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Last week on The CW's Batwoman, Kate and Company took on a Magpie, and Jacob learned the truth about the secrets his wife has been keeping from him for 15 years. It's been a few weeks since we spent much time with the season's big bad, Alice, and this week’s episode is out to make up for lost time, literally and figuratively.
Time to head down the rabbit hole. Come for the continued excellence of Rachel Skarsten as Alice, stay for a drunk Mary ranting to Luke about how maybe she should start killing people to get Kate's attention.
Warning: Spoilers abound for Batwoman, Season 1, Episode 5, "Mine is a Long and Sad Tale" if you choose to continue reading.
Following last week's minor revelation that Alice’s plan involves someone named Mouse, Kate is extremely interested in learning the rest of what her sister returned to Gotham to do. When it turns out that Alice is the criminal who has been stealing pieces of human skin from corpses throughout the city, Kate heads out to trap her once and for all. The fact that she was able to do so so easily probably should have indicated things weren't entirely as they seemed.
The rest of the episode involves either Kate or Alice in restraints as the latter recounts the story of how she went from a 13-year-old rich girl to a psychotic killer without anyone in her old life ever learning she was still alive. Admittedly, she never actually gets all the way through a satisfying explanation, since her story really only gets through a few days of her captivity, but it fills in a few holes along the way.
I've gotta say, thank God for whoever thought to cast Rachel Skarsten in the Alice role because without her performance this episode may not have worked. It's hard to land an entire hour of exposition and flashback, but the manic way Skarsten delivers Alice's lines throughout, and the sometimes hairpin turns of emotion she has to make, sell the crap out of the sheer volume of story she is carrying on her back. We might not entirely understand yet what happened to Beth while she was held in that remote little backwoods home with a man and his scarred and creepy — but ultimately kind — son, but Skarsten's Alice certainly makes us believe that whatever it was was enough to drive her to some level of insanity.
As for what we know? It’s more or less a twisted version of Beauty and the Beast, only a version where the Beast’s father has convinced him he's too hideous for the outside world and who steals his son a friend when he comes across a lost little girl who has washed up on a riverside. Locking her in a basement cell, threatening to kill her family, and limiting her access to the outside world to only the two of them will certainly do a number on a kid.
With the truth about Beth's fate out in the open — coupled with the fact that Kate and Jacob actually managed to find her for a moment but couldn't follow through on their hunch — the Kanes have been hit with a hefty dose of guilt over their actions more than a decade previous. It's unclear so far what the endgame is going to be for the extremely messed up family unit, but Alice's plans revolve around hurting them in as many creative ways as possible. After her birth family gave up looking for her, Beth seems to have adopted Mouse's family as her own, the only thing a captive little girl could do to survive her situation (smart money says Beth and Mouse killed his dad before striking out on their own). Mouse introduced her to Alice in Wonderland and the two of them built their relationship and identities around that story and the similarities they may have seen in themselves and the characters — Alice, the little girl who finds herself suddenly in a new, frightening world, and him, the mouse who helps her find her way.
One thing is for certain, part of Alice's plan does seem to involve allowing Mouse to use his strange ability for mimicry to do … something super creepy and probably traumatizing.
Elsewhere in the episode, Mary is still the best character on the show. After her mother breaks the news that she faked Beth's death to help Jacob and Kate find some closure, Mary does the only logical thing: binge drink and then show up unannounced at her step-sister’s office to annoy her co-workers. In this case, that means ranting endlessly to Luke about how her mother lied to everyone before realizing Kate is with Alice, thus launching into a whole separate rant about how she’s the good sister because do you know how many people she has killed? Zero. Hasn't skinned anyone either.
I’ve been hoping they were going to put Luke and Mary together since day one, and man, do I hope they keep doing it. They didn't have a ton of screen time this week but Luke as the straight man to Mary's constant drunken jabbering was the perfect comedic antidote to the heaviness of the rest of the episode.
Actually, even though this episode ended up being almost entirely expository, it also managed to be a showcase for the two best performers so far. Do you think maybe we can get an episode where Alice and Mary face off for most of the runtime?
Next Week: Sophie is in trouble and she knows Kate is Batwoman … probably!
- Very little Batwoman in this episode of Batwoman, but it worked. The show hasn’t completely sold Batwoman the hero yet, but it’s doing a pretty great job with Kate Kane.
- They're still dancing around the whole "the true villain is the division between the haves and have nots in Gotham" theme. It gets one quick mention about halfway through. I'd love it if they could do a little more to show that division rather than talk about it all the time. When do we see what it's like outside the Crow District?
- Seems like we may have caught up to the rest of the Arrowverse? Or at least to last year's crossover. Alice mentions that she couldn't go visit Mouse in Arkham which suggests he was able to escape, likely in the breakout at the end of said crossover.
- Okay, but seriously, is Mouse going to be stealing people's faces? *shudder*