This Batwoman article contains spoilers for Season 2, Episode 3.
After weeks of wondering what happened to the missing heiress-turned-superhero when her plane was shot down (and her body was not found), the third episode of Batwoman Season 2, “Bat Girl Magic,” seemingly ended with confirmation that Kate’s okay—and from an unlikely source. Safiyah (Shivani Ghai), ruler of Mediterranean nation Coryana and a criminal so powerful she makes Alice quake in her pastel Doc Martens, told the leader of the Wonderland Gang that Kate is not only alive, Safiyah is holding her somewhere off-island. Once Alice is safely headed back to Gotham, Kate will be back on Coryana with Safiyah.
Kate Kane is alive
This is huge news for Kate’s loved ones back in Gotham, especially Mary (Nicole Kang), who finally admitted out loud to Luke (Camrus Johnson) that she believes Kate is dead. Luke has been holding out hope for his partner but it’s clearly taking a toll. Jake Kane, likewise, has been relentless in his search for his daughter, afraid to make the same mistake as with Alice, when he came so close to finding her but stopped searching while she was still alive out there.
In a way, this shouldn’t surprise viewers – showrunner Caroline Dries promised she wouldn’t kill off Kate Kane. A member of the LGBTQ community herself, Dries wanted to be sure not to be guilty of perpetuating the “Bury Your Gays” trope, which The CW has run afoul of in the past, most notably when The 100 killed off Lexa right after she consummated her relationship with the show’s lead, Clarke. Still, it has been a few episodes, the show feels like it has moved on, and it’s hard to conceive of an in-character way for Kate to permanently leave the show without dying, so it’s understandable if viewers felt similar to Mary.
Will Ruby Rose be back on Batwoman?
Safiyah didn’t just tell Alice that Kate was alive: she said that if Alice held up her end of a bargain they made off-screen, Kate would be returned to her. Alice is nothing if not dedicated, and now she may find herself with unusual allies in Sophie, Jake, Luke, Mary, and Julia. They may not all help her, especially if the fourth episode description is anything to go off of, but it’s hard to imagine that Alice, working in conjunction with even a few of Kate’s allies, would fail. What happens then?
We still don’t know for sure whether Ruby Rose will come back to Batwoman. As of now, no announcements have been made, so we’re left speculating. However, Caroline Dries has been adamant that they will not recast Kate Kane, so if the character returns in a meaningful way, that means Ruby Rose will be back.
Could Batwoman Fake Kate Kane?
Batwoman has found some creative ways to include Kate Kane’s presence without having actor Ruby Rose back on the show. Ryan has read her journal entries, Kate’s photo is in Gotham newspapers, and someone else (presumably a stunt performer) has worn the Kate Kane-era batsuit to portray Kate as Batwoman in a brief flashback.
All of that being said, it’s hard to imagine a way the creative team behind Batwoman could conjure up Kate Kane without Ruby Rose in order to fulfil what Safiyah has promised. It’s one thing to have a stunt double in a suit in a brief, dark scene from afar; it’s another to have Kate Kane walking and talking unmasked in daylight. It’s possible that Safiyah will completely double-cross Alice and this whole thing was a lie, but that could feel like a significant deception on the part of the writers as well unless it’s done carefully.
The case For Ruby Rose’s return
If Ruby Rose does return and this has all been a long con after all, then it’s been an impressive deception. Rose’s departure just days after the season 1 finale aired was incredibly abrupt, which would lend credence to the idea that it was less than permanent, though given her injury and the physical demands of the role, it still seems understandable. There’s been a lot of speculation and secrecy about the whole thing, which only makes it feel more likely that something is up.
Within the narrative itself, most of the reasons viewers thought Rose’s departure was insurmountable revolved around all the ways the story is predicated on her family relationships, like how Jake Kane was set up at the end of season 1 to lead the Crows in a hunt to kill Batwoman, not realizing she was his own daughter. The Alice-Kate/Batwoman dynamic has clearly been central to the show, and Kate’s relationships with Mary and Luke progressed significantly over the first season.
Much of this was quickly addressed by Ryan’s introduction and backstory, which showed how Alice’s gang killed her mother, giving her a kinship with Mary. Luke’s reluctance to let go of his friend and partner set up a similar (winning) dynamic as last season, where Batwoman needs to work to earn his trust. Kate’s disappearance also resulted in Sophie learning that Kate loved her and is Batwoman, helping Sophie recognize her own feelings which led her to end things with Julia Pennyworth. If Kate were to return, she and Sophie could have a real chance at their relationship, although that would throw a wrench in things for folks who ‘ship WildMoore, AKA Ryan Wilder and Sophie Moore.
There are still a few threads left, however. Tech genius teen Parker Torres, who was introduced in season 1’s “How Queer Everything is Today,” is a character many were hoping to see recur. While she has a relationship with Kate Kane’s Batwoman, the new Batwoman is a stranger to her. It’s possible she might relate more to another queer woman of color, but then again, in addition to being a stranger to Parker, Gotham doesn’t know the new Batwoman is queer. Is Batwoman going to come out again? If Ruby Rose’s Kate Kane were back, it’s easy to see Parker putting her tech skills to work for the greater good to become the next Luke Fox.
What Would Kate Kane’s Return Look Like?
While Kate Kane is an amazing character (beloved by many, including this writer!), there’s no denying that Javicia Leslie (season 2’s new lead, Ryan Wilder) has gelled with the cast and made the role her own. She stepped into what many saw as an impossible situation and brought a brand new character to life right from the jump. Watching Leslie’s Ryan as Batwoman is especially thrilling – she takes on the cowl with an infectious joy. With all respect to season one and Ruby Rose, season 2 feels like it’s firing on all cylinders, so it would be unwise to ask Ryan and Javicia to take a step back.
Given that, if Ruby Rose does return as Kate Kane, it would be best to see her having found an important mission that largely takes her away from Gotham, making her an occasional guest star, or to reflect her injury on the show and bring her back to offer expertise from HQ. While Luke Fox currently provides Bat cave support with some backup from Mary, there’s reason to believe he could be heading out into the field himself soon. Mary is plenty busy and most of what she provides is medical, connections, clothing, and intel from elsewhere. She excels at support outside of the Bat cave, leaving room for someone with more expertise in combat, strategy, and tactical training to help Ryan and possibly Luke.
Rose might be looking for the Calista Flockhart special – that is, the ability to film most or all of her scenes from somewhere other than Vancouver, like Ally McBeal did when Supergirl moved their shooting from LA to Vancouver when it switched from CBS to the CW.
Whatever happens next, the Batwoman writers clearly have more than just a few tricks up their collective sleeve.