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Batwoman 'Tell Me the Truth' recap: Sometimes a lie is all you have
Following the events of last week’s Batwoman, it seemed like Kate would have no choice but to explain everything to Sophie, who had definitely figured out that she was behind Gotham’s newest hero. Turns out, the truth is a lot more complicated.
Meanwhile, after stealing the only gun in Gotham that can kill Batwoman, Alice is in cahoots with a sharpshooter, and Alfred’s daughter is in town to catch him.
WARNING: Spoilers for Batwoman Season 1, Episode 7, “Tell Me the Truth,” abound.
I’ve got to admit right out of the gate that I loved this week’s episode and have a lot of thoughts regarding everything that happened, but that those thoughts have almost nothing to do with this week’s extremely weak bad guy — so let’s get that out of the way first, shall we?
After a shooting at Gotham’s swankiest restaurant, Kate, the Crows, and Hamilton Dynamics are all on the trail of a man known as the Rifle, who has taken out one of Catherine Hamilton’s scientists and only narrowly avoided killing the second. Both of those men, along with the one Mouse killed last week, worked on the same project: the coil accelerator which is the only gun that can kill Batwoman.
Alice, it turns out, is somehow working with the Rifle and whoever he is working for, to steal the gun and take out Batwoman. Alice offers a trade, which the Rifle and his employer agree to (what it was they stole for her is as yet unclear), and Alice turns over the gun, but not before altering it so it is no more deadly to Batwoman than any other weapon, choosing to protect her sister at all costs. Realizing the gun is useless, the Rifle leaves Gotham, although his parting words to Alice are a foreboding declaration that she has righteously ticked off his employer.
Meanwhile, Jacob and Catherine are filing for divorce, but it may not have been Jacob at all this week, as it turns out Mouse has assumed his identity and he is now Alice’s captive. I’ll admit, this part was a little fuzzy. I assume he was captured before the start of the episode and it was never Jacob who returned from upstate, but the end of this episode was extremely emotional, so I might have missed something.
Speaking of which: The dial on deep emotional turmoil up to 11 this week, and there’s actually a lot to unpack.
The pilot episode of Batwoman gave us the bullet points of what went down between Kate and Sophie at Point Rock. After they’re caught together, they are told they can deny their relationship and sexuality and stay, or admit it and be removed. Kate admits it. Sophie chooses to lie. At the time, I pointed out how interesting and important it was for the show to deal with the idea that these two women come from different circumstances and that those circumstances play a role in the way they might handle a situation like this. It’s not as simple as black and white, right and wrong, and this week we learned that the situation between them is so much grayer than it appeared even a few short weeks ago.
This week, it’s Kate who faces a decision: come clean to Sophie about who she really is or lie. This week, Kate is the one who chooses to lie. Again, it is more complicated than what is right or what is easy or what is true. It’s about safety.
Kate and Sophie are two different types of queer persons (two of many) who experience and express their queerness differently, who understand it differently, and who carry themselves in their identities differently. Kate is the (over)confident, reckless lesbian who takes no sh*t and who is fueled by spite and a deep, secret feeling of insecurity masked by a heavy dose of bravado. Sophie wears her insecurities like a shield. They keep her guarded, protect her from being hurt. She is in control because she always feels like she’s one tiny mistake away from losing everything. Kate’s “burn it all down” approach to people who refuse to tolerate her existence is admirable, but it comes from a place of security. She knows she will have a place to go when the smoke clears. Sophie is never entirely certain she won’t be left out in the cold.
Back when they were at the academy, Kate and her family were the only people who knew the truth about Sophie. Her parents didn’t know — they still don’t — because her parents were and are extremely homophobic. When they were found out, Kate convinced her to come clean, to risk everything in order to maintain their dignity in the face of a ridiculous, outdated rule. And she almost did, because when Kate was her world, that world was safe. But the second she stepped outside their bubble and was faced with the reality of what they were about to do, she remembered why she wasn’t out to her parents or to the world, because everything she knew about that world told her it would reject her, hate her, punish her. So she lied. Because it was safer.
It’s about safety.
There are countless queer people in the world who remain in the closet — not because they are confused or uncertain, but because they are unsafe. Coming out means risking their relationships, their homes, and sometimes their lives. Being different in the world is always dangerous, but for those who feel secure at home or at school or in whatever chosen community they have, that danger can feel like something you can face or at least avoid. For others, that closet door is the only thing protecting you. Even if staying inside hurts, it’s still better than the alternative. No one wants to be ostracized. We as an LGBTQ+ community could do well to remember that sometimes.
Denying who she was then may have cost her Kate, but Sophie got a career and a life and, whether we like it or not, a husband who loves her. And now the tables have turned — because it is Sophie who is in a more secure position. Now Kate is the one with a secret, the one who faces terrible consequences if it is revealed. Sophie wants to tell Jacob that Kate is Batwoman because keeping that secret could mean Kate is killed by the Crows. But Kate knows that if her dad found out he would shut down the Batwoman operation in a second. Now it is Kate who believes that telling the truth will cause her entire world to crumble.
And so she lies. Because it’s safer.
It’s always about safety.
Rather than telling Sophie that yes, she is Batwoman, Kate uses Julia Pennyworth (yes, I’m not really talking about her much, there’s a reason, see the musings below) to help keep her secret, forcing herself, once again, to stay in the vigilante closet, something that has proven to be counter to everything Kate usually stands for. Instead, Kate tearfully explains that their continued complicated feelings for each other are unfair to everyone involved, including Sophie’s husband, and the best way to fix this is for Kate to steer clear for a while. Sophie, for her part, gives Kate back the sharpshooter medal that was taken from her when she was kicked out of the academy, and just to drive the knife deeper, the entire exchange is set to the world’s most perfect song for this terrible, heart-wrenching moment.
Next Week: Alice has Jacob so we’re heading back to Wonderland and it’s not going to be a happy family reunion.
— I promised Julia Pennyworth comments, so here they are: I’m not sure why she’s even in this episode, to be honest. Other than playing decoy Batwoman and being another (apparently) queer woman on this gay-as-hell show, her character was completely superfluous in an otherwise packed episode. My only assumption is that it gets the introductions out of the way for another appearance down the line.
— I really felt for Mary this week. All she’s wanted since we met her is to have an actual relationship with Kate, and Kate hasn’t opened up. Now with everything going on with their parents, she certainly feels like she’s about to lose her chance.
— Upside? It seems like the bright spot in the episode is that Mary is being pulled further into Kate’s inner circle. They’ll probably work on Kate’s new nightclub together, and there’s no way you show Mary the secret Batcave door without eventually letting her get behind it (and soon, I hope).
— Superheroes owning nightclubs is a thing, I guess? Then again, it does match the party-girl exterior that Kate has in the comics. What’s she going to call it, though?