Batwoman made a big promise last week. Since it started, the series has danced around the idea of bringing in Batman villains. We’ve heard mention of the Riddler, of Scarecrow. Luke even implied that the Joker is dead. But we haven’t seen any of these iconic characters in the flesh–that is, until now. Last week had former billionaire Tommy Elliott giving up his face in exchange for freedom. You know what that means. Spoilers follow for Batwoman Season 1, Episode 19, “A Secret Kept from All the Rest.”
“A Secret Kept from All the Rest”
This week’s episode makes good on the promise of showing us Hush right away as he charges into a library, killing a few people with his silenced pistols before taking a professor hostage. He gets the name “Hush” not as a matter of his personal design but because someone overheard him say “hush” to the professor. Even though this makes sense–the public is going to make up a name for a flashy killer before the killer can get their name out through an official press release–it also kind of sets the tone for this version of the character.
I generally love what the Arrowverse does with its takes on DC heroes and villains. Arrow faltered early on, and so did The Flash, but the universe has had a ton of great villains. Hush probably won’t be one of them. In the comics, Thomas Elliott is very much Bruce Wayne’s equal. He’s rich, handsome, accomplished, and brilliant. He’s a master physician and strategist, a good-enough planner that he could at least annoy Ra’s Al Ghul.
Hush kinda sucks
This version of Tommy resembles that one. Tommy was friends with Bruce Wayne growing up, and indeed, Batman saved this Tommy’s mother the same way Thomas Wayne did the comic version’s, giving both versions reason to resent and obsess over Bruce Wayne. However, where comic Hush was a brilliant doctor, Batwoman’s Tommy is a clever guy, but that’s about it. He’s a Real Estate magnate, a land developer. There’s nothing about his character that suggests he’s the dangerous, capable adversary that he was in the books.
Indeed, the story serves to make him submissive to Alice. She’s holding his new face hostage while she tries to decipher Lucius Fox’s journal. Since her betrayal, Alice has become obsessed with killing Kate and Batwoman, and she uses Tommy’s predicament as an excuse to make him her pet. The show cuts away from Hush’s kidnapping long enough to show us Kate tracking down Regan, who reveals that Julia interrogated her before Kate. But when we cut back, Hush is back in Arkham, and the kidnapped processor is lashed to an electro-shock therapy chair as Alice tries to force him to decode Fox’s journal.
This Hush seems to be little more than a henchman. He looks and sounds cool, and quite authentic, but he feels like a bit of a shadow comparatively. I was never a big fan of Hush, but this is a pretty disappointing portrayal of the character all told.
In fact, his big moment has him coming face to face with Batwoman, only for her to knock his pistols out of his hands and lodge a batarang in his leg with ease. She rescues the girl he’d kidnapped–the young hacker named Parker from earlier this year–and sends him running back to Alice. Negative Man wore the jacket and bandages better.
Our happy little home
Alice is hunting down cryptographers, killing two of them before finally setting her sights on Lucius Fox’s own son. Events conspire to put Julia Pennyworth and Luke Fox, the children of Bruce Wayne’s closest allies, in the hotseat. Alice asks Luke to decode his father’s book with Julia as the hostage. Luke is Alice’s third try. She has really unrealistic expectations about how decryption works.
The whole time, Mouse begs her to lay off. In Arkham, the two have safety and each other. When someone points out later that Alice shouldn’t be able to orchestrate heists from Arkham, Kate smartly points out that “being captive is a way of life for Alice.” She’s right–Alice was born in captivity. That she’s used to finding ways to function there makes perfect sense. But it’s also a way of life for Mouse. It’s comfort for him. It’s all he knows. He just wants to be with Alice and lord over a small kingdom. Alice has bigger ambitions.
Batwoman eventually tracks Alice and Hush to Arkham and drops in unannounced. This is the big setpiece for the episode. After dropping a few guards, she puts on her bat goggles and scans the place. There’s a cool visual effect here as she scans the different signals and layout that is definitively Batman in flavor. It feels really authentic.
Kate locates Alice and bargains for Luke’s life at great cost. One of the Arkham guards pulls the alarm, though, and then Alice flips the switch that lets out all the inmates. There’s a killer combat scene here as Batwoman takes on a dozen inmates with her bo-staff. She’s not invincible, but more than holds her own. The whole fight looks great, and it’s definitely one of the better throwdowns of the season. There’s also a great shot of Ruby Rose in the mask as she happens upon the inmate brawl. Getting expression through with a mask can be tough, but the look of “we have to deal with this, don’t we?” is genuinely funny.
This week’s events set Jacob Kane off, though, and he declares war on Batwoman. In fact, the episode ends with Jacob summoning Batwoman using the bat signal to tell her as much. I’m not sure how I feel about this storyline. The big scary policeman pursuing the superhero when there are clearly bad villains running around doing worse things is pretty tired. We saw it in Arrow and The Flash, and the theme has popped up in Batman stories over the years. One of the elements of Batwoman that sets it apart is that Jacob is supportive of Kate, supplying her with her initial equipment. I think the writers want to earn that trust, or have the decision to trust her be a big emotional moment, but I’m not sure that I need that. There are other ways to explore the father-daughter bond than a dramatic unmasking after lots of fighting.
Alice is feeling a little green
What happens at the end, though, has me particularly intrigued. Alice and Mouse are in the sewers while she reads through Lucius’ book using the Tony Stark glasses that Kate and Mary found in Lucius’ things. Mouse is miserable and asks what happened to her, viewing her as someone who has changed. She says that all she cares about is killing “the Bat,” and she says that for her next step, she needs some Kryptonite. That is interesting. It makes me wonder if the season was heading toward some kind of Batwoman/Supergirl World’s Finest crossover that we could see take root next season. Kryptonite is awfully specific and it definitely has me curious.
I’m disappointed that Hush isn’t more interesting, but I also don’t find him super interesting in the comics. The episode didn’t do Hush justice, but it tried to make up for it with some great combat, some cool visual effects, and by putting Jacob and Julia Pennyworth’s employer, Safiyah Sohail, on Kate’s radar. She’s in a lot of danger between those two and Alice, who doesn’t appear to be going anywhere as Season 1 comes to a close.