Batwoman's stars and showrunner break down Alice and Ryan's first fight, those new pairings, and how episode 2 incorporates leftover elements from season 1.

By Chancellor Agard
January 24, 2021 at 09:00 PM EST
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Warning: This article contains spoilers from Sunday's Batwoman, titled "Prior Criminal History."

Javicia Leslie's Ryan Wilder has officially joined the Bat team — but now she has a difficult journey ahead of her.

In Sunday's Batwoman episode, titled "Prior Criminal History," Ryan suited up as the Crimson Knight's suit once again — with Luke (Camrus Johnson) and Mary's (Nicole Kang) blessing this time — and had her first fight with Alice (Rachel Skarsten), whose gang murdered Ryan's mom. Although Ryan hungered for revenge, she let Alice escape because Alice unleashed a swarm of bats carrying the poison that killed Mary's mom in a crowd at a pro-Batwoman rally and Ryan needed to save everyone.

Doing the heroic thing helped Ryan realize that she wanted to become Batwoman full time. Although Luke wasn't too thrilled about this idea, he eventually said yes, but only on the condition that Ryan promise to follow Batwoman (and Batman's) number one rule: No killing. According to Leslie, sticking to the code won't be easy as it sounds.

"I believe it's going to be very hard for Ryan to stick to the no kill code that Luke and Mary put on her as Batwoman," Leslie tells EW. "I wonder if she might just do something as Ryan [instead of as] Batwoman, because it is a separate thing." In other words, Luke and Mary can have a say when it comes to how Ryan treats Batwoman's legacy, but they can't control what Ryan does as herself.

Credit: The CW

In fact, that issue of identity raises an important question for Ryan as she becomes Batwoman. "Is her battle against Alice going to be what defines her, or will she able to finally get past that and do what her journey and her future is supposed to be, which is to save people?" says Leslie. "She says that all the time, that's what she wants to do. She wants to save the ones that no one else saves and she's needed for her community, so it's going to be really important that she figures out which one she's going to choose."

Either way, Ryan has some time to figure this out because she won't be seeing Alice any time soon. After fleeing her fight with Ryan, Alice gave Mary the one thing that could cure everyone her bats infected: A sample of the Desert Rose, the mysterious cure-all flower from Coryana. Mary gave the sample to Hamilton Dynamics so that it could mass-produce an antidote for everyone. That's exactly what Alice hoped Mary would do because she knew the Desert Rose becoming public would anger Safiyah (Shivaani Ghai), the mysterious ruler of Coryana who has devoted her life to protecting the plant. And Alice got her wish because the hour ended with Safiyah's mercenary Tatiana kidnapping both Alice and Sophie (Meagan Tandy), thus setting up Safiyah's long-awaited introduction in next week's Coryana-set episode.

"I think of them as a bit of an Odd Couple," says showrunner Caroline Dries, explaining why she paired Sophie and Alice on this trip to Coryana.

"I was really looking forward this season to exploring Coryana and Alice's relationship with Safiyah because we had spoken so much about it in the first season," says Rachel Skarsten. "So, I think fans should be worried about it because Safiyah is this very formidable character — but Alice tends to land on her feet. So I think she'll be fine."

Below, Dries, Leslie, and the rest of the cast sound off on some of the episode's big moments — and you can watch the latest installment of EW's On Set with Batwoman video series, which breaks down episode 2, above.

This episode contained elements from what was going to be the season 1 finale if the pandemic shutdown hadn't occurred:
DRIES: [In season 1] we knew that Alice was going to have a beef with Safiyah, and she was going to use the bats and the cure as her way of getting Safiyah's attention. Obviously, the idea of a new Batwoman wearing the suit to scare away the crowds of people, that was all determined this season. It just kind of worked out perfectly. Chad [Fiveash] and James [Stoteraux], the writers, kind of threaded the needle of a complicated plot that they really figured out how to weave it all together.

The writers were concerned about going through with Alice's plan during the pandemic:
DRIES: When we were creating an episode about toxic bats poisoning a city full of people, it did occur to us that it was a little too close to home. Here's actually what happened: This was actually supposed to be the season 1 finale [before] we were shut down. So we didn't even know about the COVID being transferred through bats or whatever until this part of this episode was already broken, and this concept was already born. So yeah, I am hoping that by the time it airs in late January, enough time will have passed that people won't be as sensitive to it. But also I mean, it's a comic book show, and it's so heightened, and so fake that hopefully, they'll just see it for the sheer horror that it is and not feeling like it's hitting too close to home.

Credit: The CW

Why Sophie and Julia (Christina Wolfe) had to break up:
DRIES: I really enjoyed watching the Sophie/Julia love come together, but once Sophie realizes that Kate loved her, it was feeling like it wasn't going to work out or be pure. So we decided, for the time being, to break them up.
MEAGAN TANDY: So I'm actually a little bummed that Sophie and Julia broke up. I actually personally really, really liked them together. But I also think it's very justified...[Sophie] is trying to see if [Kate is] still alive, but then she's trying to keep this relationship going. I think it definitely would have created a very tumultuous relationship. I think they definitely probably would have ended up breaking up because the trust factor is just gone.

On Leslie and Skarsten's first scene together:
SKARSTEN: So having my first scene with Javicia be a physical scene, probably wasn't beneficial for me because she's in way better shape than I am. She is strong. That girl, it's impressive. And she does the majority of her own stunts and they make me look cooler than I am on the show. She's actually that cool though.
LESLIE: Working with Rachel was so much fun. When I first watched the first season, I mean, to me, she stood out so much because of her imagination. I could feel and see everything and all the work that she's doing to create this world of Alice. Because Alice isn't just a character when you watch her play it. She creates a world in her performances and I'm able to fall into this "Alice in Wonderland, Batwoman villain versus sometimes good, versus are you Beth? or are you Alice?" type of world, and it's fun.

On what to expect from Mary and Jacob (Dougray Scott) teaming up to find Kate:
DRIES: In all of the excitement of season one, we got to know a lot about Mary in relation to her clinic and her relation to Kate, but there is this dynamic that I think didn't get enough attention, which is Mary and her step-dad. Jacob was so busy paying attention to Alice and paying attention to Kate and that woman that Mary never really got his attention. And so that's something that we're building into this season and trying to strengthen and complicate that dynamic at the same time.
NICOLE KANG: They [turn] to each other this season in this gorgeous way of really leaning on one another. And Jacob lets a lot of his guard down with Mary. I'm just really excited to explore that relationship. She has never felt like she's gotten the attention of her dad. I think that's a huge reason why she is so charismatic and so extra as we will; she's dying to get her father's attention. And here they are really, really needing one another. And I think it surprises Jacob, how much he needs Mary.
DOUGRAY SCOTT: I think it's great that this season they have a chance to discover a different part to the relationship that he just didn't have time for in the past. And of course, she has this whole other secret life that he knows nothing about.

Batwoman airs Sundays at 8 p.m. on The CW. Be sure to subscribe to EW's YouTube channel so you won't miss new On Set episodes, dropping every Monday morning after the latest Batwoman episode.

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