For some, retro means 1970s clothes, 1980s music, or a certain 1990s aesthetic, but for Batwoman it’s all about Kate Beckinsale movies. This week, Batwoman asks the question “what if vampires wore silky trenchcoats?” Spoilers follow for Batwoman season 1, episode 13, “Drink Me.”
This week is what we call an “off week,” where a serial show takes a break from the main plot to give its main characters a break and some space to breathe (and, you know, to pad out the required season episode count). This week, there’s a bloodsucker on the loose that newspapers are calling Nocturna. That seems like much too cool a name for newspapers to come up with, but good on the Gotham press for being on top of it.
Kate is still mourning the loss of her otherworldly sister and the survival of her true sister. She attempted to make a good decision, but the universe (and Mouse’s father) took that away, leaving Alice the survivor. Only Kate really knows that Alice isn’t dead, though. Her father Jacob and his second-in-command Sophie go to see Beth’s body in the Gotham morgue and fully believe they’re looking at Alice. Kate, Luke, and Mary are the only ones who have seen the two together. Meanwhile, Alice is hanging out in an abandoned mannequin factory, which is very on-brand for her and seems like an intentional image-related move on her part.
Noctura is meant to be a distraction for Kate, and quite literally. Luke brings her a tablet showing off the first news stories about Nocturna and points her out as a way for Kate to get her mind off of the philosophical quagmire she’s stuck in.
At least they tried.
Batwoman hasn’t been as good with humor as some of the other shows in the Arrowverse have been, and we see that here as one moment lands and the other stumbles and thuds. Luke rightly points out that a vampire living in a big city feels like something out of the early 2000s, but then they try to have a cute awkward moment where Kate knows a cool club that Luke has never heard of. The later moment just didn’t work for me at all.
Kate quickly tracks down Nocturna, which I appreciate. Kate’s problem is that of experience, not ability, and that shows here as she takes on Nocturna and loses when Nocturna bites her and injects Ketamine into her blood, paralyzing her.
One of the biggest weaknesses in Batwoman’s story thus far is the relationship between Kate and Sophie. Sophie has been a poorly-used character in general; most of her story beats have fallen flat. This week finally amps up the tension between Batwoman and Sophie. Their first encounter of the episode has Sophie freeing Batwoman before the rest of the Crows get in, telling Batwoman that she can’t help her anymore.
This might be the first time in 13 episodes that I’ve sensed any emotional tension between these two characters. Later, when Jacob is monologuing to the Crows, Sophie stares at the wall-sized projection of Batwoman and looks absolutely enamored.
You know, a vampire trap
Kate and Luke try to set up a trap for Nocturna by throwing a party for Kate’s new bar. Their first seemingly positive ID goes wrong; it ends up being more about Kate acting like a possessive ex-girlfriend when she interrupts Sophie flirting with the first Kate Beckinsale stunt double of the night.
I do like this sequence overall, though. The club has a wildly diverse set of characters roaming around, and it ends up looking more like the grimy, weird Gotham we know and love.
The sting operation also puts Luke and Kate’s operation on the spot as Kate talks to Luke through his earpiece and he responds to her… in front of Mary. Mary has already proven to be pretty smart, and this ends up being a final straw in Kate hiding her identity from the young doctor.
Alice drops in
While all that’s going on, Alice shows up, but she seems to have a one-track mind. She’s not there to mess up the party or cause Kate trouble, she juts wants her Mouse back. Kate, of course, has no idea where Mouse is, because August is the one who has him. Kate tries to talk to Alice about the whole “I chose to save your good twin since you kept killing everyone” thing, but Alice isn’t having any of it. She storms back to her mannequin factory, ranting about how she shouldn’t let Kate get into her head, when Nocturna shows up and puts the bite on her.
I like that Alice is vulnerable and can fall victim to someone who gets the drop on her. Her advantages are that she’s smart, she anticipates the moves of others, and she’s crazy enough to do things normal people won’t. She’s not a superhuman, she doesn’t have power armor. If someone sneaks in and gets her from behind, she’s in trouble. It makes her a lot more interesting than someone who seems invincible. Alice is a survivor, not an impenetrable safe.
Alice convinces Nocturna to go after Mary, whose blood is still infused with the cure-all solution that Alice gave her, but then tells Kate that she did as much. Kate tracks Nocturna down to where else, but an abandoned church. They fight, and Nocturna once again gets the better of Kate, but Alice shows up to club Nocturna over the head, seemingly to prove that Kate saved the wrong sister and that she could’ve saved this way better one instead of the boring basic scientist one.
Tension paid off (finally)
Back in her spooky factory, one of Alice’s rabbits brings her a file on the doctor who saw Mouse, and she immediately spots the part of his file where he took a sabbatical and then came back and just happened to start working on subjects like Mouse–young burn victims. Again, Alice’s power is that she’s perceptive, and I appreciate that the show doesn’t leave her in the dark on anything for long.
Kate leaves a cuffed Nocturna, burnt by a UV flashlight, for the Crows, but we find out that Jacob knows about Sophie helping Batwoman and suspends her, forcing her to suffer consequences for her wavering loyalty. Sophie confronts Batwoman about it, and the two kiss.
Took you long enough, Mary
Mary, recovering back at her lab, is considering the events of the day. She’d tested Kate’s blood and found ketamine in it. Sophie mentioned that Batwoman was injected by Nocturna with ketamine. Finally, someone figures it out. I’m not sure, though, if Sophie knows that the woman she just kissed is her ex-girlfriend. That question goes unanswered.
For being an off-week, this episode did a surprising amount with its B-plots. We saw Alice and Mary continuing to prove that they’re the most perceptive people on the show. Sophie finally gets something to do. Kate works through her guilt about Beth.
These observations don’t fit elsewhere into the story, but they’re worth mentioning: Nocturna is played by the second Kate Beckinsale stand-in of the episode, Kayla Ewell, and it’s been pointed out to me that she played a vampire on the CW in Vampire Diaries. I appreciated Sophie calling out Jacob on the Crows’ use of force, too. She had her dalliance with it last week, but it seems like she’s learned her lesson. A private military corporation complaining about vigilantes hardly seems appropriate. Again, this seems like a good step for her character. Maybe she’ll finally get something to do.
Overall this episode is an improvement over the last one, and I’m happy to see things getting back on track.