Batwoman star and boss discuss how the Black Lives Matter protests inspired season 2
Warning: This article contains spoilers from Sunday's Batwoman, titled "Gore on Canvas."
Since Batwoman season 1, we've known that the Crows was a dangerous and corrupt organization. Not only does Jacob Kane's security force exert authoritarian-like control over Gotham City, but some of its agents framed an innocent man for the murder of Luke Fox's (Camrus Johnson) father Lucius. Now Sunday's episode, "Gore on Canvas" finally turned a critical eye to the Crows' corruption in a very timely story.
In "Gore on Canvas," Ryan (Javicia Leslie), who is very anti-Crow, reluctantly agrees to work with them because Luke and Mary (Nicole Kang) believe it's the only way they'll be able to recover a Jack Napier painting they hope will lead them to Kate Kane. Unfortunately, all of her concerns about the team-up come to pass.
First, Jacob (Dougray Scott) tortures one of Safiyah's assassins, which doesn't sit well with Batwoman. Nevertheless, she agrees to infiltrate a secret art auction to acquire the painting, but only if Sophie picks a team of trustworthy agents. During the mission, though, an art thief steals the Napier; however, two of Sophie's Crows run him over, take the painting, and leave him for dead to avoid an excessive force headline. This is exactly the kind of incident Ryan wanted to avoid, and she goes off on both the Bat team for not trusting her instincts, and on Sophie for still being part of this ruthless organization (Note: The mission fails, anyway, because the auction didn't even have the real Napier painting).
With references to "All Crows Are Bastards" and Ryan's perspective on the Crows, it's evident the show was inspired by this summer's Black Lives Matter protests and ongoing discussions about police brutality, accountability, and funding.
"Come season 2, we purposefully wanted to make sure that Ryan's point of view on how she feels about the Crows is very clear and was based on her backstory with the Crows: They arrested her for something she didn't do," showrunner Caroline Dries tells EW. "That was very clean and easy for us to write, and of course going through the summer and witnessing this amazing moment for the Black Lives Matter movement was something I think all writers rooms were talking about, and it was becoming really important not just in the storytelling part of the show but in all facets of the show as everyone was kind of realizing how uneducated [we were] in needing to understand things better and more of a 360 viewpoint on it."
She continues: "We had already cast a Black Batwoman, so it just felt like the time was right to do this and kind of just be on the nose about it. And so Ryan's opinion as Batwoman is, 'All Crows Are Bastards.' It makes a great dynamic between Ryan and Sophie. Because Sophie's a Black woman, and she's a high level ranking member of the Crows, and she's really smart, and very competent, and cool, and yet here she is fighting for the bad guy and seemingly kind of brain washed by it from an outsider's perspective."
Dries would've loved to have explored the dark side of the Crows a bit more in season 1, but it didn't feel possible with Kate Kane as the show's lead. "The problem I had [in] season 1 [about] the Crows was how to have a strong point of view on them [because] it was Kate's dad, and it was her girlfriend, or her love interest," says Dries. "And so it was hard for Kate to have a really strong anti-point of view to that. It just didn't feel organic while we were creating it.
From her perspective, Tandy was excited to be part of a timely storyline. "With everything that's going on right now with Black Lives Matter, and really just trying to call to light all of the systemic issues that we have with our police in this country, and finding out that we were going to also be playing that exact same narrative on our show, I found it to definitely be very, very interesting because there actually really truly is an opportunity," says Tandy. "It is an honor to be able to play that so that I can hopefully educate others, so that they know what the heck is going on in our country."
Batwoman's critique of the Crows has a profound effect on Sophie because being a Crow is much a part of who she is, but she can no longer ignore some of their unjust tendencies. "I feel like for Sophie, emotionally, that's really tough because she's got the Kate situation," says Tandy. "That whole love story is kind of crumbled for her, and not everything that she is — her whole being a Crow — now that's a question, too. So, it's definitely a rough episode for Sophie for sure."
Batwoman airs Sundays at 8 p.m. on The CW.