Batwoman: 2.07 It's Best You Stop Digging
*Warning: Minor spoilers below as our US writer Becky discusses the latest US-paced episode...
Batwoman returned with It's Best You Stop Digging, an episode that answers some long-burning questions about how Alice finally became what she is in the pilot episode. At the same time, Ryan's kryptonite poisoning takes a major turn for the worse, and the journey to find Coryana hits a major snag for Sophie and Commander Kane.
By far the best part of this episode is the final piece of the puzzle to how and why Alice became the psychotic leader of the Wonderland Gang that we meet in the pilot episode. While it initially seemed in the season one flashbacks that Alice's time in captivity spawned her psychosis, it gradually became clear that some major event was missing. Not only does It's Best You Stop Digging show what this event is, it does so in the best way possible. Shivani Gai delivers a spine-tingling performance as a Safiyah who is at the height of her rage, making it clear that she is no one to be trifled with. In a few concise pieces of exposition, we learn exactly why Alice is behaving as she does at the beginning of season one, and it will turn what you think you know about her actions in the first season upside down.
Speaking of Safiyah, I loved the scene where she explains the history of Coryana to Beth/Alice. I'm normally not a fan of extended flashbacks, but when they provide vital pieces of information and backstory, then I can't really complain. This is how flashbacks should be done, filling in those things you really need to know before the story moves on any further. Also, I'm beyond happy with the explanation this episode gives for how Ocean and Alice's memories were messed up.
Outside of Alice's story arc, the rest of the episode was okay, though the story arc with Ryan wasn't my favorite. It feels like the writers can't quite make up their minds as to how badly the kryptonite is poisoning Ryan. One minute she's practically comatose, the next she's driving the Batmobile (albeit erratically) at 90 miles per hour. Given the severity of Ryan's condition, I feel like it shouldn't be possible to have it both ways: either Ryan is completely incapacitated or she isn't, the writers need to pick one and stick with it. Also, the entire hallucination concept didn't quite work for me. I understand that the kryptonite is going after Ryan's brain, but the way it worked out felt like a slightly flimsy way to avoid Ryan killing Alice. Given where the story was going, I was certain going in to the episode that Alice wasn't going to die, but I wish the writers could have found a better way to get there.
The weakest part of this episode involved Commander Kane and Sophie in their hunt to retrieve the map to Coryana. The elder Kane is being written in the most frustrating way possible right now. After everything that's happened, he still doesn't understand why it was wrong to shut down Mary's clinic, why Sophie wouldn't tell him that she knew about the clinic, and why Mary might not want to speak with him after he shut down the thing she loves most. He's due for a wakeup call anytime now, and I hope it comes sooner rather than later.
After the map was stolen in the previous episode, I was waiting with bated breath to see how this would play out. Would the map be ransomed? Was this a new minor villain entering the story? Frustratingly, it was none of these things, because Safiyah's henchmen took care of the situation offscreen....at least that's what I think happened, because the way it comes out it isn't quite clear what happened. I understand that we need to see that Safiyah is ruthless and will protect Coryana at all costs, but the episode would've been improved by including the actual scene where the Many Hands of Death do their work.
While It's Best You Stop Digging had its fair share of highs and lows, it was ultimately worth it as the episode sets the stage for a return to Coryana...and a possible reunion with Kate Kane. The scenes with Alice and Safiyah were by far the best part of this episode, and I'm looking forward to seeing more of Shivani Gai as Safiyah as the series races towards the mid-season finale. Despite a few missteps in recent episodes, Batwoman continues to impress.