This week on Batwoman, viewers finally meet Safiyah (Shivaani Ghai), a character who has only been mentioned by name up until this point, and some of her history with Alice becomes clearer. Meanwhile, Ryan begins to find her footing as Batwoman, and she, Luke, and Mary track down the hitman Victor Zsasz (Alex Morf). Read on to find out what happened in “Bat Girl Magic!”
The episode opens with a man, Mr. Capalaci, relaxing in a hotel room, when he hears a knock at his door, thinking the woman he’s with ordered room service. When he opens the door, a man greets Capalaci with a wine bottle to the face. The man is a hitman, hired by Capalaci’s wife. After he kills Capalaci and the woman, it’s revealed that he’s Victor Zsasz.
In an alley, two men begin a transaction for a drug called Snake Bite, but Batwoman interrupts, albeit with a shaky landing. As she and one of the men begin to fight, Luke attempts to coach her through it, not actually offering anything useful. He does, however, remind her that the batarangs are a finite resource, as she continues to throw them until one finds its target. After she manages to trap the man, her suit starts beeping as she’s signalled Gotham PD. She knocks the man out and rushes to an appointment with her parole officer, Susan, just barely making it in time.
Mary tends to a patient with cancer, Roxanne, at the clinic. Ryan frantically rushes in, informing Mary that her phone is going to ring and the answer is yes. Moments later, Mary’s phone rings, and she talks to the other person, who turns out to be Susan. Mary’s side of the conversation reveals that Ryan told Susan she got a job as a bartender at The Hold Up, which of course means that she now really has a job at The Hold Up. Mary tells her it’s the perfect cover, mentioning how she and Ryan will be around each other all the time, causing Ryan to realize Mary lost hope about Kate returning.
Commander Kane briefs the Crows on Snake Bite. Afterwards, someone brings him a box of items retrieved from the crash site, including Kate’s phone. He discovers he needs a password to look through it, saying that Sophie might know and asks about her. Unfortunately for him, Sophie is currently unavailable, as she’s trapped on Coryana with Alice. The two realize where they are, and Sophie pieces together that this was an elaborate scheme from Alice. Soon, Alice is summoned, and she’s brought to Safiyah to talk. Sophie, however, stays behind under the threatening watch of Tatiana.
Continuing on his mission, Zsasz makes his way into a lab at Hamilton Dynamics, where he kills the scientist inside and steals a thumb drive. Ryan, Mary, and Luke watch the news report of the incident, then watch the security footage from the lab, trying to figure out what Zsasz stole. Ryan reveals that she knows who he is through other people. As she heads out to her shift at The Hold Up, she gives Luke and Mary a lead to help track down Zsasz. Later on, Ryan goes to Zsasz’s recently located apartment (Luke still “coaching” her) and retrieves the drive. However, Zsasz is there. He mentions that she doesn’t seem very comfortable as Batwoman, and as the two go back and forth, he brings out a missile launcher and Ryan barely escapes.
Luke cracks the drive they took back, finding an extensive list of names with no apparent connection. Luke and Mary begin to get discouraged, worried about how they could protect all those people without knowing who could be next. Ryan suggests that they figure out who Zsasz works for and stop them, saying she can approach Zsasz as Ryan this time, not as Batwoman. A little later, she meets up with him. She tells him that she’s Angelique’s ex, something that holds weight with Zsasz. She places a bag of money on the table, saying she wants him to kill Alice. The plan seemingly doesn’t work, as Zsasz denies and leaves. Ryan then reveals that a sniffer was in the bag to extract information from Zsasz’s cell phone, and the trio learns that Safiyah is behind this, too.
Alice accuses Safiyah of causing the plane crash. Safiyah denies it, saying she wouldn’t bring attention to herself that way. On the beach, Sophie asks about Alice and Safiyah. Tatiana tells her that Safiyah is fair and just, and a vow she made to Alice prevents her from killing Alice, until Alice tried to leave Coryana and take the Desert Rose with her. Safiyah explains the importance of keeping Coryana and the Desert Rose a secret and supporting her claim of Alice’s betrayal in revealing the Desert Rose. Alice is still unconvinced, unrelenting her belief that Safiyah is behind the crash. She also hints that Mary was the one who exposed the Desert Rose, thanks to her blood.
Back in Gotham, Luke and Mary uncover a trove of Safiyah’s aliases. As they talk, Luke throws shade at Ryan, and Mary comes to her defense. Luke reminds her that Ryan as Batwoman isn’t permanent, still holding out hope that Kate will return. Mary shares that she isn’t, laying out the odds of surviving a plane crash. She tells Luke that Gotham needs Batwoman and the hope that she brings.
Ryan stares at the batsuit, the effect of Zsasz’s words about her from earlier apparent in her facial expression. Soon after, Luke and Ryan are on the phone with Mary, who tells them that Roxanne’s cancer is completely gone. They deduce that it’s due to Mary’s blood that was used to save everyone affected by the bat toxin, including Roxanne. They also think this could be the connection between the names on the list. Zsasz shows up at the clinic, where Mary asks if he’s working for Safiyah. He says that if he tells her, he has to kill her, so he says yes and, you guessed it, tries to kill her. Meanwhile, Ryan gets ready to suit up, mentioning she made a few alterations to the suit. She makes it to the clinic just in time, as Zsasz has Mary cornered in the alley. She nails her landing this time, and we finally see her in the suit with a new wig – one that’s distinctly Ryan and extremely important (but more on that later).
“You see me now?”
Zsasz tries to taunt her, but she isn’t having it. They duke it out, and Zsasz has her pinned soon enough. But Ryan did learn a few things from Luke after all, easily deploying the staff right into the side of Zsasz’s head, knocking him unconscious.
Meanwhile, Safiyah tells Alice she got her attention with the bat fiasco. She tries to appeal to Alice, explaining their first meeting and how she was able to teach Alice to turn her anger into power. She wants to know why Alice changed her mind about Kate, Alice saying she was wrong about Kate being the sister who would do anything for her. Safiyah offers her hand, which Alice takes and instigates a brief scuffle. Safiyah pins Alice, claiming she can give Kate back, showing Alice Kate’s birthstone necklace. They head to the beach where Sophie and Tatitana have been fighting. Safiyah releases Sophie from her handcuffs, but then has someone inject something to put her to sleep. She tells Alice she needs something before she can bring Kate back. Soon, Alice and Sophie are returned to Gotham. Sophie has questions, and Alice tells her that Safiyah still needs her, sharing the information about Kate.
After an eventful evening, Ryan meets with Susan, who’s absolutely thrilled about Batwoman (but don’t worry, she doesn’t know it’s Ryan under that mask). She checks in with Ryan about the job, and Ryan almost gives herself away. Susan takes a firmer tone, letting Ryan know that she needs to find housing, using Batwoman against her to find housing that week or she’ll get written up. At The Hold Up later, Luke goes to talk with Ryan. He tells her that people underestimate her as he hands her a box. Ryan opens it to find a batarang, a gesture of good faith. Luke apologizes for how he acted towards her. She tells him she gets it, reminding him that she needs a real chance. Luke starts to head out, stopping to talk to Mary who has a small memorial set up for Kate. Mary says her feelings haven’t changed; she still thinks Kate is dead, but Luke’s haven’t changed either, and he still believes Kate is still out there.
The episode wraps up at Crow Security, where a few Crows name drop Black Mask, who’s set to be season 2’s other big bad. Commander Kane sits in his office, looking at a photo of a painting on Kate’s phone. Sophie enters as Kane questions why the photo was on Kate’s phone. When he’s done, Sophie tells him they can ask her when they find her, bringing him a renewed hope about Kate.
There’s a lot to love with this episode, but by far the most impactful for me was seeing Ryan trade in the red wig for one featuring a glorious, curly ‘fro. Black women wearing their hair in a similar style isn’t anything new in media. But there was something really special about seeing television’s first Black Batwoman change such a trademark part of the suit in favor of curls (even if it was only in wig form). As someone who has a difficult relationship with my hair and whose looks incredibly similar to Ryan’s new wig, it was incredible and empowering to watch such a significant character proudly make it part of her look. (And yeah, maybe I shed a few tears over it.) It’s something that was not only important to me, but will no doubt be important to other Black girls and women. I, for one, hope this is a look that sticks around.
Batwoman will return on Sunday, January 14 at 8 p.m. ET/7 p.m. CT on The CW, available to stream next day on The CW app and cwtv.com.