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|“||I’ve forgiven you for what you did all those years ago… which is why it’s going to be much harder forgiving you for this. You exposed the secret of the Desert Rose to the world. Coryana is the garden, and I am it’s keeper. My family has dedicated lifetimes to protecting it’s secret. History is littered with colonizers who come with their false ideals and pillage for their own profit. The African Diamond Trade, oil in the Middle East. Coryana is no different. Our garden will be ravaged, and our island will cease to exist.||„|
|~ Safiyah Sohail’s reasons for her actions.|
|“||I had nothing to do with her plane, but when someone tried to frame me for killing your sister, I saw an opportunity to get what I wanted. To make you and Ocean pay for your betrayal.||„|
|~ Safiyah to Alice|
Queen Safiyah Sohail is a major antagonist in the TV series Batwoman, serving as one of the two overarching antagonists (alongside August Cartwright) of Season 1 and one of the two main antagonists (alongside Black Mask) of Season 2.
She is the fiercely protective ruler of a small community on the island of Coryana with as many enemies as aliases. She is compassionate and charismatic with both physical and psychological prowess. She is beloved by her people and will stop at nothing to protect what's hers. No one goes unnoticed by Safiyah, specifically when it comes to those who have encountered the Desert Rose.
She is portrayed by Shivani Ghai.
At some point in her early life, Safiyah became the ruler of Coryana, a small Mediterranean island housed by a small community. Its greatest treaure was the Desert Rose, a rare and mysterious panacea capable of universal medicines and antidotes. Knowing how global individuals had wasted natural resources for profit, such as the African Diamond Trade and the oil in the Middle East, Safiyah created the strict rule that the Desert Rose must never be exported from the island. Being in charge of the Many Arms of Death, she had her top assassin Tatiana become her second-in-command. At some point during her rule, she met Ocean who had arrived at the island. They became close to each other and she came to see him as a brother-figure, eventually assigning him to train her army after she trained him herself.
After Catherine Hamilton-Kane took out one of Coryana's defences, Safiyah sent Tatiana and the Many Arms of Death to attack one of her yachts to teach her a lesson. They came across Beth Kane, also known as "Alice", aboard the yacht who attacked the assassins before being subdued. After Beth was brought to Coryana, Safiyah noticed her rage towards Catherine and was inspired by her escape from August Cartwright's captivity, deciding to train her as one of her soldiers. Thus, Safiyah placed her under Ocean's tutelage in combat training while she taught Beth how to channel her anger into power.
Over time, Safiyah started developing feelings for Beth but could never bring herself to tell her. Instead, she entrusted her with her most valued secrets, such as the foundations of Coryana and legend of the Desert Rose. She later realized that Ocean had stolen a Desert Rose and planned to leave Coryana with both it and Beth, whom he developed a romantic relationship with. Enraged by Ocean's betrayal and for stealing Beth's affections, Safiyah had Enigma erase their memories of each other. As a result, Beth's emerging conscience was suppressed, programming her to become completely consumed by her emotional scars and desire for revenge as Alice. Safiyah had Beth sent back to Gotham under the belief that she had escaped. Unknown to Sofiyah, Alice took a Desert Rose with her, violating the rule and drawing Safiyah's anger. After Alice and Ocean were exiled, Safiyah tried to forget about her completely.
Dealings in Gotham
In 2019, Safiyah heard about Batwoman and decided to assassinate her. Thus, in 2019, she sent the Rifle to Gotham to retrieve a weapon capable of penetrating the Batsuit from Alice. However, the latter used him to kill the only three people who could fix said weapon right before giving it to him sabotaged. The Rifle warned Alice that Safiyah was going to be pissed for that.
Safiyah was approached by Julia Pennyworth, who promised to give her Lucius Fox's journal if she stopped the Rifle from pursuing Batwoman, a condition to which the criminal agreed. After Julia infiltrated the Lookout, Safiyah called her and asked about her progress on the mission, prompting the latter to reply she will retrieve the journal and give it to her. However, after Julia discovered the journal's true content could be used to kill Batwoman, she terminated their deal which officially puts her in Safiyah's cross-hairs as well. Afterwards, she had Julia stalked by someone who took and gave Julia photographs of herself with Sophie Moore to show them that they were being watched.
Some time later, Safiyah came into contact with Janus Cosmetics CEO Roman Sionis, who wanted revenge against Batwoman, the Crows and Gotham's legal system for the death of his daughter Circe Sionis who was wrongfully imprisoned in Arkham Asylum. Presumably after learning that Kate had also found a map to Coryana and couldn't risk the Desert Rose being found by outsiders, Safiyah leaked him information about Kate's flight so he could sabotage the plane and cause it to crash.
Days after Kate's private jet returned from National City exploded in mid-air outside Gotham, Alice found a note from Safiyah folded as a paper plane in her sewer hideaway; written across the newspaper article reporting on Kate's whereabouts was the message "Consider Us Even". Deducing that Safiyah was responsible, Alice sought revenge against Safiyah. Alice then her revenge by poisoning Gotham and curing it with the Desert Rose that she stole from Safiyah. Safiyah angered at the act, sent Whisper to Gotham to kidnap Alice and bring her back to Coryana for questioning and presumably execution.
Reunion with Alice
On Coryana, Safiyah and Alice talked about the past, but Alice was more interested in avenging Kate's death because she believed that Safiyah had killed her twin sister. After a brief scuffle, Safiyah told Alice that she didn't kill Kate and showed Alice a fake of Kate's unique necklace as proof that she knew the whereabouts of Alice's twin sister. Before being drugged and dismissed from Coryana with Sophie, Safiyah asked Alice to do a job for her, in which she had to find and kill Ocean in exchange, she would reunite with Kate. Safiyah told Alice that Kate would be returned to the island after Alice left. The job was for Alice to kill Ocean.
Upon learning that Ocean was staying at a hotel just outside Gotham, Safiyah sent members of the Many Arms of Death to kill him; however, they failed.
The next day, Safiyah answered a phone call intended for Tatiana from Alice; Alice wanted to know the real reason as to why Safiyah had sent her to kill Ocean; Safiyah replied that she could tell Alice, but that would make Alice's assignment harder, verifying for Alice that she and Ocean were once lovers. Later, Safiyah was called again by Alice, stating that she killed Ocean; Safiyah told her to bring the body to Coryana, and Alice agreed.
Losing her Kingdom
When Alice returned with what appeared to be Ocean's body to Coryana, Batwoman exposed the fake causing Safiyah to have her men look for Ocean. After Ocean was found, Safiyah had Alice use the same knife on Ocean in exchange for her sister, which she reluctantly did. Safiyah then revealed to Alice that she never had Kate with her and locked her up with a dying Batwoman. Later she brought her out after the apparent revelation that Kate was dead. Alice was upset and removed from the island.
After she was gone, Safiyah removed the knife from Ocean where it turned out that the knife was coated in the Desert Rose and put him in a meditative state, all to prove that Alice didn't reciprocate his feelings. Safiyah also revealed how that knows Tatiana was the one who left the note from Safiyah toward Alice. Safiyah ordered an explanation for her actions, Tatiana explained that she tried to remove Alice from her life because she was so much in love and she could never let go of her. Safiyah demanded her silence, telling Tatiana that because she always resented Alice and wanted to drive a wedge between them, that little detail exposed her. She then took her knife and stabbed Tatiana with it, saying to Ocean that she'll remove it when she's forgiven her.
Unfortunately, Safiyah's trickery would shortly cost her a great deal. In retaliation for manipulating her, Alice overpowered her escorts and set fire to the Desert Rose crops before escaping. Safiyah saw the flames and yelled in horror. According to Safiyah, the fire destroyed all of Coryana and there was now nothing left, saying that nine villagers died trying to put out the blaze. At some point, Safiyah got into contact with Enigma again and had her meet with Black Mask to brainwash a captive but facially disfigured Kate by erasing her memories and replacing them with Circe's own.
Over a month later, Ocean admitted to Safiyah that he had given a Desert Rose plant to Angelique Martin years ago, so she, thinking Batwoman has it, sent him to retrieve it.
Arrival in Gotham
Weeks passed without Ocean returning, so Safiyah and Tatiana, whom she eventually forgave and removed the knife, go to Gotham themselves. Safiyah reminds Sionis that he owes her a debt. Roman gives Safiyah a run down of his actions over the past few weeks; Safiyah calls Roman an idiot for not knowing that Beth Kane and Alice are the same person and for allowing the sisters Beth and Kate Kane to see one another, which could disrupt the entire plan. Secretly wanting Alice's life ruined so she could come back to her willingly, Safiyah has Sionis arrest Alice's father Jacob Kane for aiding his daughter and have him reveal her identity LIVE on air.
Later, Tatiana brings Alice before Safiyah. As Safiyah contemplates Alice's fate for burning the Desert Rose plants, the destruction of Coryana and the death of nine of its citizens who had tried to extinguish the flames, Batwoman enters with a desert rose plant and offers the plant for Alice's freedom. Safiyah is touched that Batwoman is willing to sacrifice a memoir to her mother for her mother's killer, so Safiyah accepts the trade. Alice laughs as she leaves because she feels that she has it all, including Ocean's love. Safiyah retorts that Alice is wrong, because Safiyah had sent Tatiana to kill Ocean as punishment for destroying Coryana.
Safiyah goes to Roman's mansion and overhears "Circe" arguing with Roman about her true identity and tells Roman to let "Circe/Kate" decide who she is. Safiyah talked with "Circe" and was able to convince her that part of her was Kate but she was always "Circe", letting her make her own decision. Eventually, "Circe" returned with a manual to the Batcave and now intended on tricking the Bat team so she could steal the collection of weapons and gadgets of Batwoman's and those belonging to many of Batman's supervillains. Safiyah requested that she also bring back a sample of Poison Ivy's vines so she could use it to rebuild her kingdom and the Desert Rose crop.
Knowing that she could have her kingdom back and that Sionis was going to level the city, Safiyah approached Alice at the beach who was spreading Ocean's ashes in the sea. Alice mocked her for not having Tatiana by her side since she was now dead, but Safiyah clarifies that if she wanted her dead, she wouldn't have come personally. Alice tried to kill her for Ocean's death, but Safiyah disarmed her, defending her actions by saying that his death was tragic but necessary. Throwing Alice's blade into the water, Safiyah told her how Gotham won't survive its coming "storm" and offered her shelter at Coryana. Alice doubts this because it was destroyed, but Safiyah reveals how she's using Ivy's plants with the help of Sionis to rebuild her home thanks to his "daughter's" assistance. Alice quickly realized that "Circe" was getting the plant for her and that Kate hasn't been saved.
Safiyah said Alice had nothing left, no sister and no boyfriend and that she was all she had left except for enemies. She continued with stating that Gotham won't offer her sanctuary. Alice asked if she will, and Safiyah assures her that she will. She indirectly expresses her love by saying she will protect her and she is her only family. Alice tearfully admits this and Safiyah embraces her, feeling confident that she was finally winning her affections. But, unexpectedly, Alice clarified Safiyah that she took them from her before stabbing her with her own Desert Rose dagger. Alice assured her that she'll remove it once she gets them back and then they'll talk. After Safiyah collapses to the ground and lies in a comatose-like state, Alice vowed to make her suffer before leaving.
Afterwards, she took Safiyah's body and hid it inside a car in a junkyard before leaving. Since Alice was now incarcerated and locked up at Arkham Asylum, it is currently unknown what will happen to Safiyah in her comatose state.
Safiyah is quite terrifying when she is enraged, she is compassionate and charismatic with both physical and psychological prowess, she is beloved by her people and will stop at nothing to protect what's hers; and in a way, Safiyah represents an esteemed matriarch who longs for but, at the same time, keeps what she is not supposed to have away and at arm's reach. Ruling over many subjects on an island under her name, she ironically also sees herself as prisoner bound by her duties, and obligations to Coryana and thus; cannot leave it's borders whenever Safiyah wants.
Safiyah is unforgiving, as seen when she is under very conditional and amendable circumstances, murdered Tatiana in cold blood for bringing Beth Kane back into her life and the Rifle once mentioned that Safiyah's intellect parallels her ruthlessness. She also loves her brother-figure, Ocean deeply and protective to the point of jealousy and going out of her way to manipulating Beth into killing Ocean just so the latter would realize it that Beth could not reciprocate his affections the way Safiyah can. However, despite her sisterly love towards Ocean, Safiyah harbored anger and resentment towards him as he not only tried to leave Coryana with a Desert Rose, but also winning the affections of Alice.
Safiyah is very knowledgeable; as nothing goes unnoticed by her, specifically when it comes to those who have encountered the Desert Rose.
Safiyah has no tolerance for any form of treachery or deception, when she discovered that her second-in-command, Tatiana had framed her for massacring Wonderland gang and for being responsible for the apparent death of Kate Kane; in order to make Beth hate Safiyah and stay distant from her, she killed Tatiana for her treachery. However, Safiyah did come to forgive Tatiana and had her track down Ocean in order to kill him for his betrayal.
When Safiyah fell in love with Alice, during her time on Coryana, Safiyah did not have the courage to tell Alice her feelings where she instead went through different lengths to confess her love such as sharing the secret of the Desert Rose with Alice. However, upon discovering Alice had fallen in love with Ocean, Safiyah was angered, hurt, and jealous to the point where she decided to erase Alice and Ocean's memories of each other. She also had Evelyn Rhyme suppress Alice's consciousness and her ability to sympathize, turning her into the psychological criminal she became to be, so Alice could one day love Safiyah. This comes to show that Safiyah is very possessive of Alice and despite being made clear that Alice is not into her, Safiyah will do anything to get Alice to fall in love with her. However, Safiyah's love for Alice also proved to be her undoing when she finally confessed her feelings, Safiyah let her guard down which allowed Alice to stab her with a Desert Rose imbued-knife. This also shows Safiyah is unable to recognize the hatred and anger Alice held towards her for what she did to her, Ocean, and Kate.
- In the DC Comics, Safiyah is a former lover of Batwoman who kept the pirate nation of Coryana in check.
- Given as how she claims to have nothing to do with Kate Kane's plane crashing and taking her hostage on Coryana, it is possible she could be lying and is using Alice for her plans. It was later confirmed that Kate has never been Safiyah's prisoner.
- It was confirmed that Safiyah used Alice to kill Ocean as revenge for betraying her.
- It was also later confirmed through her alliance with Black Mask that she was involved in Kate's plane crash, proving that she was indeed lying and manipulating Alice.
- After the end of Season 2, showrunner Caroline Dries has said there's a possibility that Safiyah could return at some point in the future.