With the Crisis on Infinite Earths now over, it’s time for both us and our heroes to do what you have to do after a big vacation or some serious drama: go back to normal, everyday life. The first character to step back into the world is Kate Kane–Batwoman. At first, it doesn’t seem like much in the world of Gotham has changed, but beware full spoilers for Batwoman season 1, episode 10, “How Queer Everything is Today!”
“How Queer Everything is Today!”
Kate is still recovering from the incredible Crisis that now lies behind her. She found out that she is, objectively, a paragon of courage. She was one of the last living entities in existence until the Spectre created Earth-Prime and the other parallel worlds around it. And now she has to carry that knowledge into the rest of her life, and it weighs on her.
Things start out fast as a train careens toward impact. Thanks to a fast bike, Kate is able to get to the train in time and she stops it in the first of a few “that’s not how this works” moments. Kate stops the train with a grappling hook, which certainly would’ve torn out of the train, torn out of whatever it was anchored to, or–even if it had worked the way the show showed it working–people would’ve died from the sudden stop. I try not to nitpick on superhero silliness but that moment stood out.
Batwoman and… Captain America?!
Regardless, Batwoman stops the train. The grappling hook does become unmoored and only the quick thinking of a handsome, chiseled man in uniform saves her from certain decapitation. And instantly, people with phone cameras surround her to capture a shot of Batwoman beneath the manly man.
I want to stop for a second here and take note of the fact that Batwoman seems to be the only show in the Arrowverse concerned with the way social media works in the real world. Legends gets a pass here because it’s a show about time travel, but the rest of the shows either pretend it doesn’t exist–is Iris really opening a newspaper in 2019/2020?–or uses it for some sci-fi mumbo jumbo. Batwoman actually does the latter with the hacker plot this week, but even with that, the show still treats social media as a part of the world instead of a plot convenience. We see how Kate’s step-sister Mary shows one version of herself on her social media stories and then lives a different way from day-to-day. We see how social media affects the perception of Batwoman.
Identity & Representation
This week, it’s about identity and representation. After her near-death experience, social media is atwitter with people “shipping” Batwoman and her savior, whom they refer to as looking like Chris Evans and Captain America in yet another confirmation that the MCU exists in the Arrowverse.
Kate feels conflicted in light of this development. On the one hand, her secret identity matters to her and the safety of her loved ones. Misinformation about Batwoman can only help that, and the idea that Batwoman has a romance with this dopey police officer would do the trick. But Kate isn’t straight and feels like she’s lying by letting the world believe that.
That goes on the back burner, though. The hacker puts a ransom on the city, threatening to hack the city and release all its citizens’ personal information. Again, that’s not how that works. Unless every citizen in Gotham has their credit cards through the First Bank of Gotham, is signed up for a Gotham-specific social media platform, and uses Gotham’s municipal search engine instead of Google.
But I digress.
The hacker isn’t stopping, so Kate has to stop her. Meanwhile, Alice is still on the loose. After a quaint picnic by Catherine Hamilton Kane’s grave, Alice sets about getting her sister’s attention.
Kate tracks the hacker to her old high school, where she finds out that the hacker is one of the students there. The student, named Parker, is a young gay woman who was un-closeted against her will by her ex-girlfriend and has seen her whole life thrown into turmoil. She’s struggling with her identity after what her ex did to her. Kate corners the hacker, who cusses out the masked vigilante, talking about how she was probably one of the popular girls in school, a straight girl who has no idea what a young gay woman is going through.
Meanwhile, Alice figures out where Kate is thanks to a thousand students posting about her on social media and captures Parker to force Kate to reveal her identity and ruin the ‘illusion’ that she’s a hero. Quick thinking by Parker saves Kate’s identity and attracts the police to the high school. While the school is blown up in an explosion using bombs that Alice somehow planted ahead of time, no one is hurt. Alice is arrested.
The whole ordeal makes Kate rethink Batwoman’s identity, and Batwoman comes out in an interview with the same reporter who broke the news about corruption inside the White House: Kara Danvers. We don’t see Kara in this episode, but it’s the first acknowledgment of the unified world in the episode if we don’t include Luke Fox sarcastically mentioning it over Kate’s communicator.
Another kind of identity crisis
And then, things get weird. Kate returns to her office to find her sister, Beth, with long brown hair, back from time abroad. Rachel Skarsten–who plays Alice–is playing her. Kate instantly checks to make sure it’s not Mouse wearing a mask. It ain’t. This appears to be the first weird twist of the post-Crisis world. You can’t mash three-plus worlds together without things getting a little weird, and the idea that two doppelgangers might continue existing isn’t the wildest thing. This appears to be the real Beth, which then calls a whole bunch of things into question.
In the background, Catherine’s death continues to affect her family. Jacob is in jail, with his life under constant threat. Somehow, the prison administration decides not to put him in solitary to keep him safe from a prison full of people he jailed. Mary, meanwhile, is buried in negativity coming from her social media base, who sees her as the daughter of a weapons maker and a private police force.
This new twist of a seemingly real Beth appearing throws a lot of stuff into question. It’s the kind of thing that would feel like a silly soap opera-style twist in any other season of the show, but here it seems to demonstrate the opportunities provided by an event like Crisis on Infinite Earths. I’m excited to see what the show does with this opportunity.