We learn a lot about Ryan Wilder on Batwoman Season 2 Episode 2.
While the season premiere informed us of her backstory and spotlighted her fighting and driving skills, here, we are treated to evidence of her ability to problem-solve and make connections.
Meanwhile, it’s apparently open season on Alice as first Julia, then Mary, take some brutally honest shots at Gotham’s “It Girl” psycho.
But with Safiyah on the horizon, I can’t help but wonder if there isn’t a subtle attempt to frame Alice as our known, home-grown evil versus Safiyah’s outsider villainy.
Ryan’s evolution to hero isn’t without its obstacles, not the least of which is her own insecurities.
We know that she’s still haunted by the fact all her martial arts training couldn’t protect her mother from being killed, a point actress Javicia Leslie referenced when she spoke to the press about taking on the role.
We watch her as she fails to get a security job due to her criminal record — an unlikely scenario in Gotham as some bright spark readers have noted already — despite the admirable spin she puts on the experience.
Look, I get it. Blackgate doesn’t look good on my resume. But it did give me a valuable skill set. Every second you’re inside, you’re assessing threats, trying to figure out who’s dangerous. You get real good at reading people. Faces can tell you a lot.
And her conversation with Sophie at Crows HQ — after being arrested despite trying to stop the crime being committed — illustrates that this has been the status quo for a while in her life.
Ryan: You get demoted? I dunno, c store robbery seems a little low-rent for you.
Sophie: Funny. I was going to say it’s a step up for you. Got tired of covering for your drug-dealing lady friend?
Side note: It was interesting seeing Sophie and Ryan facing off across the interrogation table. Considering the blatant similarities between the characters, the power divide is remarkable.
Sophie doesn’t come off well at all in the encounter as the video surveillance backs up Ryan’s story, just as Sophie basically calls her a liar. Furthermore, she’s pretty sloppy in letting slip Jacob’s personal connection with Alice.
It’s nice to know that Ryan’s able to piece together the Alice-Beth Kane connection from just that slip. It proves she’s brighter than our typical vigilante. Also, brighter than most everyone in Gotham.
Luke: You want to use the cape to slow your descent.
Ryan: Things that would’ve been nice to know before I jumped ten stories.
Luke: Nothing stopping you from asking… before throwing yourself off a building. FYI
Other obstacles she’s facing include Luke’s resistance to replacing Kate despite his recognition that Gotham needs a symbol of hope.
Our resident curmudgeon Fox is in peak form, even taking a cold strip off Sophie when she questions him about Kate being Batwoman.
Luke: I thought you said it was an accident.
Sophie: We’re not ruling anything out. Just looking into any possible enemies.
Luke: You mean other than every agent in this building? Right? Or maybe just the ones that lured her into a trap, tried to gun her down on the fifty-yard line? Y’know it’s too bad she didn’t have someone who loved her watching her back.
Sophie: I think we’re done here.
Although Luke’s points are valid about Ryan’s lack of training and obvious physical differences from Kate’s Batwoman, I suspect he’s also concerned with that lack of training leading to another death he’d have to carry on his conscience.
While Team Batwoman is understandably frazzled, pivoting to their new frontwoman, Alice is full speed ahead with her plans to confront Safiyah.
Tatiana: Safiyah will see you die for this.
Alice: Maybe. But first, she has to see me.
Admittedly, I wasn’t clear on her endgame when she fed Mouse to the tunnel bats.
And I’ll state once again for the record, biological science in this Gotham is solidly planted in the fantastical realm.
Rat, meet Mouse.
Also, how did a bat get INSIDE Mouse’s corpse? All theories welcome.
For someone who never seems to use any sort of vehicle, Alice gets around the city like she has wings.
She hangs out with Mouse’s corpse in the city’s sewer tunnels, but her headquarters is in an old tire factory?
She’s squatting in stately Wayne Manor but pops into the parkade of Crows HQ on a whim?
They say revenge is a dish best served cold but I think the portions are big enough for us to split.
She’s on the roof of a twenty-story building, fighting Ryan, but still beats Mary back to her own clinic?
If anyone is super-powered in Gotham, it’s Alice.
Too bad she’s having a hard time commanding a proper level of respect from her adversaries these days.
Even with a knife to her throat and the news of Safiyah’s imminent arrival ringing in her ears, Julia’s got bravado to spare, calling Alice desperate when she proposes a team-up.
Julia: Why would I ever work with a psychopath?
Alice: Because there’s another psychopath hunting you who’s even scarier than me, let’s be real.
Mary’s even more detailed in her reading of the situation, not knowing about the Safiyah danger but cutting straight to the matter of grief without appropriate outlets.
I think you miss Kate. I think underneath all of your crazy, this is your cry for help. Your sick way of grieving.
Mary’s been a consistent fan favorite since Season 1, with the only gripe really being that she’s a little TOO nice and accepting, so it’s kind of nice to see her speak up a bit about her own traumas, finally.
It may have started with her research on Ryan on Batwoman Season 2 Episode 1 and finding out Alice had killed both their mothers.
It may have been that she came into the know about Kate as Batwoman so late in the game that she’s just processing now the could’ve-beens that could’ve saved her mother.
You know what I’m really NOT okay with? Everybody just expecting me to get over the fact that Alice killed my mom. And maybe if Kate would’ve done what Ryan’s trying to do, she’d still be alive!
It may also be that Ryan’s someone she hasn’t spent a decade trying to be a sister to only to be rebuffed and lied to and kept in the dark.
Recognizing that she’s not alone in being robbed of a parent by Alice, Mary gets the chance to be honest about her feelings on applying the no-kill code to Alice.
Relatability. I maintain that that is the stand-out trait that’ll serve Ryan’s Batwoman well in both the show’s development and fanbase.
Ryan is a Gotham Every(wo)man. She’s been victimized by thugs and Crows while just trying to get on with her life. She’s had relationships go south. She’s had doors slammed in her face. She saw her mother killed in front of her eyes.
And, yet, she hasn’t taken the easy “Gotham” route and turned to criminality for power.
She’s got a code of her own. She believes that things can and should be better for the regular people in her city. Like regular people, she has surprising hang-ups.
[screams as a bat bursts out of Mouse’s corpse] What? I really hate bats!
And she should probably get that kryptonite wound looked at. STAT.
I give the writers kudos for the elegance of this script.
Ryan starts out looking for a job that doesn’t want her but ends up with a job that kind of needs her.
Best thing that ever happened to me was the day Mama Cora found me. Second best thing was the day I found that suit. But I can’t help but to feel like that suit found me.
My question now is will she continue living in the van while it’s parked in the Batcave? Luke’s going to need to knock down another wall to find the other parking spots, I guess.
As you watch Batwoman online, I invite you to marvel at how smoothly they’ve segued to Ryan as Gotham’s defender.
She found the suit. She’s bought into the mission. She’s even writing in the journals.
Are you on-board? What still needs doing?
Are you excited about Safiyah’s arrival? Which villains are you hoping will be in her entourage?
How long before Ryan has to ‘fess up to the kryptonite wound? And what will it do to her first?
Hit me with your highlights and lowlights in the comments!
Diana Keng is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter.