Ryan continues to hunt for Black Mask in “Time Off for Good Behavior”, but stops off to solve a few of Gotham’s systemic problems along the way.
This recap of Batwoman season 2, episode 10, “Time Off for Good Behavior”, contains spoilers.
If there’s a crucial difference between this season of Batwoman and the first, obviously putting aside the fact that the titular character is a completely different person now, then it’s a level of social consciousness. Ryan herself, a victim of both the color of skin and her upbringing, has been the main avenue for exploring issues that the moneyed Kate Kane – and, frankly, most of the Bat-family, in every iteration – never really had to deal with. Some of those issues are brought to the fore here in “Time Off for Good Behavior”, while Roman Sionis, aka Black Mask, who has always been something of a symbol of ravenous corporatism anyway, continues to be positioned as the Big Bad of the second season’s back half.
There are several competing subplots in Batwoman season 2, episode 10, but all of them are taking place in a Gotham that is being ransacked by the False Face Gang and poisoned by its Snakebite. Ryan has managed to temporarily halt production, but it’s the identity of Black Mask she really wants, and she’s willing to take to the mainstream media to get it, not that it seems to do much good. And when I say the gang and Snakebite are everywhere, I mean it, as Jacob finds out to his detriment this week. After being attacked in his car and pumped full of the substance, which taps into people’s fears and such and can cause vivid hallucinations of both what was and what might have been, not totally unlike Scarecrow’s Fear Toxin, he imagines a scenario in which he found the missing Beth when she went missing. When he wakes, he’s not just thrown by the nightmare but addicted to Snakebite, requiring the help of a specialist to get through the withdrawals. Since that specialist is Enigma, who you’ll recall began working on the badly disfigured Kate Kane at the end of last week’s episode, things are starting to come together here.
Jacob’s newfound addiction is part of Black Mask’s ploy to get him and the Crows out of the way, and it seems to be working. There’s a nice scene in “Time Off for Good Behavior” in which Jacob, encouraged by Enigma to make amends with his remaining daughter, suggests Mary re-open a legitimate clinic on his dime, completely missing the point that the fact her clinic is illegitimate is the reason almost all of its clientele end up there. She doesn’t ask for ID or insurance details, she just helps people, and that’s what she wants to do. Jacob’s privilege is showing. By the time he’s shooting up more Snakebite, his downward spiral is well underway.
Enigma also factors into the Alice and Julia Pennyworth plots in Batwoman season 2, episode 10, since they trace the latter’s memory loss to a doctor who turns out to be Enigma. Things don’t go well for Julia, who is once again injected with another amnesiac cocktail, and Alice’s current arc of erasing the parts of her own memory that cause her pain finds a literal avenue here when she deletes Enigma’s recordings of Jacob lamenting not finding Beth. She’s purging the aspects of herself that she finds too difficult to deal with, but she’s also deleting pretty important clues along the way.
The main thrust of “Time Off for Good Behavior” involves Ryan, obviously, and Angelique, who you’ll recall took the fall for the False Face Gang in order to protect her. More on her in a minute. In the meantime, Ryan busies herself with investigating the destruction of a new community center by villain-of-the-week Kilovolt (Sean Kohnke), which Gotham Gazette reporter Horten Spence (Jaime M. Callica) believes is just one in a spate of attacks against various community outreach programs. They all have different MO’s, though, which makes his theory a tough sell, but the fact Kilovolt immediately tries to kill him after revealing this information proves his point. Using a partial print Luke takes from Kilovolt’s lightning gun, Ryan goes to see Micky K, a prisoner who has been incarcerated for two years but nonetheless sports the tell-tale wounds of his fight against Batwoman. How and why?
Both questions, it turns out, are pretty easy to answer. Since private prisons make a good chunk of change off every inmate who gets incarcerated in them, it only makes sense to bring down the systems designed to help at-risk youth so they grow up to become criminals and become “guests” of the facilities whose CEO’s line their pockets from their misfortune. One such CEO of Edgewater was letting out prisoners such as Kilovolt to destroy these programs. As the newscaster quips after Ryan and Luke, of all people, fight off several of Edgewater’s guards with a lightning gun, the CEO did manage to increase the prison population by at least one – himself.
Finally, Angelique. As Batwoman season 2, episode 10 draws to a close she decides to snitch and be taken off the grid by the Crows until Black Mask’s apprehension. But the False-Face Gang are one step ahead and ambush her escort as she’s being taken away, forcing Ryan to listen to her terrified screams on the phone as she’s taken to who-knows-where.