“Rebirth” clutters up an important character arc with too much going on, even if it has a clutch of strong individual moments.
This recap of Batwoman season 2, episode 16, “Rebirth”, contains spoilers.
After his near-death experience in last week’s episode, Luke Fox is in a pretty bad mood. His problem, though, isn’t that Agent Tavaroff almost killed him, but that Ryan and Mary brought him back after he had resigned himself to a cozy afterlife with his late father. “Rebirth”, then, is an important transitional episode for Luke’s character, and it’s let down slightly by also being about several other things at once.
Luke’s acting-out comes across a bit petulant, in all honesty, and his very serious underground poker playing is a bit daft, and his confrontation with Tavaroff feels like a knock-off of the Bond/Le Chiffre dynamic from Casino Royale. The arrival of John Diggle (David Ramsey) makes for a welcome counterpoint to his moping, and he’s there to bail Luke out when he gets into a physical fight with Tavaroff after clearing him out at the poker.
As cliché as some of this is, at least it follows a logical progression along Luke’s arc and helps Batwoman season 2, episode 16 cohere with the other ArrowVerse CW shows. But it’s also sharing space with the latest travails of Circe Sionis, aka Kate Kane, whom it turns out Safiyah is looking for. The quality of Circe’s facial reconstruction tips Safiyah off to Alice’s involvement, and Safiyah tips Roman Sionis off to the fact that Alice is really Beth Kane – unwittingly, he had delivered Kate Kane right to the person best positioned to jog her memories about who she is, which Alice is able to do (with help from Jacob), at least sort of.
But this all goes bad. Safiyah’s pet ninja Tatiana captures Alice, and Roman facilitates Jacob’s arrest by crooked cops for aiding and abetting a wanted fugitive, whose identity as his daughter he finally reveals to the world on a television broadcast that moves Alice to tears. It’s a nice moment, just in the wrong episode.
Luckily, Kate herself is able to flee and run into Ryan, who doesn’t remember Mary… but does remember Sophie. Progress! However, quite how much progress she can make is stymied by the fact that Circe’s identity and memories are fighting for dominance; rescuing Alice from Safiyah by trading off the last remaining Desert Rose – a selfless act given the plant’s connection to Ryan’s mother – becomes the next objective, but it’s all too easy and does little to cheer Safiyah up after the burning down of her island. She does, though, think Circe/Kate should be able to choose who she is for herself.
Some of this stuff is good. But Batwoman season 2, episode 16 is brimming with a few too many moments, and all would have been better served by having the space to develop on their own. The Kane family reconciliation is a big deal. Luke’s ongoing transition into Batwing is a big deal. Safiyah’s revenge is a big deal. And so on, and so forth. All of this coming at once feels like overkill, and with only a couple of episodes left in the season, it’s easy to imagine that there won’t be much resolution to any of the individual subplots. Then again, this is a CW show, and they go on forever, so I’m sure we’ll eventually get to see all this development come to fruition either way.