Batwoman: Is Kate Kane dead? Fate of Ruby Rose’s character explained

There's a new Batwoman in town... but what happened to the old one?

Ruby Rose in Batwoman (The CW, E4)

Comic book drama Batwoman made headlines last year when star Ruby Rose quit the show unexpectedly, leaving Gotham City without its strongest protector.

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It wasn’t long before a new character, Ryan Wilder, was created to inherit the cape and cowl, with Javicia Leslie (God Friended Me) chosen to take on the role.

But fans still had plenty of questions over how exactly the show would deal with Rose’s abrupt departure, given that much of the ongoing storylines related to Kate Kane and her extended family.

Following the US premiere of season two over the weekend, we now have more details about the character’s fate – read on for everything you need to know.

Batwoman season 2 explained: Is Kate Kane dead?

Batwoman season two doesn’t waste any time setting up its new protagonist, Ryan Wilder (Javicia Leslie), a woman with a tragic past that links directly to one of Gotham’s most notorious gangs.

After spending time in prison for a crime she didn’t commit, Wilder is living in a small van and struggling to get by, despite having qualifications including being a skilled martial artist.

One night, as she is settling down, Wilder is horrified to witness a plane crash not far from where she has set up camp, venturing towards the wreckage to search for survivors.

Sadly, she finds no signs of life, but something else entirely among the debris: the suit worn by Batwoman, a famous figure among Gotham City residents who is frequently covered in the tabloids and broadcast news.

Wilder is devastated by the implications of this discovery, which suggests that her home has just lost its most important defence against the rampant criminal activity that renders the streets unsafe.

She takes the suit for herself and begins her own campaign of vigilantism, wishing to avenge a painful loss she suffered shortly after arriving in Gotham – and this puts her on a collision course with Kate Kane’s allies, Luke Fox (Camrus Johnson) and Mary Hamilton (Nicole Kang).

Ryan Wilder
The CW

After their first run-in with Ryan, it dawns on Team Batwoman that Kate might actually be dead, but her body is suspiciously missing even after forensics comb through the wreckage of her plane.

By the end of the first episode, Kate’s exact fate remains a mystery, but her friends in Gotham are refusing to give up on her – and their search is likely to span across much of the second season.

“It continues to be an ongoing story,” showrunner Caroline Dries told TVLine. “I appreciate people saying, ‘Please don’t drag me through this. We know Ruby [Rose] is not on the show anymore.’

“My desire is for it to feel incredibly satisfying and it does take you through a rollercoaster. All the characters have a vested interest in finding Kate and have their own point of view on what happened to her. The journey to the end result, I think, will be worth going along for the ride.”

Could Kate Kane return to Batwoman?

Ruby Rose as Batwoman

Some fans have speculated over whether Kate Kane could return to Batwoman in the future if her character did indeed survive the plane crash.

However, at this stage, that seems somewhat unlikely.

Javicia Leslie has previously said that she hasn’t spoken to Ruby Rose at all since taking the lead role on the series, which suggests that the former star has no involvement in this new direction.

With season two currently filming under strict COVID-19 safety guidelines, the logistics of bringing Rose back for a cameo would be tough to navigate, assuming she would even be willing to do so.

All these things considered, we would advise fans not to get their hopes up for a surprise appearance from Rose at any point in season two, with the current Kate Kane storyline likely to be wrapped up by some other means.

Depending on how the story ends – i.e. whether Kate escapes with her life – it would perhaps be more plausible for Rose to return as a guest star a few seasons down the line, when the dust has settled on her initial resignation.

Dries has previously said (via Twitter) that her writing team on Batwoman will “never erase” Kate Kane, out of a profound distaste for the idea that LGBTQ+ characters are more expendable than heterosexual ones.

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Batwoman returns to E4 in the Spring. While you’re waiting, check out our TV Guide to see what’s on tonight.