CW’s Batwoman may have a new lead, but the politics are as bad as ever. With several subtle victimization jabs in the past few episodes, the superhero series finally makes a bold move by supporting the ACAB (All Cops Are Bastards) movement. Again, this is supposed to be our hero, ladies and gentlemen.
The February 21 episode “Gore on Canvas” has both the new Batwoman aka Ryan Wilder (Javicia Leslie) and the private security firm known as the Crows working to find and recover a black-market painting. This painting, it turns out, can decipher the location of where a group of assassins is holding the previous Batwoman, Kate Kane. Unfortunately, Ryan has a visceral hatred for the Crows after a previous experience with them, and she makes that clear to the Crows' leader Commander Kane (Dougray Scott).
Batwoman: I got a report of a guy lurking around east end with a spiky pole.
Kane: It doesn't concern you, Batwoman.
Batwoman: That so? Because he's hanging off my line, so why don't you tell me what kind of fish I caught?
Kane: There's an item I'm looking for. It's gonna help me find my daughter. The woman holding her captive doesn't want me to find it.
Batwoman: Safiyah? She sent this guy?
Kane: Weapon fits the M.O. Of her assassins, but I'll confirm after you hand him over now.
Batwoman: I don't take orders from crows, and I got a better shot at finding Kate Kane before you do. "All crows are bastards."
While Ryan is unbelievably prejudiced, the show bends over backwards to prove her right. She describes her backstory as being caught by the Crows after leaving an addicted ex’s apartment. After they told her “[y]ou’d be cuter with a smile on your face,” she turned around, gave them the finger, and revealed she was carrying drugs she stole from the apartment. From there, she was arrested and now carries a prison record. All of this because an officer dared to ask her to smile? Truly, the Crows are monsters.
The rest of the episode plays out when both sides track a thief stealing the painting and attempt to stop him. The Crows’ method, however, involves ramming him with a moving truck until he stops moving. They then retrieve the painting and leave the man to die, claiming they want the painting, not “an excessive force headline.”
For her part, Crows agent Sophie Moore (Meaghan Tandy) tries defending the institution as a whole after firing the agents behind it. That’s unfortunately not enough for Ryan who orders her to “burn it all down,” like that’ll stop criminals.
Sophie: Badges of the crows who did this.
Batwoman: That's not enough, burn it all down, girl, the whole thing.
Sophie: I can't do that. I believe in the mission of the crows.
Batwoman: An organization that decides what justice is based on who can pay the most money, that beats information out of its suspects, that runs someone over for stealing a painting? That's what you believe in?
Sophie: You think two men losing their jobs isn't enough? You're right, but I'm fighting to change the culture.
Batwoman: Yeah? Well, good luck with that, but if you want to party with me, add your badge to that little pile over there. Until then, this partnership is over.
The Crows may be a private security firm, but the show is clearly using them as a stand-in for the police, from the ACAB acronym to the demand to “burn it all down.” This is not speculation or my interpretation. An interview with Entertainment Weekly featured actress Meaghan Tandy who said as much as she describes this episode as calling to light “the systemic issues that we have with our police”:
"With everything that's going on right now with Black Lives Matter, and really just trying to call to light all of the systemic issues that we have with our police in this country, and finding out that we were going to also be playing that exact same narrative on our show, I found it to definitely be very, very interesting because there actually really truly is an opportunity," says Tandy. "It is an honor to be able to play that so that I can hopefully educate others, so that they know what the heck is going on in our country."
A private security firm going rogue and hurting people in a city with a superhero who dresses like a bat is far from representing what’s going on with the police in our country. However, that falls perfectly in line with all the fiction we’ve come to expect from BLM.