It’s not every day you wake up, step out of your home on wheels and find a high-tech bulletproof batsuit washed up onshore. While most people would have tried to figure out how to collect a check for such an incredible find, Ryan Wilder made the most out of it, changing her life and the lives of all citizens of Gotham, including those often forgotten. Season two of Batwoman not only introduced us to a new woman under the iconic fire-red wig (and a new wig to boot), it also introduced us to a hero who is more than willing to push the status quo.
Let’s not forget that season two ends with Kate Kane giving Ryan her blessing to keep the Batwoman suit—officially making her Gotham’s new Batwoman. However, leading up to the exchange between the two, Ryan proved time and time again why she not only deserved to continue as Batwoman but is someone who is an invaluable addition to the Bat-Family.
As we get ready for the new season of Batwoman, let’s look back at some standout episodes from last season that showcased Ryan Wilder, proving she is exactly who should be behind the cowl.
S2.01 What Happened to Kate Kane?
Ryan started strong from her very first episode. After finding the Batwoman suit, it was clear she is an inverse to Kate Kane, an important distinction that makes Ryan a unique hero (a number of them are made evident in this episode). Kate’s more reserved and keeps things close to the bat emblem, while Ryan has no problem at all telling you precisely what she’s doing and why. She tells Mary and Luke that she’ll return the suit after using it to bring her adoptive mother some justice. It was a bold move, but one that had significant positive ripple effects.
S2.04 Fair Skin, Blue Eyes
The episode titled “Fair Skin, Blue Eyes'' was one of the defining moments from the second season. There is a significance in having a hero who not only looks like Ryan but thinks like her as well. Because of her background, she understands what it’s like to be a forgotten citizen of Gotham in need. The episode opens by revealing a new drug called “Snake Bite” that’s taking the Gotham streets by storm. Ryan is close to busting the gang until she gets sidetracked by a little Black boy who sets off the burglar alarm at a jewelry store in hopes of getting her attention. He tells her that his older brother, Kevin, has been missing for two months and no one has done anything about it. The little boy notes that he knew she would help—and rightfully so.
We learn in this episode that Ryan experienced at a young age what it's like to live in a city with heroes and law enforcement who are more likely to show up when you’re breaking the law versus when you require their help. Ryan discovers that she was a victim of the same “Candy Lady” in her childhood as Kevin is now. That experience, coupled with the understanding of making sure the overlooked citizens of Gotham are recipients of her heroics, helps to solidify the importance of Ryan’s Batwoman. In the season finale, Kate says it herself to Ryan when she tells her that she understands what the bat symbol means to people who have no hope left. This episode was a perfect example of that very idea and why Ryan’s a needed change.
S2.09 Rule #1
As season two approached the halfway mark with “Rule #1,” it becomes increasingly clear to Ryan that she can’t only be a symbol anymore. She has to be a leader as well. Ryan has several traits that make her a good leader. She’s confident, self-motivated and people oriented. Her willingness to be held accountable is another great qualification. No one is infallible, not even Batwoman.
We’re introduced to Sophie’s younger sister Jordan, a grassroots activist who wants better for Gotham City and believes that won’t happen by simply taking criminals off the streets. She challenges Ryan to consider how Batwoman is more adjacent to the Crows than she initially thought, even as a vigilante. Jordan believes the best way to reduce crime is to stop it before it even begins. She wants to create programs and spaces for people to go before they’re pushed into desperate situations where they’re willing to do whatever it takes to survive, even if it’s criminal.
Ryan’s not only receptive to what Jordan had to say, but also finally acknowledges that she’s a part of the problem as well. She then takes it a step further by holding a meeting with Luke and Mary to discuss how the Bat-Family needs to do more for Gotham beyond taking down the likes of Black Mask. She explains how paramount it is to replace the bad with something good, starting with the community center Jordan wanted to build. It’s a moment that shows significant growth for Ryan since she first donned the suit and how she’s the type of forward-thinking hero needed to affect long-lasting change.
The sixteenth episode of season two, aptly titled “Rebirth,” as it signifies how a lot of the characters have changed, including Ryan. When Ryan first began her journey as Batwoman, it was with a singular mission to avenge her mother, which meant killing Alice. As the season goes on, though, Ryan’s focus begins to widen as she grows into the type of hero she is destined to be and one more than qualified to represent the Bat-Family.
Ryan does the unthinkable by bartering the last connection she has to her adoptive stepmother. When the not-so-dead Kate Kane needs her sister Alice, Ryan gives Safiyah the Desert Rose plant in exchange for Alice—her sworn enemy. It’s not a moment of being the bigger person, but it’s more than anything Ryan showing how much she cares for the family she gained when she became Batwoman. She knows how important Kate is to Luke, Mary and Sophie. And when she’s presented with the opportunity to help a brainwashed Kate, Ryan’s willing to make a huge sacrifice for them, which unfortunately means saving Alice instead of letting her meet her demise. It’s an ultimate act of selflessness.
It will be interesting to see how Ryan grows and continues to forge her way as Batwoman in season three. The caliber of villains and obstacles is sure to be greater than what she faced in her debut season, so the growth was not only welcome but necessary. Plus, hopefully, we’ll get a chance to see how Ryan and Luke work together on the streets of Gotham now that he can join her side as Batwing. Things are just getting started for the newest members of the ever-growing and changing Bat-Family.
Batwoman returns for its third season tonight at 9 p.m. (8 p.m. CST) on The CW. For more on Gotham's newest hero, visit our official Batwoman series page.
Stephanie Williams is the co-writer of the upcoming Nubia and the Amazons and writes about comics, TV and movies for DCComics.com. Check out more of her work on Den of Geek, What To Watch, Nerdist and SYFY Wire and be sure to follow her on both Twitter and Instagram at @steph_I_will.