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‘Batwoman’ season 2 premiere: Javicia Leslie debuts Ryan Wilder, and we’re here for it

Let's recap 2x01 and dig in to the premiere's top moments.

Batwoman season 2 premiere “What Happened to Kate Kane?” aired January 17, 2021.

Batwoman is back with a new hero behind the red-haired mask. Actor Javicia Leslie steps into the trailblazing role as Ryan Wilder, and after watching the season 2 premiere, I have two words: Hell yes! While some critics haven’t been kind to the show’s return, I’m optimistic. While I love Ruby Rose as Kate Kane, I must admit that after seeing Leslie step into the role, it feels more natural than it ever did with Rose. 

Throughout the premiere we learn Ryan’s heartbreaking story. She’s a victim of the system, having been in several group homes throughout her life before finding a mother who loved her as her own. Just as they’re getting a new home and starting a new life, Ryan and her mother (and their landlord), are brutally attacked by squatters in what was to be their new apartment. Ryan survives, but her mother and the landlord do not.

Ryan’s also been wrongfully committed for drug possession which placed her in jail for 18 months. Her present now consists of meetings with her parole officer and living out of a van. What makes you root for her, though, is that despite having hit rock bottom and feeling like she has no control over her future due to a system built to always work against her, there is an engrained sense of optimism and hope. Ryan is quick-witted, funny, and has clear empathy for those around her, despite having everything work against her favor her entire life. Five minutes into the premiere, I was rooting for her.

Let’s break down the episode’s top moments!

Ryan finds the suit — or, did the suit find her?

Ryan witnesses a horrible plane crash (that either has or hasn’t been the cause of Kate Kane’s possible death), and in attempting to help any possible survivors, comes across the batsuit. Her parole officer subtly dropped that she’s a former martial arts teacher, so there’s some precedence that she can use the suit to its fullest potential.

Taking the suit for a test drive, Ryan tries to track down the squatters that brutally murdered her mother, and in doing so runs into Luke and Mary. Ryan delivers an incredible monologue about why she isn’t worthy of wearing the suit, and in doing so proves she may actually be the most worthy person of all to wear it, even if she doesn’t realize it so herself.

Tommy is Bruce Lame

Alice is still playing the villain, giving Tommy Elliot Bruce’s face to infiltrate the Batcave and obtain the piece of kryptonite Luke possesses — you know, the one thing that can penetrate the Batsuit(!)

Tommy has his fun gallivanting as Bruce for a short period, ending it by stealing the Batmobile and going after the suit. Ryan reactivates the suit’s GPS for Luke and Mary to track her down after reading about Kate Kane’s heroic acts outside of the suit, giving into her insecurities that she’s not worthy… of the suit or anything else.

Luke and Mary send a call to the suit, alerting Ryan that Tommy’s on the hunt for her. The Batmobile-van chase ensues, and luck finally lends itself to Ryan as Luke’s able to hack into the Batmobile and shut all systems down.

Even after successfully shooting Ryan with the kryptonite, Tommy underestimates her skills and becomes her very own punching bag. How many blows does it take ’til you get to the center of Tommy’s actual face? Smash Ryan’s potted plant — the one that belonged to her deceased mother — and you’ll find out.

Let’s talk about Alice.

Despite the grief from believing her sister is dead, Alice was BUSY this episode. She crashes Tommy’s threesome at the Wayne mansion (really killing the vibe — by killing one of his dates). She follows up her party-pooper antics by greeting her gun-toting dad at the mansion and dropping a major bomb: Katy’s Batwoman! The cat’s really out of the bag now, as Julia Pennyworth delivered a safe-sealed note from Katy to Sophie also spilling the beans. How many of you sobbed as Sophie read how much Katy loved her in her own words?! Honestly, I’m more heartbroken at the loss of this ship more than anything. 

While Alice’s plan for ultimate “revenge” against Katy and her dad was squashed, she’s still cooking up destruction. Now that Katy’s out of the picture, she thinks she has Gotham in her grasp. What she didn’t expect, though, was that Safiyah has plans of her own.

Because quarantine has turned the last year into 10, here’s a quick refresh of the infamous DC character, who will be played by actor Shivaani Ghai of Dominion fame (via EW):

The dangerous ruler of the island of Coryana, Safiyah is primarily concerned with guarding the Desert Rose, a rare flower with special healing properties grown on the island, and has a coterie of mercenaries at her beck and call (like the Rifle from season 1). As we learned in the CW superhero drama’s first season, Safiyah has a complicated history with Alice (Rachel Skarsten), who shuddered whenever the adversary was mentioned last year. (Remember, Safiyah killed Alice’s Wonderland Gang and tried to assassinate Alice’s sister Kate, a.k.a. Batwoman).

I am VERY excited for Safiyah to enter the game, because what will take this show to the next level is expanding the current setting. Exploring new threats through world-building and the possible mystical properties that come with is what I’m here for this 2021. (Also here for Ryan and Mary bonding and being the badass females they are #YES!)

The aftermath.

Ryan’s heroics sent Tommy back to Arkham Asylum for the Criminally Insane, but she still isn’t ready to face the rage that led her to his defeat. She turns the suit back over to Luke and Mary, heading back to her van seemingly unscathed. Of course, the premiere ends in a cliffhanger with Ryan’s shoulder veining-out in green from the kryptonite. What could this mean? Well, in the DC Universe, long-term effects from kryptonite could lead to cancer (see: Lex Luthor), but it could also grant superpowers. My best guess is that this Desert Rose flower will be Ryan’s saving grace, but it’ll be a journey before she can get her hands on it.

The biggest bombshell of the premiere, though, was that the “squatters” that murdered Ryan’s family weren’t just anyone — they were part of Alice’s Wonderland gang. Queue the motive for putting the suit back on! I kind of love, though, that Ryan isn’t using the suit to mask her insecurities. She recognizes she has to work on herself, and while she’s still got a lot of emotion to claw her way out of, it’s the first step towards superhero status.

What did you think of the season 2 premiere? Will we see a kryptonite-enhanced Batwoman (even if it’s temporary)? *Raises hand*

Tweet me your theories @lizprugh, and check back weekly as we dive into theories following each new episode.

Batwoman airs Sundays on The CW at 8pm ET.

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Liz Prugh

Liz is the co-founder of PureFandom.com, an always aspiring #fiercefemale, and loves geeking out over any and all sci-fi/fantasy. She believes Luke Skywalker is the most underrated Jedi and still thinks vampires are cool. She hosts several Pure Fandom podcasts, and you can find her currently covering The CW's 'Batwoman' and 'Legacies'. Nerd out with her on Twitter @lizprugh.

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