Batwoman: Who Are You?


Who says the Joker is the showiest Bat-villain? 

I have to give the writers on Batwoman credit for diverging some from the pattern of the other hero shows they’ve done on the CW. They set up the status quo, but didn’t immediately drop into “villain of the week” mode. The background issues are still around, and arguably more important than this week’s villain. Actually, they get credit for the villain, too. She’s one of the most obscure of the Gotham rogues gallery, and this is only her second live action appearance ever. I like the slow burn they are doing with the Kane-Hamilton family issues, and that things are actually moving forward on that front. There are certainly a lot of reasons this week to be asking “Who Are You?”

The show opens with an elaborate jewel heist, followed by a great example of how fickle the media can be about masked heroes. Vesper Fairchild is once again on the air, criticizing Batwoman for not stopping Magpie’s crime spree, and makes several vaguely sexist comments in the process. We get to see a possible reason why Batwoman isn’t on top of the jewel thief, as Kate Kane is enjoying some time with new love interest Reagan. There’s some amusing Batwoman gossip and another name drop of another Bat-foe. Their time gets interrupted by an urgent text from Luke Fox, and a really bad excuse from Kate about where she’s going. She really needs help in the creative cover story department.

Once again in a journal entry to the missing Bruce Wayne (does no one think that one of the world’s most accomplished heroes being missing is cause for concern?), Kate muses about lying and cites an interesting source for her line. Meeting up with Luke, she gets briefed on Magpie’s spree while there’s a photo shoot of Martha Wayne’s famous pearl necklace, which is going to a museum soon. None of this is why Luke called, in fact. Kate’s prisoner, Dodgson, is not doing well in captivity with his injuries. Catherine Hamilton-Kane is doing some things her husband probably wouldn’t approve of, and ends up in a meeting that serves to deliver some blackmail demands. O, what a tangled web we weave…

One of the Bat-tricks Kate has down is the sudden disappearance/turning up unexpectedly. She uses this here to scare the hell out of poor Mary Hamilton, who is fast becoming one of my favorite characters on the show. Oddly, Sophie being Mary’s bodyguard, that was such a big part of last episode, is never so much as mentioned this time around. Sloppy continuity there, folks. At any rate, after the near heart attack, Batwoman kicks on her trusty voice modulator and asks a favor. Mary, despite being a big fan of the newest masked hero, agrees a bit reluctantly, and mentions some interesting priorities that almost sound like her “cover” identity is bleeding through a bit. Kate muses on ways to be a beacon of hope to the city, and agrees she has to take Magpie down. She and Luke banter over the coms and he gets an idea on what to do next.

Magpie and Batwoman have their first clash, which shows a level of fighting skill the very minor villain has never displayed before. There’s some decent banter and then the bad guy gets away and Kate has a technical issue. It’s a weird mistake to make but the look she gives is great. On air, Vesper lays into Batwoman about some collateral damage while Luke and Kate argue about what happened. Kate ends things by going off on a date, which Luke clearly doesn’t approve of. At the Crows’ Nest, Jacob listens to a piece of classical music in his office. When Sophie comes in, he explains the significance of it to her, and then she shares some troubling findings from the attack on the convoy that had Alice. With the earlier scene, there’s a fairly obvious conclusion to be drawn, but that’s knowledge we the viewers have that neither Sophie nor Jacob do.

Walking the streets of Gotham, which I guess is safer in daylight, Kate and Reagan share stories about their pasts, and Kate continues to fumble with excuses. She does ask her new girlfriend on a date to one of those events that’s practically guaranteed to draw out whatever trouble is loose at the time. Luke has his own run-in with Magpie, which also doesn’t go well, and Kate blames herself for not being  there later. There’s some talk about the necklace, which might be the most attention that piece of Bat-mythos has ever gotten. A really weird lead brings Kate to Sophie, and some more suspicion about who’s under the red wig while a favor is asked. There’s a lot of unresolved tension between those two, and I personally blame Sophie 100% for that.

Elsewhere, some mercenaries find out why Gotham is a bad place for that profession, as Alice easily bests them and makes a very emphatic point to their employer. Luke and Kate go over the clues she got from Sophie, and Kate warns Luke that Sophie suspects who Batwoman is. Kate wonders how her cousin made this look so easy, and Luke shares something that might be our first clue about what actually happened to the Dark Knight. Some decent detective work leads Batwoman to a hideout that, for once, isn’t in an abandoned warehouse. There’s some high-tech heist set up, some interesting revelations about what Luke can do to the suit, and an earlier quip I thought was a joke leads to an explosive getaway after retrieving something important.

The next scene further endears Mary to me, as she uses every advantage she has to get some information for Batwoman. Mary’s clearly new at this, but her heart’s in the right place. In the Wayne Enterprises office, Luke returns an important item to its place and goes down to the cave while Batwoman poses dramatically on a building. Luke has the 3D printer copying whatever Magpie’s files were set for, trying to get a lead. He also critiques Kate having Reagan at the museum, but in her defense, she invited Reagan there before the event became a supervillain target, even though that’s inevitable. Catherine finds out some of her plans aren’t working out and gets a threatening phone call.

Another point for the show: Kate shows up with a big duffle bag holding her Batwoman gear. That armor won’t go under normal clothes and she doesn’t have a magic changing device like Flash and Supergirl. Stowing it, Kate meets up with Reagan finally. There’s a very tense and awkward scene with Kate, Reagan, and Sophie. I think this is an indicator of something for the future, and I’m hoping I’m wrong about that. The date goes badly, since Kate is distracted with concerns of the supervillain variety. As the big speech gets underway, Luke and Kate at roughly the same time figure out what Magpie is up to.

Kate slips off to change and chaos erupts as Magpie strikes. This version of the character really likes her explosions, although that’s not far off from the original. Batwoman swoops in, drives off the villain, saves the civilians including the nearly-required little girl, and then manages to capture Magpie, making the villain look bad in the process. Magpie’s secret is revealed, but the glow of that triumph fades both from some of what the defeated villain says and a realization that forces Kate to end something just as it’s starting.

Desperate and realizing her lies are about to come out anyway, someone confesses to something they should never have done. This is going to have a lot of ramifications moving forward on the show, unless they forget like the bodyguarding issue. Hopefully they’re better than that. Things wrap up with a few short scenes: Batwoman scares the hell out of Mary again (maybe this will be their thing, like Batman leaving Gordon on the roof all those times) and gets a clue from the getting-twitchy doctor, Commander Kane broods over some music, and Vesper is on the air again. It’s so odd that a female is making these weird comments. Batwoman should smile more? Really? Kate has her doubts about what she’s accomplished, but charts out a new mission in life for herself, does another journal to Bruce, and gets to see Luke modifying a special piece of equipment.

What I liked: The subplots are being handled well and actually gripping me more than the main one this week. Magpie is a great introductory villain, since she’s just not that dangerous to a competent hero. Alice didn’t dominate the episode, but her few scenes were powerful and had a serious effect on things. I really like Mary the more I see of her. Kate’s look when the mishap with the tech happened was really funny.

What I didn’t: The explanation for the tech issue was a strange spin on that item I’ve never really seen before, barring the second Keaton Batman movie. I’m not really sure it makes sense. They dropped the bodyguard thread without a mention, which didn’t play well. I’m starting to dislike Vesper Fairchild, even when she’s notionally supporting our hero. I hope this isn’t the last time we see one of the supporting characters, but I could see it going that way.  Luke isn’t the hero he will become, not even close, but it’d be nice to see some hint of that instead of just bumbling. The Bat-suit is getting a bit too much like Iron Man’s armor.

I’m impressed with the series and this episode overall. I’ll give this a high 3.5 out of 5.