The Crisis is over and Batwoman is back in Gotham fighting villains in the streets and … the hallways of a high school? After the major events of the mid-season finale — with Catherine dead, Jacob framed for her murder, Mary extremely mad at Kate — this week is picking up very much where we left off with a few huge changes.
So, let’s get into it, shall we?
WARNING: This post contains spoilers for Batwoman Season 1, Episode 10, “How Queer Everything Is Today!”
Obviously, we are going to need to address the big auburn-haired elephant in the room. I’ll get to it eventually, but first CRISIS! It actually seems to have left things in Gotham more or less intact. Despite the tectonic shifts happening over in National City, the merging of the multiverse doesn’t look like it is dropping any huge bombs on Kate and company, which is probably for the best. After all, the show flipped Kate’s life on its head quite a bit back in December and who knows how she would have handled any massive changes so soon after (you can read more about my thoughts regarding the Batwoman installment of Crisis on Infinite Earths here).
That’s not to say that things in Gotham are hunky-dory, of course. Kate is still a masked vigilante in a town being terrorized by new and interesting villains almost every day, including her own sister. This week, it’s a brand new villain named teenage angst and homophobia! Wait, no, it’s Terrier, an extremely savvy computer genius who manages to hack into Gotham’s subway system and turn a run of the mill late-night ride into the final act of Speed (yes, I too caught the Keanu reference).
Kate and her brand new bike are able to stop the train and save the passengers but Kate very nearly gets her head taken off by her own grappling hook and is saved by Captain Straight Man. The image of a hunky police officer saving a female vigilante is enough to send the entire heteronormative city into a shipping frenzy and thus begins the theme of the episode: This vigilante closet is getting mighty claustrophobic for the super gay Kate Kane.
Kate has a lot of trouble with the fact that, because the world knows nothing about Batwoman by design, it assumes she is straight. To Kate, that’s untruthful, and while yes, she is technically lying every time she puts on the mask and pretends to be someone she is not, this particular lie cuts to the very core of who Kate is as a person, particularly to who she is as a queer person. As I've discussed before, Kate’s entire personality and sense of self is built around the idea that she is who she is out loud and in public. Previously, she struggled with the fact that putting on the cape and cowl meant going back into a different kind of closet, one where she wasn’t able to share a huge part of her life with the people she cared about most. Now, that same cape and cowl have shoved her back into the actual closet. Sure, Kate Kane is still out and proud and building a real estate company based on an LGBTQ ethos, but Batwoman, an inspirational figure and part of her identity, is considered by default straight.
Luke, of course, makes a good point, saying that the further away from Kate’s real identity Batwoman becomes the safer Kate Kane and her loved ones are, but Kate still feels like she’s doing something wrong by not telling the truth. This feeling is drawn ever further into the light when she finally unmasks the hacker Terrier and discovers that she’s Parker Mason, a scared and lonely teenage girl who was forcefully outed to her hyper-religious parents by her ex-girlfriend. In a moment that was perhaps a little too on the nose, Parker tells Batwoman not to give her the “it gets better” speech because she knows that the best she can hope for is adulthood where she hides her girlfriends and only sees herself in ancillary characters on TV.
Kate doesn’t have a lot of time to process all this, though, because Alice arrives, kidnaps Parker, and forces Kate to unmask right there in front of her latest adversary. It’s that moment that sort of allows the episode's heavy theme to come to fruition as Parker suddenly and immediately trusts and is inspired by Batwoman when she learns that Batwoman is, in some ways anyway, like her, a living embodiment of what a smart, capable lesbian can be in Gotham. Batwoman is also a symbol of hope to the city, which is why, when Alice threatens to blow up all the kids at Gotham Prep if Parker doesn’t reveal Batwoman’s identity to the world, Parker refuses to do it. Instead, the teen pulls a technological fast one on Alice, allowing Kate enough time to capture her and the GCPD enough time to get all the kids out of the gym before Mouse blows it all to hell.
In the aftermath of all this, Kate decides to split the difference. She can’t reveal herself as Batwoman, but she can be a little more truthful. And so Batwoman comes out, literally, on the cover of Catco Magazine, in a profile written by none other than National City’s own Kara Danvers. Now, Batwoman is an inspiration and a symbol of hope not only to the people of Gotham but to queer people like Parker who see the world and think that there isn’t a place for them.
Elsewhere in the city, Kate isn’t the only one who is dealing with an emotional fallout. Sophie’s marriage has imploded, her boss is in prison and she has absolutely no idea what she wants from her life. She doesn’t get a ton of time to dwell on these things during this first episode back, but it’s clear that she’s going to have a lot of choices to make going forward.
Also facing choices is Mary who is very sad and hurt after everything she’s been through. Despite all that, or perhaps because of it, she’s fighting like hell to prove that Jacob didn’t kill her mother but no medical professional she can find is willing to listen to her story of a face stealing supervillain. Meanwhile, Kate and Jacob are trying to convince her to talk to someone and she just keeps pushing down her feelings and pushing Kate away. Thankfully, though, she breaks through those walls and allows Kate to give her a hug, one they both really needed.
Oh, and that elephant… BETH IS BACK!
Next Week: No, seriously, Beth is back and she is a distinctly different person than Alice who is also around and locked up by the Crows. The easy explanation is that the Crisis screwed something up but that doesn’t explain why absolutely no one else seems to know about Beth either. Logically, it should only be Kate who remembers Beth as the person she was pre-Crisis.
- Kate becoming a sort of mentor to Parker is adorable and I kinda hope it continues. I still think Mary is the most likely choice for a future Flamebird but who knows?
- Anyone else expecting that hot cop to have some kind of nefarious underbelly? He was too perfect.
- I’m glad Kate seems to have immediately brought Luke into the fold on the whole Crisis thing. Her big lesson was to trust people at least a little more freely so I’m especially interested in seeing how that plays out going forward.
- Have I mentioned I love Rachel Skarsten?