This BATWOMAN review contains spoilers.
Batwoman Episode 19
For an episode that wasn’t originally intended to be a season finale, “Oh, Mouse!” really brings it.
One of the surprises of the episode is Alice double-crossing Mouse with poison. Here I was thinking wow, there’s not many shows that would let their villains really take a true, honest moment to honor their trauma like Batwoman is letting Alice and Mouse do. While it was a lovely moment, it then of course turns out this isn’t goodbye to their trauma, this is just another chapter, because Alice has poisoned mouse, one of only two people she truly loves in this world.
Let’s take a moment to pour one out for Mouse, that incredibly traumatized boy who only ever wanted acceptance from Alice and to GTFO an abusive situation (…and then became a killer.) We’ll miss you and your face-swapping, voice-mimicking ways.
Alice has cemented this weird chain of trauma and dependency where Mouse is to Alice as Alice is to Kate. I don’t know what the future is for her character, but I do know that a bigger, badder villain is coming our way in Safiyah. I’m so glad we’ll still have Alice for next season, and I know Batwoman would not be the show it is without the wickedly sharp Rachel Skarsten, who has made us root for her Alice all season long, even as she finds new ways to remove all hope for redemption.
But now Hush is here to stay, in all of Bruce Wayne’s glory, and I can’t imagine a better way to introduce this character. It brings up about a million questions and forces everyone into all kinds of uncomfortable situations. Alice, you absolute menace! I can’t wait to see all the chaos this brings.
Batwoman hang-gliding down to the football field was amazing, even if a touch too digital for my taste. The entire fight on the field, including the shots from Jacob, was so powerful because we felt every bit of the physicality and the fatigue. Like Atomic Blonde, this episode showed us Kate Kane’s limits, which ultimately made her strength feel more tangible.
Jacob Kane’s betrayal lands like a ton of bricks here precisely because it’s so clear how calculated it was. Sidelining Sophie and Julia, choosing not to help during the fight, surrounding her with Crows to shoot her dead. It’s brutality in cold precision, much like the brutality of multiple shots fired into a subdued Titan who was giving himself up – shots fired until he was dead. The Crows have been power-hungry mercenaries since the pilot, but this episode positions Jacob and his Crows to be an absolute nightmare on par with Alice or Safiyah next season, in another adroit move from the Batwoman creative team.
As we’ve seen all season long, the villain of the week – something Batwoman has never been all that interested in, to the show’s credit – is about so much more than it first seems. Titan himself isn’t just a cold, heartless killing machine, a “hulking Gotham Goliath” (holy coded language, Vesper Fairchild!) but a man with a family and a soul, one that was crushed over ten years playing football. His team covered up the extensive damage, for which he was exacting his revenge.
From a narrative standpoint, this week’s villain forced Batwoman and the Crows – more specifically, Jake Kane – to work together. Kate’s incredibly strong, well trained, and decked out with all kind of tech that helps her take on enemies much bigger than her. But someone who literally wasn’t getting the pain signals his brain was sending proved to be too much for her, or for the Crows alone to take on, calling for an uneasy alliance.
That truce felt far too easy, but Batwoman the show knows it, even if Batwoman the hero doesn’t. To wit: Mary, Sophie and Julia all cast doubt on the plan. Luke probably would have too if he hadn’t been so busy turning Kryptonite into dust. (Good job Luke. We knew you had it in you! Always bet on Luke and/or Mary.)
Kate sharing the secret shard of Kryptonite and its backstory with her team (without disclosing Kara’s identity) felt like the perfect end to a season that served as an origin story to the whole Bat Team more so than to Kate Kane herself as Batwoman. There are many ways in which Batwoman feels wholly unique as a superhero endeavor, and one of the best it plays closest to the vest: Batwoman is not an individual hero, but a symbol of a team. That has been foundational to her creation. Kate knows she’s not a solo act and acknowledging her comrades – whether Luke who doubts himself or Mary who she kept in the dark for so long – is the right thing to do, something that sets her apart from so many other superheroes.
There’s stiff competition for best story arc this season. Luke coming into his own, finding his people and learning to be vulnerable after a lifetime that taught him it was safest to hold it in? Mary being the greatest character from the jump and only getting better from there, when others might have written her as any number of two-dimensional stereotypes? Sophie exploring her job, relationships, identity, and family, which was all written with such care and nuance? Or Kate, at the center of it all, continually finding empathy for her sister and finding her own way back from the brink?
There are so many special things Batwoman has done in just twenty episodes. It’s a world where there are no damsels, where a hero’s secrets can be more poisonous than their identity is a liability, and a show trying to tell more than one kind of queer story at a time, with an ever-growing population of diverse queer women. I can’t wait to see what they’ll do with another season. See you in 2021.
- Kate’s ignorance of football is something of an ironic wink. It didn’t fit into our interview, but Caroline Dries included the CTE plotline here because she’s a huge football fan but is also cognizant of the issues at play in the sport.
- Hopefully next season there will be more time to delve into Kate continually devaluaing Mary’s relationship with Jacob Kane. Even if it’s accidental, it’s hurtful and pretty unaware for a grown adult.
- I’m very into collegiate Alice…until the bludgeoning
- In a nice reference for comics fans, the Channel 8 newscaster says, “I don’t remember tensions like these since Commissioner Loeb and Batman.”