Batwoman stars, EP on Ryan's 'epic' new suit, Safiyah's big reveal
Warning: This article contains spoilers from Sunday's Batwoman, titled "Bat Girl Magic."
The title of Batwoman's season 2 premiere asked "What Happened to Kate Kane?" and Sunday's episode answered that question (to an extent).
In tonight's installment, titled "Bat Girl Magic," Alice (Rachel Skarsten) and Sophie (Meagan Tandy) came face to face with Safiyah (Shivaani Ghai), the ruler of Coryana who kidnapped them at the end of last week's episode. Believing Safiyah was responsible for Kate's apparent death in the premiere, Alice tried (and failed) to kill the Queen, who denied being involved in Kate's (Ruby Rose) tragic plane crash. But, it turns out that was a lie.
Toward the end of the hour, Safiyah revealed that she did blow Kate's plane out of the sky, but Kate wasn't in it because she kidnapped her and is now holding her captive until Alice does something for her. But should we (and Alice) trust that Safiyah actually has Kate because she did just lie?
"I don't see why not," showrunner Caroline Dries tells EW. "She seems to have Kate's necklace. Like you know, she has proof of life, so to speak. If I were Alice and I wanted to enact my revenge on my sister, and I found out she was alive, I have no reason not to question it — especially if it's a woman like Safiyah, who was a mentor to me at one point in my life telling me stuff."
Dries made Safiyah the one responsible for Kate's disappearance because she wanted to avoid a terrible TV trope. "I didn't just want to kill [Kate] just for the sheer avoidance factor of this bury your gays trope. So, I was in a position of 'okay, if I'm not going kill her, what do we do with her?' And so I really wanted to create a mystery around her disappearance."
On top of being Alice's mentor back in the day, Safiyah also has a crush on Alice. "Safiyah sees something in Alice that she never had, which was Alice was able to escape her captivity, and Safiyah's instantly drawn to that... Even though [Safiyah is] the queen of this island, she feels a bit like she's being held captive here herself," says Dries, referencing Safiyah's duty to protect the Desert Rose. "Of course, Alice is straight and is not going to fall in love with her back. So Safiyah has to find other ways of showing Alice her affection without crossing a line. So it's definitely complicated but not in like an oogy way. We were very careful about how we presented Safiyah to keep her feeling strong and powerful without Alice being like, 'What are you doing?'"
Elsewhere in the episode, new Batwoman Ryan Wilder (Javicia Leslie) faced off with hitman Victor Zsasz (Alex Morf) and debuted her brand new super-suit, which provided both Leslie and Ryan with a significant confidence boost in taking on the Crimson Knight mantle.
"We did the fitting and I put the pants on, I'm like, 'Oh my goodness, these pants look great,'" says Leslie. "Then I put the top on and the top grabs me and I was like, 'Oh man, it gives me posture.' Then we were putting the cowl and the wig on and I'm like, 'This Chaka Khan hair, wow! Like, I am my ancestors!' That's how I felt when I put it on. I felt proud. I still do."
She continues: "I fight with my hair out all the time [while training in real life]. And fighting as Batwoman with my hair out, it's really epic because I think people think it becomes a distraction. No, the same way you don't touch a black girl's hair normally is the same way you don't touch Batwoman's hair. It doesn't get messed with."
The new costume is also a hit with the rest of the cast, too. "Seeing the new Black Batwoman costume for the first time made me literally jump up and down on set. I was like a little kid again," says Camrus Johnson, who plays Luke Fox. Costar Nicole Kang, who plays Mary Hamilton, adds: "I clutched my pearls and I gasped, and I was like, 'Wow!' I was so astonished like she looked so beautiful and powerful, and badass! I feel like in episode 3, I was able to express all of those things."
Ironically, Dries was so focused on creating Ryan following Rose's exit that she didn't think about giving the character a new Batsuit until Batwoman costume designer Maya Mani brought it up.
"I was like, 'Oh yeah, duh! She can't be wearing Kate's suit because that would feel like hand-me-downs,'" says Dries. As Mani designed the suit, Dries and Leslie worked with the hair department to figure out the wig's new look. "To be honest, the idea of [making the wig] black curly hair, and not the red wig, came to me by looking at fan art [that] had some different styles that I was like, 'Oh, this is awesome.' Because I'm not shy about saying I never really liked the red wig. I never understood its purpose in the comic, let alone on our show. But it just never quite felt like this is what Batwoman would wear, in my opinion. It was just too feminine for me. Whereas this was feminine in all of the right ways of just like powerful. I got chills when I saw some of these drawings, and I was like, 'Oh, yeah. That's what we have to do.' I had to go to DC and be like, 'Can we lose the red wig?' And they're like, 'We love this.' [DC Publisher and CCO] Jim [Lee] saw it and was like, 'Yes, love it.' That was all I needed as encouragement. So that's how that happened."
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