Batwoman: Who Are You?

"I hardly know, sir. At least I knew who I was when I got up this morning, but I have changed several times since then."

Early in the first season of Supergirl, Kara found herself making mistakes and causing some serious damage to a tanker ship while trying to save it. This episode reminded me of that moment.

Kate is trying to find her place, where she belongs and who she is going to be to the city of Gotham, which mirrors Supergirl whose first few adventures found her trying to find what kind of hero she was apart from her famous cousin… and I’m just now realizing they are both cousins to their heroic counterparts, curiouser and curiouser.

Actually, now that I think about it, the parallels between these two episodes is striking. We have a dark relative (Alice instead of Astra), a morally gray media icon harassing her (Vesper Fairchild instead of Cat Grant), a one-off baddie (Magpie in place of the Hellgrammite) and the city reacting to Batwoman in much the same way as Supergirl after making mistakes trying to save the day. Okay, those are not exact, one-for-one corollaries, but I think it is an interesting takeaway.

One of the biggest differences is that Batwoman breaking that vase wasn’t actually her fault, it was Luke’s. I’m still not quite warming to Luke as a character. I don’t know if it is the actor or his chemistry with Ruby, but he hasn’t clicked for me yet. Mary on the other hand, well, if I didn’t like her before, I would’ve fallen for her when she did that impression of Alice, which was so good. I’m going to guess she will be one of the first people who learns about Kate’s alter ego (except for Sophie, who seems to already suspect).

Sophie isn't much fun, and because she is on the outs with Kate she ends up hanging around the exterior of scenes not really participating. If she is going to be the romantic lead for Kate, they need to work on her character the way they did with Iris on The Flash. Early on Iris was very one note and felt forced. Thankfully they figured out what worked for her and made the relationship a defining one for that series.

On the other hand, I felt the humor in this episode was really pretty good. It felt like all the attempted jokes landed and didn’t feel out of place (like the vase sight gag and Kate calling Luke on his Batsplaining). I also loved her stopping to take a selfie and letting the little girl touch her face. Those lovely little details separate her from Batman and make her a very different type of hero.

I even liked what they did with their first real one-off villain, who was almost a bird-themed version of Catwoman. The difference of course is Magpie was a bomber, indiscriminate with her destruction and ambivalent with the collateral damage and who she might have killed. When Magpie was captured, her small diatribe about inequality rang hollow. Plus, it was amazing when Batwoman literally yanked Magpie off a building like a badass with one carefully placed grappling hook.

Unfortunately, I was not as happy with what they did with Reagan. It felt tired the way we had our hero constantly stand up her new romantic interest, and eventually stop things before they started because it was too complicated. It did leave the door open a bit for her to return, but I doubt we’re going to get a Kate and Reagan romance. I wish I had been wrong about this one; at least they didn’t kill her off or make her evil.

The other major plot dealt with Catherine’s duplicity, which seems to have already played itself out, revealing that the skull fragments they found proving Beth's death were not actually Beth’s. While we already knew this as an audience, it’s nice that Jacob is finally accepting the truth that Beth could be alive and is probably the psychopath breaking into his house and playing the cello. I don’t know what he going to do with that, but it’s clear that Alice really is Beth and that’s just a big scary mess of tangled emotions to unravel. Oh, and Alice wanted some experimental weapon from Catherine’s company. Which honestly felt a little odd, not that Alice wouldn’t want something dangerous, but this felt more like an attempt to break up their marriage, or at least get Catherine to come clean. Maybe Beth hasn’t written her father off after all.

Bits:

The Magpie is apparently one of the most intelligent animals in the world, capable of recognizing itself in a mirror test.

In another badass moment, I really liked Batwoman spinning from pearl to pearl stopping each mini-explosion with her cape.

Rachel Maddow continues to be an amazing choice for Vesper. Her little narrations elevate every episode.

Quotes:

Reagan: "I feel like I could date you and start a new hobby."

Kate: "A wise woman once said, 'Hurt me with the truth, don't comfort me with a lie.' Yes, Bruce, I'm quoting Rihanna."

Kate: "Maybe it's broken."
Luke: "It's not."
Kate: "If it weren't I would've caught it."
Luke: "Did you flip your wrist back with a snap forward..."
Kate: "You're Batsplaining. I already have the whole city on my ass. I don't need joining in the chorus."

Kate: "How did Bruce make living a double life look so easy?"
Luke: "Oh, he didn't. He was miserable."

This was another incremental improvement as the show starts to settle into what it is and possibly, what it will ultimately become.

3 out of 4 Batarangs calibrated for longer arms

J.D. Balthazar is a confirmed nerd who loves most things sci-fi or fantasy-related.

2 comments:

Billie Doux said...

For me, the "batsplaining" line had me howling. Even though I'm also not yet warming to Luke. And I was also unhappy about the Reagan thing.

But every episode of this series seems to be getting incrementally better. They're going in the right direction.

Katie Hart - Pinterest Manager said...

The romance with Reagan started too quickly for me to think it would be anything serious. A slow burn start to a romance is typical of almost all the Arrowverse significant romances, especially for the main characters. Though Kate is more abrupt and to the point than her fellow heroes, this episode was all about showing the downsides of that - she's so used to speaking her mind and sharing her truth no matter how uncomfortable it makes everyone else, so she's a terrible liar. Having her figure this out with a brief romance makes it so everyone else close to her doesn't get clued in on her new identity.

The pearl bomb/cape thing was cool, but HOW did she know which one was about to explode each time?

It does feel very early Supergirl. What's missing is the strong sisterly bond, though I hope Kate and Mary will get there eventually (and yet another parallel, sisters that aren't actually related by blood).

I did find out one more reason to keep watching this show - the dad is played by the same actor who played Prince Henry from Ever After, one of my favorite movies of all time.