In Batwoman Season 2, Superhero Trust Must Be Earned

Batwoman continues to set itself apart, this time as a superhero TV show that represents trust—and how it impacts justice-seeking—in a realistic way.

Nicole Kang as Mary Hamilton, Meagan Tandy as Sophie Moore, and Javicia Leslie as Ryan Wilder in Batwoman
Photo: The CW

This Batwoman article contains spoilers through Season 2, Episode 13.

Batwoman Season 2, Episode 13

Last week, Batwoman left Alice to fend for herself against the False Faces, after the two formed a temporary alliance to rescue Angelique and Ocean from the masked gang. Ryan’s choice not to help Alice escape Circe’s clutches may have been jarring for some, but Alice has always been a sore spot, and their brief ceasefires are always punctuated by reminders of who Alice is and what she’s done. Ryan may not take revenge herself, but she’s not going to lift a hand to save the woman who not only caused her mom’s death, but repeatedly shows no remorse for it. This might make Ryan look less heroic to some, but heroes make choices everyday that align with their own sense of morality. Nothing Alice can do will change what happened, and it’ll take a lot more consistent good behavior for Ryan to soften to Alice.

The same is also true for Sophie. Ryan distrusts the Crows as an organization because of her experiences being profiled and harassed by them. Those feelings of distrust carry over to Sophie, who up until recently, has only ever been antagonistic towards Ryan. Their temporary alliances have also not historically gone well, so there is almost no reason for Ryan to trust Sophie. Yet Sophie has known for a little while that Ryan is Batwoman and has protected her secret. When Batwoman and the Crows end up cornering the same criminal, Batwoman flames the hell out of Tavaroth and the Crows before fleeing. And later, when she’s having drinks with Sophie and Mary, she makes a crack at Sophie with the drinking game prompt, “never have I ever compromised my values to support a white supremacist organization.” Batwoman is not sugarcoating anything.

Sophie realizes that her first arrest, Cluemaster, has escaped prison and that he’s left clues for her to find and solve. The first clue on the bottle of booze leads Sophie—and Mary and Ryan, who she brings along for some inexplicable reason—to Cluemaster’s daughter, who is trapped and poisoned in a glass box. After getting her out, they use the cipher on her body to find the next set of clues. Sophie, Mary, and Ryan follow a clue to a trap, and Ryan and Mary are stuck on top of a pressure sensitive bomb. Ryan keeps talking around why Batwoman isn’t available and Sophie finally reveals she knows it’s her. Ryan still tries to deny but Sophie convinces her to trust her, and Ryan sends Sophie to the bat cave for the baton that she uses to grapple and wing herself and Mary to safety (while the building still blows up).

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Sophie tells Ryan that she wanted to earn her trust, and let Ryan tell her on her time. This is meaningful because Sophie has kept Ryan’s secret, and even put herself at risk to protect it, with zero acknowledgement or praise. And while Sophie’s estimation of Ryan has gone up, and she admits to having been wrong about her, Ryan has continued to see her as a Crow. Sure, Sophie made several passive aggressive remarks about Ryan, but it came from a place of disappointment not anger. It would be so easy for Batwoman to make Sophie an angry Black woman. But Sophie takes earning Ryan’s trust as a challenge. I can’t tell you how good it feels to see two Black, queer women on the same side, building a relationship of mutual trust while uplifting and supporting one another. Ryan still has a long way to go toward fully trusting Sophie, she is after all still a Crow, but being able to be unmasked with Sophie is a major step towards a partnership—professional, platonic, or romantic.

Perhaps Alice deserves some grace from Ryan. After being captured, Alice is tortured by Black Mask for information about Batwoman. Despite Ryan hanging Alice out to dry, Alice doesn’t give anything away. She gets loose and manages to get a call out to Jacob, but he’s under the influence of Snakebite and doesn’t help—which will absolutely come back to bite him in the ass. When Alice is caught, Circe lets slip who she is, and Alice is able to piece together Black Mask’s real identity. She bargains for her life by offering to make masks for Circe, who is badly burnt behind her wooden mask. When Alice puts the fresh flesh mask on Circe, she sees “our fathers eyes” staring back at her. Alice has been searching for Kate in some form or another all season and now that she’s given up, she’s confronted with the possibility that Kate is still alive.

I was skeptical earlier in the season that the continued focus on Kate would overshadow Ryan and not allow her room to become the lead in any real way. But Batwoman has done a commendable job establishing Ryan, and making her an integral part of the show. Now that Kate’s return is imminent, I’m optimistic that Batwoman can balance both of these characters, and continue to elevate them both without either impeding the other. I am excited to see where the story goes and eagerly away the next episode.

Additional thoughts.

Cluemaster is an extremely blah villain but it’d be interesting to see Stephanie step up to take his place in some way, especially if she and Luke form a relationship. 

Jacob’s Snakebite overdose is… underwhelming? This subplot feels underbaked and I am trusting that it will all come together eventually but right now it feels like the show wanting to keep Dougray Scott, but not having anything else for him to do.

Ryan is getting over Angelique quick. She’s sexting with a new boo thang (Iman?) which means she’s *cough cough* available.

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4 out of 5