement. Specifically, Sophie earned Ryan’s trust and rightfully so given their history. Sophie ‘the Crow’ did not see Ryan as a person out of the system until she had the chance to know her personally. And once she did, Ryan pushed her to be better and Sophie rose to that challenge. She reevaluated and changed fundamental beliefs she had about the Crows. She earned Ryan’s trust by working for it, so it must hurt now that after all of that it looks like Ryan has doubled down to protect someone who tried everything to keep Ryan out of her life. So if Sophie is trying to stave off some of that hurt in Renee’s arms I say all the power to her.

Now, let’s get into Mary and Poison Ivy. What I like the most about her is this isn’t Pamela Isley in Mary Hamilton’s body. This is still Mary, just with certain aspects of her stripped away, like her empathy, while others have been enhanced and twisted. This is truly Mary’s version of the character, and it was inevitable. Ryan and Luke didn’t heed the signs, both too caught up in their own things, and now the consequences must be faced.

Bat-atastic Moments

  • “Why aren’t you telling me what you’re not telling me?” “You lost me in the double negative.”
  • Mary: “…I am a threat to everyone…” Alice, mouthing in the back background: “Not me.”
  • “According to your DMs, which I merely skimmed for key words…” – sure Luke.
  • “…Its like the beige of compliments. The swipe left of niceties.”
  • Alice, upon discovering Mary didn’t kill the Bee Gee, “Oh, it’s only her first day.”
  • “Violation of medical ethics? Harley Quinn, here you come.” On top of everything else in this episode, a Harley Quinn name drop?
  • “Obviously Pam’s metamorphosis into- Little Shop of Horrors got in the way of sexy time.”
  • I know Renee has a lot of Poison Ivy baggage that’s clouding her judgment, but she really thought it would be a good idea to go confront her at the botanical gardens, alone.

Images courtesy of the CW

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