Batwoman's Javicia Leslie on that reunion: '[SPOILER] is Ryan's Kryptonite'
Warning: This article contains spoilers from Sunday's episode of Batwoman, "Fair Skin, Blue Eyes."
Batwoman fans should definitely be concerned about Ryan Wilder, who just reconnected with a messy figure from her past in Sunday's episode.
"Fair Skin, Blue Eyes," the CW superhero drama's latest installment, explored child trafficking and how Gotham City pulls out all the stops whenever a white kid goes missing, but doesn't do the same for minorities. In fact, Ryan (Javicia Leslie) has firsthand experience with this because she was kidnapped by the Candy Lady (Linda Kash) and almost sold into gang life when she was younger. That happened right around the time people were going door-to-door searching for Beth Kane. Alas, no such effort was made for Ryan. Thankfully, Ryan's group home friend Angelique noticed she was missing and saved her.
Flash-forward to the present day: A young boy asked Batwoman find his brother Kevin, the Candy Lady's latest victim. Thus Ryan was forced to revisit a traumatic experience from her past — and this time around, she defeated the Candy Lady for good.
"For the Candy Lady, that [episode] was hard because that's real life," Leslie tells EW. "Kids are getting kidnapped and trafficked all the time, and it was dark. It was a world that I knew that if we were going to go there, we needed to go there because that's the point: You tell these stories, one, to shine a light on [these issues], but then to save through them."
According to showrunner Caroline Dries, the idea for the Candy Lady had been batting around the writers' room since season 1. "The idea of the Candy Lady came straight out of the warped mind of [episode writer] Ebony Gilbert," Dries says. "The idea came up, 'Well, let's use Candy Lady in season 1 as just a villain of the week that Kate Kane has to [defeat],' and we kept pushing it off, pushing it off, and then it just didn't feel personal enough. Then once Ryan came on the show, we realized, 'Yes, now we have a story that we can tell where our central character is personally affected by this villain.' And it kind of helped unfold a little bit of this backstory that we wanted to tell with Ryan."
Not only that, but it also created an unexpected connection between Ryan and Alice (Rachel Skarsten), whose Wonderland Gang murdered Ryan's mother. Long before the woman formerly known as Beth Kane had adventures on Coryana and became the villainous Alice, she was kidnapped and held captive by the Cartwrights for many years.
"Part of what I said to the writers' room is we can't make it seem like such a coincidence that, 'Oh, both Beth and Ryan just happened to be kidnapped. What are the chances both of our leads were kidnapped at one point in their life?'" says Dries. "So we went out of our way to make it feel a lot different, where Beth was taken for really specific, weird reasons and kept in a cell for many, many years, [and] where Ryan was actually just kidnapped, but she was being groomed to be sent off into gang life. And so to us, that was sort of this differing agenda that allowed these characters to have a sort of parallel story line or major event or milestone moment in their life."
After defeating the Candy Lady (and agreeing to move in with Nicole Kang's Mary), Ryan reconnected with Angelique (Bevin Bru), the drug-dealing ex-girlfriend for whom she went to prison. And no, this romantic reunion can't mean anything good for Ryan in the long run.
"Angelique is Ryan's Kryptonite," says Leslie (note: Kryptonite is also Ryan's Kryptonite because she's currently suffering from Kryptonite poisoning). "Should the audience be worried? Yes, be worried. Pray for your girl because… Ryan just has so much love and appreciation for Angelique, and I think that she'll continue to forgive her. She'll always forgive her, and that's just a weakness that she has."
With Angelique, the writers wanted to explore how Ryan's past could complicate her duties as Batwoman. "If Ryan weren't going to be Batwoman and was just going to continue living her life as Ryan Wilder, I think Angelique would be drama for her and they'd fight and things would go haywire. It wouldn't affect Gotham," says Dries. "But now she's wearing the Batsuit and she has this whole other world of responsibilities. And having someone like Angelique, who's a little shady and can be a little toxic, even though they're in love and she's a good person, that's a problem for the city's hero."
That being said, "I love Angelique and Ryan together, and I want them to be happy, and I want Ryan to be happy," Dries adds.
Ryan isn't the only one with some romantic baggage in the episode. Elsewhere, Alice forced Luke (Camrus Johnson) and Sophie (Meagan Tandy) to help her find Ocean, the man Safiyah (Shivaani Ghai) tasked her with killing in exchange for Kate's return. Eventually Alice found a photo of him and immediately flashed back to locking eyes with Ocean for the first time — which confuses Alice because she's never met him.
"The tease is, did she have something going sort of going on with some really attractive man on an island somewhere?" says Dries.
Skarsten adds: "That specific scene, of course, is going to send Alice on an entirely different path in uncovering this whole part of her history that she has really completely forgotten. So it's a very pivotal moment, I think, for Alice's character."
Check back in the morning for the latest installment of On Set with Batwoman breaking down episode 4.
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