This article contains spoilers for Batwoman episode 16.
Of all the characters on the CW’s Batwoman, Luke Fox has probably had the most emotional growth in the first season so far. When we first met him he was quiet and closed off, with essentially no backstory or personal life – or rather, none that he was willing to share. Fast-forward 16 episodes and he’s about to be the center of attention for the foreseeable future, thanks to new evidence surfacing that the cop involved in his father’s murder trial was corrupt, which allowed the convicted man to go free, leading Jake Kane and Sophie Moore to turn up more than just a few loose ends in the case.
Den of Geek spoke with Camrus Johnson, who plays Luke, about stepping out of Lucius Fox’s shadow, Luke’s family, and what it means to look your own personal villain in the eye.
Johnson refers to Lucius’ death as “the most traumatic thing” Luke has ever been through, so it makes sense that it would be hard for him to talk about. Considering that Luke thinks of his time with Batwoman as his job (whereas many other superhero teams seem to think of it as family, friends, and a calling), it also makes sense that he has more of a professional boundary with Kate.
While last episode was a turning point for Kate Kane since she took August Cartwright’s life, this seems to be one for Luke Fox. It’s unclear exactly how far he would have gone with the man he thought killed his father, but what ends up being more important is the fact that he opens up and shows vulnerability throughout the episode.
“This is all of his emotions overwhelming him for the first time on camera,” Johnson says. “We hadn’t seen that quite yet, so it’s interesting from the beginning to where we are now, we’ve seen him taking down a lot of the walls that he’s put up.”
Unfortunately, in spite of old friend Julia Pennyworth turning back up, it sounds like Luke still doesn’t exactly have a support system. “I feel like Luke, he’s going to have to deal with this alone.”
One person who did come through for Luke this episode? Mary Hamilton, in a surprise appearance at the post-conviction hearing. A visibly nervous Luke didn’t seem to know what to make of her presence at first (and he had already told Kate, who he’s closer to, not to come), but Johnson thinks it was ultimately for the best.
“I think whenever Mary first sat down, I think he was pretty upset because he’s not used to people in doing that sort of thing, being around and being involved,” he says. “I think at first it almost felt like she was being intrusive, and then when she explained why she was there, that he wants to be alone but deep down he actually didn’t want to be, I think he felt the truth in that and he agrees with her.”
It was hard not to notice that while Reggie had a clear group of loved ones at the courthouse, Luke was all alone. That’s apparently not new. “He hasn’t really had anyone to be able to reach for,” Johnson says. “When Lucius Fox died years ago, I think Luke was focused on making sure his family was okay, so no one was really making sure that he was okay.”
So far Luke and Mary’s relationship has been driven by banter and when they need one another for missions, but it sounds like this might be the turning point for a more meaningful friendship.
“He’s always focusing on protecting everybody, but he never really focuses on himself,” he says. “I think Mary being there to be a support system for the first time in a long time if not ever was very, very meaningful to him.”
We heard more mentions of Luke’s mother this episode, but we still haven’t met her. Johnson hopes we do too, and is quick to mention that in the comics, Luke has two sisters (if you follow his social media presence at all, then you know he’s a dyed in the wool comics fan).
“He’s very protective of his family, and he will do anything that he thinks he needs to do to protect them,” says Johnson.
Luke made a bold and rather uncharacteristic move in the episode, confronting Reggie, the man he believes killed his father. The moment is terrifying in part because Luke so rarely shows his emotions outwardly or takes matters into his own hands and he seemed unpredictable. So what, exactly, was he planning to do?
“I don’t think Luke knows,” Johnson says, but “I think Luke probably would’ve taken matters into his own hands to have justice, because justice means so much to him. Although Luke’s a good guy, I’m not quite sure where the good and bad line is in his mind, because I feel like a lot of things have happened out of his control.”
Throughout the course of the interview, he continually references Luke’s anger, something viewers likely don’t associate with the character. “We also have not seen the anger that he’s hiding. Luke pushes down so many emotions for so long…I am interested to see where and when Luke’s true emotions will get to reveal themselves in the show.”
This storyline walks a very difficult line, one many shows wouldn’t attempt, by allowing Luke to have his own experience about his father’s murder case while also acknowledging the very real possibility the Reggie was wrongfully convicted due to his race.
Johnson says, “It was tough because also, being a Black man, listening to another Black man talk about how he was wrongfully convicted because of the color of his skin and the way that he looks is a very true thing. Even though Luke has all this anger, you have to listen to what Reggie has to say because it does make sense, although he doesn’t want to believe it.”
Still, it’s not exactly straightforward. Luke was likely feeling, “a mixture of wanting to hate him but also willing to believe him just sort of put together. So it’s sort of like a jumble of emotions all put together in one.”
It probably doesn’t help that Luke’s own relationship with his father wasn’t exactly straightforward. Batwoman has hinted before about the fraught nature of the father/son relationship, which we’ll learn more about in the coming episodes.
Johnson shared this insight: “Although he loves his father he’s trying to be an individual he doesn’t want to be the next Lucius Fox, he wants to be the first Luke Fox, who wants to make his father in the heavens impressed with all the things the he’s doing. He doesn’t often feel like he’s doing well, he doesn’t often feel like he’s living up to the high bar that his dad has set.”
Perhaps the most intense parts of the episode is when Reggie shares Lucius’s final moments with Luke, which happen to have been Lucius bragging about Luke’s acceptance to MIT.
“He probably thinks that Lucius was always expecting a lot from him. And whenever he heard his last words were actually about Luke and how proud he was, I think that means a lot to him to know that right before his father died, he’s actually talking about how much he loves his son.”
While it was probably wonderful to hear that his father was proud, it also looked…complicated. “In the moment, if you’re looking in the eyes of a villain, the person you hate the most, and they say something that makes sense, if they say something that makes you think for a quick moment, it gets confusing because we don’t expect them to anything that would sway your opinion about that person,” he says.
For Luke, hearing the sniper’s gunshot changes everything because it makes it clear that, “there’s something else going on here” which means he needs to go find the real bad guy. Still, while Luke immediately tries to help save Reggie’s life and later resolves to investigate the case, most people wouldn’t do the same.
In this episode we saw two witnesses and two people investigating the Lucius Fox case – Sophie Moore and Jake Kane – in literal crosshairs of an unknown assailant. With Luke and Mary joining Sophie and Julia’s investigative efforts, doesn’t this put them in the line of fire? Well yes, but that’s not exactly new for either of them, as two of Kate Kane’s closest confidants. “He’s always known that danger was imminent, that there would be a time that he could be the person that is I don’t know getting captured or getting threatened or getting attacked or getting followed or something.”
Finally, in this episode we saw two characters, Kate and Luke, handling the reality of looking into the eye of the person they thought responsible for their parents’ death. While both died, the journey was quite different, and Kate actually lied to Luke about what happened with Cartwright, which was likely the first time she’s ever told a significant lie to Luke. It seems clear that it will have an effect on their personal and working relationship.
Johnson has an open mind, saying, “I think Luke is more about honesty than actions. I mean he knows exactly where she’s coming from. I think what hurts more is if she waits too long to tell him. I think that would hurt him more than knowing that she did it. Hopefully the conversation happens sooner rather than later.”