Batwoman – Season 1 Episode 18
“If You Believe in Me, I’ll Believe in You”
Batwoman continues to develop the mystery around Lucius Fox’ death as Alice continues to make waves in Arkham Asylum.
Kudos to this show for wasting no time putting Mary to good use within Team Batwoman. Her knowing the secret isn’t enough for Kate and Lucius to welcome her on the team but it is enough for her to be given the chance to prove herself. The beats here feel familiar but also work because Mary’s tenacity is more than enough to carry the episode and provide a showcase for just how useful a character she can be. This is smartly handled with Mary being pushed into the background until she becomes necessary to resolve the situation. Kate has been making the persistent mistake of underestimating her which is proven by her actions in this episode and admitted by her in a moment of self reflection towards the end of the episode. Luke does point out that her desire to be part of Team Batwoman is an extension of her desire to be part of Kate’s life which is further dismissed by Kate saying that she’ll fix that by taking her out for dinner.
How to integrate Mary into her life is a real blind spot for Kate as she constantly tries to figure out ways to keep her at arm’s length rather than thinks along the lines of including her. Mary points out that being part of Team Batwoman wouldn’t make her life any more dangerous than before and that’s certainly a point worth considering. There is forward movement on Kate’s part when she realises how expertly Mary can handle herself in tense situation and admits that keeping Mary at arm’s length comes from a desire to not lose another sister just as she lost Beth. It’s a personal hang-up Kate has that actually has little to do with Mary which makes her ignorant of the emotional impact her behaviour has on her.
Even though Luke rushes to her defence early on he is also guilty of underestimating her. Mary operates on distinct layers; one of which is the wealthy socialite who knows how to dress and is an expert at navigating social media. For the most part this is the side of herself that she chooses to present to the outside world because it’s the most outwardly simple and allows her to craft a persona for herself that she can hide behind. In many ways it’s no different to what Kate does as Batwoman though the effect is far different. Luke chooses to see that side of her and wrongly gets caught up in the idea that the best she could do is tag a mob boss on social media when in reality she is far more resourceful than that and can apply her variety of skills in really inventive ways. Her status as a socialite means that she understands how people in the upper tier of society think and knows the right things to say in order to get the necessary invitation. She has connections, knowledge and the added advantage of being the smartest person in most rooms. She proves this by knowing the right thing to say in order to get access to the secret auction where Kate is being held captive.
Mary spearheading Kate’s rescue is a great moment for her character. She handles herself brilliantly and Nicole Kang delivers a really subtle performance with outward confidence along with a believable amount of fear behind the eyes. She’s someone acting like she belongs while doubting her place in this world. This helps heighten the tension of the situation as characters being completely fearless is unrealistic, especially for Mary who is very new to putting herself in this sort of danger. Her determination to save Kate is understandable and represents her desire to be close to her non biological sister. Her efforts here go a long way towards proving her worth to both Kate and Luke who will eventually have to recognise the fact that Mary could be an invaluable asset to their mission. It’s unrealistic to have her entirely welcomed into the fold immediately whether it’s advantageous for them or not.
This is an episode that makes great use of the cast of characters generally. Everyone has something to do and almost none of it feels unnecessary. Bubbling along in the background is the flirtatious connection between Sophie and Julia. I mentioned in my review of the previous episode that I would prefer that they just become friends rather than sending them down the romantic route but it looks as if I won’t get my wish as there is a very strong hint that they are headed for a romantic entanglement. At least it’s being handled with a sense of humour such as Kate noticing that Julia is sending emojis which isn’t typically a way the Crows communicate official business. Despite the humorous edge to this observation it’s very clear that Kate doesn’t like where she thinks this is going and Sophie opening up to Julia about coming out to her mother definitely doesn’t sit right with Kate. She is happy that Sophie is finally being true to who she really is but finds it hard to take that she hears about it second hand. Of course there is also the tease that Julia is working for an as yet unidentified party. My working theory is that she is reporting to Bruce Wayne or Alfred who is monitoring the situation from afar which would be the best outcome rather than having yet more betrayal.
Speaking of betrayal; Reagan returns for the purpose of betraying Kate and stealing Lucius Fox’ journal from her as she sleeps off their passionate encounter. The reveal that Reagan is Magpie’s sister works well enough in context especially with the significant focus on sisterly relationships in this show but so many character connections only serves to make the universe the show inhabits feel a lot smaller than it actually is. Kate meeting Reagan in an earlier episode still seems to be accidental so having Reagan be connected to one of Batwoman’s villains is one coincidence too many. Kate’s reaction to being betrayed after letting her defences down and risking allowing herself to get close to someone is played well by Ruby Rose who approaches it with a quiet defeat. At this point Kate must feel as if she’s cursed especially after observing Julia and Sophie growing closer. If Julia turns out to be working against her this will only serve to compound the problem.
Despite the melancholy this episode shows a side to Kate we haven’t seen a lot of; the woman who knows how to have fun. Her excitement at the prospect of going clubbing opens the door to her having a wide variety of interests that makes her even harder to pigeon hole as a character. Recent events have probably awakened a desire to have some fun within her so even though it’s part of a mission she sees clubbing as a fun time. A major criticism I have of Arrowverse shows in general -except Supergirl– is that they don’t spend a lot of time showing the characters enjoying some down time. This doesn’t exactly qualify but at least we get some idea of what Kate Kane likes to do outside of beating up criminals and feeling angsty about Alice. The episode isn’t explicit about Kate’s current mental state but recent events have clearly led to her feeling more vulnerable than usual. She seems starved for a meaningful connection which makes Reagan’s re-emergence timely for her as she represents the promise of having a meaningful connection to make her feel less isolated in her own life. It could be argued that Mary represented her last close tie to normality despite how connected she was to aspects of her role as Batwoman. Now that Mary is in on the secret she has no real ties to a normal life so Reagan appearing at this point represents some semblance of hope that she can at least have a passing relationship with something a little more normal. This notion will likely make that betrayal sting a lot more.
Alice and Mouse’ control over Arkham Asylum is working really well as a vehicle for bringing Thomas Elliot into the spotlight. His obsession with Bruce Wayne is pretty much the foundation of his character and the fact that his self confidence seems to be linked to living up to this impossible example that he has set for himself in comparing himself to Bruce Wayne. Tommy’s story isn’t the focus here though as Alice and Mouse are who this story is really about. They are using their position within Arkham Asylum to release certain criminals in order to get things that they want. Magpie’s release is so that Alice can get her hands on Lucius Fox’ journal and Tommy factors into this plan by letting her know why it’s such a sought after item. This allows her to come by the knowledge that Bruce Wayne and Batman are one in the same. With Mouse learning the information at the same time and Mary finding out after Luke lets it slip it seems Batman’s secret identity is quickly becoming common knowledge. Tommy is a fun villain and the biggest advantage he currently has is knowing who Batman really is which doesn’t do him much good in the context of this show as Batman is currently nowhere to be seen. His obsession with Bruce Wayne defines him which gives me the impression that his transformation into Hush and his subsequent release from Arkham will make him little more than a villain of the week. If he’s a fun antagonist then maybe that’s enough but for now it doesn’t seem as if he has a lot to offer on his own. For now he works as a part of the ongoing Alice plot and as an element that can be used in service of something else.
The episode takes some time to remind us that Alice is supposed to be sympathetic. Her scene with Jacob is a really good indicator of how she’s feeling at this point. She has every reason to feel betrayed especially after being tricked into being locked up. Her account of what it’s like to be electrocuted as a form of therapy is really harrowing and Jacob justifying allowing this to happen by resolving to look after the daughter he has left rather than wasting energy on reforming Alice when it might not be possible is brutally delivered by Dougray Scott. It could go either way at this point though I think it’s more likely that he’s trying to convince himself that his daughter is unrecoverable in order to find a way to get on with his life. The show can’t seem to decide whether Alice can reclaim her lost humanity or not though the current storyline suggests a commitment to villainy especially since she feels extra betrayed by her family. It makes sense that Alice would see Mouse as the only family she has left. This definitely isn’t the last word to be said on the father/daughter relationship that exists between Jacob and Alice but for now there’s definitely some internal concessions being made so that each of them can cope with the current situation.
A strong episode that makes exceptional use of Mary while making generally strong use of the rest of the cast. This episode is very much a showcase for Mary who proves herself as more than capable of being a part of Team Batwoman. The episode delays her being accepted as part of the team for the usual reasons but she proves instrumental in rescuing Kate from being auctioned off to the highest criminal bidder by using skills completely unique to her. The way she conducts herself in the stressful situation while still being believably afraid works really well and how she proves herself after being routinely underestimated because she knows about fashion, high society and social media is very clever. She shows an ability to navigate that world in a way that nobody else could and puts that to great use in a given situation. Her conversation with Kate where she is forced to admit why she keeps Mary at arm’s length comes from an understandable emotional place but how to integrate Mary into her life is still a significant blind spot that she needs to resolve. Even though the episode doesn’t explicitly cover this there is a sense of what Kate likes to do in her free time based on her positive reaction to the idea of going clubbing. It’s good to see characters step outside the requirements of them in a particular episode to deliver greater insight into what they do in their free time. This episode doesn’t quite do this as going clubbing is for a mission but there is at least an idea of what Kate finds fun and that’s something worth remarking on.
The reappearance of Reagan is both interesting and problematic. It’s interesting because she represents a potential chance for Kate to salvage some normality from her complicated life in the form of a love interest that has no connection to her role as Batwoman. Recent events have led to her craving a relatively normal connection and Reagan would seem to offer that which makes the betrayal sting all the more as Kate let herself be vulnerable and was punished for it. Reagan’s connection to Magpie makes sense in context and ties into the abundance of sisterly relationships in this show but also makes the universe feel small with yet another character connection that isn’t really needed. It worked as a twist but I’m not convinced it was necessary. Kate’s desire for a connection is reinforced by her observing Julia and Sophie growing closer. It appears that this is heading down the romantic route which I don’t see as necessary but Kate being glad Sophie came out to her mother while being upset that she has to hear it from Julia is a strong and effective emotional contrast. The tease at betrayal from Julia isn’t something that excites me but if it turns out she’s answering to either Bruce or Alfred then it might be worthwhile. Alice and Mouse running Arkham Asylum from within works really well and using Tommy Elliot as an instrument to find out why Lucius Fox’ journal is valuable to them is a good use of that character. Having him defined by how he sees himself in relation to Bruce Wayne is very limiting despite how fun he is as a villain and may affect his mileage as an antagonist but it could be that him making for a fun obstacle for Kate to overcome while servicing the larger Alice plot will be enough. Alice’ conversation with Jacob about how betrayed she feels being tricked into captivity was a really strong one as it indicates that they are both employing coping mechanisms in order to move on with their lives. I doubt it’s the last word on their connection but for now it makes sense for them to convince themselves that things have to be this way.
- the exceptional use of Mary
- how Mary’s skills and knowledge prove instrumental in saving Kate
- complexity in the way Kate reacts to finding out that Sophie came out to her mother
- Kate’s desire for a meaningful connection being represented through Reagan
- Reagan’s betrayal stinging all the more after Kate allowed herself to be vulnerable
- Alice and Mouse within Arkham being used really well
- Tommy Elliot making for a fun villain with a specific purpose
- the coping mechanisms being employed by both Alice and Jacob
- Reagan’s connection to Magpie making the universe feel small
- Tommy Elliot being a fairly shallow character despite how fun he is
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