Mystery over Ruby Rose’s TV role
Ruby Rose shocked fans when she announced she was leaving Batwoman after just one season in the titular role.
And the season 2 premiere, which hits streaming in Australia on Binge today, hasn't given fans too many answers as to what happened to her character, Kate Kane.
As the title of the episode suggests - "What Happened to Kate Kane?" - viewers are initially led to believe Kate, who is Bruce Wayne's cousin, has been killed off.
Warning: Spoilers for Batwoman Season 2 Episode 1 ahead.
The evidence from the premiere certainly seems to point to Kate not only leaving the series, but having been burnt to a crisp/chopped to pieces/evaporated due to the episode's opening plane crash.
But not so fast: Caroline Dries, showrunner for the series and the writer of the episode, was quick to shut down ideas the show would kill a prominent gay character.
In a statement provided to Decider in June last year, Dries said: "As a lesbian who's been working as a writer for the past 15 years, I'm well aware of the 'Bury Your Gays' trope and I have no interest in participating in it.
"That's why it's important to me as the showrunner to clarify any misinformation out there about Kate Kane and recasting Batwoman. Like you, I love Kate Kane - she's the reason I wanted to do the show.
"We'll never erase her. In fact, her disappearance will be one of the mysteries of season two. I don't want to give away any of our surprises, but to all our devoted fans, please know that LGBTQ+ justice is at the very core of what Batwoman is and we have no intention of abandoning that."
Obviously things could have changed since June and now, but let's take Dries at her word and assume that Kate Kane is not dead on Batwoman. So where then, is Kate?
In the episode, the show's new lead Ryan Wilder (Javicia Leslie) is introduced watching Kate's plane crash over Gotham City, after having returned from visiting Supergirl (Melissa Benoist) over in National City.
The wreckage is empty of bodies, though Kate's Batsuit is conveniently left out for Ryan to find, draped over the fuselage.
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As the hour continues, we get to see how the other series regulars react to Kate's fate.
Having erroneously believed his other daughter died in a river/giving up the search for her, Jacob Kane (Dougray Scott) is loathe to stop looking for Kate. His right hand Sophie (Meagan Tandy) is there with him, but fears the worst.
Team Batwoman, aka Luke Fox (Camrus Johnson) and Mary Hamilton (Nicole Kang) basically lose all hope once they discover Ryan has the Batsuit.
And the bad guys, of course, spiral out of control. Alice (Rachel Skarsten) uses the opportunity to prance around Wayne Manor, revealing that Kate was Batwoman the whole time to her shocked father.
And Tommy Elliott, disguised as Bruce Wayne (Warren Christie), goes directly to the Batcave, steals the Batmobile, and tries to take down Ryan. She fires back by literally pommeling his face off.
All of this is well and good, but it doesn't answer the central question of whether Kate Kane is dead. And if you hadn't seen that quote from Dries, you'd be forgiven if - like most of the characters in the show - by episode's end you've concluded that Kate's body is lying somewhere at the bottom of the Gotham River.
In fact, given they've retrieved the pilot's hand, it certainly seems like Kate is in pieces somewhere.
Again: Kate Kane is not dead. This isn't me being obstinate, it's a fact, and something that - as Dries notes - will spool out over the course of the season. At a press day for the show held on January 15 by the Television Critics Association, Dries reiterated her commitment to continuing Kate's story.
"I appreciate … what we're asking of the audience," Dries said. "They know the actress who plays Kate Kane has left the show, so I don't want people to feel like this is a big wink … I will say as a storyteller, (there) will be a lot of twists and turns, it will be a huge roller coaster for all of our characters.
"And my hope is that appeals like a very awesome, satisfying resolve."
So what's going on here? Is Ruby Rose coming back to the series at some point?
The answer to that one is "no", or maybe "probably not".
At the end of the episode, Sophie is sobbing as she reads a goodbye letter from Kate, though the voiceover is in Tandy's voice, not Rose's. It's a peculiar choice given how voiceovers usually work on TV, but doubles down on the fact that Rose is gone, not even popping up for a five minute recording session.
In the plot of the show, the answer is probably that the plane was brought down by soon-to-be-introduced supervillain Safiyah Sohali, played by Shivani Ghai.
We've heard Safiyah mentioned multiple times, she's manipulated both Alice and Julia Pennyworth (Christina Wolfe), and seems to have the resources and power to try and bring down Kate Kane, in this case quite literally.
The tricky part here is, once the heroes figure out Kate isn't dead, and Safiyah is behind it, how will the show get around Ruby Rose not returning?
Perhaps they're delaying to give Rose time to come back as a surprise at the end of the season, to officially pass the mantle to Ryan Wilder.
Perhaps Safiyah has some dastardly plastic surgery plan and Kate will come back played by, I don't know, Nina Dobrev or something. Or maybe she really is dead and Dries is pulling a reverse Jon Snow.
Regardless, we'll know more as the season continues. For now, Ryan Wilder is here to stay.
New episodes of Batwoman drop every Tuesday on Binge.
This article originally appeared on Decider and was reproduced with permission
Originally published as Mystery over Ruby Rose's TV role