Two opposing ideas have powered Batwoman since its pilot and right up until now: Kate believes she can save her sister, Alice; Alice doesn’t want to be saved and instead wants to prove that with a “mad tea party” to make her statement to Gotham and the world. This week, Alice intends to prove her point by holding her party. Spoilers follow for Batwoman Season 1, Episode 8, “Mad Tea Party.”
“Mad Tea Party”
The Arrowverse has had a lot of complicated episodes this season, but this week–frantic as it is–is refreshingly simple in that everything ties into one of those two threads. Everything that happens is about Batwoman stopping Alice, or Alice holding her tea party.
In short, the episode exposes Kate’s inexperience and naivete and puts Alice’s cunning on lethal display. The night of Alice’s party also happens to be the night of Catherine Hamilton’s big gala. Jacob Cane’s wife is being honored for her humanitarian contributions. Alice plans to upend that triumphant moment and, as a result, turns a bunch of relationships on their collective heads.
The Falcone family would be proud
To that end, Alice kidnapped Jacob and has Mouse impersonating him. As Jacob, Mouse’s job is to get Catherine to the party in the condition Alice wants her and to make sure that the Crows, Jacob’s para-military company, can’t interfere. The party kicks off while Catherine is giving her speech. Under Alice’s direction, Catherine outs herself as benefitting from Gotham’s dangerous condition by both supplying weapons through her company and benefitting from the success of Jacob Kane’s company protecting people. In law enforcement, they call that racketeering – creating a problem and selling the solution for it. In other words, Alice isn’t wrong.
But the icing on the cake is that while Catherine was giving that revealing speech, a neurotoxin developed by Catherine’s own company was coursing through her veins, taking effect on both her and her daughter, Mary. Alice offered up a cure, but only one dose of it, and soon Catherine died in her daughter’s arms.
No one is the same after this
In one night, Alice has changed almost every relationship on the show. Kate spent the episode trying desperately to get her sister to see reason while her sister put the final parts of her plan into place. Over and over, Kate showed up in plainclothes and talked to Alice in front of her masked goons, never trying to hide the fact that she’s Batwoman. Alice also pulls a tearful admission from her father, Jacob, too. With Catherine’s death, though, both father and sister made it clear in no uncertain terms: they’re done trying to save Alice.
The episode also pushed Kate’s relationship with Mary to its breaking point. Mary, Catherine’s daughter, has consistently been one of the more interesting characters on the show. Like Kate, she lives a double life. By day, she’s an air-headed socialite with a huge social media following. When she’s not at school or tearing up the ‘Gram, though, she runs an underground clinic, which she finds out her mother knew about the whole time.
Since day one, Mary has craved approval and attention from Kate. Kate, occupied by her new night job and her newly-revived biological sister, hasn’t given Mary an inch. Mary’s been good about it so far, but her frustration comes to a head in this episode, and Kate’s misplaced faith in her biological sister damages her relationship with her step-sister, quite possibly beyond repair.
A slice of Whitebread
Even secondary characters see their relationships altered. Mouse, disguised as Jacob, is briefing Sophie and her husband on the evening’s events. I can never remember the husband’s name, so I’m going to call him Whitebread. Mouse-Jacob knocks them out and ties them up so that they can’t interfere. That puts Sophie and Whitebread in a position to have a hard talk about Sophie’s feelings for Kate. Whitebread is done letting Sophie hem and haw about it and decides to make the choice Sophie won’t. Could she once again be a love interest for Kate?
There’s so much good stuff here. By giving Alice this victory, the show puts Batwoman’s inexperience in the limelight. She did everything she could to save Catherine but ultimately was occupied fighting her sister’s thugs. Alice, meanwhile, executed her plan to perfection, and let Kate know that she’s alive specifically because she wants her to be.
It also means that, when we next return to Batwoman proper, we don’t know where things will be. Batwoman episode 4 caught us up to last year’s Elseworlds crossover. Batwoman episode 9, just five episodes later, is part of the Crisis on Infinite Earths crossover. So will Batwoman skip a year to account for the crossover? That would be a really interesting move that would also give all these relationships changes in-universe time to marinate. We could see very different versions of these characters.
That seems logical, but it’s anyone’s guess right now how this will all go down. This is one of my favorite episodes of Batwoman yet because of how it handles Alice and how it allows her successful plan to ripple out through the other characters so believably. I’m eager to see where things end up.