Batwoman boss breaks down that Kate Kane shocker and recasting
Warning: This article contains spoilers from Sunday's Batwoman, titled "Survived Much Worse."
Batwoman is far from done with Kate Kane.
EW has learned that Wallis Day (Krypton, The Royals) has been cast as an altered version of Kate Kane, the character Ruby Rose originated in season 1, and will appear in the back half of season 2. Previously, Batwoman showrunner Caroline Dries told EW that she didn't want to immediately recast the role when Rose left the series in May because there wasn't a convincing a story-based reason for Kate's appearance changing in between seasons. But Sunday's game-changing episode and Day's casting reveal that she found one and promise of Kate's return is imminent.
In the pivotal hour, titled "Survived Much Worse," Ryan (Javicia Leslie), Sophie (Meagan Tandy), and Jacob (Dougray Scott) followed Alice (Rachel Skarsten) to Coryana in order to save Kate Kane, whom Safiyah (Shivaani Ghai) claimed she was holding captive and Alice was determined to kill, and acquire a Desert Rose, which would cure Ryan's deadly Kryptonite poisoning. Unfortunately, everyone failed on both accounts.
Safiyah revealed that she lied about having Kate, which was a huge blow to Alice because she finally realized she didn't want to murder her sister. In retaliation for the deceit and manipulation, Alice set fire to Safiyah's Desert Roses before Ryan could get one. Meanwhile back in Gotham City, Julia Pennyworth (Christina Wolfe) told Mary (Nicole Kang) and Luke (Camrus Johnson) that she found evidence that confirmed Kate died in her plane crash, another shock. On the upside, Mary and Luke also discovered Ryan's beloved plant was actually a Desert Rose, meaning Ryan won't die when she returns home.
While every character believes Kate is dead, that's not actually the case. The episode's final scene revealed that Kate is alive, but is unrecognizable because of injuries sustained in the plane crash and being held prisoner somewhere in Gotham City. (Note: Day herself didn't appear in episode 8.)
Below, EW chats with Dries about the shocking Kate reveal, what it means for Ryan's time as Batwoman, and more. (Plus, watch the latest installment of On Set to hear what the cast has to say about this episode.)
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Over the summer, you promised you weren't going to kill off Kate Kane because you didn't want to feed into the Bury Your Gays trope. Was it always the plan to reintroduce Kate with a new actress at some point this season?
CAROLINE DRIES: Yes. Once we sat down and huddled for season 2 and decided, "Look, we are not killing Kate Kane. That's not the way we want that character to go out." We looked back at what our options were, and to me, this seemed like the most organic option to tell in this space we had for our season 2 launch.
Ultimately, we [thought], "What's the midpoint of our season? It's probably about episode 8 or 9. Let's make this reveal here." And the way we revealed it was very specific which is we have the Bat Team and all of Kate's loved ones looking for her for the first half of the season, and they definitively learn that she's dead so that they can now close the book on Kate and grieve, but the audience is let in on this huge secret that she's alive, and that then propels these two parallel stories moving on to the second half of our season which [are]: the Bat Team coalescing without Kate, and Kate going through her mysterious journey as will unfold as the season goes on.
What made it appealing to bring Kate back into the show so quickly, especially while you're still introducing a new Batwoman?
Oh, interesting. I don't think of it as being quick at all. I mean, we saw eight very long episodes of TV, so again, to me, it's the midpoint of our season, so it felt like a natural place to introduce her. I understand that the audience maybe felt a little tortured because they don't understand how we're actually going about bringing back an altered version of Kate Kane, but for us, we just trusted the storytelling, and we knew, "Look, we can only have the characters looking and this being sort of their central drive for so long before that gets old and boring, so we thought eight episodes felt like a good span of time."
Season 2 has largely been about establishing Ryan Wilder as the new Batwoman. What does having Kate back in the mix mean for Ryan as Batwoman?
Seeing Ryan grow into the Batsuit has been priority one from a storytelling point of view, and it's been a beautiful journey so far witnessing Ryan take on that mantle, and she's proven to the city by episode 8 that she is Batwoman. She belongs in the suit. And when Kate comes back, and when they discover Kate's back, that confidence will be rattled a little bit, and she'll start to wonder, "Well, where do I fit?" And so while the city believes in her, full heartedly, Ryan will go through her own journey of learning to believe in herself, and that's really something we focus on towards the later part of season 2.
When it came to casting this new Kate, what made Wallis the right actor for the job?
I believe she auditioned for Ryan Wilder. So when I met her via Zoom audition —those super awkward Zoom auditions — she was super cool and had great swagger and poise, and I just really liked her. At the same time, I believe there was sort of like this internet campaign — I don't know how widespread it was, but it got my attention — that Wallis should be Kate Kane, and she does sort of look a lot like Kate Kane, so it drew me to her. And ultimately when we were going through the audition process again, her name rose to the surface, and she just killed her audition, so we went with her. But it helped that I had known her previously just from those past auditions.
While the audience knows Kate is very much alive, everyone else believes she's dead. How does Kate's "confirmed" death affect them moving forward?
We do, which we never do on our show, a little bit of a time passage of one month so that we can allow the characters to grieve and have a funeral, and then a month goes by, and we can not have them sobbing in every scene because nobody wants to watch that. So, there's a little bit of sense of moving on and healing, and what's central to the show now is the Bat Team coalescing, coming together, and Ryan looking at the Batsuit and realizing, "Oh, she's not coming back."
For Ryan Wilder, everything in her life that's ever been good has been ripped away, and in the back of her mind, she always knew, "This is too good to be true, this is going to be ripped away from me." Especially with the notion of Kate still being out there. And then when it's definitive, Kate's not coming back, Ryan looks at the suit and is like, "I'm Batwoman. What does that mean? What can I do for the city, not just as Batwoman, but as, her journey in episode nine is, as Ryan Wilder?" Kate Kane gave so much back to the city just as Kate. Bruce Wayne donated so much to the city as Bruce. What is Ryan doing just as Ryan [going] to give back to the city? So she really starts to sort of design her own Bat code, so to speak, and her own rules for the Bat Team, and embraces the job full heartedly at this point.
Tatiana [Leah Gibson] being the one who killed all of Alice's Wonderland gang surprised me a lot. Did you know she was the one behind it when it happened way back in season 1, or did you rejigger the storyline to accommodate this new Batwoman you were introducing?
No. To be honest with you, in my mind, it was always Safiyah, but as — it didn't have anything to do with the new Batwoman — as we were sort of peeling back the layers of Safiyah, it became important to us that she wasn't just this villain who just blindly kills people because she has a bone to pick. She wasn't looking for a fight with Alice. In our minds, she was a woman who felt burned by Alice and is trying to move on and just forget about her. Because we make it very clear that she has feelings for her, and so why would she go and poke the bear? Why would she throw these tantrums? But who would do that? Tatiana. So it kind of just worked out to add a little bit more of a love triangle drama between Tatiana and Safiyah that of course, it was Tatiana who did all that. We still want Safiyah to be bad, but we don't want her to be recklessly bad.
And we find out Ocean is still alive in a very Vampire Diaries-esque way..
Oh, you noticed? [Laughs].
Yes! Are Safiayh and Ocean still major parts of the season moving forward?
As we saw in episode 8, many major things happened. It was sort of meant to be our midseason finale. The island is burned down. All of Safiyah's precious roses are up in flames, thanks to Alice. So Safiyah's not just going to sit there and be like, "Oh well." You know? What is she going to do? So we have that to look forward to. Ocean, we saw, died and came back to life. He's got all of these unresolved feelings for Alice. How dare this woman, who he kind of was bonding with, in their weird toxic way, literally had the strength to put a dagger through his heart. So he comes back. He'll ultimately return to Gotham with some questions about that, looking for answers.
In episode 8, Alice had this major breakthrough that she didn't want to kill her sister and then immediately learned she was already "dead." How does Alice move forward from this point?
So, that's something we explore on a very deep level with Alice. So [in] the first half of season 2, Alice, subconsciously, whether she realizes or not, her search for Kate, her revenge on Gotham, her revenge on Safiyah, it's all a distraction from what she's supposed to be doing, which is grieving the death of her sister. Then she realizes she is actually dead, or so she thinks, and now it's this quiet after the storm, and she's feeling this tidal wave of grief starting to wash in, and she's never grieved anything before. She's not mature enough to handle those feelings. So we will watch as she does everything in her power to push those feelings away. And in a really intimate story about her relationship with her own psyche and what she's willing to do in order to avoid any feeling that's not anger or rage.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
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 Sunday night after the latest Batwoman episode.