At this early in the show’s run, Batwoman should not have as much drama behind the scenes as it does. When the show debuted in 2019, Ruby Rose was behind the titular cowl as Kate Kane, a character who had made a decent impression in the epic Arrowverse crossover episodes before getting her own show. With any project that is tangentially related to Batman, there comes a certain degree of excitement, but after a fairly entertaining beginning the first season of Batwoman just could not transition into something truly great. This may have partially had something to do with Rose, who simply did not command the screen as well as she needed to in order to make up for middling scripts. The universe intervened on this account when Rose announced she was done with the series, and soon after Javicia Leslie (God Friended Me) was cast as our replacement Batwoman. With one season with a new hero behind us, we can say the show is getting better but is struggling to match other current Arrowverse shows.
Thankfully, the series was smart enough to not try to recast the role of Kate Kane (well, that’s complicated). Those who actually had an appreciation for Kate in the first season may find it jarring to suddenly enter this season with the rest of the ensemble desperately searching for a Kate that by all accounts is likely dead. While it feels as if the show is content to just scrap this character who was not all that interesting in the first place, throughout the season there are some key developments in the search for Kate that leads to convenient but ultimately intriguing places considering the corner they were backed into. Ryan Wilder (Leslie) establishes herself as a much more compelling figure from the first episode. This homeless ex-convict is the most unlikely hero one can think of, which makes her journey to being worthy of taking up this mantle and earning the trust of her team all the more exciting. This season does a nice job of weaving in some of her personal backstory into a mixture of villain-of-the-week episodes and a larger investigation of the False Face Society.
The show does not completely scrap everything from the first season. Besides the Kate Kane character, nearly everyone else returns including Alice (Rachel Skarsten). With her journey being so closely tied to her sister Kate, it almost feels too convoluted to continue bringing her into this larger story, but the writers mostly justify her existence. Alice is still one of the more intriguing characters on the show, as you are never quite sure where she stands. One moment she can be exhibiting signs of remorse and compassion, and the next she can be carrying out an act of terrible violence. After seeing Ewan McGregor tackle the Black Mask role in Birds of Prey, it is pleasantly surprising to see the character get a sizable arc in this show as played by Peter Outerbridge (Nikita). While not sparring with Harley Quinn, the unhinged Alice is an admirable scene partner. Watching these seemingly separate storylines come together by the end of the season is pretty satisfying by the end.
There is a lot of toxicity surrounding this show on the internet which is unwarranted. I myself did not find the first season of the show anything to write home about, but some people went out of their way to try to attack this show for pushing a “woke” agenda. If you were one of these people, this second season is not going to win you over at all. There is a queer woman of color kicking butt every episode, and the series does tackle some real-world issues such as Black Lives Matter and police corruption this season. At first, certain storylines can feel a bit hamfisted, but those who stick with it will see it is leading to a new chapter for the series that feels more exciting than anything we have gotten thus far. For a season that basically has to reboot the main story, be produced during a pandemic and more that the public is likely not aware of, the story is fairly cohesive and entertaining. There are clear signs that the writers are just starting to get a sense of where they want to go with this new story, and all signs point to a bigger and better third season. This series needed a fresh perspective, and a more exciting Batwoman was just the trick. If the series does not capitalize on its current momentum, this sophomore season will look much worse in hindsight, but for now we will forgive certain shortcomings while they work out the kinks.
Batwoman: The Complete Second Season arrives on Blu-Ray with a gorgeous AVC encoded 1080p transfer in its original 2.00:1. This is a step up from the broadcast and streaming versions of the show, as the disc provides a more consistent and stable image. The color palette tends to be more cold and steely to match the darker “Bat” setting, but certain locations display some magical instances of beautiful colors popping off the screen. The levels of detail this presentation is able to eek out is quite striking, as all of the subtle details in the production design are easily identifiable. Black levels are appropriately deep and give way to a nice amount of detail in shadows. The bright whites do not fall victim to any blooming in this presentation. Skin tones appear very natural across the entire cast. There are no egregious instances of aliasing or compression artifacts detectable here. The Blu-Ray is quite stunning as it showcases the cinematic feel of the season to great effect.
This Blu-Ray comes with a pleasingly active DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio track that creates a fully fleshed-out world. One of the standout aspects of this show is the soaring score that adds a lot to the story. This work perfectly sets the tone for the story, and it creates a nicely enveloping soundscape that draws you further into the show. Dialogue always comes through crisp and clear without being stepped on by the score or any sound effects. More kinetic moments are given the appropriate power in the mix with a forceful showing in the low end. Ambient sounds are also precisely placed in the rear channels. The track handles panning effects around the room really well so that everything sounds natural to the world. The audio presentation here is fantastic on all levels.
- Deleted Scenes: Ten minutes of unused material is provided here including more mourning of Kate, Ryan meeting with her parole officer, a confrontation in a hospital, some additional Alice scenes and more.
- Villains Analyzed: A 16-minute featurette in which the cast and crew discuss the driving force of the villains of this season including Alice, Black Mask, Safiyah and more.
- Never Alone – Heroes and Allies: A 21-minute featurette which goes beyond Batwoman to also discuss DC’s Legends of Tomorrow, Stargirl, Superman & Lois and more. In this piece there is a larger discussion about the teams or family that work together in service of the common good. It is nice to get a perspective from various different shows.
- Gag Reel: An eight-minute collection of flubbed lines, laughing fits, joking around, malfunctioning props and more. This is quite a bit of fun, as always.
The second season of Batwoman may not be a complete reboot, but it is very close and the show is all the better for it. Not only is the new character in the Batwoman suit more complex and intriguing, but the performer bringing her to life is more dynamic than her predecessor. The show is working through some growing pains, but the series gains a lot of momentum in the back half as we head towards what could be a great third season. Warner Bros. Home Entertainment has provided a Blu-Ray featuring a strong A/V presentation and some decent special features. If you hated the first season, do not waste your time here. If you were at least on the fence after the first season, perhaps give this series another shot to prove itself?
Batwoman: The Complete Second Season is currently available to purchase on Blu-Ray and DVD.
Note: Images presented in this review are not reflective of the image quality of the Blu-Ray.
Disclaimer: Warner Bros. Home Entertainment has supplied a copy of this disc free of charge for review purposes. All opinions in this review are the honest reactions of the author.
Dillon is most comfortable sitting around in a theatre all day watching both big budget and independent movies.