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Batwoman ‘Who Are You?’ Recap: More than just a cape and a cowl
Batwoman is back for its fourth episode this week and it’s keeping things simple along the way. Last week, Kate finally got over herself a little and decided to take up the Batwoman mantle for real. This week, she’s finding out that being the Bat isn’t as simple as putting on the costume and looking menacing.
Warning: From here on out, spoilers abound for Season 1, Episode 4 of Batwoman.
Before we get to the lean meat of this week’s episode, I think we need to address the elephant in the room, even though it doesn’t appear until the end: I was wrong. I know! I’m just as shocked and horrified as you are.
A few weeks ago, I said that Jake lied to Kate all those years ago when he told her the search teams had found skull fragments while looking for Beth’s body following the accident that killed their mother. This week, however, we have now discovered that Jake was the one being lied to by none other than Catherine Hamilton-Kane (though she was not a Kane yet). Turns out, Catherine’s role in Gotham is as the head of a defense company which for some reason Jake was working with to search for Beth. When Catherine saw how much the search was hurting Jake and Kate, she paid the medical examiner to lie and say that deer bones found by her men were skull fragments in order to stop them from continuing with this fruitless endeavor.
While this revelation — spurred on by threats from Alice who is apparently aware of a number of machinations one would not expect — does serve to add a bit of tension to Jake and Catherine’s relationship and makes it nearly impossible for Jake to continue denying that Alice and Beth are one and the same, it’s also somehow less interesting than what I originally thought. Maybe it’s because I don’t yet care about Catherine or her relationship to Jake the way I care about Jake’s relationship with Kate, but having her be the one who lied to protect them doesn’t carry the same weight as a father willingly giving up the search for one daughter to spare the one he has left.
SIDENOTE: Hamilton Dynamics also apparently is the parent company of The Crows and I’ll be honest I’m currently a little iffy on how the Kanes and the Hamiltons came to know and work together outside of both families being very very wealthy Gothamites.
Speaking of rich people, this week delved a little more into the extreme divide between the rich and poor in Gotham, both through Batwoman’s attempts to stop a notorious thief and Kate’s attempts to date the cute bartender, Reagan, who we met last week. She is successful in only one of these endeavors, and here’s a hint, it’s not her personal life. Despite starting the episode off by waking up in bed with her very first love interest, Kate spends the rest of the runtime learning why Bruce Wayne was a famous playboy: it was easier to lie about who you were when you weren’t doing it to someone you cared about.
If the specter of Batman is going to loom as heavily as it seems to be, at least they’re sticking with the theme of how Kate’s approach will necessarily differ from her cousin’s. Unlike Bruce, Kate isn’t so compartmentalized. She struggles with the idea of hiding a huge part of her identity and it’s not so easy to, well, step back in the Batcloset, so to speak. I have to say I’m glad Kate’s queerness is informing more of her character than just who she sleeps with, especially as a vigilante, a person who must, by design, hide their true self from everyone they do not trust explicitly for fear of dangerous or deadly repercussions. How is that unlike hiding your sexuality out of fear that you will be ridiculed, hated, or even killed because of who you are? One of the things that makes Kate Kane such a wonderful and heroic figure, especially for queer women, is the fact that she lives her life loudly and honestly without regard for whether it makes those around her uncomfortable. It’s why she refused to deny herself at the academy even though it meant giving up something that mattered to her (and giving up someone that mattered). It’s also why she apparently came out of the closet by punching a kid at school who accused her of being gay while agreeing with his statement, simultaneously living her truth and refusing to let a bully take away her power despite his best efforts.
But for all that she is fierce, Kate is also sensible and kind. She knows that the symbol she is forcing herself to become is more important than her own temporary happiness or comfort which is why she chooses to once again hide a piece of herself away, sacrificing to protect someone else.
In this case, that someone else is Gotham as a whole and the less well-off citizens of Gotham more specifically. In one of her failed dates with Reagan, the bartender points out a high-rise in the center of the city and talks about how it used to be a sensible building that housed regular working people before predatory developers swept in and gentrified the area. Meanwhile, Batwoman attempts to track down Magpie, a woman who is stealing priceless objects from Gotham’s rich and famous to, as she says herself, put food on the table and a roof over her head. Stealing from the rich to give to herself isn’t quite as valiant as a modern-day Robin Hood, but her point remains. After Batwoman manages to apprehend and unmask the thief, Magpie explains — to an equally unmasked Kate — that the wealthy elite of Gotham’s protected class don’t see those who struggle to make ends meet.
The show has been setting up this idea of the two Gothams little by little in each episode since the premiere, with Mary largely serving as the bridge between them. It was nice to deal with it a little more directly this week, as Kate starts to peel back some of those layers and eventually decides that her public persona will be working with Luke to create a little more housing security for those who might otherwise find themselves forced out of their homes. That said, man was it on the nose. Here’s hoping they smooth out the dialogue as Kate and Batwoman venture further into the less protected parts of the city going forward.
The rest of the episode, while generally solid, was really quite simple and straightforward, choosing to focus on the mechanics of being the new Bat in town. While that meant very little time with most of the well-established cast this week, it did mean spending a lot more of that time with Luke who finally got a turn to stretch, even if his story remains a little shrouded in mystery (just how closely did he work with Batman after all?). He’s learning more about the Batcave and the various toys at his and Kate’s disposal, while they both learn how to trust each other and work together just a little bit more. It’s nice to see him warming up to the idea of helping her out, but I’m also hoping he gets over his need to compare her to Bruce all the time very soon. He does realize she’s doing that to herself already, right?
And speaking of trust and partnership, Mary finds herself assisting Batwoman as well this week as she is forced to attend to Alice’s right-hand man who has been festering away in Kate’s basement lair. While she’s attempting to keep him from succumbing to septic shock, Mary decides a little morphine-induced interrogation is completely within the realm of ethics for a man who previously stabbed her and ruined her favorite plaid shirt in the process. Pretending to be Alice, Mary manages to learn that the villain’s plan has something to do with a Mouse, though his drug-induced ramblings aren’t terribly helpful beyond that. Batwoman, however, decides the only way to learn more is to implant a tracking device in hopes that he will lead her to him.
Next Week: Looks like we’re set to fill in a few of the Beth-related blanks between the car accident and the arrival of Alice as she and Kate come face to face for a little sisterly bonding.
- It will not surprise you to know that Mouse seems to be the mousy looking guy that Kate spotted at the museum benefit, though his true role in the Wonderland Gang is still very much up in the air. There are a few comic book characters who bear the moniker but none of them jive with the way this Mouse is being set up.
- We got official confirmation that the Kane's are, in fact, Jewish. Both Beth and their mother's headstones include a Star of David. Can't recall if we'd seen them in Episode 2 but if we did and you missed it then there's no denying it this time.
- One of the fascinating blink-and-you’ll-miss-it moments this week was the fact that there is a Crow District, which means they don’t protect the entire city. What determines where those lines are drawn? Does the city pay them or are they paid by the citizens? There’s so much to unpack surrounding the inner workings of this mess of a city and I hope the show really dives deep in the future.
- Sophie definitely knows Kate is Batwoman even if she doesn’t really know, you know? Kate has to tell someone before the end of the season, so will Sophie or Mary be the first to find out?
- Speaking of Mary, she must be protected at all costs.