Batwoman: Why Does Season 2 Keep Referencing The Joker?

Batwoman returned for its second season last month, and it has already ushered in a new era for the hit The CW series. Between Season 1 having to end earlier than planned due to the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as Javicia Leslie stepping into the series' lead role following the surprise departure of series star Ruby Rose, a lot of narrative ground has already been covered in the sophomore season. In addition to showcasing the origin story of Leslie's new character, Ryan Wilder, Batwoman has continued some of the various plotlines surrounding the series' cast of characters. In between the introductions of new villains, unexpected alliances, and conspiracy theories surrounding Kate Kane's fate, one thing has already occurred twice in Season 2's first three episodes -- name-drops about Jack Napier, also known as the Arrowverse's version of The Joker.

The first - albeit, slightly innocuous one - arrived in the Season 2 premiere, as part of a pivotal moment when Elizabeth Kane/Alice (Rachel Skarsten) revealed to Jacob Kane (Dougray Scott) that Kate had really been Batwoman. Jacob initially didn't believe Alice's claim, sarcastically arguing that if that was the case, then he was The Joker. The second mention arrived in the series' third episode, "Bat Girl Magic!", with another scene tied to Jacob and his conflicted feelings regarding Kate's fate. After obtaining and unlocking Kate's cell phone, Jacob discovered a picture of an abstract painting on it, on which Kate had added a Snapchat-like scrawl wondering if it could be tied to Safiyah Sohail (Shivani Ghai). Jacob immediately brought the picture up to Sophie Moore (Meagan Tandy), asking what Kate was doing looking into a painting made by Jack Napier.

This is far from the Clown Prince of Crime's first mention in Batwoman, as the character has been tangentially involved with the series' events ever since the pilot, when he was responsible for the car crash that killed Beth and Kate's mother and made Beth go missing. He was also referenced when discussing the work of a prolific District Attorney who was murdered by The Executioner. Luke Fox (Camrus Johnson) also brought up The Joker when Kate was having PTSD about killing August Cartwright (John Emmet Tracy), with Luke seemingly insinuating that Batman had killed The Joker nearly half a decade before.

Still, the fact that two blatant references to The Joker have already occurred in the span of three Batwoman episodes feels noteworthy in some capacity -- especially given the context of the second mention in "Bat Girl Magic!" The episode also serves as the first on-camera appearance of Safiyah, after she has her underlings kidnap Alice and Sophie and drag them to her pirate nation of Coryana. Once there, Alice confronts Safiyah about whether or not she organized the plane crash that seemingly killed Kate, something that Safiyah denies. Later on in the episode, Safiyah insinuates that Kate is actually still alive and in her custody, and that she'll only potentially be returned to Alice if she carries out some sort of bidding for her.

In an immediate sense, this whole storyline feels largely unconnected from The Joker, especially if the canon is to be believed and he really passed away five years prior. But the episode does reveal that Safiyah and her family have been working to keep Coryana safe and protected for generations, a crusade that has included fighting different arrays of colonizers and other villains, and making a subtle -- but terrifying -- impact on Gotham's underworld. While there's no telling the full extent of it, the idea that Safiyah and The Joker could have somehow crossed paths in some capacity -- or, at very least, that Safiyah's villainy was profound enough that it could have inspired Jack Napier to create a macabre-looking painting -- definitely adds a compelling layer to this season's proceedings.


Batwoman airs Sundays at 8/7c on The CW.