Following the events of Crisis on Infinite Earths, Batwoman found herself living in a new world. Putting aside the presence of Kryptonians and other aliens, the weirdest moment for Kate happens when her sister Beth–not Alice–walks through her door. The two quickly figure out that Beth is a remnant from another Earth destroyed in the Crisis, but that doesn’t stop the two from bonding quickly and becoming sisters all over again. Then, in the closing minutes of the episode, Beth collapses as debilitating pain shoots through her body. Alice is doing exactly the same thing across town. Uh oh. Spoilers follow for Batwoman, season 1, Episode 12, “Take Your Choice.”
“Take Your Choice”
Batwoman seems to be in somewhat of a holding pattern this week. There are two main storylines: Jacob’s imprisonment and the Beth-Alice dilemma.
The former I simply cannot bring myself to care about. Jacob Kane is in jail for the crimes Mouse committed while wearing his face. In a world where we have shapeshifting metahumans and aliens, plastic surgeons for some reason find the idea that someone could duplicate another’s face and voice to be comically unrealistic. Finally, Jacob and Sophie find a surgeon willing to look into it if only he can see Mouse for himself. I’m angry that I didn’t see this super-obvious twist ahead of time.
The surgeon, you see, is Mouse’s father, himself wearing a new face. In the time since he last saw his son, Dr. August Cartwright has mastered the ability to create and wear temporary–but convincing–faces. Mouse’s evil dad chews him out for choosing Alice over him. For the first time in the series, Mouse seems to have his facilities about him. He tells his father that he chose Alice because she accepted him at face value–pun intended–rather than trying to fix his scarred visage.
Meanwhile, Jacob is still a cop in jail. Well, technically he’s the commander of a paramilitary organization, but it doesn’t take long for someone to shank him.
Before that, though, he tells Sophie to do whatever must be done to recapture Alice. Sophie is acting commander of the Crows while Jacob is detained. She puts a shoot-on-sight command out, giving the Crows license to kick down the doors of every poor person in Gotham. Sophie doesn’t know about Reverse-Alice, either, which means that she’s now in danger of being shot if the wrong person spots her.
Meanwhile, in the outside world, Beth and Alice are both in incredible pain. Luke, Mary, and Beth roll up on a Crows checkpoint and barely make it out alive when Batwoman saves them. Most of the episode takes place in Kate’s office while they try to figure out how to save Beth. The parts that don’t feature Alice running around town trying to figure out what’s going on before stumbling into Kate’s office to see her own face.
The first of two Deus Ex Machina comes when Mary and Alice both realize that the cure that Alice gave Mary would give one Beth Kane just enough regenerative power to edge out the other Beth Kane and survive. Mary manages to keep the cure away from Alice and deliver it to Kate and Luke.
The choice is a rough one for Kate: choose the person that really is her sister, or the one that is technically her sister, but not really. Most of the episode revolves around this choice.
It’s somewhat of a surprise when Kate walks into Mary’s clinic, where Alice is chained up and reveals that she gave the cure to Beth. Kate cries on Alice’s shirt while the last of Alice’s life drains from her. Across the city, Luke is dropping Beth off somewhere very public and open instead of keeping her in the Batcave for a while longer, which gives Mouse’s father, August, a chance to kill the woman who took his son away from him. He thinks Beth is Alice, and shoots her through the chest in the episode’s second Deus Ex Machina.
With Beth dead, Alice gets her life back and Kate, still bleary-eyed, gives a proper oh-shit look before Alice clobbers her.
There was a better way
It’s not that there’s nothing good here. For once, Kate made the right choice pretty easily. She saved the Beth that acts like her sister and wants to be her sister over the Beth who has been hunting her and killing her loved ones since last fall. It’s an easy choice, and I’m glad to see an Arrowverse character not be Stupidly Noble for once.
And it’s not like the Tale of Two Beths was going to go on for long. Initially, I thought that the good Beth would live, but that she would slowly “sync up” with Alice. Then, Kate would have to lose her sister all over again, while Beth would try to resist the transformation as her memories merged. This would give us an even more complicated villain for Kate to tangle with.
Instead, a cure that shouldn’t have worked gives the characters a chance to hope. Only August, who had no reasonable way to know that Beth would be where she was, was there to unknowingly kill the woman who could bring his son back to him. It means we get more Alice, but there was a better way to do it.
Ultimately, I’m frustrated by this episode despite having so much time with my favorite character, Alice.