Batwoman casts Dominion alum as the villain Safiyah from Alice's past
Batwoman has finally cast a dangerous figure from Alice's (Rachel Skarsten) backstory: EW has confirmed that Shivani Ghai (Dominion, The Catch) will recur as Safiyah Sohail in the CW super-drama's second season.
Even though she never appeared on screen, Safiyah loomed over season 1 because she was mentioned multiple times. In addition to hiring the Rifle to kill Batwoman at the beginning of the season, she also murdered Alice's Wonderland Gang. Alice was so scared of her that she and Mouse stayed in Arkham Asylum to hide from her. Apart from these villainous deeds, though, very little was revealed about her. But thankfully, we have a bit more information now.
According to the official character description, Safiyah is "the fiercely protective ruler of a small community on the island of Coryana. A woman with as many enemies as aliases, she is compassionate and charismatic with both physical and psychological prowess. She is beloved by her people and will stop at nothing to protect what’s hers. No one goes unnoticed by Safiyah, specifically when it comes to those who have encountered the Desert Rose."
In DC's comics, she's one of Kate Kane former lovers (and also connected to the terrorist organization called the Many Arms of Death); however, as showrunner Caroline Dries told EW in May, Batwoman is putting its own spin on the character. In this version, Safiyah actually played a role in turning Alice into the killer she is today.
"I love the Island of Coryana storyline with Safiyah and Kate in the comics," said Dries in May. "What I love about Safiyah is that she’s just this quiet presence who has a lot of gravitas when she walks into the room. What I loved about this season was seeing this huge chunk of Alice’s backstory where she went from this innocent girl to this woman who learned how to stand up for herself and face your abuser. But then we see Alice in present day as this woman who’s in charge of this Wonderland Gang and kills without mercy. So it’s like, how did she become that person? That’s sort of the next chapter of Alice’s story that I’m looking forward to exploring, and we’ve decided to make Safiyah an intimate part of that."
It'll be interesting to see how the show juggles fleshing out Alice and Safiyah's history while also establishing Alice's dynamic with new Batwoman Ryan Wilder, played by Javicia Leslie.
Batwoman will return in 2021 on The CW.
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