When Ruby rose announced that she was leaving Batwoman last May, the show had one problem – several problems, in fact. Rose was of course the star and the frontman of the series, but each part The series was built solely around Kate Kane, so the CW writers had to know what to do with the character. So far, the show’s solution is the most complicated decision possible.
I feel for the writers because Rose’s departure left them in a bad position. Since Kate was the only part of the show worth investing in during its lackluster first season, she couldn’t disappear completely, never to reappear; Additionally, Kate would be needed to bridge the second season to the premiere so that the series didn’t feel like it was rebooted in its early days, potentially losing the fans she created. Plus, I can see how the Arrowverse’s commitment to continuity would make the creators feel like they needed to explain why Kate would no longer look or look like Rose. Ultimately, they decided to make Rose’s Kate Kane appear to die in a plane crash between seasons one and two, which led to Javicia Leslie’s Ryan Wilder donning the hood for her.
When Kate returned, she had been disfigured by the accident, which provided a practical reason why she no longer looked like the previous star and would be played by the actor. Wallis Day rather. It’s a pretty messy response, but messy like a traditional soap opera, and it probably would have been nice if Batwoman did not complicate it beyond measure. See, it turns out that Black Mask (Peter Outerbridge) AKA Roman Sionis AKA Season Two’s new bat-villain had sent his minions to capture Kate immediately (like, the plane wreckage was still on fire) and imprisoned her for six weeks, and having Enigma (Laura Mennell) brainwash her into believing that she was his daughter Circe. Meanwhile, Safiyah (Shivaani Ghai), the main season two antagonist, said to Kate’s sister and season one villain Alice / Beth (Rachel Skarsten) that she was holding Kate prisoner on an island. She wasn’t, but was using it to fuck Alice because … she was in love with her and very mad Alice was in love with Ocean (Nathan Owens). I told you, soap opera.
In fact, Kate was tortured by Black Mask to the point that her voice mail was damaged (to explain why she didn’t look like Rose either) and was brainwashed to remove “Kate” and replace her memories with that. of Circe who is really dead. Black Mask did all of this because he kind of blamed Batwoman for her daughter’s murder. She actually died in a scramble / fire in Arkham after Alice let all the inmates go cover her own escape in the first season. However, Roman blames Kate-as-Batwoman simply because she was there at the time, so once all the brainwashing is done, he sends Kate-as-Circe to capture Alice. He intends to kill her but at the last moment he changes his mind and asks Alice to use her very special face-making abilities to give “Circe” the true face of Circe … except Alice finally recognizes her sister through her eyes once she put the skin on her.
Attention, this is the simplified version of what happened to Kate, and yet it all seems totally unnecessary. Again, I understand why the show wanted to keep the character, at least until audiences got involved in Batwoman 2.0, and I understand why it felt it necessary to explain why Ruby Rose was no longer playing her. But are Kate fans really happy with her new role as Black Mask’s victim and pawn? Was the story improved by putting Kate through this story walarm? And was spending 14 episodes too much justifying why Kate no longer looked or looked like Ruby Rose any better than just recasting her and not worrying about it?
I think the answer to all of these questions is “no”. It would’ve been so easy to keep Kate’s disappearance a primary mystery throughout the season, which, if done right, would have kept Batwoman fans invested without any of that gobbledygook. It would have been even easier to just recast Kate and have her take a few scenes to explain that she was going out to find Bruce Wayne in the world – which she wanted to do in the first season anyway. Of course, it would be strange if the series’ character cast were mostly made up of Kate’s twin sister, Kate’s father, Kate’s half-sister, and Kate’s former lover, but not Kate, but guess what? Kate is here and it’s still super weird because Kate isn’t really Kate anymore and there apparently was no plan for Black Mask to use her in any way like Kate – he just wanted to may her daughter come back.
It’s the TV equivalent of slowly and painfully removing the Band-Aid instead of pulling it off quickly. What’s the end of the game here? Leaving Kate as a minor antagonist in the show she’s already been fronting for isn’t a viable option; its story must be closed, and the sooner the better. And then maybe Batwoman can tell a story that does not require a flowchart.
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