Overview: Batgirl realizes that unpredictability is the greatest weapon in her fight against the rogue, sentient computer program known as Oracle.
Synopsis (spoilers ahead): Outside Frankie’s apartment, Batgirl rummages through old supplies to help her combat Oracle, the sentient computer program that’s gone rogue. She realizes that her best way to combat the machine is by relying on her unpredictability and doing things Batgirl would normally never do.
Using a camera and hacking into a broadcast feed near Oracle, Batgirl live-streams her location. She then challenges Oracle to find her.
At Burnside Borough Hospital, Oracle collects Jason Bard, Shark, and Fox. Oracle asks Jason for all intel on Batgirl and notes that Batgirl is trying to be unpredictable on purpose, which Oracle calculates as being predictable.
Using the clues from the live stream, Oracle, Jason, Shark, and Fox find Batgirl at Burnside Park. Oracle slices at Batgirl, only to reveal that it’s a decoy. The rogue computer program then visits a gaming cafe Batgirl often used to provide cover for her IP address. There, Oracle finds another decoy.
Batgirl has been following Oracle and her minions during this whole wild goose chase. When Shark and Fox are dispatched to go secure the hostages, Batgirl follows them, then takes them down.
Finding the hostages, Batgirl realizes it was a trap all along. Oracle has been waiting for Batgirl to come after the hostages, as it’s a predictably human thing to do. Batgirl takes down Oracle’s minions and saves Jason Bard in the process. Though Jason and Barbara Gordon see each other as enemies, they can unite against this rogue machine.
It’s this union between Jason and Batgirl that proves to be the unpredictability factor that takes Oracle down. After the fight, Oracle is destroyed by a bomb of the machine’s own making.
After the hostages are rescued, Barbara realizes that she needs to forgive and forget, that she needs to let go and say yes. Barbara, out of costume now, meets up with Jason. They kiss. Passionately.
Analysis: There is a strong desire to thread some meaning for Barbara Gordon in this story finale. It’s in every thought of Barbara’s and almost every other line of dialogue. Batgirl needs to be less predictable and more open to the whims of the world around her. She needs to let go and take the plunge, and writer Cecil Castellucci relentlessly batters that point home at readers on each page.
This finale is messy, confusing, and all over the place as Castellucci appears to have gotten lost in her own thoughts about the need for unpredictability against a machine, Oracle, that can calculate Batgirl’s every move. The idea is there, as we’re reminded of it on every page, but the execution is lost on us.
When Batgirl first laments her need to be unpredictable, Oracle comments on the predictability of her unpredictability on the very next page. From there, it becomes a war between Batgirl trying to be even more unpredictable and Oracle calculating how each move is a very Batgirl maneuver. The banter is irritating, and character actions are lost to this bewildering back-and-forth of ideas. The art proves no help in deciphering what Batgirl’s doing, why she is doing it, or if there’s any subtext beyond this cat-and-mouse game.
Regardless, the effort proves futile as Batgirl inevitably finds herself in a trap of Oracle’s design. This final showdown renders the first half of this issue pointless. Batgirl didn’t need to be unpredictable. She merely had to meet up with Oracle in order to have their final confrontation.
There is one moment near the end of this issue where Carmine Di Giandomenico’s art shines. At one point, Oracle dangles Jason Bard over a ledge, and Batgirl swoops in for the save. The paneling depicting Batgirl attempting to save Jason, juxtaposed with her reaction of horror at his impending death, is tense, beautiful, and well done. Ultimately, if the rest of the issue was like this moment, it would have been the coherent, pulse-pounding finale this creative team was aiming for.
Final Thoughts: Writer Cecil Castellucci gets lost in a plot point of her own design as this arc wraps up with a messy and bewildering conclusion.