Batwoman – Season 1 Episode 7
“Tell Me The Truth”
Batwoman digs into Kate and Sophie’s past as Kate tries to figure out a way to handle how difficult it is to trust others when living life as a vigilante.
Sophie remains an obvious weak link in the tapestry of this show and addressing that is long overdue. In order to enhance her presence we as viewers really need to get inside her head and understand what motivates her to take the actions that she does. Her fixation with unmasking Batwoman seems more random than anything else because very little work has been done to explain why Sophie is obsessed with that. Her suspicion that Kate is Batwoman goes some way towards explaining why she would pursue this but beyond some attention given to her relationship with Kate in the first episode there hasn’t been much to latch onto where both of them are concerned.
This episode attempts to fix that by digging deeper into the events that lead to Kate being dismissed from the academy and Sophie denying their relationship so that she could graduate. Kate understandably sees that as a betrayal as they were very much in love and ready to face the consequences together. A flashback details a conversation they had when given the choice to sign a letter denying any homosexual conduct in exchange for them continuing to be enrolled in the Academy. Kate is all about being out and proud with Sophie agreeing with her until it gets to the point of actually standing up to the authorities about the injustice of the situation.
Kate’s perspective is that Sophie bottled it at the last minute and chose her career over their relationship which went uncorrected from that point on. The reality is that Jacob had a conversation with her where he outlined her options at that point and encouraged her to think hard about what she wants from life. It’s a really good moment that goes a long way towards explaining why Sophie is so loyal to him. The beauty of this is that Jacob isn’t telling her what to do; instead pointing out that any decision she makes will have widespread consequences and she has to make the decision that’s right for her. Sophie does ask him why he isn’t having the same conversation with Kate which is countered by Jacob saying that she’s fearless and has already made up her mind so nothing that is said will make any difference. He is a man who understands his daughter and understands how Sophie feels about her but also wants to make sure that Sophie considers her options at that point in her life carefully. Jacob’s dose of reality helps flesh out Sophie’s reason for not choosing Kate and enhances Sophie’s dynamic with him in the present day.
That’s not to say this episode redeems Sophie because it really doesn’t but it is a small step in the right direction. The insight into her background through the mention of a homophobic family and the strong suggestion that she’s ashamed of her sexuality because she’s worried about how others will perceive her adds layers that begin to build up a picture of what she’s struggling with. The scene between Sophie and Kate in the restaurant where they are refused service because it’s apparently very common knowledge that Kate is a lesbian is a good summation of how secure they both are in their sexuality. Kate isn’t the least bit ashamed as shown by her loudly proclaiming that she’s gay in an effort to embarrass the owner. By contrast Sophie looks embarrassed which is a common reaction to such behaviour but it’s clear from other scenes that she’s reluctant to share that part of herself with anyone. Perhaps without the resistance to their relationship at the Academy Kate would have continued to bring her out of her shell but at this point she hides that aspect of herself because she isn’t comfortable expressing it.
The other side of Tyler’s reaction is an intolerant one. He’s very dismissive and refers to Kate as a “chick” while making the situation more about how angry he is rather than acknowledging how terrifying it must be for Sophie to admit this to him. From that point he keeps her at arm’s length and clearly doesn’t fully trust her so I suspect we’re seeing this relationship start to unravel. The trouble is that it’s not really worth caring about and Sophie getting back together with Kate isn’t something I’m rooting for. Greyston Holt is saddled with a non-character who exists as the third side of the love triangle that includes Sophie and Kate so really has nothing to work with as he’s designed to be cast aside at some point. Considering that limitation he’s doing well enough in the role but the show really doesn’t need him and there’s a sense that the writers are only imbuing him with the personality traits that inform the next stage in the Sophie/Kate dynamic.
Kate and Sophie do reach an understanding of sorts when Kate manages to deflect her suspicion away from her identity as Batwoman. It’s done in a really obviously staged way that doesn’t work in the context of the episode and just makes Sophie look stupid for not seeing through it. Despite how obviously staged the deception was it does accomplish the task of giving Sophie the clarity to see beyond her obsession and find a way to smooth things over with Kate to some extent. No matter what she says to her husband she does still care about Kate as shown by her bringing the sniping medal to her as a gesture of how important their time together was to her. It’s a really endearing emotional moment that suggests there is greater potential in their connection than is being made use of.
The main struggle for Kate in this episode is knowing who to trust and trying to figure out who she can be open with. It has been previously established that taking on a double identity was difficult for her as she isn’t used to keeping parts of herself hidden from those around her. Figuring out how to alter her life to accommodate this change has been a constant struggle for her and her letter to Bruce Wayne that makes up the narration in this episode is about asking her cousin open questions about how he did it. The difference between Batman and Bruce Wayne is that Batman was a revered figure in Gotham where Bruce Wayne wasn’t known to anyone. That was the price he paid for the mission he imposed upon himself but Kate can’t see how she will do the same thing. Of course she is already different because she has Luke but his role in her life is very specific with a lot missing for her in other aspects of it.
Some clarity comes following the arrival of Julia Pennyworth (Christina Wolfe); daughter of Alfred Pennyworth. She’s a government agent sent to Gotham on a mission that happens to coincide with Kate’s which allows them some time to work together and interact. There is some history between the characters because Bruce sent Julia to keep an eye on Kate after she was expelled from the academy and the two had a relationship. Julia knows her intimately enough to recognise that Kate is Batwoman almost immediately which gets that out of the way quickly and allows their dynamic to take over. Christina Wolfe and Ruby Rose have excellent chemistry and do a great job of playing their history in the subtext of their interactions. This really helps sell some of the hammier dialogue about the importance of trust and companionship because it’s delivered with such sincerity.
The actual words that are spoken might be on the nose but the point made is still an effective one. Julia’s opinion is that Bruce Wayne handled everything poorly by shouldering the burden himself and refusing to trust others which makes sense from an outside perspective as the lone wolf approach meant that nobody was truly close to him. She does acknowledge that she doesn’t have a complete picture of his career as Batman nor was she close enough to him to understand his reasons for doing things that way but she feels that it’s necessary to place trust in others. It’s advice Kate takes to heart which allows her to make some small adjustments in terms of opening up to others.
Julia’s visit is a flying one which is disappointing as it feels like she is a means to an end in terms of Kate finding it within herself to open up to others and let herself trust them to some extent. What is done with her is really good but the fact that she leaves by the time the credits roll puts Kate back in the position of only having Luke to confide in about the Batwoman part of her life. Hopefully Julia will return at some point because she makes for a great addition to Team Batwoman and is the only character so far who could be counted as Kate’s equal in terms of skill.
Kate’s decision to let people into her life allows her to find some common ground with Sophie. She is completely honest about her feelings and how difficult it will be to get over her but accepts that it can’t happen between them. Seeing her break down privately is a reminder that Kate outwardly tries to appear tough but her emotions are always close to the surface. Ruby Rose’s performance consistently makes it clear that being around Sophie is hard for Kate and her vulnerability when alone reinforces how difficult it is for her to deal with.
Julia’s advice ends up producing a positive outcome in Kate’s relationship with Mary. There are reminders in this episode that Mary wants nothing more from her than a close sisterly relationship but she wants it to be genuinely earned rather than something that exists out of obligation on Kate’s part. The beginnings of the relationship that Mary wants are found here when Kate decides to open up a gay bar directly opposite the restaurant she was almost kicked out of because of her sexual orientation. It makes for a satisfying reaction to that treatment and it gives Mary a project that she can work on with Kate. She obviously hopes that this will bring them closer together and grant Mary that relationship she craves. Of course she has no idea that Kate places a lot of trust in her already in her role as Batwoman but I suspect it won’t be long before Mary stumbles onto Kate’s secret given how bad she is at hiding her identity.
Alice continues to occupy the background which seems to be a good place for her at this point as it theoretically allows her to be defined outside of her connection to Kate. Her current main relationship is with Mouse who is concerningly unstable to the point that he may be too extreme even for Alice to handle. She takes pains to ensure that he doesn’t know for sure that Kate and Batwoman are one in the same likely because she fears what he might do to her if he does find out. Having Alice make sure that everyone who knows how the gun that can penetrate the Batwoman armour works are killed is a clever way for her to retain her villain status while ensuring the safety of her sister. It makes up a grey area between her actions and intentions that could be pretty interesting to explore especially when contrasted with Mouse’s desire to kill Batwoman.
The reveal that any present day set scene featuring Jacob Kane in this episode was actually Mouse in disguise was somewhat messy and undermines a lot of what the episode achieved with the Jake character. I actually enjoyed the professional courtesy he extended to Catherine when she brought him information that he needed to act on and the reaction he gave to Sophie telling him that Batwoman is Kate worked really well when under the assumption that the real Jacob was the one receiving the news. The reveal walks all of that back and renders it meaningless because none of it had anything to do with Jacob. It’s also unclear what Alice stood to gain by putting Mouse in that position as it will surely quickly become apparent that something is amiss when Jacob knows nothing of the events that Catherine, Kate and Sophie will inevitably describe to him.
A compelling character driven episode that sheds much needed light on Sophie and introduces an excellent new character while providing Kate with an intriguing challenge for her to meet unique to her vigilante life. Sophie has always been the weakest aspect of the show and this episode goes some of the way towards fixing that by exploring the decision she made to favour her career over her relationship with Kate. None of what is seen her absolves her of how she has been behaving but her conversation with Jacob about being presented with a choice that will impact the rest of her life combined with the shame she clearly feels regarding her own sexuality adds layers to her that begins to build up a picture of what she’s struggling with. Her shame is strongly suggested by her reaction to Kate loudly admitting that she’s gay to an intolerant restaurant owner as well as how she deals with the subject with her husband who is equal parts understandably upset that she hid a three year relationship from him and intolerant of her sexuality. Kate and Sophie do reach an understanding of sorts after Sophie’s suspicion is diverted away from Kate being Batwoman. It’s an obviously staged moment that doesn’t make Sophie look all that intelligent but providing some temporary closure on that obsession is welcomed. The endearing emotional scene between Kate and Sophie suggests that there is more potential than is being made use of.
Julia Pennyworth’s introduction is great. Chrstina Wolfe and Ruby Rose have great chemistry together that allows for the history between their characters to shine through in the subtext of their interactions. Getting the secret identity out of the way almost immediately allows their dynamic to take over. Some of the dialogue is really on the nose especially with Julia’s feelings about trusting others and her opinion that Bruce Wayne handled the vigilante life incorrectly but the point is a valid one and it’s advice that Kate takes to heart when considering how she is going to handle the vigilante life. Closing off parts of herself isn’t something she’s used to and deciding to only share certain parts with certain people isn’t easy for her either. It’s a shame that Julia doesn’t stick around because she truly feels like an equal for Kate that could have helped with that but her approach following her departure works well too. Opening up to Mary to engage in a project with her gives Mary hope for that sisterly bond she wants to earn from her and creates plenty of potential for these characters to interact. Alice is on the fringes of the narrative which definitely works for her at the moment. Her relationship with Mouse is compelling because Mouse is so concerningly unstable to the point that Alice is clearly worried about what he’s capable of. Alice spending her time making sure that the gun capable of penetrating Batwoman’s armour can’t be repaired is a good way for her to retain her villainous edge while also ensuring the safety of her sister. The reveal that any present day scene featuring Jacob was actually Mouse in disguise was messy and undermines some of the work done with this character plus it’s unclear what the intent behind this was since it won’t take long for people to realise that Jacob wasn’t involved in various conversations.
- adding layers to Sophie through understanding aspects of her past
- Jacob and Sophie’s conversation that helps justify her decision while providing a backstory for her loyalty to him
- the strong suggestion that Sophie is ashamed of her sexuality
- Kate and Sophie managing to find some common ground
- Julia Pennyworth being on equal footing to Kate
- her unique perspective helping Kate make some changes in her life
- Kate opening up to Mary and finding a project for them both to work on
- Alice retaining her villainous edge while finding a way to protect her sister
- some one the nose dialogue
- Sophie still not entirely working as a character
- Julia’s quick exit
- undermining strong work done for Jacob by revealing that he was Mouse in disguise all along
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