I’ve been enjoying Batwoman since she first showed up back in the Elseworlds crossover. I think Ruby Rose has been doing a good to great job playing her, depending on the episode, and the series has been pretty damn good, doing a lot of great storytelling and making some strong choices. And then, there’s “Take Your Choice” where all the standards of quality seem to have suddenly flown out the window.
The episode opens with Commander Jacob Kane and Sophie working to get Kane out of jail. Actually, they keep saying he’s in Blackgate Prison, but prisons are only for people who have been convicted and given a sentence of a year or longer, but that’s just one of the minor mistakes they make in this error-riddled episode. They confer with a Dr. Campbell, trying to get expert testimony about the possibility of someone impersonating Kane for the murder he’s accused of. Campbell reluctantly allows himself to be persuaded to interview Mouse, being held in a hospital after his capture. After the doctor leaves, Kane gives Sophie some extreme advice about how to handle the threat of Alice. Back in Crow’s Nest, Sophie rattles out orders to the troops, including a blatantly illegal “shoot to kill” order. The real, actual police can’t issue that kind of order, so it’s an order of magnitude worse for some private contractor to do it. Can you say “Criminal Conspiracy” boys and girls?
As seen last time, Beth is severely ill, suffering from Random Dramatic Sickness. Luke and Mary are trying to get her someplace safe, and the dialogue between those two is one of the really good points of the episode. They get stopped at a Crow checkpoint, because somehow or other in the time Sophie got from the prison to the Crows and gave out her orders, Luke hasn’t managed to get across town. Mary tries to bluff through it, Beth can’t keep still long enough to hide, and they are only saved by the last-minute intervention of Batwoman. We do see some slick tech from Luke as they flee. Vesper Fairchild provides some more commentary about the police state the Crows are creating, using an old Bat-Trope to make her point.
Alice enacts a new plan, which naturally involves killing someone and making a snarky comment. The woman knows her brand. For some reason or other, the collective wisdom of the good guys had decided that the best place to take Beth is Kate’s office, probably to avoid the expense of another set. Somehow or other, the tech guy and the medical student figure out that Beth’s illness is because both she and Alice are existing on the same Earth, in direct contradiction to every other doppleganger appearance so far in the Arrowverse. Beth and Luke seem to bond a bit over techno-babble. Kate leans on Mary for some ideas for a cure, and Mary once again gets in a good line, illustrating that this is so far beyond her paygrade. With nothing else being suggested, Beth starts self-medicating, while Luke points out some glaring flaws in Kate’s plan to go have a chat with Sophie. Alice and Beth have synchronized coughing spells as Alice slips in to see Mouse, finds out a lot of strange things, and leaves to go see what’s going on. I admit I’m not a medical professional, but I’m not sure what exactly would make you cough up blood, be generally weak, and have your ears bleed. Ebola, maybe?
At some random place in Gotham, Sophie leads another Crow raid against someone who looks vaguely like Alice, but isn’t. Leading from the rear, which is unlike her, Sophie gets a visitor as Batwoman shows up and asks for the kill order on Alice to be rescinded. The pair argue, and Batwoman slips away when Sophie turns to look at the Crows coming back out of the building, having done an entire search in a time that would make the Flash envious. In Blackgate, the writers continue to demonstrate their ignorance of/show disregard for the way correctional institutions work, as Kane is apparently in general population, not Protective Custody, which would be standard for any law enforcement related person who ends up behind bars. Demonstrating why that’s the way it’s done, Kane gets stabbed by Dodgson, one of Alice’s henchmen formerly undercover with the Crows.
Luke and Beth debate treatments, one of them seeming to be a nod to Mr. Freeze. They also come to the odd conclusion that if one of the dopplegangers dies, the other should be fine. I don’t get how that works, since the body would still be around and presumably still causing whatever metaphysical echo damage is going on. Their discussion gets interrupted when Alice staggers in, looking much the worse for wear. She stares at Beth and states, “You are not me.” Well, there’s one thing I can agree with in this episode. Alice and Beth talk Crisis and ripple effects, and Kate comes in just time to see the painfully different parts of their pasts compared, specifically Beth was saved by “her” Kate. Alice makes an attempt to solve the problem in her usual direct style, gets foiled, and then is allowed to escape because Luke somehow believes that Kate can help him treat Beth. Or something. Jacob, somehow not bleeding from being stabbed earlier, gets in another fight (why he isn’t in the infirmary I’ll never know), and then gets some unexpected help that at least has some believable motivations.
Once again a bright spot in this benighted script and episode, Mary does some humorous research before Alice staggers in and makes some demands. Mary reacts about like you’d expect someone to with their shared history. Just to make things more complicated, Dr. Campbell gets in to see Mouse, a big secret is revealed, and the guards on this detail fail to do the most basic of security methods. There’s a great dissolve from this scene back to Alice and Mary, as they have more disagreements and have arrived at some weird conclusion that strains even comic book science. Mary makes a mistake on her way out, and Alice takes full advantage.
Beth starts making “after I’m gone” kind of statements that Kate won’t accept. Things get worse when the Crows burst in to Kate’s building, and do a much more thorough search than anything we’ve seen them do so far, because it’s Dramatically Appropriate. Realizing how serious things are, Kate and Luke reveal a big secret to Beth. Beth, in turn, drops a hint about something important to “her” Kate. Also having “when I’m gone” thoughts, Alice has a vivid hallucination with one of her many victims, clinging desperately to a belief I’m not sure is remotely justified. Kate and Beth have an intense conversation about Kate being Batwoman and it’s actually a nice scene.
After getting a call from Mary, Kate goes to meet her and get the “cure.” This comes with so many weird explanations, limitations, and conditions that it’s a very strained bit of writing. Kate looks anguished when presented with a decision that must be made, but I’m with Mary on this one: “It’s a no-brainer.” I will give some minor credit; the build up to the decision and the reveal was nicely done. Having escaped from the building, because they are worried the so-far fairly incompetent Crows will suddenly figure out how to do their jobs and find the Batcave, Luke takes Beth on a tour of the city via Bat-Bike (something he delighted in hearing Kate say) while Kate got out through some special ninja magic or something. Most of them meet up at a seemingly random parking lot, but apparently Kate took out an ad in the Gotham Gazette saying where they’d be, as not one but two snipers show up. How either of them knew where to find our heroes, I have no idea. There’s a dramatic ending to the episode which I suspect is going to have a lot of consequences down the road, starting with a surprise attack on one of the good guys at the very end of the episode.
What I liked: The scene with Mary and Luke was great. Actually, all Mary’s scenes were very well done, so nice job to actress Nicole Kang. The buildup near the end was good. Alice’s initial confusing reunion with Mouse was handled well.
What I didn’t: Just about everything else. The Crows issuing a kill order on Alice is Murder One in any jurisdiction I know of. Prisons don’t work at all how these writers seem to think. The Alice/Beth problem contradicts what we’ve seen on pretty much every other show in the Arrowverse. How the shooters knew where the meeting was at the end I have no idea. The “science” behind the cure and related issues was hard to follow even for someone who has been a fan and avid reader of comics for decades.
How the mighty have fallen… I’ve been really enjoying this show, and this sudden massive disappointment was surprising in a very unpleasant way. I’m giving this a 2 out of 5. Y’all can do better. I’ve seen it. I don’t know what happened here, but fix it. Please.