No. Freaking. Way.
The most horrifying moments in fiction are always rooted in bitter reality and Batwoman Season 2 Episode 14 shines a spotlight on the cruel truth of the disproportionate numbers of black men shot by law enforcement with Agent Tavaroff shooting Luke three times for pulling out his cell phone.
There’s something surreal in capping a narrative that had already seen the systemic racism of the GCPD put Ryan, Luke, and Sophie under arrest, AND Tavaroff and his Crows gun down an entire church of homeless and drug addicts with the brutal shooting of a beloved character like Luke.
But it’s a cold slap of reality in the Gotham cityscape. It only feels surreal because the convention of a television procedural is that bad guys don’t get the last word. Or last shot.
Ryan: I’m sorry I got hated.
Sophie: We’re all hated, girl. But that’s how we burn it down.
And the denouement had lulled us into a sense of the happy-ish ending.
Sophie had declared herself free of the Crows.
Ryan and Imani had come to an understanding.
And Eli the Car Thief had been a moment of levity when he showed up in the holding cell.
The fact that he knew exactly what to say to law enforcement when he’s white and the other guy’s not… It’s more than an uncomfortable truth. It’s actually painful.
Luke: I was your back-up. But, no, excuse me for trying to diffuse the situation peacefully.
Ryan: Peacefully? That’s a privilege.
Luke: Priv… Privilege. Okay. Ryan, I’m sure that you think that growing up with rich white kids taught me how to play nice. But it taught me how to keep my head down. There is a difference. I don’t just run into fights when I know I can’t win.
For Luke to be gunned down, knowing how his father was murdered (also by a Crow, remember), and the fact he was trying to give Eli an out… it pushed every emotional button all at once.
I’m not even sure if the showrunners planned it for the offering immediately after that beautiful interplay with Stephanie Brown on Batwoman Season 2 Episode 13, but if they did, I applaud the most effective high-to-low reversal ever in this series.
Before Tavaroff shouted, “Gun!” a lot of other stuff went down although, to be honest, it seems almost trivial to discuss it now.
In the isolated Plot B, Alice loses no time in tracking down Enigma and being incredibly insistent that she fix Kate.
Help me not to kill you right now.
Ocean’s sudden killing of Enigma was startling, as was his verbose explanation for doing it.
Not sure that Alice won’t be able to find the trigger word in Enigma’s notes, but it’s interesting to mull over the idea that Kate lives out the rest of her days as Circe Sionis.
Mind you, with how her father’s running the False Face Society, there’s a chance Circe 2.0 won’t long outlive the first iteration.
Roman: You’ve earned your freedom. Go.
Alice: I think I should stay. Y’know, Make sure the skin sticks to the musculature. I wouldn’t want dear… Circe to prune.
There’s also the fact Alice knows that Roman Sionis is Black Mask. Did he forget about that part?
Ocean’s declaration of love notwithstanding, I believe his Coryana mission this time around was to retrieve the Desert Rose in the Batcave.
This is pretty much the only connection I could draw between Plot A and B since they’re gonna need that plant ASAP to save Luke.
There is — if you squint really hard — an overarching theme of the “do-over” in that Alice’s efforts to restore Kate’s memories, Jacob’s use of Snakebite, and Luke’s efforts to resolve a conflict head-on, are all in the interests of grasping for second chances.
It’s a stretch, I know.
Enigma: And what core feeling will her motorcycle keys provoke?
Alice: Freedom. Kate rode her motorcycle to be free. Free from the burden of protecting this city. Free from my father’s overbearing grit. Free from the burden of having to save her irredeemable sister.
I had two semantic quibbles here.
One was the fact that Mary figured out how to neutralize the new Snakebite but didn’t administer it to the junkie chewing his own hand off in her clinic.
The other is that Ryan was arrested on an assault charge when she clearly didn’t touch the GCPD officer. I even went back to the scene in The Hold-Up after Sophie revealed that charge to make absolutely sure.
And then, I realized. That was the point.
I know most people won’t rewind to check that detail but hopefully, they’ll remember the way I did because the conflict was staged to highlight the overreach (quite literally) of the officers involved.
Meanwhile, Tavaroff’s evolution from blowhard bully to full-blown sociopath has happened dizzyingly fast.
It was convenient that Jacob was out of commission when the Snakebite-zombies hit Gotham. It created the opportunity to see where the Crows’ allegiances lie.
However, I was a little surprised that Sophie didn’t have more support from the Crows. Sure, Tavaroff had his little posse standing by him, but everyone in the room was giving her the side-eye as she came in after being arrested.
I didn’t listen when my sister warned me about them. I didn’t listen when you two warned me about them. And what kills me is I didn’t even listen when my own gut warned me about them. Hate, ignorance, apathy. It’s bigger than me.
Speaking of Jacob, in a clinic full of scalpels, where did he get a knife like the one he threatened the Snakebite-cannibal with?
And was sending him out of the clinic and onto the streets to snack on any random passer-byer really in the best public interest?
Odds are good that Luke pulls through, Tavaroff gets a comeuppance, and maybe Ocean gets the damned plant, but this showrunning team has managed to surprise us at times.
Let’s hope the surprises they have in store are good ones.
Remember you can watch Batwoman online, and check out that scene if your detail-oriented Spidey senses are tingling.
Straw poll: Who thinks the dating storylines are a little contrived?
Even if they did help get a good line in about Kate’s broodiness.
Ryan: How did Kate date?
Luke: Terribly. Why do you think she was so broody all the time?
Will Jacob take Mary’s talk to heart? Is that all it takes to beat a Snakebite addiction?
Will Luke’s condition finally bring Mrs. Fox onscreen?
Shout out your reactions to any and all of the happenings in the comments section!
Diana Keng is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter.