“Fair Skin, Blue Eyes” remains annoyingly fixated on Kate Kane, but also digs deeper in Ryan’s backstory to solid effect.
This recap of Batwoman season 2, episode 4, “Fair Skin, Blue Eyes”, contains spoilers.
Call me old school, but I feel like if you write a character out of a show, they should be… you know, gone. Of course, you cannot just pretend everyone has amnesia and has forgotten all about the previous lead, but four episodes into Batwoman’s second season and I’m already profoundly sick of hearing about Kate Kane. She’s all anyone seems to want to talk about despite her having initially been written out in a perfectly adequate way. Since Safiyah hinted to Alice and Sophie that she might be alive, though, the focus has suddenly shifted. Now nobody is working to move on from Kate’s tragic death in a plane crash because the show is insisting she might be alive.
In some cases, I can live with this. It informs the three-way dynamic between Ryan, Mary, and Luke in smart ways; he can’t accept she’s gone, Mary is prepared to, and Ryan just wants both of them to shut up about it so she can actually be Batwoman. “Fair Skin, Blue Eyes” gets away with this as an additional subtext because it still foregrounds Ryan’s personal backstory and experiences. The Alice and Sophie subplot just feels like an ungainly appendage that the show can’t get rid of.
Ryan’s life in foster care is of particular importance in Batwoman season 2, episode 4, since the darkest parts of her background are brought back to her when a young boy enlists her to look into the disappearance of his brother, Kevin, whose background is very similar to hers. There’s a particular terror in not just being lost but knowing that nobody is looking for you that would absolutely inform a person’s worldview should they find their way back to reality, and I’m glad that Ryan doesn’t shy away from this. In her youth, she was kidnapped by a local nutty woman who sold kids off to gangs, and her closest chance of salvation, at least for a while, was a search party who turned up looking for a girl with “fair skin, blue eyes” – Beth Kane, obviously, who was missing at the time, but it’s a stark, topical reminder of the kind of people society tends to forget.
This is an interesting, somewhat ballsy avenue for superhero storytelling. And while the writing can be clumsy and heavy-handed at times, it has the occasional zinger, such as when Jacob eventually asks Ryan how she found Kevin and she replies, simply, “I looked.” That one line in speaks volumes and gives Ryan a lot more value behind the cowl than Kate had. This is precisely why I hope the show forgets about her soon.