The search for a Jack Napier painting causes all kinds of issues in “Gore on Canvas”, while Alice is troubled by the motion of the Ocean.
This recap of Batwoman season 2, episode 5, “Gore on Canvas”, contains spoilers.
Jack Napier just doesn’t have the same ring to it as “The Joker”, does it? And look, I’m among those people who think we could probably live without any more Joker media for a really long time, perhaps ever, but if you’re going to drop names, you might as well go with the impactful one, right? We’re being asked to care about his artwork, at the end of the day, which is a tough sell, even if it might be the key to finding Kate Kane (though, as we discussed in our recap of last week’s episode, is that really what we want?)
“Gore on Canvas” – an obvious reference to that painting – opens by reminding us that there’s still no love lost between Ryan and Jacob Kane, despite their short-lived team-up for Kevin’s sake, and also informs us that the painting might well be in the grubby, moneyed hands of The Collective. One of Safiyah’s assassins offs Kane’s informant, but Ryan takes the assassin captive, which becomes a point of some discussion as she continues to catch up with Angelique and hide her kryptonite wound from an ever skeptical Luke. Folks, we’re building towards our, “Look, I’m Batwoman now, get over it” moment.
The time limit hovering over Batwoman season 2, episode 5 is Alice getting to Ocean, whose life Safiyah is willing to exchange for knowledge of Kate’s supposed current whereabouts, but everyone seems to be in a rush anyway. Jacob and Sophie turn to their own lead, Evan Blake, an art scene insider who also moonlights as Wolf Spider, an Olympic-level gymnast art thief, and Sophie proposes a deal to Ryan – everything the Crows have on Safiyah in exchange for access to the captured assassin, which helps to facilitate our important “Ryan becomes one with the cowl” theme of the episode.
I must admit that the push-pull between Ryan, Mary, and Luke was getting a bit stale and making the latter look a bit petulant, so the scenes of bonding in “Gore on Canvas” are definitely appreciated, as well as providing a bit more of Ryan’s terribly unpleasant backstory. All agree — even a reluctant Ryan — to put their feelings aside and work with the Crows to interrogate the assassin, who promptly kills himself after revealing a possible connection between the painting and Coryana.
At a special exhibition hosted by the Collective with the intention of auctioning off the Napier painting, Ryan’s personal storyline continues to be woven into the overarching narrative by involving a sober but drug-dealing Angelique, and Wolf Spider gets his time to shine when he makes off with the painting, only to be caught and left for dead by the Crows. Ryan uncovers his identity and takes him to Mary’s clinic, and has her big moment insisting that she follows her gut from now on, and the other two better just deal with it. Her relationship with Sophie is also further fractured, and the Crow’s insistence that she’s fighting for institutional change falls on deaf ears.
Elsewhere in Batwoman season 2, episode 5, Alice tracks down Ocean but realizes there’s a bit more to him and their relationship than she has been led to believe, including shared memories of intimacy that it seems like Safiyah has gone to some lengths in order to obscure. We also get the double whammy cliff-hanger news that not only was the Napier painting Wolf Spider stole a fake, but that Ocean has the original. Lots to chew on after “Gore on Canvas”, a better episode that played more to the show’s new strengths.