Kate Kane returns to Gotham when the Wonderland Gang, led by Alice, targets her father and her ex-girlfriend Sophie Moore. After a bomb scare, the Crows up the stakes trying to take down Alice and her gang. Meanwhile, Kate is still haunted by the events surrounding her sister’s death.
On Batwoman Season 1 Episode 1, Kate Kane comes home when she learns her ex has been kidnapped by a villainous gang and finds more than she bargained for. In Episode 2, a desperate Kate goes to dangerous lengths to prove Alice’s true identity, leaving her step-sister Mary caught in the crossfire. Luke Fox finds himself inadvertently involved in Batwoman’s vigilante heroics. And while the citizens of Gotham continue to hope that Batman has returned, the Crows begin targeting the Wonderland Gang with lethal force.
The Batwoman pilot wasn’t particularly remarkable, but it definitely set the tone for the season ahead of us. The dark atmosphere of Gotham feels very much like the Gotham from previous incarnations. Kate Kane (played by Ruby Rose) by all accounts is very sure of herself and her abilities. Some may even say she’s cocky. Her past relationship with Sophie Moore shattered under the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy while training at military academy. Kate’s honesty about her sexual orientation, and Sophie’s lack thereof, has resulted in lingering tension between them.
Kate also has a visibly strained family relationship. After her mother and twin sister Beth died in an accident 15 years ago, her father, Jacob Kane, has seemingly moved on in a way that she hasn’t. He has a new family after marrying Gotham socialite Catherine Hamilton. Her daughter Mary is a medical student who runs an illegal clinic for the less fortunate. Other important players introduced to the audience are Luke Fox and Alice. Luke is basically the Alfred to Kate’s Bruce Wayne. Alice is like the Joker to Kate’s Batman. It’s all standard superhero fare but it will be interesting to see where those characters go from here.
For me, this episode suffered a lot because of some clunky dialogue and dialogue reading. However, as persons settle into their roles I expect that to improve. Too much exposition can also bog down television pilots – especially when there’s more telling than showing. For example, it’s repeatedly established that Kate and Bruce are cousins and that they’re a lot alike. We get it. There were also a lot of Batman mentions but it didn’t bother me as much as it did others. All in all, it wasn’t a terrible first outing.
Down The Rabbit Hole
Batwoman really starts to find its groove in Episode 2. In retrospect, I really wish the CW had aired episodes 1 and 2 as a two-part premiere. Episode 1 took care of the bulk of the background plot exposition. As a result, a lot happened in a short space of time and the writers relied on the dialogue to fill in a lot of the gaps. Episode 2 delivered a more focused, well-paced plot that fleshed out the characters a bit more.
We see young Kate fixated on finding Beth. She hasn’t given up hope that Beth is alive because believing otherwise would be too much to bear. These flashbacks also give us a bit more of Jacob’s perspective. He breaks down in tears before telling Kate that her sister’s skull fragments were found. It also left me with a lot of questions. Was he crying because he found out his daughter was dead? Or was he crying because he had to continue lying about it to Kate? I feel like Jacob knows more than he admits. He seems all too eager to kill Alice instead of getting her the professional help she clearly needs.
Kate’s step-mother Catherine seems to have a similar stance. Before Kate can lift DNA off Alice’s knife for testing, men disguised as Alice’s henchmen take it. Catherine ordered this attack for reasons we don’t know yet. What is clear though, is that Jacob and Catherine do not want Kate looking into what really happened to Beth. They also don’t want Kate to believe that Alice is Beth or that she’s worth saving. At the end of the episode Jacob encourages Kate to stop going down that rabbit hole.
Beth’s death isn’t the only thing Kate can’t get over. Sophie is married now, but it’s clear Kate still has feelings for her. Kate tells Sophie that she would have come home sooner to stop her from getting married if possible. Later she asks if Sophie is really happy with her husband and Sophie says yes. Well, her mouth says yes but her eyes say otherwise. I’m not the biggest fan of this particular plot setup. I especially don’t like that there’s a husband in the picture. The writers could have achieved the same effect even if Sophie was single or simply seeing someone. Sophie cheating on her husband with Kate either emotionally or physically just seems inevitable now.
Meagan Tandy and Ruby Rose really do play up the tension well. Sophie is more restrained, but she’s still very concerned about Kate. When it becomes clear how ruthless Alice is, Sophie doesn’t hesitate to break Kate’s trust to save her from possible harm. I think both Kate and the audience will have a lot of issues with Sophie’s actions because of either of two things: One, she won’t ditch her husband and simply run back into Kate’s arms, and two, she’ll frequently be at odds with Kate because of their differences in personality and beliefs/opinions. The course of true love never did run smooth right?
Elsewhere there were some great scenes between Kate and our other main ladies. The reason this episode works, is largely because of the focus on the relationships between Kate and her sisters. This led to my favorite moments of the series so far. After establishing that Alice may be Beth, the show leans into Kate and Beth’s shared memories. While Alice uses the past to further disturb their father, Kate uses it as an olive branch to get a dialogue with her. Kate still feels responsible for what happened to Beth all those years ago; guilty for not falling over the edge with her. It’s an admission that clearly touches Alice.
Rachel Skarsten steals every scene she’s in as Alice. This episode was no exception. Truly compelling villains are few and far between in the DCTV universe in my opinion. Especially when shows get caught up in a string of basic “Villain of the Week” plots. Alice is a larger than life presence lurking in the shadows of every scene and every shared conversation. She’s equal parts cold and equal parts anguished. Her chemistry with Ruby is also probably my favorite. Their scene at the waffle stand and the water rescue near the end were nearly pitch perfect.
And while I love Alice, my favorite character so far is actually Mary. Mary may seem aloof, but she’s actually quite capable and intelligent, and she truly cares for Kate. Nicole Kang is doing a fantastic job. Kate’s so hung up on Beth that she hasn’t been able to appreciate the new sister she’s gained in Mary. All Mary wants is to bond with her and be accepted by her as her sister. It’s heartbreaking when Kate seemingly stands her up for their dinner date and Mary expresses her frustration at never ever really being acknowledged by her. I really can’t wait to see their relationship develop this season.
Outside of these moments I really appreciated the callbacks to the Batwoman Elegy comics for eg. Alice telling Kate “You have our father’s eyes.” and Catherine calling Kate “Katie”. If you’re a Batwoman fan or a comic fan in general and you haven’t read that particular run, I’d highly recommend it.
What did you think of Batwoman Season 1 Episode 2? What is Kate’s stepmother hiding? Is Alice really Beth? Share your thoughts in the comments below.