This Batwoman review contains spoilers.
Batwoman Episode 11
Beth’s entrée into this Earth wasn’t exactly a smooth one, but it did make for a great episode with plenty of twists and turns. Alice played cat and mouse with Sophie, Beth caught up on the drama and got involved herself, and we finally saw the childhood moment when Beth became Alice. This episode leaned into everything that makes Batwoman a great show: Rachel Skarsten’s wiley Alice, a decent thrill as we race to figure out the real plot, and a priority on storytelling with real depth.
Alice and Sophie was a scene pairing I didn’t know I needed. This whole series started with Alice going after Sophie, but since then they haven’t spent much time together. One off note for me, though, was that the last time the subject came up, Alice clearly thought Kate was gay. Now she seems not only in the loop on Kate’s sexuality, but intimately aware of the drama between Kate and Sophie. What changed? Reading the cover spread in Catco wouldn’t tell her that. Given Alice’s penchant for snark, it feels strange that Alice never made any kind of remark about Kate’s sexuality, one way or the other, in the last episode or this one.
Alice’s trip back down memory lane was a visceral one, with all the face-sewing and kitten-killing, but also a deeply necessary one. Earlier this season when Kate and Alice ran away to the diner, the episode purported to finally tell us what happened to Beth after the car accident. It gave us the immediate aftermath, but left open how Beth became Alice, which always seemed like the more important question. While I suspect the show will continue to mine the emotional depths of these flashbacks for as long as Alice is on the show, this episode finally delivered the goods.
Beth and Johnny bonded over Alice in Wonderland and his father’s cruelty, with Beth dissociating completely after her captor murdered her cat and made her sew Johnny’s face on. That light switch moment showed Beth’s survival-mode choice to completely compartmentalize her life in the basement as a different person and reality from the one she grew up in. Notably, it came after seeing the photo of her father married to Catherine, posing with Kate and Mary as the new daughter/sister. Alice and Mouse’s bond makes more sense in this context as well. It’s clear, after seeing how cruel Mouse’s father was to both of them, that the children were both hostages, even if only one of them was locked in the basement.
It’s a pleasant relief that Beth, who has a master’s degree in astrophysics, is pretty chill with multiple universes and immediately gets on board. Yes, she has an emotional response, but we thankfully get to skip the incredulity and keep things moving, which contributes to the brisk pace of this episode, which keeps whipping through plot. Similarly, at the end of the episode, Mary has delightfully read Beth’s thesis in a day and has figured out the multiverse theory, the collapse, and anomalies all in one go. Can we just tell her already? This gang of Kate, Luke, Beth, Mary (and to a lesser degree, Sophie) is starting to coalesce nicely, but everybody needs to be in on all the secrets for the crew to fully emerge. I’m ready for Team Batwoman now, please!
It was great to have Luke back in action for real this episode, after he (mostly) sat out the Crisis and he was (mostly) sidelined during Terrier’s technology blitz. He had an unenviable job of catching up Beth on an awful lot of bad news, but it all came across as great chemistry between two people rolling with the punches. Kate opening up to him about feeling guilty for not saving Beth on this Earth, when clearly another version of her did on another Earth, was another lovely moment that I’d like to see more of, and preferably going both ways.
Alice went hard at Sophie over her sexuality in a much more direct way than I expected the show to allow her. It was absolutely the right choice – there’s no way Alice would have any qualms over the politics of coming out, and she could certainly justify to herself that she’s only trying to get her sister’s true love to come out so they can be together, when she’s in one of her more charitable moods. Letting Sophie’s journey linger for multiple episodes is a good thing, and having an outside force go at her like this was a good way to prolong the time and let Sophie stew without tipping her hand as to where she stands just yet. I think we can all guess, but for now, it’s better to let Alice be the villain she is.
Speaking of villains, it makes sense that someone would have a hard time with Batwoman being a lesbian, and it’s kind of great that people protested, though I feel like it’s more of a twitter scenario than a rally. I’m enjoying the slow development of fandom surrounding Batwoman – it makes sense that at this point, the color red on their cell phones is as far as anyone has gotten. Presumably we haven’t yet reached the tattoo phase from the promos, but it can’t be that far off.
Using the multiple earths as a what-if machine continues to be narratively fruitful for the Arrowverse shows. While Kate put that concern aside for the moment, it’s hard not to think she’ll continue to torture herself for not climbing back in the car and saving Beth.
Speaking of saving Beth, the writers almost had me for a minute at the end when Beth was trapped in the trunk of the burning care. It would have been some kind of weird poetic symmetry for Beth to die in a car on this earth, as she was “meant” to, though I prefer her sticking around for more than one episode. Besides, those headaches she and Alice had are mighty intriguing. Perhaps Earth Prime is rejecting the anomalies? That is, if Jake Kane doesn’t get to Alice first.
Sooo Beth thinks Luke is hot? Or does some other guy work the Wayne Enterprises desk on her Earth? This is a reminder that we haven’t adequately discussed Swole Luke from the Crisis.
Thank goodness they quickly figured out Mary isn’t losing her mind – I sort of hate doing that to characters for too long.
The Jonny’s as the caterpillar, with his pipe and multi-lens glasses, was downright inspired.
The shot of Batwoman descending on the protest was cool as hell, downright cinemagraphic.
Kate’s bar is called The Hold Up! Very cool.
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