Batwoman - How Queer Everything Is Today! - Review Roundtable: Coming Out By Aimee Hicks (January 24, 2020, 11:00 pm)
This review was written by Aimee Hicks, Donna Cromeans (DJRiter), Ellys Cartin, and Marko Pekic.
Batwoman's first episode since the events of Crisis On Infinite Earths delivered a strong launching point for the back half of the season. Continue reading below to find out our thoughts on the episode. After reading, please leave your thoughts in the comments.
This Kate Kane/Batwoman (Ruby Rose) is different than the one pre-Crisis. The events had a profound impact on her. What is the greatest change you see in her?
Aimee: This Kate Kane is far more confident and surer of her herself as a hero. Her time spent with the other heroes during Crisis changed her in profound ways. The series started with her as a reluctant hero. She took on the mask to help Sophie but continued to wear it because she felt obligated to do so. Now it feels like she is genuinely wearing the mask because she understands the meaning and purpose of it far more now than ever before. She saw the sacrifice Oliver (Stephen Amell) made and that along with the time she spent with the other heroes greatly matured her. She isn't just more mature, but also more focused on the task at hand, protecting the whole city over her interests. It's no longer about protecting Alice or even her own identity, it is about the bigger picture, and that could lead to great things. Crisis changed Kate and we should all be grateful for that.
Donna: This is the Batwoman I've been waiting for - she's emotionally stronger and possesses an air of confidence and self-assuredness about herself. Of course, a crisis of that magnitude changes a person and makes them re-evaluate their purpose. She has been affected and changed mentally, physically and emotionally and it's how she deals with those changes that make her a hero. Kudos to Rose for bringing this version of Kate Kane/Batwoman to life. Her entire body language with this new Kate changed, she carries herself taller and stronger and has a demeanor worthy or the Paragon of Courage.
Ellys: This episode blew me away. Are we still watching the same show? Six months spent at the Vanishing Point training for battle has radically transformed Kate. She's not unrecognizable, but it's as if all the best parts of Rose's performances over the last several episodes have now melded together and she's playing a fully realized and awesome version of her character at last. The authority in her bearing. She's got that Elseworlds swagger back and strong compassion too (You can't spend six months trapped with Kara Danvers (Melissa Benoist) without something rubbing off.) Her experiences during Crisis have made her braver and bolder than she was before. I am here for it!
Marko: She is definitely accepting who is she. She saved the universe and was declared as one of the bravest people alive, she can't back away from who she is and what being Batwoman means to her and the outside world. Parker Torres (Malia Pyles) was a great way of exploring Kate's struggle and current predicament.
By the end of the hour Kate and Mary (Nicole Kang) seem to have reconciled a bit after everything that happened in the first half of the season. How do you expect to see this dynamic grow and evolve for the rest of the season? Do you think the apparent return of this post-Crisis Beth (Rachel Skarsten) will impact the ability of Kate and Mary to build a sisterly bond?
Aimee: Mary was angry at Kate, rightfully so, after the mid-season finale. She was grieving and took her pain out on Kate. Despite everything, they have come to care about each other and no matter what Kate says she does seem to see Kate as a sister. I think they still have a lot to work through. I do think as the season goes on, we will see Mary and Kate keep growing as sisters. I think this new Beth, who seems a very likely contender to be Beth-99 as seen in the crossover via a picture, will bring Kate and Mary closer together. I think, and I hope that I'm right, that everything that happened in Crisis and before it has changed Kate. I believe this Kate will fight to keep Mary close and include her in this Beth stuff. And I hope that Beth being around will help Mary and Kate grow closer as Mary gets to know the Beth that Kate fought so hard for and understand Kate's reasons for fighting so hard. I hope that all of this eventually leads to Mary being let in on Kate's identity as Batwoman. There is enough past tension between the two of them that they'll have ups and downs in the growth of their sisterly relationship, but I think these two need each other more than ever and they both realize it.
Donna: I think the next step for Kate is to tell Mary who she is. If she could find the courage to unmask to save a stranger then she is certainly strong enough to do the same to save her relationship with her sister Mary, particularly since they need one another now more than ever. They need to work together to save Jacob (Dougray Scott). I think the arrival of this new Beth will complicate their relationship, but this time, Kate will be wise enough to lean on Mary and not shut her out because her twin is back.
Ellys: My heart needed that hug on every level. Mary acknowledging that she needed Kate, and Kate being there for her. Beth's arrival, which is a curveball so huge it might as well be the asteroid that killed the dinosaurs, will not so much throw a wrench in that as it will flatten it completely. Mary will have to contend with someone who has the face of her mother's killer. She'll hate her, because what else can she possibly feel? It's going to be extremely emotional. And I can't wait!
Marko: First off, major kudos to Kang she was once again exceptional, and her emotional struggle transferred well on-screen. Kate finally being there for Mary meant the world to her. Her resistance towards help from Kate was understandable but pushing Kate away won't make her grief any better. I am glad Kate pushed back and was there for her sister. What felt like a little loophole was Mary not knowing about this "new" Beth if she truly is an integral part of this world. So, we'll have to see how long this Beth will stay in the world. Any version of Beth will be a thorn in Mary and Kate's relationship, cause despite Kate's best judgment she will always want Beth by her side.
The entire first half of the season the audience came to learn that Beth and Alice were two in the same. Some part of Alice seems to still be Beth, but we now have a new Beth for Kate to contend with. Do you think Alice is still the Alice we knew before Crisis or is she all evil now? Will the appearance of this new Beth make Kate slightly less inclined to try to redeem or help Alice in any way? What do you think about this new Beth? What part do you think she will play in the show from here on out?
Aimee: I do believe this Alice is the same Alice we knew before Crisis, but what she did to Catherine already seemed like it was the final straw for Kate. I do believe a part of her will always feel some level of connection to Alice because her Beth is trapped inside the psychosis that is Alice, but at the same time, I think she has realized her Beth may be too far gone. This new Beth, presumably Beth-99, is a Beth, but not the one Kate knows. It'll be very interesting to see how Kate navigates things with this Beth while a version of her Beth is still running around under the guise of Alice. It's complicated to talk about here, so I can only imagine how it is going to blow Kate's mind. I hope that this new Beth will stick around, we all benefit greatly from Skarsten playing multiple characters. As for what part she'll play in everything moving forward, I hope that Kate does her the courtesy of telling her the whole truth and brings her into the fold. There is nowhere for her to send this new Beth, it's not like she can send her back to an Earth that no longer exists, so it'll be interesting to see how everything plays out. This Beth reveal could be the greatest thing the writers on this show have done yet as it changes things up and the show needs that.
Donna: The Alice of our Gotham is slipping further and further down the Rabbit Hole, obsessing about her and Kate becoming a family. The arrival of a new Beth is a great twist and will give Skarsten some meaty material to work with. This is the Beth of another world, but what is this Beth's story, was she even kidnapped and presumed dead, or what was her life on her Earth? And, if she's here, is there a chance there is another Kate out there somewhere? Her arrival is a consequence of Crisis I did not foresee, but I love it. Based on her Crisis experience and dealings with the twisted Beth of her world, Kate will be cautious in accepting this new Beth. Watching Alice react to this new Beth is going to be fun.
Ellys: Alice is very much still herself. However, as Mouse (Sam Littlefield) himself noted, she appears to be losing control. She is obsessed with Kate over everything and everyone else. With her now behind bars, one wonders if Mouse will bother extracting her or if he will just go rogue. We shouldn't be too quick to assume the nature of Beth either. She might turn out to be the worst. I do find it interesting that she's a student, presumably a graduate student. What's her field? Art? Medicine? Physics? Languages? I can't wait to learn more about her, but I don't want to lose Alice either.
Marko: This concept of new Beth is certainly interesting, but as said in my previous answer it seems like sort of a loophole as she isn't a canon character on Earth-Prime. Will she be everything Kate wanted her to be? I doubt it. Her being pure Beth, while Alice is pure Evil seems like a stretch but could be just as plausible. This Beth seems to have lived a happy life and isn't as damaged as Kate or Alice/Beth. Seeing this happier version of Beth within gloomy doomed Gotham should be an interesting concept to explore.
Batwoman had a big coming out this week in a defining moment for the hero and the woman behind the mask. Coming out, even as a superhero, can be a terrifying prospect and takes a lot of courage. That is fitting seeing as Kate is the Paragon of Courage. Do you think it was necessary to have Batwoman come out? Are you happy with how they handled it? What do you think Batwoman's sexuality being revealed will mean for Kate moving forward?
Aimee: Coming out is a deeply personal journey for each person. Even the proudest most out people in the public eye had a coming-out moment where they were very likely terrified of the outcome. The sad truth is coming out isn't always met by love and compassion, though it should be. Love is love and nobody should be made to feel less than because of the person they love or the gender they are attracted to. This episode dealt with Parker having that stripped from her by an angry ex-girlfriend and the fear and anger caused by that caused her to lash out. In a moment of life and death, Parker risked everything, her own life included, to not do the same thing to Kate. Parker can never get back what was taken from her, but seeing Kate proudly fighting as Batwoman seems to have given Parker the courage to accept her true self. In turn, seeing the impact she had on Parker gave Kate the push she needed to become a beacon of courage for all those struggling with their own coming out journeys. And she couldn't have picked a better person than Kara Danvers (Melissa Benoist) to write that article for her. So, was it necessary that Batwoman came out? No, it's wasn't necessary, but it was needed, not just for the show, but for the real world which is still plagued by homophobia, hate crimes, and bigotry. For every character, superhero or not, whom writers are courageous enough to make out and proud there is some audience member drawing courage from that character. Shows like Batwoman that show someone celebrating their true self is important to the evolution of acceptance. I am proud of how the show handled this with grace and respect because somewhere out there watching was a real Parker who might just have found that smidge of extra courage needed to accept the truth in his, her, or their heart.
Donna: For Kate to be true to herself and feel worthy as the Paragon of Courage, Batwoman had to come out. It was important as well for her to walk the walk to help Parker deal with her coming out issues. I loved the way the revelation was done with an article in Catco written by Kate's fellow Paragon, Kara Danvers. Nice shoutout to the dynamic duo tapped to be the new core partnership/friendship of the Arrowverse.
Ellys: I was surprised but thrilled by how well they incorporated the coming out. I credit that in part to this episode being impeccably well-written by Caroline Dries. And to the performances. For example, Kate's scene with Sophie (Meagan Tandy) and her scene with Parker were both about the same themes of hiding and acceptance, but they felt completely distinct from each other. The episode more than justified Batwoman coming out by laying that emotional foundation. Even the bit about people shipping her "character" with the hot police officer worked because it was rooted in the reality that people can't get over romantically pairing up their faves. It was slightly meta, but it was gentle about its criticism. A less subtle but equally effective moment was Parker's remark about "aspiring to be represented by an ancillary character on my favorite TV show." A truth burn if ever there was one. We're just barely past the TV stage where so many shows would shoehorn in a LGBTQ character just to check a box. There was such honesty and sincerity and love in how Batwoman approached that aspect of its story, while in past episodes it has felt a little clunky. This week they stuck the landing big time.
Marko: Being openly gay Batwoman is more important for the world than it is for Kate. Kate never truly struggled with her sexual identity but Batwoman being comprehended as straight was a thorn in her crime-fighting alter ego. For anyone to be that honest requires a lot of courage and so the whole episode was very fitting to the post-Crisis world Kate lives in now. The way the episode unraveled and worked through the topic felt natural and it was well appreciated. Batwoman being out there certainly gives Sophie more reasons to believe Kate is behind the mask and it certainly put the inevitable reveal at the close.
There was a big theme in this episode of hiding behind masks. There was the big Batwoman scene where Kate took off her mask to save Parker. Batwoman also told Sophie that it was time to remove her own mask. What do you think it will mean for Kate and Sophie if each woman stops hiding and reveals their true selves? For Kate, it would be trusting others, like Mary and Sophie, with her Batwoman truth. For Sophie that would mean letting the world see that she is a woman who loves other women and to own up to the power that comes with revealing that truth. How drastically would it change the dynamics of the show if each woman owns up to their truths and removes their literal and proverbial masks?
Aimee: Trust is every bit, if not more so, terrifying than love. Trust is certainly something that doesn't come easy to Kate, but when the day does come, and I hope it is sooner than later, that Kate opens up to Sophie and Mary, I think it will change a lot of things in her life. Kate hopefully learned from her Earth-99 cousin that shutting others out doesn't make a better hero but can destroy one. All the best heroes have a group at their back and by their side fighting with them. I think Kate is heading that direction, to becoming more trusting of those closest to her. As for what her trusting people like Mary and Sophie would do for the show, it'd change it, but in a good way. They could spend less time on ridiculous storylines trying to keep them in the dark and more time on including them more in what Kate is up to. It would also allow Sophie and Kate to maybe, finally, have a real shot at addressing their feelings, so we, the fans, can stop having to watch the same cycle over and over with these two. I really hope to see Kate keep on this path of opening herself up more. I also hope that Batwoman coming out will help Sophie become more accepting of her truths as well. When she can be honest with what is in her own heart then I think she'll find that Kate will be more willing to let the guard down around her own heart again just enough for Sophie to slip back in. Lots of potential and as of right now I like how things are trending.
Donna: For a big part, Kate/Batwoman has stopped hiding and accepting her role as Batwoman, Gotham's hero. The final step for her to come fully out from behind the mask would be to tell Mary. Her actions in this episode have shown us a stronger Kate and a more dynamic Batwoman. Removing the mask is going to be a bit more difficult for Sophie. Although I think once the masks are gone, Kate and Sophie will come to the realization they're better off as friends and not lovers. I'm still struggling to see anything more than friendship between them.
Ellys: I honestly feel it wouldn't change the show that much at this point. It would perhaps increase Mary's already existing resentment towards Kate for putting Alice first. Sophie and Kate would still clash over who should be doing what. At this point, there's nothing to be truly gained or lost by her letting these people in on her secret. That said, I am here for them opening up to each other as friends. More of Sophie and Mary. More of Mary and Kate.
Marko: All the characters living their truths would certainly change the show drastically. The line between the truth helping their relationships and putting a burden on them is thin. While it would accelerate the story and push it forward, a lot of people know Kate`s identity at this point and it is risky enough as it is. While all the truth is inevitable, this season should still be about Kate coming to terms of being Batwoman and what it means to her, before she must handle people in her most inner proximity knowing her truth. At this point being Batwoman for Kate is keeping the city safe from Alice and her fight with Alice, but who is Batwoman when it isn't truly about Alice is something we must face first.
Reader Question: Submitted by That Which Dreams: We've seen that one of the major themes of Batwoman is class warfare. Given the speech that Alice had Catherine (Elizabeth Anweis) give, is Alice a villain or the person that is willing to make the tough choices necessary to upset the status quo in a rigged world?
Aimee: That is a very deep question. Isn't it the case that every villain thinks they are fighting against the status quo for their version of the greater good? Alice justified killing Catherine as something she had to do to bring her family back together again. I also don't know that we can call Alice entirely evil either. Yes, she has committed unspeakable atrocities, but she is also clearly mentally ill. So that makes it hard to call her a full-on villain when we know what she went through that led her to become Alice. It is easy to understand the conflict that Kate has been dealing with regarding Alice. On one hand, she does do horrible things and should be stopped, but on the other hand, under it all is a scared little girl who created this persona to survive.
Donna: Alice is full-on demented and while not truly evil, she is most assuredly a villain. A villain who, despite all the atrocities she has committed Batwoman will still try to save. Kate's newfound confidence in both herself and Batwoman will help her find just the right way to deal with Alice before more people are hurt or killed. She will, ironically, find a way to save her sister Beth while getting rid of Alice.
Ellys: The fact that Catherine was pre-redemption Tony Stark-ing weapons, mechanical and biological has been rather brushed over. And not since that very early Kate/Tommy (Gabriel Mann) faceoff have questions of privilege and class advantage been addressed even a little. I vaguely recall Alice ranting against rich people, but I don't know if the show is going to explore why she formed those opinions. Addressing socioeconomic inequality doesn't seem to be the show's cup of tea.
Marko: While the question does put up point, we must realize that Alice's reasoning is quite selfish and her motivations weren't really to save humanity or the not privileged ones. While she does call out Catherine on her abuse of power it was on purely selfish reasons. I do hope they will explore the class warfare in future storylines, Alice is anything but a Robin Hood.
Which performer do you think delivered the most memorable performance in the episode? Why did their performance standout for you? What were their best scenes?
Aimee: For the first time I don't think I can single out a single performer. Every one of them came into this episode with their A-game and they nailed every aspect of it. Ruby Rose brought amazing depth to the entire coming out storyline for Batwoman. Rachel Skarsten, per usual, ate up the scenery as Alice and was deliciously evil. Then in came Beth-99, or whomever this new Beth is, and Skarsten delivered her in a way that showed how different she is from Alice. Meagan Tandy beautifully showed the struggle raging inside of Sophie and made the character finally feel very multidimensional and relatable. Nicole Kang, who remains one of the best parts of this show, captured Mary's profound struggle dealing with losing her mom and trying to clear Jacob. And her final scene with Rose where Mary's tough façade melted when Kate walked in and at that moment, she just needed some sort of connection and melted into Kate's arms. That was a powerful scene for both actresses. Then there was Dougray Scott who was finally given some good material to dig into and his portrayal of Jacob's call with Mary was heartbreaking as he tried his best to not lose yet another daughter. Camrus Johnson delivered on Luke's place as Kate's confidant and friend. He had her back throughout everything she had to endure in this episode. All around not one performer outdid the others. They all brought their best to this episode and I can't give one more kudos than the others this week.
Donna: Strong performances from the entire cast in this episode. I was pleasantly surprised to find characters such as Jacob and Sophie that I was having a hard time caring about were given new life through Dougray Scott and Meagan Tandy's performances. Nicole Kang was superb as always. She was very impressive in showing us this desperate and vulnerable side to Mary. However, the star of this episode to me was Ruby Rose. From the way she physically carried herself to the strength and confidence she displayed, she is now well and truly both Kate Kane and Batwoman. She was decidedly more confident and comfortable in the role and was outstanding in numerous scenes. She went toe to toe with the always excellent Rachel Skarsten in Batwoman's heated confrontation with Alice and was touching and supportive in matching Nicole Kang with Mary and Kate's emotional reunion, and she was the epitome of the Paragon of Courage in removing her mask to save a young girl.
Ellys: Sam Littlefield gets more and more menacing. His scenes with Alice are a treat. However, this episode was one where nearly everyone delivered their best work. Ruby Rose had me spellbound. I also loved that Luke got out of the office. He's far too interesting to be relegated to permanent "guy in the chair" status. And Camrus Johnson is far too charming to play a side character. Meagan Tandy got to show us a boss side of Sophie in that interrogation scene. The moments where the show lets Sophie stand on her own feet and deal with issues that aren't meant to circle back to her relationship with someone else are her finest ones.
Marko: There probably won't be a week where I won't profess my undying love for Nicole Kang and/or Rachel Skarsten's performances, yet this week Ruby Rose certainly took center stage as she comes to peace with who she is and what being Batwoman means. It was probably Parker's coming out scene to Batwoman which carried most emotions for me. Parker's pain got to Kate and even behind the mask, you could see how it was affecting her.
What are your final thoughts regarding this episode? What are your predictions for what additional fallouts we may see in the show because of Crisis?
Aimee: I'm going to be honest, this episode scared me before I watched it. This show has had one of the most inconsistent first seasons of the Arrowverse shows, except for Legends of Tomorrow that will be near impossible to top in terms of horrible first seasons. That knowledge mixed in with knowing Crisis was going to cause big changes had me worried. Honestly, I still am worried about what the writers will do and until we get a steady batch of more than two good episodes back-to-back, I am going to keep worrying. This show constantly gets my hope up for it then brutally lets me down. With all that said, I loved this particular episode. I'm going to dare to hope that all the inconsistency of the first half of the season was caused by them burning through too much plot too fast to catch up to the right timeline then having to slam on the breaks ahead of the crossover. I want to believe that was what caused all the prior inconsistencies, and this is the dawn of a new era for the show. I'm willing to give this show another chance and hope it doesn't let me down again, because what they delivered in this episode was spectacular. It was easily one of the best episodes of the series. It was very well written, and the surprises were surprising and the acting by all was on point. They even figured out how to write for Sophie in a way that made her journey finally feel meaningful and rich. This is one of those episodes that restore just enough hope in me to get me through future inconsistent episodes because it is an example of the great potential hiding within this show.
Donna: It was by far the show's strongest episode with powerful performances. I truly hope they can maintain this quality moving forward. There are certainly more fallouts to come as Batwoman navigates this new world. It would be nice to see a visit from Supergirl before the end of this season giving fans the much-anticipated World's Finest crossover, but I'm not sure there will be time to do it.
Ellys: I don't want to jinx anything. This was the best episode yet.
Marko: It was a very well-crafted episode and a good comeback from the hiatus. The show addressed all the topics left lingering after Batwoman's actual midseason finale and neither story felt neglected. The big question here certainly is, how many Metahumans and Aliens will we see on either show now that they have merged? Believing they will all stick in National City and Star City seems a bit gullible. I do hope the writers address this issue as the season progresses.
Thanks for joining us for another roundtable review. Each week we will select one question from all of you to include in our roundtable. Please submit your questions in the comments section below.