Batwoman recap: Holding out for a hero
To be honest, I didn’t like the first episode of Batwoman. It failed to hook me. Don’t get me wrong: I’m a card-carrying member of the Arrowverse fan club, but this was the first time I felt truly uninspired by a new series in this shared comic book world. The writing felt predictable, the dialogue clunky, and after years of Arrow setting the bar insanely high for what a CW show can pull off, the action just felt dated and fake.
Simply put, I’ve come to expect more from these shows — but I’m not giving up on Batwoman just yet. Pilot episodes are notoriously hard to pull off, and Legends of Tomorrow took a full season to become what it was meant to be. So I’m not in, but I’m not out. I’m also not your regular Batwoman recapper; I’m just filling in this week, please so bear with me.
Something I was hoping Batwoman would ditch after the pilot is the awkward narration (please, kill it with fire), but the show unfortunately doubles down on that in the first few moments of episode 2. “The Rabbit Hole” begins with Kate talking to her missing cousin Bruce about the 15 years she spent hoping her sister was still alive after the accident. She fully subscribes to the TV rule of “If you don’t find a body, assume the person is still alive.” Neither the police nor Batman ever found Beth’s body, and Kate and her father, Jacob, continued looking long after everyone else gave up. They’re still looking today, but while Kate knows that Alice is Beth, her father has no clue that the manhunt he’s leading is for his missing daughter. Kate’s been spending her nights doing recon as Batwoman and is surprised to find out her suit is bulletproof. Shouldn’t that be something she tests out before getting shot point blank by fleeing criminals?
Meanwhile, the citizens of Gotham are ecstatic about what they think is the return of Batman. But all Kate can focus on is the search for Beth, and she wastes no time in dropping her theory at breakfast with her family. They don’t believe her, of course. Alice is holed up in an innocent old couple’s house, monologuing about how Jacob gives up when things get tough, hinting at why she’s dead-set on destroying him instead of reuniting with him. She says she wants to make him suffer the way she did, “until he’s all alone.” She also can’t find her favorite knife, which is equally distressing.
Kate’s big plan is to get DNA off Alice’s knife to prove to her father that it’s really Beth, but Luke Fox is still playing the part of naysayer, not really helping the way a sidekick usually does. So she heads over to visit Sophie at work, who immediately asks Kate if she was the caped crusader who saved her life. I do like how this show isn’t wasting time when it comes to these confrontations or big revelations. Kate laughs it off, saying that if she was going to save Sophie in dramatic fashion, she’d “do it dressed as Wonder Woman.” Hell yes! Kate asks Sophie for help getting DNA off Alice’s knife, explaining her entire theory about Alice/Beth in the process, but Sophie refuses because of how Jacob would react. Kate then gets serious and says that if she had known Sophie was getting married, she would have come back sooner, “not to go [to the wedding], to stop it.”
But their heart-to-heart is rudely interrupted by Alice’s rabbits, who somehow know that Kate has Alice’s knife. (That big leap comes out of nowhere.) Punches are thrown, and the rabbits get away with the knife after Kate drops it. She and Sophie then get an earful from Jacob about bringing Alice’s rabbits right to their doorstep, but isn’t that their job? Shouldn’t they want Alice to come to them if they can’t find her themselves? Jacob refuses to think that Alice could be Beth, especially since he’s already given a shoot-to-kill order for her.
Kate finds one of Alice’s rabbits at her stepsister Mary’s clinic and lets him go after giving him a message to tell Alice: “waffles.” Sounds like some sister code to me! At Crow HQ, Jacob realizes that Alice and her rabbits are holed up in a suburban house (because it’s definitely their old house), and Kate asks Sophie to buy her time to prove to her dad that Alice is Beth. Jacob believes that Alice is just trying to get into his head, which is why she’s murdering innocent people at her childhood home, while Kate heads to the waffle stand they used to frequent as kids to find Alice on the swings.
“Well, look who finally figured it out.” Wow, Batwoman really isn’t holding anything back, is it? Two episodes in and we not only have confirmation on the mystery of who Alice is, but we also now have a confrontation between Alice and Kate. Weirdly enough, Alice doesn’t have her knife back, which leads Kate to realize someone else had the rabbits jump her.
For as much as I’m not on board with the dialogue of this show yet, I have to admit that Rachel Skarsten is elevating what could have been incredibly awkward lines as Alice. Her intensity wavers between unhinged glee and absolute rage over being abandoned during the accident, and it’s proving to be a true highlight. Kate manages to get through Alice’s hard shell by admitting that she never moved on from losing Beth because she should have gone down in the car with her, and Alice cuts her hand to give Kate her DNA to prove her identity to Jacob. But Sophie already tipped Jacob off to where Kate and Alice would be meeting and the Crows converge, ready to shoot Alice on sight.
In the tense standoff, Kate manages to convince Jacob to bring Alice in instead of killing her, and he gives the order to take Alice to Arkham. But as she’s being carted off in handcuffs, Alice brags to Kate that she doesn’t like to share, letting her know that Mary is in danger.
Mary is no damsel in distress, though. She ends up saving herself from Alice’s second-in-command/boyfriend by using the batarang she pulled out of the rabbit she treated earlier to get away, stalling long enough for Kate to come in and take him away. But while Kate is distracted, Alice’s police transport gets hit by a bomb while driving over a bridge and she almost drowns in the lake the same way everyone thought she died as a kid. Kate hurries to the accident scene, dives down, and uses a rebreather to keep herself and Alice alive while the police shoot into the water. They share a moment where Alice caresses Kate’s face, but then a shot hits the van’s fuel tank and explodes, blasting them apart.
Luke uses a remote defibrillator on the suit to wake Kate up before the cops find her on the side of the river. Alice, however, isn’t found, and Gotham’s Vesper Fairchild starts to wonder on her podcast if the city put its hope in a ghost since, at least in the public’s eyes, Batman never showed up to the accident.
Kate shows up to Mary’s secret clinic to apologize for missing out on their sister night, but Mary is too upset about being attacked by Alice’s “boyfriend” to accept it. Especially since she was only attacked because she’s Kate’s sister, and Kate hasn’t treated her like an actual sister, ever. She asks Kate to tell Alice that she’s not a threat, and it’s clear the damage has been done to their relationship before it could even take off.
Back at Crow HQ, Jacob is furious that someone planted a bomb on the bridge Alice’s transport was scheduled to cross, and suspects something fishy is going on between the Crows and the GCPD. Ah, corruption, one of the common through-lines in any story about Gotham.
In flashbacks, we see how a young Kate didn’t give up hope trying to search for Beth after the accident, but Jacob finally breaks the news to her that bone fragments were found from a skull. Set to a haunting Billie Eilish track, it’s a heartbreaking scene that shows the first moments this father-daughter relationship splintered and speaks to where they are now. To hammer home the heartbreak further, Kate confronts Sophie in the present day about selling her out to the Crows and finally gets to finish their conversation from before. Sophie says she’s happy, there’s no more them anymore, and that Kate needs to move on. And she does… in the form of beating up Alice’s “boyfriend,” whom she’s secretly keeping tied up to extract information on her long-lost sister. She’s going to need all the information she can get, too, because Alice knows it’s Kate underneath the cowl and cape. That’s not great!
At Wayne Enterprises, Kate thanks Luke for bailing her out when the cops were descending, and they finally start to act like allies, if not friends. But Luke once again points out that Kate is giving people hope by wearing the Batman suit. She’s so one-track-minded that she doesn’t care, but that’s obviously going to change soon when she takes up the Batwoman moniker.
The episode doesn’t end without another twist: It was Mary’s mother, Catherine, who hired men in rabbit masks to jump Kate for Alice’s knife. She has a hired goon make the knife disappear “like it never happened.” Pair this reveal with the fact that Catherine was the investigator who found the skull fragments that called off the search for Beth in the first place 15 years ago, and we’ve officially got a new mystery on our hands. Why is she so determined to make Beth disappear, both in the present and the past? Is she the real villain of the story?
Batwoman’s second episode doesn’t do much to fix the issues that emerged in the pilot, but its willingness to throw caution to the wind with plot feels in line with the other Arrowverse shows. I’m still not hooked, but I’ll stick around for more.