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Batwoman 'O, Mouse' recap: No one hurts you like family
The first season of Batwoman came to a close this week after concerns about coronavirus forced an early halt to production. The show won’t be back again until January 2021, which means a decent wait before we see a real resolution to the stories of the year so far.
While Episode 20 was never meant to be the end to the season, it did provide a decent cliffhanger and a few turning points for its core cast of heroes and villains, certainly enough to see where the rest of the season — now the beginning of Season 2 — might have been going.
WARNING: This post contains spoilers for Batwoman, Season 1, Episode 20 “O, Mouse.”
For all the ups and downs this first season has had, I’ve said over and over that it certainly knows how to pack a punch when it comes to its characters. That’s especially true when those characters are either Alice or anyone having gay-related feelings, and this week we got both!
I don’t know the exact makeup of the Batwoman writers' room. I know there must be a fair amount of queer representation, though, because the way those stories are told have always been handled with such care and empathy that they can only come from people who have been there, or who have been at least close enough to understand the fear and the pain and the anger that comes along with it.
No one came out this week, no one was ridiculed or persecuted for their sexuality, and yet Kate’s sadness and frustration when she realizes she may never be able to tell her father that she’s Batwoman was undeniably similar to kids (or adults) desperate to tell their family the truth only to hear them spout homophobic rhetoric toward strangers. Sure, maybe they’ll react differently when they discover it’s their kid, but what reason have they given to trust them?
In this case, Jacob promised Batwoman that if they ever met again it would be war. Now they’re both hunting the same criminal, another Arkham escapee, a former football player who was imprisoned after murdering a ref on the field during a game. His violence was the result of injuries sustained while playing, covered up by the team, and now he’s out for revenge against those who hurt him. When Kate is injured attempting to bring him down, she reaches out to Jacob (through Mary) to offer up peace and a chance to team up.
It was obvious he was never planning to let her go once they had taken him down, but Kate wanted so badly to believe he was trustworthy, that they really were on the same side. The hurt she feels when he not only points his gun at her but pulls the trigger was palpable. The look on her face when she says “My dad hates me” was gutting, made perhaps even worse by Mary’s attempts to reassure her that no, he hates Batwoman. They are not separate people. Why would his feelings for Batwoman change just because his daughter is the one behind the mask?
Betrayal and the way people react to it was very much the theme of the week. More specifically, it was about the kind of betrayal that stings because the person betraying you happens to be your family, blood or otherwise. For Kate, nothing hurts worse than her father’s disdain for her newfound purpose in life. For Alice, that meant having to choose between her own mission and Mouse.
Alice has been laser-focused on killing Kate for putting her back behind bars, and now that she knows kryptonite is the key to doing so, she’s not about to abandon that pursuit. Mouse, meanwhile, threatens to leave her alone in Gotham after she destroyed their chance to live happily ever after as king and queen of Arkham Asylum. Abandonment is the thing Alice fears most, and she’s already been abandoned by her sister and her father twice in her life, as least as far as she sees it. Unwilling to allow another family to leave her, Alice betrays Mouse before he can betray her, poisoning him even as she promises they will run away together. Alice still ends up alone, but it’s her choice.
Rachel Skarsten has given easily the best performance of the series (possibly the best performance of her career, though admittedly my knowledge is not exhaustive) as Alice this season. We don’t know what the second season holds for this character, but my hope is that she is able to stick around past whatever conclusion they were cooking up for this year. I don’t know exactly where they might take it. A full redemption seems unlikely, and she can’t be the main villain forever, but it would be a shame to lose her entirely.
She will, of course, at least be around for a little while longer because her hunt for kryptonite is far from over. She couldn’t find it just lying around at Gotham University, but she does know that a piece exists behind the walls of Wayne Tech, and she has just the person to get it for her: Bruce Wayne himself (played by Alphas’ Warren Christie), or really, Tommy Elliot armed with Bruce Wayne’s face. Tommy has always wanted to be Bruce, and now he gets his chance.
Speaking of kryptonite, Luke spent this week trying to find a way to destroy the piece left behind in the Batcave, and he finally discovers that you can crush it to dust with a hydraulic press. Kate then reveals that she has her own piece of the alien rock, the shard she tried to give to Kara during Crisis, which Kara trusted her with just in case it ever became necessary. Kate has no intention to use it, but she also says she needs to talk to Kara before she can destroy it since it’s not her choice to make. This whole exchange reminded me how much I loved the relationship the two of them — Kate and Kara — built up during Crisis, and how much I hope they continue to develop it in the coming season. There is so much those shows could do with smaller, more compact crossovers, and who doesn’t want to see more of the World’s Finest?
Then again, Kate may be about to discover just how much kryptonite really exists in the world.
- The show continued to set up next year’s big bad, Safiyah. Julia finally told Sophie about it, warning her that she could get pulled into a dangerous situation. Turns out someone is following Julia around, sending her creepy stalker photos of her and Sophie. It’s not an overt threat, but it’s certainly threatening. It’s a little surprising that they’re setting up the new big bad this much so early, but I’m interested to see what they do with the character.
- Jacob is really invested in killing Batwoman and I feel like this might not be a healthy mindset? I wouldn’t be surprised if Alice isn’t the only one looking for kryptonite next year.