Batwoman – Season 1 Episode 13
Batwoman explores the fallout of Beth’s death as a sexy villain with a taste for blood plagues Gotham City.
The previous episode ended with an emotional gut punch that has significant consequences for Kate Her decision to favour the emotionally stable Beth over the criminally insane Alice has deeply affected Alice to the point that she is even more unpredictable than before. She spends much of the early part of this episode pondering the decision Kate made and what that means for their relationship. A rational person shouldn’t expect someone to continually give them the benefit of the doubt when she routinely commits terrible acts but Alice is far from a rational person and truly believed that Kate would never truly turn her back.
Kate deciding to favour Beth tells Alice that Kate has given up on her and she’s unable to truly process that. It’s Alice’s view that she means absolutely nothing to Kate and that belief is causing her to spiral. Rachel Skarsten once again delivers an excellent performance and shows a different side to Alice. This time she’s wounded and feels betrayed by the one person she felt would always be there for her. Kate tries to justify her decision by telling Alice that Beth was the best version of her and represented something that Kate thought Alice could be. She has since come to feel that she was wrong about Alice who has proven herself irredeemable in Kate’s eyes through her action. In Kate’s mind keeping a mentally stable and less homicidal version of Beth around was preferable though. Hearing Kate explain herself doesn’t make Alice feel any better nor does it help them find any common ground at this point.
Alice is obsessed with finding Mouse as she would be no matter what the situation with Kate is but recent events have increased that motivation because she is craving a familial connection more so than usual. Mouse represents the only family she feels she has left so it makes sense that she would be focused on finding him. It’s something that bubbles along in the background as something that Alice keeps bringing up to reinforce how alone she feels at this point in her life. This is a compelling direction for Alice that moves her away from her role as a villain temporarily but I get the sense that she’s trying to find a way to redefine who she is in the context of the new normal.
In her own way she tries to prove that she isn’t beyond redemption to Kate by setting up a scenario where Mary is placed in mortal danger before offering to save her. It’s far less than a true good deed because she’s the one who facilitates Mary being endangered in the first place but it’s a twisted way of showing Kate that she is capable of good deeds in order to prove that Kate should still hold out hope that Beth might be buried within her somewhere. Kate quickly identifies that Alice was responsible for putting Mary in danger and makes some remarks that cut deep. They are designed to hurt and to make Alice feel awful because Kate genuinely believes that she deserves nothing less. Ruby Rose is brutal in this scene with real venom in her line delivery with Rachel Skarsten’s facial expressions conveying exactly how deeply Alice is cut by every word. Alice admits to Kate that she may not want her to give up though for now it seems as if that ship has sailed. With nearly half a season to go there’s almost certainly more to it than Kate is presently letting on as she does still allow Alice to roam free which still feels odd considering everything that has happened.
The villain of the week, Natalia Knight aka Nocturna (Kayla Ewell) acts as a distraction in the midst of the emotional anguish surrounding Alice and Kate. It’s good to get a break from Alice as a villain to focus on someone else though I wish the villain hadn’t been so shallow in her characterisation. It’s a problem common to the Arrowverse as a whole and it doesn’t seem to be getting better across all of the shows. Kayla Ewell’s performance is engaging and the faux Vampire gimmick makes for some fun moments but there isn’t much to her beyond being a decent threat to the safety of those Kate cares about. Her briefly stated obsession with purity and her motivation stemming from being jealous of all the beautiful people poisoning their bodies with alcohol, drugs and food is a strong angle to build something on but the episode doesn’t do anything with it.
I understand that Nocturna has a very close connection to Batwoman in the comics which both is and isn’t relevant to her appearance here. Adapting characters with significance to fans of the source material should be done with care rather than haphazardly putting them in a role that could be filled by pretty much any character. Of course the bloodsucking gimmick was something the episode makes repeated use of but it wouldn’t have taken much to tweak it into something different with a more disposable character. Perhaps Nocturna will return and flourish at a later date though that won’t make her appearance in this episode any better.
This episode provides more great material for Mary who finally puts the pieces together and concludes that Kate is Batwoman. It was obvious this was going to happen sooner or later and it’s interesting that Kate doesn’t work all that hard to keep her identity secret when around her. She casually mentions that she has Ketamine in her blood, lets Luke off the hook when he carelessly reveals that he is wearing a secret earpiece that connects her directly to him and generally shows a lack of discretion when around Mary. Kate knows how intelligent Mary is so must have some idea that her flimsy attempts to deceive her won’t be all that effective. It has been well established that Kate isn’t very good at hiding her true self from those around her because she has always been forthcoming with who she is and what she stands for. This translates to how she behaves around Mary as it’s difficult for her to keep the two sides of herself separate particularly when Mary always finds herself embroiled in situations that Kate deals with as Batwoman. The fact that Alice is after her because she’s jealous of their connection also factors in significantly. I wouldn’t be surprised if Kate ends up being relieved that Mary figured it out.
As for the impact this will have on Mary that remains unknown at this time. We see her initial reaction to figuring out the truth but we get no sense of how that reaction will grow once she internalises it. This was a good idea as it allows the realisation to have tangible impact on its own. Her desire to be accepted as a sister to Kate is well trodden ground and has faced its share of setbacks through Kate’s focus on redeeming Alice among other things so now Mary has to deal with the fact that Kate kept this secret for her. It remains to be seen if she will be understanding of Kate’s reasons for doing so or will see it as yet another example of Kate not valuing their relationship. I’d prefer the former because these sorts of things tend to drag on longer than is tolerable and I would like to see Mary have fun toying with Kate for a while carefully chosen words or phrases designed to make Kate wonder if she knows. It would be a very Mary thing to do and could be amusing if done right.
There’s a strange pattern emerging where Sophie becomes interesting every other episode. She is at her best when being confronted with situations that challenge the well cultivated fiction she’s built for herself. Her husband left her so that she could take time and consider whether she’s as committed to their relationship as he is and now Jacob suspends her from her job to give her time to consider her commitment to that. There’s a very clear line to be drawn here between Sophie and the two prominent men in her life. Both of them feel that they aren’t getting her all and encourage her to reaffirm her commitment to them or get out of the way entirely. In both cases they are fairly brutal ultimatums and not entirely fair minded of them to put her in that position though Sophie is by her very nature indecisive so she seems to need the push.
Jacob suspends her because she has been helping Batwoman rather than trying to bring her in for acting as a vigilante. This is somewhat rich coming from a private security company that turned the city into a police state not one episode ago but apparently Batwoman’s worse according to Jacob. The point of this is to put Sophie in a difficult decision as she strongly believes that Batwoman is a great asset to them whether she works directly with them or not so she routinely looks the other way whenever Batwoman becomes involves. Jacob points out that it would be a bad idea to throw away her career to aid a vigilante who answers to no-one. This creates an obvious parallel between the choice she made at the academy to favour her career over her relationship with Kate and offers an opportunity to show whether Sophie’s priorities have shifted.
The episode ends with Sophie and Kate -as Batwoman- sharing a passionate kiss on a rooftop. This comes after Sophie admits how important her job is to her and how proud she is of all she has accomplished at a very young age. It would seem that she’s reaffirming her commitment to the life she has chosen and using this conversation to tell Batwoman that she won’t look the other way any more. Kate appears to understand where Sophie is coming from though it probably brings up uncomfortable memories of a similar conversation they shared a few years ago. Everything seems geared towards Sophie further denying who she really is before it’s turned on her head with Sophie initiating a kiss.
There are a few potential reasons for her doing this. One is that she knows that it’s really Kate under the cowl which has been hinted at on several occasions so is refusing to deny her feelings any longer. If she doesn’t know the truth then she must surely recognise Kate’s kissing style unless it’s something she actively doesn’t want to believe might be true. Another potential reason is that being suspended is causing Sophie to spiral towards self destructive tendencies. Batwoman is very much the opposite of everything she’s worked to achieve and she has already been told that continuing to help her will spell the end of her career so in a moment of weakness she may decide to go all in and throw away her career in a big way. There’s no way that she can have a proper relationship with Batwoman without knowing who she really is so this gesture could represent chasing a fantasy that could never be real for her. In some ways it’s positive as it’s basically the first time we’ve seen Sophie make a decision about her own life for her own selfish reasons rather than worrying about the potential impact her choices have on others.
Batwoman represents being rebellious so kissing her could be interpreted as an act of rebellion from someone who has always played by the rules to the detriment of her own happiness and sense of identity. I’m convinced it’s not about confessing that she is falling in love with Batwoman as there’s no way such a relationship would be sustainable so this would be an act of passion and pure instinct on her part. I’m interested to see the repercussions of her decision and how this factors into her ongoing development.
A strong episode that plays with the Alice/Kate dynamic in really interesting ways, furthers Sophie’s internal struggle wonderfully and offers a refreshing change of pace with a different sort of villain. Alice feeling betrayed by Kate’s decision to favour the emotionally stable alternate Beth and shocked that Kate seems to have truly given up on her alters their dynamic in fascinating ways. She feels that she means nothing to Kate and struggles to contemplate what that means. Later in the episode she admits that she may not want Kate to give up on redeeming her. Kate’s cutting remarks designed to hurt Alice and make it clear that she has lost all hope that anything is left of Beth within her are brutally delivered by Ruby Rose and highlight how done with Kate appears to be at this point. With nearly half the season left to go there is almost certainly more to it than that but it works really well for now and puts both characters in an interesting emotional place. Alice trying to prove herself to Kate in her own twisted way by putting Mary in danger before saving her life was a really nice touch as it highlights how insane Alice is while hinting that there may be hope for her yet. Alice’s obsession with finding Mouse is a clear example of her loneliness and desire for a familial connection since Mouse is the only family she has at this point. Mary learning that Kate is secretly Batwoman is something that was always going to happen and having her figure it out because Kate is so careless around her makes a lot of sense as Kate has never been good at hiding who she is. Keeping Mary’s reaction to learning the truth a mystery for now is a good idea as it allows her realisation to have tangible impact before later exploring what it means to her.
Nocturna is a refreshing change of pace from Alice being the villain though she is disappointingly lacking in depth. As a single episode threat she works well enough but there is very little attempt to characterise her beyond a quick mention of her motivation. There seems to be a pattern emerging where Sophie is interesting in every other episode. Jacob suspending her to give her time to figure out what’s important to her echoes her husband leaving her for basically the same reason. The reason for her suspension is that she has been seen helping Batwoman and that’s something Jacob can’t tolerate so he encourages her not to throw her career away. This mirrors the decision she made to favour her career over her relationship with Kate and adds into her ongoing development. She talks about her life being defined by her job and how proud she is of all she has achieved at such a young age. Everything about this conversation is geared towards her making the same decision which would be all too familiar for Kate but Sophie surprises her by initiating a passionate kiss. There are a number of potential reasons for her doing this and I’m convinced that none of them have to do with her falling for Batwoman. She has to know that a relationship with Batwoman wouldn’t be sustainable so it’s very much a self destructive act where she decides that giving into her feelings is worth throwing away all she has worked for. It’s basically the first decision she has made for herself so Batwoman could represent being rebellious. rather than wanting anything long term to grow from her impulsive action.
- playing around with the Alice/Kate dynamic by having Alice feel betrayed because of Kate’s decision
- Kate’s cutting remarks designed to hurt Alice
- Alice showing Kate in her own twisted way that she may not be beyond redemption
- strong acting from Ruby Rose and Rachel Skarsten in acting out this changed relationship
- Mary realising the truth about Kate
- the shocking ending and how that informs Sophie’s ongoing development
- Sophie making an impulsive choice not motivated by how others might feel
- a villain with a lot of potential that is badly squandered with a lack of depth
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