After a slow start last week, Batwoman is starting to get up to speed. In fact, I’m really impressed with how the plot is moving forward. Instead of switching right over to a villain of the week, Batwoman is continuing to explore… Batwoman (and Alice). Spoilers for episode 2 follow.
“Down the Rabbit Hole”
Last week, we got a general gist of what’s up in Gotham. The Crows are protecting the city in Batman’s absence. The people blame Batman for his own disappearance rather than worrying. Meanwhile, Kate Kane has been off training around the world, subjected to extreme conditions to prepare her for life in a paramilitary company. Just as Kate returns to Gotham, a new gang is arriving on the scene, led by a woman named Alice. Wearing a modified version of the Batsuit, Kate stopped Alice’s plan to sacrifice her ex-girlfriend to make a statement about the Crows and Gotham City.
Most other Arrowverse shows would jump over to weekly villain stories at this point, but Batwoman is sticking right with Alice, and it’s both refreshing and encouraging.
Alice looks like a Joker knock-off, but she’s doing her own thing. She’s definitely not playing at insanity or anything like it. Rather, she has a clear vendetta against the Kane family. By the time episode 2 finishes, we have a clear vision of why. Instead of making us wonder at who Alice is for a full season, Batwoman just dumped it right on is: Alice is, by her own admission, Kate’s sister. Kate thought Beth – now Alice – had drowned when their car crashed into the river.
Curiouser and Curiouser
This gives the show two interesting paths to go with for Alice. If she really is Kate’s sister, we now know that and the show can work with that. If she isn’t Kate’s sister, then we have what could be an interesting headfake. The problem with Who Could It Be mysteries is that you can’t play with them for too long before people start begging for an ending.
We’ve watched Flash deal with this too many times. It turns out that the ‘Why ‘ is so much more interesting than the ‘Who’ much of the time. Now we can spend time exploring why Beth has turned on her own family or why she would fake her identity. I don’t actually doubt that Alice is who she’s telling Kate she is, though, and that has me already invested in her as a villain.
Once Kate figures out who Alice is and confronts her, we also get great chemistry between the pair. The mastermind who has not once doubted herself seems to be questioning her quest for the first time. The hero is invigorated by the truth, but gets her own book of questions to work through.
And all that focus on Alice gives us a lot more Kate to work with. We’re getting into what fuels her: hope. Her whole life has been driven by an optimistic hope that her sister might still be alive. And now she’s driven by the hope that she might get her sister back from whatever precipice she’s on. Batman stories tend to naturally be pretty grimdark, so building this character on hope seems like a great way to shift the tone of the show.
An evil stepmother? No!
And then there’s the twist of Kate’s stepmother being involved. While Alice has been out planning her revenge, it seems that the stepmother has been preparing to use Alice. We can only guess at how much the stepmother knows. If she knew Kate had the knife, does she know Kate is Batwoman? Alice knows. And what about the bone fragments that Jacob Kane found? Were those even real? And why is Jacob so resistant to even entertaining the idea that Alice could be his daughter that he’d rather kill her than find out the truth? That seems extreme even for the guilt and grief he might be experiencing.
The short version is that there’s a lot here that has me interested that last week couldn’t get to. While I don’t need the show to focus on the main storyline for every episode, I don’t mind if it does for a bit. Arrrowverse stories tend to get bogged down in their weekly villains, so this would be a refreshing change. I want to know more about Alice, and I don’t want to have to wait for it.