Batwoman Episode 15 Review: Off With Her Head

Batwoman tries its hand at horror as Alice fights her fears and Kate Kane becomes her own worst nightmare.

Batwoman Episode 15: Off With Her Head
Photo: The CW/Warner Bros Pictures TV

This Batwoman review contains spoilers.

Batwoman Episode 15

Since the great episode “Mine Is a Long and a Sad Tale” when Alice revealed what happened to her after the car accident, it has felt like there was another shoe to drop in the story of how Beth became Alice. Holy hell, was there ever.

Batwoman pivoted to horror for an episode that found a new level of emotional intensity and sends our hero on what one can only assume is an existential downward spiral for the ages. After showing flashback scenes with the girls’ mother, it truly felt like we might learn that Mama Kane was somehow alive. Plenty of other shows would have done that. Instead, it turns out August Cartwright fished her out of the river, cut off her head, kept it in a refrigerator, and was stalling on putting her face on his mother. When even Cartwright knows something is evil, you know it’s bad. 

Alice’s emotional coping mechanism finally found its Red Queen in Cartwright’s formidably frightening mother Mabel, played by Debra Mooney (Everwood). This episode is soaked in symbolism, with the girls’ mother giving them their bat mitzvah necklaces and reminding them the importance of balancing passion, courage, war, and love. Poor Kate has been doing her best, and while early on it feels like that’s a reference to needing to give herself permission to have a personal life, by the end of the hour, it’s clear that Kate has much bigger problems than whatever she has going on with Sophie. 

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The reveal of what Cartwright did to Beth’s mom was devastating and shocking, even as it became increasingly obvious. Alice even told Jake that exactly what he thought had happened is what took place, but it still felt so much more craven than all the other death and face-stealing we’ve seen before. I spent a good five minutes of this episode with my mouth agape, incredulous. The writers really nailed a reveal that fits completely into place and follows up on all the foreshadowing and hints they’ve left so it’s not a surprise exactly, but is somehow still shocking. Even better, they did it twice – once with Mrs. Kane, and again with Kate killing Cartwright. 

There’s something so devastating about the fact that the exact same information turned both Beth/Alice and Kate into a killer. That’s going to absolutely wreck her, in so many ways. Earlier in the episode, we saw Kate observe the so-called Batman rule in such a deliberate way, hitting somebody with the butt of a gun when the scene was shot to make it look for a second like she might kill them. How do you go back to being a hero who doesn’t kill when you’re a civilian who has? And how can you be a hero who’s always on call if you start to develop a drinking problem?

Mary and Luke’s banter-filled team-up provided some much-needed balance to the episode. They make a great team, which also makes it harder to accept that Mary’s still not an official member of the Bat Family. Still, her choice to let Kate know that she’ll be ready and waiting when Kate’s ready to share is emotionally mature and makes Kate come up short, something that rarely happens. It also calls to mind a positive response some people have when they realize a familiar member is queer, but hasn’t come out to them yet. 

Luke and Mary’s give and take has some nice moments, including Luke feeling like he’s on the outside of Mary’s call with Batwoman, and his mea culpa after doubting Mary. I shouldn’t be surprised – Luke is the absolutely best guy, and whatever the opposite of toxic masculinity is. I’m looking forward to him having another character he could potentially open up to, but for now we have to read between the lines on this character who plays his cards close to his vest. He objects to Mary’s hypothetical of drug use so strongly that it feels like the writers are telegraphing something. Perhaps a story of the lost years after his father was killed, or something from his childhood? We’ll have to stay tuned. 

Other notes:

  • Baby Kate Kane is very adorable with her little suit.
  • It’s always fun to see Kate Kane foil a street harasser/potential perpetrator of sexual assault.
  • The Batsignal sure is getting a workout these days.
  • A few great Mary moments: looking for how to get into the Batcave, playing all innocent, and “Sorry, doctor-vigilante confidentiality.”

Keep up with all our Batwoman TV news and reviews here.

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5 out of 5