Batwoman season 1, episode 16 review: Through the Looking-Glass

Kate has to help her sister break into Arkham and spring Mouse when there is a simultaneous break in the case of Lucius Fox’s murder.

When we left our tortured hero, and her twisted sister last week, Kate had to rescue an Alice dosed on Scarecrow’s Fear Toxin from her worst fear — an invalid granny Alice immolated for her constant abuse.

Kate also broke that flimsy old rule: the Batman (or woman) does not kill. She felt really bad about being made into a killer no better than Alice or any of the villains she stops and carried that guilt into action. Kate stops a crook at the top of the show but couldn’t do it without breaking his ankle and nearly strangling him.

So she has a moment: hyperventilating, suffering the effects of PTSD. Not shockingly, this was part of Alice’s plan to make killers of both Jacob Kane’s daughters and to get rid of August Cartwright once and for all. Alice, gambling that Kate would come through and end Cartwright, dropped this nugget as a dramatic little bomb that works but is rather obvious in hindsight; it’s the kind of thing Joker would do.

They finally duke it out over this — a moment too long in coming, honestly — when Kate attacks her, for a minute, but it ends abruptly. Kate relents, Alice thanks her for taking out her tormentor, and they are back to working together because, well, they’re sisters.

Deception and betrayal can’t get them to fight, it seems, and if they can’t then nothing will. But that’s just it: not all is as it seems. Kate might have a trick up her sleeve: playing along to get the better of her foe. Does she? That’d be telling, and this is a spoiler-free zone.

Madhouse

Exploring Arkham was the big hook for this week’s episode and, while the atmosphere was right, it felt a little hollow. The Asylum that houses Gotham’s most notorious rogues, and doctors, looked a lot smaller and understaffed than previous incarnations. It could have been a college campus or museum.

What might have worked better is taking a cue from WB’s Birds of Prey TV series and simply showing a shot of the sign recycled from a ’90s Batman film, instead of the whole building, before venturing inside. There are ways to keep the illusion solid while working within the budget, which surely isn’t at the level of the movies.

Wear the Cape

Another small problem the show has is keeping Ruby Rose out of the costume for the bulk of episodes as of late. Keeping an identity a secret is one thing (and there’s been trouble with that); disregarding the mask is another.

They may want to show Rose’s face as much as possible since she’s the star but it seems more like mimesis of the hero’s dilemma seen in Iron Man 3 and Spider-Man: Homecoming. Is Kate a hero without the suit? If not, should she have it?

An interesting struggle, it remains subtextual in Batwoman despite its creative possibilities. Sooner or later, they have to address and resolve this.

Cool Hand Lucas

Lucas Fox gets some welcome character development as he confronts the murder of his father and the man convicted of it. Lucas learns the circumstances of his dad’s death and how proud he was of his son.

He’s also clued in on the conspiracy and cover-up surrounding things, a plot thread that started with Jacob Kane and leads back to the Crows. This bit comes a bit later than it should for Lucas but it leaves the door open for more arcs and character moments that hopefully is headed for the introduction of Batwing.

Batwoman remains fairly consistent though it could use more of the title character in costume. At the same time, it can benefit from the brewing side stories. Lucas Fox should get the Batwing armor and a week or two where it’s solely about him flying around in the thing.

Next: Heroic actor of the week (3/16): Brandon Routh

Julia Pennyworth is back too so the opportunity for expanding the Bat-family within the Arrowverse. Agree, disagree? Tell us your thoughts in the comments.

Batwoman was initially expected to air a new episode on The CW next week, but as of yet, it’s unknown when it’ll return.