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Batwoman 'A Secret Kept from All the Rest' recap: Maybe it’s time to close down Arkham
There is just one more episode left in this (slightly) truncated season of Batwoman, and after this week’s adventures it seems like nearly everyone is gunning for Gotham’s new Bat. That’s next week, though. This week, the focus is still all on Lucius Fox’s journal, and Alice has a new ally to help her crack the code: Hush.
WARNING: This post contains spoilers for Batwoman Season 1, Episode 19, “A Secret Kept From All the Rest.”
The title of this week’s episode is almost ironic. On one hand, it obviously refers to the fact that the key to cracking the journal’s code is a secret only Luke can possibly discover. On the other, it was a week that made painfully obvious how few people in Kate’s inner circle have yet to find out that she is Batwoman. That list is basically just two people: Jacob and Sophie. While Jacob’s disdain and mistrust of Batwoman doesn’t exactly place him high on the list of people likely to find out anytime soon, the longer Sophie goes without knowing the closer we get to a world where finding out actually causes a larger rift between her and Kate. If you’re keeping score, this would be bad.
The premise of this week’s episode is quite simple: Alice finally has her hands on the journal, but since it is written in a code known only by Lucius Fox, there is no way for her to read it without the cipher. So she does what any deranged serial killer would do, she forces Tommy Elliot, his head wrapped in bandages since she’s still keeping his new face hostage, to kidnap codebreakers around Gotham. They get 90 minutes to decipher the journal or she kills them. Insane? Yes. But at least it’s simple. And as a bonus, it leaves time for all the character development we were missing last week.
Tommy quickly earns his new moniker, Hush, after opening fire in a library, and while this episode is a far cry from the always excellent Hush arc in the comics, Tommy was neither unmasked nor apprehended this week, so it’s fair to say he will be around for at least a little while longer.
And that’s pretty much the gist of it. Alice and company kidnap a university professor, an NSA operative, and Parker, the teenage hacker who looks up to Kate, before finally deciding to go after Luke and Julia, using her to motivate him, to much success. Luke discovers that to crack the code you would have to know the languages Lucius used in alphabetical order and Luke’s own Social Security number, making Luke quite literally the only other person in the world who could crack it. Luke’s relationship to his father has been depicted as a bit icy and distant, so this was a nice little moment for him, some payoff to an ongoing character arc. It also means that Luke is the only one who has read the journal, which makes him the only one who knows how to kill the Batman (and now Batwoman), a secret his father was willing to die to protect. Of course, this begs the very annoying question Why would you write something like that down in the first place??????? But, plot reasons, I guess? The same reason Batman kept a file of ways to take down each member of the Justice League one by one in a place that could easily be stolen? Stupid smart people. Regardless, Luke and Julia are willing to make the same sacrifice, telling Alice they will die before allowing her to uncover the secrets in the journal.
Back at the Batcave, and with Luke out of the picture, Kate grabs Parker to help out with all the tech stuff neither she nor Mary is able to do, which offers a prime opportunity for two things. First, Mary discovers that another person — a teenager she has never met — knew Kate’s secret before she did. Second, when Sophie shows up at Kate’s office to find out what has happened to Julia, Parker and Mary delight in the ex-girlfriend drama unfolding before them. They are us. We are them. Parker yelling “No, tell her you love her!” is me every week, my pleas falling on deaf, fictional ears.
Everything comes to a head as Kate discovers that Luke is being held at Arkham, and she takes off to rescue her friend (and her other ex), armed with all her bat gadgets and a pair of glasses Mary discovered in a box of Lucius’ things, glasses that automatically decode the journal. Despite Luke and Julia’s valiant decision to sacrifice their lives for hers, Kate hands over the glasses in trade, gets them out of the building, and heads back into the building to steal the journal back. Alice, though, decides to blow their newfound Wonderland to hell, freeing Arkham’s prisoners once again and causing plenty of chaos to cover their escape. This is the second time there has been a mass escape at Arkham since Kate put on the suit. Maybe it’s time to rethink the whole asylum as a prison for actual criminals who, even if they are suffering some kind of mental illness, are still in control of their faculties well enough to know they’re murdering people.
The episode ends with two major revelations and a few dramatic moments. For one, Sophie and Julia are officially a thing, after Kate walked in on them kissing in the hallway at Crows HQ. Meanwhile, Kate has a newfound appreciation for Luke, recognizing that there’s no Batwoman without him. Despite a generally shallow start, this season has managed to build up Luke and Kate and their relationship so well over this last half to the point where they really feel like friends as well as a reluctant team-up. Then there’s Jacob, who is ready to declare all-out war against Batwoman unless she “gets out of his city,” which is obviously never going to happen. Jacob is so quick to blame Batwoman for Alice (calling her the Joker to her Batman), but Alice is his daughter. She is literally here in Gotham to terrorize him (and Kate) for giving up on her 15 years ago. Kate only put on the cowl as a response to Alice’s arrival.
But the real news this week comes from Julia and isn’t really all that surprising if you’ve been putting the pieces together all season. Kate now knows that Julia was fired from the SRR, and now we know the entire story. Julia is in Gotham to retrieve the journal for Safiyah, in exchange for no longer going after Kate (Safiyah sent The Rifle after her way back when). Safiyah is also the woman who Alice and Mouse are afraid of, the one who hails from Coryana. In the comics, she is one of the leaders of The Many Arms of Death, and while we don’t have time to get into them this season, you can bet we’ll see a lot more of this particular storyline in the show’s second season.
Next Week: Finale time, and it looks like Jacob is officially declaring war on Batwoman.
- If you missed it, the highway where Kate saves Parker from Hush was named after Batwoman comics writer/artist J.H. Williams III.
- Alice’s single-minded obsession with taking down her sister has now made Mouse’s life a lot harder. He was happy to stay in control of Arkham, running things safely from the inside, but now he’s back out on the streets. How long before Mouse decides to turn on Alice?