17th Oct2019

‘Batwoman 1×02: The Rabbit Hole’ Review

by Jason Brigger

Stars: Ruby Rose, Rachel Skarsten, Meagan Tandy, Nicole Kang, Camrus Johnson, Elizabeth Anweis, Dougray Scott | Created by Caroline Dries

You may know me from my weekly review of Black Lightning (also on the CW network) but being an avid Batman fan, both comics and film, I was interested when a Batwoman television series was announced. I have no expectations for this series so let’s take it one week at a time because no one wants to read a review, much less watch the series, if this follows the downward spiral of the Arrow series.

batwoman-poster

What Happened This Week?

The episode’s theme this week is the truth and how we each interpret the truth. Kate Kane is searching for the truth regarding Alice, the new criminal mastermind of Gotham, and whether she really is Kate’s long-lost sister or an imposter playing mind games. Kate still has Alice’s knife from their first interaction (last episode) and wants someone/anyone to run DNA analysis on it to confirm Kate’s worst fears that Alice is truly her sister. She has trouble finding anyone to help her, even her ex-girlfriend Sophie, but after having a heart to heart with her step-sister, Catherine agrees to help Kate. Unfortunately, this never happens as the knife somehow mysteriously disappears, as we get into later.

Kate’s insistence that Alice is really her sister does not sit well in the Kane family as her father, step-sister and step-mother all have doubts about this theory. Jacob won’t believe his daughter is Alice as his daughter would never do to the evil actions Alice has done, while step-mother Catherine thinks it’s a ludicrous idea. The writers spent the majority of the episode telling us that Jacob was so convinced Alice wasn’t really his daughter that it gave it away when it’s revealed at the end of the episode that Jacob has doubts and may actually believe Alice really is his daughter.

The identity of Alice is blurred even more when Kate sends a message to one of Alice’s goons to meet her at one of their favorite childhood places, the Waffle Shack. Alice arrives alone and plays mind games with Kate, talking out of both sides of her mouth by stating tidbits only Kate’s true sister would know but then also stating maybe she just did her research on the Kane family. Alice does offer to produce a DNA sample for Kate to test but is interrupted by the Crows and Alice is arrested. To the shock of no one, Alice escapes custody one scene later.

At this point it would be a major disappointment if Alice isn’t really Kate’s sister but on the other hand, what a twist it would be that Alice is just toying with Kate this whole time, especially now that Alice somehow knows Kate is Batwoman.
The episode is interlaced with flashbacks from the days and months after the car accident that killed Kate’s mother and left her sister missing. We get a glimpse into how Kate’s childhood went from picture perfect to a downward spiral after the accident. Dougray Scott does a great acting job on this week’s episode by playing the grieving father still looking for his missing daughter but also trying to be a positive and upbeat father to his one surviving daughter, Kate. The scene in which Kate’s father has to tell Kate about the police finding skull fragments linked to Kate’s sister is heartbreaking and a scene made more powerful by Dougray Scott.

The “feel” of Gotham begins to take shape as this episode delves into the psyche of Gotham’s citizens seeing a figure that resembles Batman back in the spotlight. The citizens are desperate for any glimmer of hope in their city but also raises emotions of betrayal and anger when the vigilante fails to show up when Alice escapes custody from the Crows. Kate is so preoccupied with finding out who Alice really is that she doesn’t realize the impact the appearance of her as Batwoman has on Gotham.

Since this is a superhero series, we can’t go one season without one overarching conspiracy theory. Kate learns it wasn’t Alice’s henchmen that attacked her, but a group of thugs hired by a mysterious villain. The episode ends by revealing (to the audience) the bigger villain is Catherine, Kate’s stepmother. She somehow got Alice’s knife, which housed Alice’s DNA, and promptly had one of her minions get rid of it. The episode doesn’t reveal why Kate’s step-mother is going to these extremes to hide the truth but I’m guessing she had something to do with the bone fragments, that were supposedly Kate’s sister, being found at Miller’s Farm. There is obviously a lot more to this story than what they are revealing but hopefully it’s not the same tired “evil step-mother” tropes found throughout television history.

One Good Thing:

  • No villain of the week. Taking a cue from the Black Lightning series, Batwoman has avoided the “new villain of the week gets taken down by the superhero” that is overplayed in most television shows. The episode didn’t wrap up any major plot to destroy Gotham, no new villain was introduced, and the series is focused on laying the groundwork for the world Batwoman will exist in. The hope for a season-long storyline for the main villain remains high after this second episode and maybe the CW Network understands that by building up a villain for the whole series actually makes the hero a better and stronger character to watch each week.
  • Easter eggs. The series, unlike some superhero shows, is not hiding from its superhero origins. The character of Batman obviously plays a predominate role in the series, something Gotham always tried to avoid, but the series also mentions several other Batman-universe characters, including Lucius Fox (for obvious reasons), Robin and the Joker. Fans of the comics will enjoy the references hidden throughout the series and it also lays the groundwork for possible appearances of these characters along with others, including Mad Hatter and even Nightwing. One can hope at least.

One Bad Thing:

  • Kate’s step-sister, Mary. Just like I was worried about the character of Luke Fox last week, who was much better this week, I’m now worried about another secondary character, Mary. The writers can’t seem to figure out what her character is: a socialite that cares about baby turtle photos on social media or a soon to be doctor with a heart of gold that is running an underground clinic for the underprivileged. Her character fluctuates between ditzy to serious to annoying to smart so often in the last two episodes, I would be just as annoyed with her as Kate is in this series. It’s only two episodes into the series but the character of Mary needs to progress soon, or it could be a long, annoying ride with her.

This Episode’s Grade: B (Good)

I enjoyed this episode much more than the pilot episode, which is not uncommon for a new series, as the second episode usually lays more groundwork for where the writers will take the show. The bad was kept to a minimal this week, Kate showed off more of her expertise as Batwoman, the character of Fox actually served a purpose, and the mystery of the identity of Alice has me intrigued. While the series is still far from “great”, the potential is there for a different and grittier take on the superhero genre. If you were undecided after the first episode, the second episode should help you decide if this series is for you.
______

You can catch Jason Brigger on the geek-centric podcast, The History of Bad Ideas, as new episodes are released every week at www.nerdly.co.uk or subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Stitcher and other podcasting apps. You can listen to their latest episode right here.
Off

Comments are closed.