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After a two-week hiatus for the Super Bowl and the Oscars, Batwoman did not hold back on the emotions upon its return to our TV screens. What started as a simple story about grief, regret, second chances, and the choices we make took a very quick turn for the dramatic by the end and left things much worse than when they started.
So, let’s not waste any time, shall we?
WARNING: This post contains spoilers for Batwoman Season 1, Episode 12, “Take Your Choice.”
This episode could easily be called “Kate Kane and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day” for the amount of emotional turmoil our girl goes through in just a few short hours. Thanks to the combined genius that is Mary, Luke, and Beth, they quickly deduce that what’s happening to Beth and Alice is happening because there are two of them in a single reality and that cannot happen, because physics. This serves the dual purpose of putting a ticking clock on the proceedings, thus ramping up the tension and putting Luke and Beth in a position to be adorable nerds together. It’s sweet and sad all at the same time because you know by the end of the episode nothing will be the same, though at this point we don’t know exactly what will change and who it will affect.
What we do know is that Kate and company have exactly seven hours to figure out how to save at least one of the Beths before they both shuffle off this mortal coil.
One roadblock to their collective safety, in addition to cellular breakdown, is Sophie. The interim commander of the Crows is not coping with the fact that she allowed Alice to escape and she’s dealing with it by taking things to the opposite extreme. She’s placed a shoot-to-kill order on Alice and launched a massive manhunt throughout Gotham, complete with roadblocks and checkpoints that aren’t winning her or the Crows any points in a city that only mostly tolerates their position as pseudo law enforcement for the rich and privileged. With Jacob in jail and Alice back on the loose, the Crows are losing clients and respect fast, and Kate (as Batwoman) pleads with Sophie not to make an authoritarian takeover of the city and a bloodthirsty act of revenge the act that starts her career as leader of the organization.
If there is one place this show still can’t seem to find its legs, it’s the ongoing issue of The Crows and their role in the society of Gotham City. They’re still skirting around the big systemic problem they seem to want the Crows to be but never spend the necessary screen time to make it hit home. Instead, we get things like we had in this episode, where characters like Vesper Fairchild and Dodgson — Jacob Kane’s fellow inmate/former Crow/Wonderland Gang member — tell us about the things the Crows do. Vesper’s voice over is what sets up the idea that the roadblocks and checkpoints are something Gotham’s citizens might find imposing. Dodgson tells us that the Crows beat and bribe the citizens of Gotham who cannot pay for the Crows’ protection, but we never see what a paramilitary organization does in a city like Gotham where corruption is rampant and they operate above the police with relative impunity. There’s a lot there. I just hope eventually they start to unpack it.
Meanwhile, they have no trouble unpacking the huge amounts of interpersonal drama befalling the Kane family once again, starting when Alice discovers she isn’t the only Beth in town. After Mouse spills the beans from his hospital bed, Alice makes a beeline for Kate’s office where she confronts the version of herself she would have been if only she’d been pulled from the car crash in time. Kate was already beating herself up over this after learning how Beth escaped Alice’s fate last week, and Alice is too far gone to allow herself the level of empathy it would require to forgive her sister for failing to save her life when she was just 13-years-old. Instead, Alice blames Kate further for her perceived failures and finds she has no trouble hating this reminder of the life she lost so long ago.
And so we’re left with a choice: which Beth to save? The one from this universe but who has brought nothing but pain and terror onto those who might love or help her? Or the one who doesn’t belong but represents the person Kate and Jacob might have saved if they’d made different choices 15 years previous?
For some, like Mary, the choice is simple. Alice killed her mother, nearly killed her, and sent her step-father to prison for a murder he didn’t commit. Beth is a kind, smart person capable of empathy and who wanted to protect Mary when given the opportunity. This is why, when Alice shows up at Mary’s clinic demanding her help and the two stumble upon a solution courtesy of Mary’s own blood and the cure Alice gave her weeks back, Mary is not exactly on Team Alice. To her credit, or perhaps because Kate has Bath stashed in the Batcave for her own safety and is the only person who can get to her, Mary does allow Kate to make the choice between the two versions of her sister.
The choice isn’t so easy for Kate, however. She’s got a lot of guilt and regret hanging in the balance. On the one hand, the sister a different version of her was able to save, the person she wishes Alice could be but knows she never will. On the other, the sister she failed to save once already and who she has the chance to save this time around. It’s an impossible choice, but shockingly, not only does Kate end up making it, she chooses Beth over Alice. It’s a selfish choice, yes, not that there’s a version of this decision that wouldn’t have come down to Kate’s own feelings and guilt, but it’s not one she makes lightly. After making sure that Beth is safe with Luke, Kate does the honorable thing and goes to Alice to explain and to sit with her sister while she dies. Ruby Rose is great in this scene, but holy hell does Rachel Skarsten bring the house down this entire episode.
It’s the nicest ending to a terrible choice, but the danger and drama are nowhere near over. While all this has been happening, two other threats have been breathing down their necks. First, Sophie and the Crows are still out for Alice’s blood. Second, Mouse’s terrifying father is back in the picture. He’s broken Mouse out of the hospital and is none too happy with his son for betraying him and taking up with Alice. Unfortunately, both have found their way to the place where Luke has taken Beth to be safe, and though Sophie has a change of heart and chooses to arrest her rather than kill her in cold blood, Mouse’s father is a lot less forgiving. He shoots Beth in the back, killing her instantly.
And it turns out it was the right instant too because Alice hadn’t fully drifted away. At the moment Beth dies, Alice snaps back as if nothing has happened. She’s alive and she is pissed at Kate for once again choosing not to save her.
Next Week: There’s a vampire in Gotham and I’m so excited. Batwoman the comic is always best when it leans into the very weird and extremely supernatural and she’s had her fair share of run-ins with vampires in its pages.
- Luke finally got an episode to be his own person rather than just Kate’s sidekick and he was great! He and Beth were adorable together and him having to witness her murder will likely not sit well with him. It will be interesting to see if there’s any fallout for him — or for his relationship with Kate — going forward.
- Alice’s long jacket is probably my favorite costume piece of the entire series.
- Can someone please teach Mary to fight?