Batwoman: 2.04 Fair Skin, Blue Eyes
*Warning: Minor spoilers below as our US writer Becky discusses the latest US-paced episode...
The latest episode of Batwoman, Fair Skin, Blue Eyes, takes the story into some exceptionally dark territory. A window is opened into Ryan's messed up past, the search for Kate Kane continues, and some dark truths about society are confronted thanks to the intervention of Batwoman.
Batwoman has always been a relatively dark show, but Fair Skin, Blue Eyes was grim even by the show's usual standards. This was easily the darkest episode since Mine is a Long and a Sad Tale in season one. In fact, I saw multiple parallels between the two episodes, particularly in the flashback to a painful incident in Ryan's childhood, featuring one of the creepiest characters to ever appear on the show next to August Cartwright. This Candy Lady, the source of Ryan's pain, is creepy and disgusting on every level imaginable. What makes it worse? Watching this character, you get the distinct impression that she feels she can get away with her actions because she's a white suburban housewife. Like August Cartwright before her, the Candy Lady feels frighteningly plausible, and honestly her presence and actions might upset some viewers.
It seems that Ryan Wilder and Alice have more in common than their mutual connection to Ryan losing her mother. There's a striking contrast here, particularly between how these events changed Ryan and Alice respectively. Unlike Alice, Ryan was broken out of her situation, a fact that would surely eat the villain alive if she ever learned of it. It remains to be seen if Ryan will ever learn about how how Alice suffered as a child, and if that will affect her desire to see Alice dead.
Fair Skin, Blue Eyes is split into two plot lines; Sophie and Alice search for a mysterious character named Ocean, while Ryan as she looks for a missing teenager that no one seems to care about because he's a person of color. As with Prior Criminal History, this episode focuses rather heavily on the issue of race, namely how society seems to race into action when a white child goes missing, but sits on their hands if it's a person of color. The entire plot is eerily similar to an episode of Without a Trace, White Balance, that aired in 2006. That episode also featured commentary on the difference in media attention when the missing child is a person of color instead of white. 15 years later, the same points are being made once again, as this is sadly still an issue in society that is in desperate need of being addressed.
The sub-plot following Sophie and Alice provides a much needed break in the darkness that was Ryan's storyline in this episode. There's a weird interplay between Alice and Sophie that's hard to read, but a lot of fun to watch. Even when she has a relatively minor role in the story, Rachel Skarsten continues to steal every scene she appears in, which is one reason why she remains one of the best characters in the show.
On a lighter note, this episode did take the time to address Ryan's living situation and ongoing aftereffects from being shot with kryptonite in the season premiere. Given that we're four episodes into the season, I was wondering when Ryan's homeless situation would be brought to the attention of Team Batwoman, given that it hadn't been mentioned recently. Once Mary realizes that Ryan calls her van home, not only is her living situation upgraded immediately, it's done so in the coolest way possible. I'm continuing to love the dynamic between Mary and Ryan, and this new living situation means we'll be seeing a lot more of those two together.
What's really intriguing though, is the kryptonite situation. For reasons that aren't entirely clear, Ryan appears to be ignoring the fact that the kryptonite has infected her and appears to be spreading. I'm not sure what kryptonite does to the human body, but it doesn't look good. For now, no one else seems to be aware of this issue, but this episode makes it clear that Ryan can't hide the issue much longer.
Finally, this episode introduces us to the previously named Angelique, Ryan's ex-girlfriend and the reason she spent eighteen months in prison. Angelique is brilliantly introduced mid-episode without telling us who she is, so that when she properly meet her later, it's an eye-opening moment. Ryan might not know it, but Angelique could spell trouble for her in the future.
Fair Skin, Blue Eyes, despite being the darkest episode so far this season, is another great entry in the ongoing story of Batwoman. We've learned more about what made Ryan into the woman she is today, and received a tantalizing glimpse at what Alice needs to do to get Kate back, assuming Safiyah is telling the truth. While this episode was very enjoyable, I hope it takes a step back from the darkness next week, it is possible for a show to go too dark, and episodes like this really come close to that line.