‘Batwoman’: Does the Joker Have to Do With Kate Kane’s Disappearance?

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Batwoman‘s showrunner Caroline Dries has been pretty clear about one thing: Kate Kane (Ruby Rose) is not dead. Though the characters in the show have certainly waffled back and forth after the season premiere kicked off with the former Batwoman seemingly dying in a plane explosion/crash, as the episodes have continued, the mystery has only deepened.

And this week’s episode added a new wrinkle to the overarching mystery: what does The Joker have to do with Kate Kane’s disappearance?

Spoilers for Batwoman Season 2, Episode 3 “Bat Girl Magic” past this point, and also in the headline, sorry about that.

In the hour, which also found new Batwoman Ryan Wilder (Javicia Leslie) face off against classic Batman villain Victor Zsasz (Alex Morf) and donning a new costume, a lot of screen space was still spent on the whereabouts of Gotham’s missing billionaire. And most of that was spent on Alice (Rachel Skarsten) and Sophie’s (Meagan Tandy) island adventure.

After getting knocked out last episode, the mismatched duo discovered themselves taken to the home of Safiyah (Shivaani Ghai), the villain who, it turns out, trained Alice to be the killer she is now. Alice, however, has orchestrated events to get herself to this audience with Safiyah, in order to kill her for taking the chance to kill Kate away from her. You know, classic crazy person stuff. There’s a lot of back and forth… Safiyah says she didn’t blow up Kate in the plane, but as it turns out she’s choosing her words carefully; she blew up the plane, but just not Kate in it, as she has Kate’s necklace in hand.

Once back in Gotham, Alice explains to Sophie that she’s the only lead she has on Kate’s location, giving police force for hire The Crows a good reason not to kill her. It also leads Sophie to tell Kate’s father, Jacob Kane (Dougray Scott) that Kate is, in fact alive, despite appearances to the contrary.

However, Jacob has made his own discovery, one that is eyebrow raising, to say the least. After recovering Kate’s phone from the wreckage, he manages to hack in, and finds a picture of an extremely disturbing looking painting with the word “SAFIYAH??” scrawled on it like Kate was getting ready to post on her Insta story or something.

“Do you have any idea what in the hell Kate was doing looking at a painting by Jack Napier?” Jacob asks Sophie.

Before you head to the Museum of Modern Art website to check out whether Napier was a contemporary of Pollack: he’s The Joker. The short version is that, despite having multiple (or no) origins in the comics, in 1989’s Batman Jack Nicholson’s character started as a mobster named Jack Napier. That alias has been adopted multiple times since, including in Batman: The Animated Series, and very briefly mentioned on Batwoman way back in episode 6 of the series.

In the Arrow-verse continuity, The Joker — like Batman — has been a half-mythical figure for years, despite Heath ledger starring as him in a movie (probably The Dark Knight). He was responsible for crashing a bus into the Kane family’s car, killing Kate’s mother and seemingly her sister (who eventually grew up to be Alice). He battled Batman for years, and was eventually captured and revealed to be criminal Jack Napier. Then in 2015, Batman killed him. Or, we believe Batman killed him; and conflicted and horrified by breaking one of his own cardinal rules, Bruce Wayne left Gotham.

That’s basically where we picked up when Batwoman started, but as this final tease shows, maybe the story isn’t completely over, after all. Perhaps Kate never stopped looking for Bruce, The Joker is extremely hard to kill, and it all ties back to this season’s Big Bad in some way.

That all said, I’m still a little conflicted/concerned about how this is all going to pan out. I don’t want Kate to be dead, mind you. But Ruby Rose is probably not coming back to the show any time soon, unless they’re holding her back as a surprise Zoom call in a later episode. Even then, though, what possible reason could she have for not returning full time? “It’s cool, I’m with Bruce and we’re tracking The Joker all over the globe, he’s alive, we’ll catch you later?”

Ryan is here to stay, and that’s great (Leslie is very funny, y’all). But Kate’s whereabouts, like Bruce’s in Season 1 for her, are holding a Sword of Damocles over all the proceedings. I know we’re only three episodes in, but it’s time for Ryan to emerge from Kate’s shadow, and the show to move on. I’m confident we’ll get there eventually; but adding in The Joker is another potential off-screen character the show doesn’t need.

Unless, of course, they can Zoom in Jack Nicholson, too.

Batwoman airs Sundays at 8/7c on The CW.

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