This Batwoman article contains spoilers through Season 2, Episode 14.
Batwoman has been going hard on their criticism of the Crows—and law enforcement by proxy—so it is no surprise that the show would Go There. Yet despite the season-long setup for Crows or cops to do something blasé, like shoot an unarmed Black man, the fact that they made me watch an unarmed Black man get shot on my television in this year of our lord is truly a f*cking choice. Is it crack? We spend time in the episode proving that Tavaroff is a racist piece of shit with no moral compass—he and his team literally gun down a building full of people. We absolutely did not need to punctuate that little massacre with additional violence.
Separate from the decision to evoke unnecessary trauma, Batwoman writers undermine themselves in a way that is truly egregious. Ryan gets harassed by white GCPD cops who respond to a “noise complaint” during a fundraiser at the bar, despite it being daytime… and a bar. She talks back to them, and Luke steps in, hoping to appease the officers and defuse the situation. They both get manhandled and arrested. In their cell, they argue about it, and Luke tells Ryan that growing up around rich white folks didn’t teach him to go along, it taught him to keep his head down.
So riddle me this… WHY THE F*CK would Luke see a white man breaking into a car and think, “hmm… let me interfere here.” This is within hours of being released from custody, after being racially profiled and unfairly detained. How does that make sense? Then, when the Crows pull up, the white man accuses Luke of trying to steal the car, and Luke—who took a photo of the guy committing the crime before confronting him— pulls out his phone! (Never mind that he could’ve just called the cops, or sent the photo to a tip line if he was truly against minding his rich, Black business.) A Black man makes a sudden movement in front of armed cops?! A Black man who earlier this very same day proved he passed Existing While Black 102: How To Talk To Police. He has the good sense to “yes sir, no sir” the cops at the bar but somehow forgets all of that to be a Captain Save-A-Beamer in the streets?!! I am truly aghast.
The imagery of a Black man being shot by police is upsetting, yes. But it’s the hoops the writers go through to put Luke in that position that really grates me. Luke physically stepping in to stop any crime is a stretch, but stepping in to stop a white man from stealing a luxury car is downright ludicrous. Luke comes from wealth, so I find it odd that he wouldn’t just think, “I’m sure it’s insured,” shrug, and walk away. But not only does he think stolen property is a worthwhile thing to prevent, he thinks it’s important enough to personally intervene. It’s not just contrived, it’s also really goddamn dumb. And it completely ignores everything that happens earlier in the episode. I have to assume that the Black writers took that week off because I don’t see how that gets pitched and no one in the room says “why would Luke do that, though?”
It was always going to be Tasslehoff, but it didn’t have to be Luke. It’ll be a real shame if Batwoman adds insult to injury by framing Luke as “one of the good ones.” He’s a rich, well-educated Black man. It’ll be too easy to paint him as someone who didn’t deserve it—as if anyone does. I would have said the writers know better but the end of this episode happened so… It’ll be interesting to see how Sophie responds, and how or if, she leverages this against Tamarack. It’s no coincidence that this happens after she decides she’s leaving the Crows. Sophie has been trying—and failing—to make some kind of meaningful reform within the Crows. And it’s only after Tallahassee double taps a church full of Snakebite zombies that she fully realizes the extent of the rot within the organization. This will either reaffirm her choice to leave or keep her there with renewed purpose. Whatever happens, I hope it justifies the last five minute of this episode, though I’m doubtful.
It should be said that I enjoyed this episode immensely, up until the moment Luke hangs up the phone. I love that we get to see a continuation of the activism Ryan and the team have been doing. I love watching Ryan flirt with Imani, and just generally having a normal social/romantic life. I always love when Mary has a chance to remind Jacob he ain’t shit—though I do feel like she deserves better than constantly chasing after his attention or affection. Plus zombies are always fun! I’m also here for the journey Alice has been going on this season and I can’t wait to see how she moves, knowing that Kate is alive, but not knowing if Kate can come back—or if she even wants her to. I love the dynamic Alice has with Ocean and their story together could be epic or tragic or both and that’s exciting.
This was a really great episode until it wasn’t. And while I take some issue with the choice to use this specific type of violence to tell this story, my bigger issue is that Luke is made to fully disregard his own knowledge, experience, and instinct as a Black man—his extremely recent experience—to walk into a situation that he would know to be wary of. I’m irked and I’m disappointed. I really hope Luke survives and that Tylenol gets his comeuppance, but I’ve adjusted my expectations, so whatever happens happens.