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Batwoman’s “Rule #1” is a bit of a letdown, but at least Ryan Wilder is coming into her own

Javicia Leslie stars in Batwoman
Javicia Leslie stars in Batwoman
Photo: The CW
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Following the explosive action of “Survived Much Worse,” “Rule #1,” the ninth episode of Batwoman season two, comes across as a bit choppy. The momentum is ultimately gone, and it seems like this episode’s vibe is very much “life is back to normal.” It’s an abrupt change, and there’s still a lot of unresolved drama and tension. But with a cured Ryan back in Gotham and Coryana entirely in the rearview mirror, it does reflect the “new normal” of Batwoman. And this week, we meet a new face: Jordan Moore.

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ACAB doesn’t stand for “All Cops Are Bastards” in the CWverse, but rather “All Crows Are Bastards.” However, the sentiment is still similar, with Jordan advocating against an over-funded police department and fighting for more funding toward community services. As her last name hints, Jordan is Sophie’s sister, which fits that trope of polar opposite siblings. However, Sophie defies part of that dynamic by being all-in for her sister, despite their different political views on the Crows.

Speaking of Sophie, her love story with Kate didn’t end well. They had a lot of issues, and Sophie couldn’t commit to Kate the way she needed. Plus, they just weren’t meant to be. But Ryan’s love life takes center stage this week, and it’s a lot different. It’s been a long road full of awful circumstances, with one of them landing Ryan in jail. Her former girlfriend Angelique insists she’s changed, although the people she’s connected to haven’t. And unfortunately, leaving them isn’t easy nor possible. Angelique has made a few appearances already, but things come to a head this episode.

And while things get gory, messy, and quite close for Batwoman with Black Mask, the end of “Rule #1’ also underlines a critical difference between Ryan and Kate’s love life. While Sophie was never a very consistent presence in Kate’s life for various reasons, Angelique keeps coming back to Ryan, for better or worse. Angelique not only fights for Ryan, but she ends up choosing Ryan’s life over her freedom by taking the fall for Black Mask.

Illustration for article titled Batwoman’s “Rule #1” is a bit of a letdown, but at least Ryan Wilder is coming into her own
Photo: The CW

Moving on to Alice, she’s on a trip. Now, she’s never in a “right” state of mind—this is Alice we’re talking about—but she’s still more mad than usual this episode. Granted, she went through a lot of dredged-up trauma last week. Not only did she feel forced to “kill” a man she felt more connected to than anyone in a while, but Safiyah also nailed the coffin on her hopes and dreams of Kate being alive.

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So it’s no wonder that her mind conjures up baby Kate from season one to be a spirit guide of sorts. She walks Alice through some of her issues, kind of coaxing her into how to deal with her problems. With young Kate having an entire, lucid conversation with Alice, along with a dead kitten coming to life—foreshadowing for Kate’s return?—young Kate convinces Alice that she can imagine anything.

Illustration for article titled Batwoman’s “Rule #1” is a bit of a letdown, but at least Ryan Wilder is coming into her own
Photo: The CW
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This is definitely going to have repercussions down the line. Will Alice imagine that “perfect” world where Kate never existed? Will Alice still be evil in this existence? And what will this mean once Kate does return? Alice was one of the strongest elements of season one, and even though she hasn’t had the same kind of impact this season, it would be hard to see her take an even bigger back seat in her villain role.

Who am I in the suit, who am I out of it? This is something Ryan is working through while being Batwoman, as she tells Luke and Mary near the end of the episode. It’s been a sort of recurring theme throughout this season, although it was a little bit of what Kate Kane dealt with as well. Kate had to look at why she remained Batwoman, outside of just wanting to save Beth/Alice from herself or personal gain. This goes into her becoming the Paragon of Courage and fighting to be a symbol of hope for Gotham. As for Ryan, she donned the cowl and cape and then had to figure out her motivations. Ryan putting this into words is her way of coming into her own and stepping outside of Kate’s shadow.

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Illustration for article titled Batwoman’s “Rule #1” is a bit of a letdown, but at least Ryan Wilder is coming into her own
Photo: The CW

That’s the unfortunate thing about having a second season where another new person is getting the hang of being a superhero. But this season has handled Ryan’s journey in a different manner Kate’s, and as Ryan says again and again, they are two completely different people. This scene, where Ryan introduces three rules with Luke and Mary, along with just their team dynamic as a whole, shows that as well. They present a strong front; they’ll surely need it going into the final half of the season.

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Stray observations

  • A programming note: This is our midseason check-in, and I’ll be back for the season-two finale. It’s been a bit, but thank you for coming back and revisiting Ryan Wilder, Mary, and Luke with me.
  • It would be remiss of me to not mention Ryan’s lovely use of “Bruce Lame” yet again. A great nickname.
  • It’s hard not to compare Roman Sionis (Peter Outerbridge) to the most recent iteration in Birds of Prey, especially since he was played in such a different way by Ewan McGregor.
  • Thank the heavens that Julia is back. Although it’s very intriguing that someone was doing her investigation for her; what are we going to find out involving that later?
  • Jordan and Sophie’s dynamic is really sweet. Jordan is a character I would personally like to see more of, although I can also see that not happening. Regardless, it was nice to see that Sophie has a support system within her family for her queerness, which I think we see she really appreciates and is moved by as well.
  • Enigma pops up in the last scene. In the comics, she’s typically The Riddler’s (maybe) daughter. We’ve already had hints of the Joker with Jack Napier and his painting, although neither of those bigwigs will probably ever show up on the show. But still another cool connection.
  • It’s easy to see that Kate’s accident messed up her face beyond recognition, and it provides a good excuse to have someone who resembles Kate Kane, without bringing Ruby Rose back. But I also can’t help but remember that scene from Bolt where they recast Penny’s role in her show because of aliens (or something). Silly, yet I can’t shake it.
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Alani Vargas is an entertainment writer and A.V. Club contributor. Her work also appears on Showbiz Cheat Sheet, INSIDER, Bustle, Refinery29, and Elite Daily.