I’ve been watching Batwoman pretty consistently for the last year and a half. When I wrote the recap at the end of season 1, I was unaware that Ruby Rose had decided to leave the show, and I speculated how the show could improve in season 2 under the assumption she would be returning. Things obviously haven’t gone the way I hoped, but has it been all bad?
We’re currently three episodes in, and while the first two, I think were making some good steps towards digging the show out of the hole they were in, the third feels like a step backward. You see, I love Alice (played by Rachel Skarsten), and Mary Hamilton (played by Nicole Kang), and they’re back, and doing well still. I also, really enjoy Javicia Leslie, as Ryan Wilder the new Batwoman. She’s more charismatic, her character is good, and while it’s probably coming together a bit quickly, there are the growing pains that would come with becoming Batwoman.
Is Kate Kane Dead?
The first problem that arises in the third episode, is that of Kate being still alive. The character of Safiyah (whom I assume will be the season’s big bad) has promised to help Alice find the living Kate in exchange for erasing all evidence of “The Desert Rose.” This seems to be the writer’s having written themselves into this corner, in which the only likely ways it will be fixed are that it’s all a lie, in which case it feels lazy, or that Kate is alive, but her face was mangled, and now after reconstructive surgery she looks like a different person. Both of these possibilities are crappy as far as I’m concerned.
The only other option that I see, one which I will be writing a retraction to this very article if it happens, is that Ruby Rose leaving the show was a fake out, and that the whole plan was to do this the entire time, and have her come back at the end of the season. I don’t know that I would love that result, but if the writing is well done, I would respect the hell out of how fucking bonkers it would be, and how well kept that secret would have been for over a year. I think there is a better chance we’ll see George Clooney come into the show as Bruce Wayne, than that happening.
I really enjoy the Arrowverse, but one of my big complaints has been that there was too much repetition in the formula. Every show becomes a ‘team-up’ with a tech person, a black sidekick of equal ability, etc. They started to break from it, Legends of Tomorrow has been a genuine team show, and doesn’t fall nearly as much into this formula. But I’m afraid there’s been a lot of other ways in which the shows have been repetitive, “oh another speedster/archer big bad” being one problem that comes to mind.
In episode 3 of this season, it appears we’re beginning to follow the formula of Arrow in story beats. The big bad from season 1 is actually a lackey to a new big bad who is hidden away from society, with a magical source of healing pretty much everything, and is surrounded by the most highly trained assassins in the world.
Is that what’s going on here? Because episode 3 certainly makes it seem that way.
I don’t want to be dealing with rehashing, and repetition. You can have a bad guy come back in new creative ways, but what I don’t want to see is the female Ra’s Al Ghul. Alice has hints of the Joker, but she’s not a Joker knock-off, and she was my favorite part of season 1. It’s ok to have overlap, but not carbon-copy.
The Other Big Shared Universe
It is not really helping Batwoman, that it’s airing episodes at the same time WandaVision is airing episodes. Both are newer additions into large and successful shared universes, but WandaVision is doing something that I think shines a bit of a light on how Batwoman is failing in that area.
WandaVision, which I think has some issues—mostly in roll out schedule, is another great example of a Marvel property in which we understand that it’s the same continuity with all of the other MCU that has come before, but it seems so fresh and new. It’s something that Marvel has been great about, not falling into a formula, not getting to repetitive; Thor: Ragnarok, Guardians of the Galaxy, had so little in common with what came before but fit so perfectly, and WandaVision does that too.
Batwoman, like I said above, is repeating a lot of the same things from the Arrowverse, and if I’m being honest about what’s “new or different” it’s hard to come up with much. Even the female empowerment, and LGBTQ inclusion aren’t new (not complaining about either of these, but with Supergirl we get both). There just isn’t much that’s new, and it kind of makes it feel like this is our new Arrow, and it doesn’t hold up to that standard.
Prove Me Wrong, Please
Now, we’re three episodes into the season, and I am open to being wrong. I am hoping I am. I’m watching WandaVision excited to see the next week’s episode every week with no idea what I’m going to get and loving it, and I’m watching Batwoman every week hoping that I’ll get the spark, the thing that’s gonna make me go “ok, this fucking crazy, and this is what makes this show stand out.”
I know nothing about Batwoman and the mythology beyond this show, so as far as I’m concerned that leaves things wide open. Find something to shove us into new exciting territory.
*Note: This article was written before the announcement that Ruby Rose, the actress who plays Batwoman, has left the series and will be replaced in Season 2.
Batwoman Season 1 ended almost two weeks ago, and I had intended to write a review on here when that happened, but I hadn’t realized the season had ended because it was an abrupt, COVID interrupted season. I won’t hold that against Batwoman obviously, and please don’t hold my tardiness on this subject against me.
I’m going to be frank with you, and tell you that while I might be in the minority, I really enjoyed Batwoman. I think there was a ton of things that were done really well. I also recognize that it had several faults, and I’m not blind to those. I think, for the sake of redemption, I will start us off with the parts that I don’t like, and work towards the things that made this show work for me.
I think it was back before the mid-season break, I had a conversation with Paul about the show, and one of the things that he pointed out that made no sense what-so-ever was the idea of The Crows. As I watched the second half of the season with this in mind, I realized he was completely right. The Crows, are Gotham’s premium and private ‘police’ service. They don’t exist in place of The GCPD, but in addition to it. They’re essentially independent contractors acting like Police, but with less restriction, and seemingly less self-restraint. A local law enforcement version of Blackwater.
At best, their existence doesn’t make any sense. With the appearance of Batwoman, a vigilante acting outside of the law, of course The Crows declare her to be a dangerous criminal who must be brought to justice. Complicating matters, The Crows are lead by Commander Jacob Kane (Batwoman’s father, who has no idea that his daughter is the vigilante). In similar situations like Arrow, Batman, or even Spider-Man, if a hero or vigilante is seen as a criminal, they’re usually being accused as such by the police. While there is room for argument on the morality of vigilante justice on either side, the legality of the situation is clear because The Police Dept., The D.A., are all part of law enforcement that governments put in place to protect the public. It all makes some sense. This isn’t the case in Batwoman with The Crows because they’re a private company, not operating with any kind of government oversight. The potentially interesting morality/logic of that dynamic isn’t really touched upon until the last episode or two, and even then only in passing.
Along with The Crows and their non-sensical existence, is Commander Kane. I think he fails on pretty much every front. I think the performance, with him trying to sound grizzly and hardened comes off as two dimensional and uninteresting. As for the characterization, he’s written to have the same black and white moral code that someone like Quentin Lance on Arrow had, but again Lance existed within a real Police Dept which made much more sense. Also, while Lance may have been tough on his children and perhaps a bit too rigid, he never really wrote them off. Whereas Kane’s love is barely existent at best, and far from unconditional. Do I think we need to portray every parent as having unconditional love for their children? No, but in these types of characters and stories it leads to some interesting inner conflict. Trying to justify your unconditional love for your children, when your children test your own moral code, makes for fascinating character drama. Commander Kane doesn’t do that. There are very few, if any, moments when it appears that indicate if he finds out his daughter Kate is Batwoman, that he’ll hesitate to treat her like any other criminal.
My last complaint about the show will probably be more controversial and this is way more a matter of opinion, but Kate sporadically write’s letters to the missing Bruce Wayne. It’s not the idea that she’s writing them that doesn’t work for me, it’s more a matter of delivery. There is something about it that comes across as awkward and unnatural, it interrupts the flow of the show. I think it is possible that it’s Ruby Rose, who is Australian, trying to do an American accent in these long slow, uber-articulated monologues, that doesn’t work.
Three characters work perfectly for me on this show, there will be some mild-spoilers.
I think The Big-Bad, Alice, head of the Wonderland Gang, works perfectly. I would make the argument that she may be the best villain in The Arrowverse this season. Alice, as we learn very early on, is Kate’s twin sister, Beth. Beth was believed to be killed in a car accident when they were both 12 or 13. As the season plays out, we get to see how Alice isn’t just a menacing thug, but a deeply troubled (and for good reason) woman, who is trying to get reconcile a sense of normalcy with her sister and revenge with her father, step-mother and sister. Every emotional twist and turn is believable within the circumstances, and the performance by Rachel Skarsten rides those emotions completely and makes you feel genuine empathy for her, while also understanding that she must be stopped. I would argue that her character’s complexity exacerbates how poorly Commander Kane’s character is developed.
Alice’s right-hand man, is Mouse, who we learn is the son of the man who took Beth from the accident, and through neglect and abuse, turned her into Alice. Mouse is himself a very damaged man from his father, in addition to some physical scarring. Mouse has the ability to mimic any voice, and with Beth’s help, to make skin masks. He can turn into nearly any one within the show. It’s not Mouse’s abilities that make him interesting though. It’s his relationship with Alice/Beth. He starts off as her best friend, trying to help her exact her revenge. But as soon as Alices plan shifts from revenge to reconciliation, he begins to fear she’ll abandon him for not being enough. As well as expressing his own desire to eventually get away from Gotham and the chaos and pain he sees as being a symptom of the place.
Lastly, is Mary, Kate’s step-sister. Mary starts the show off appearing to be a vapid socialite, but its quickly revealed that she’s actually running an underground clinic for those who cannot afford emergency medical attention. She helps Batwoman early on, making something of a connection with her. Even as she struggles throughout the season with her relationship with Kate, which is strained by Kate’s distance, and Kate’s inability to let go of Beth. Mary’s feelings of inadequacy and longing to bond with Kate are well developed and expressed, and it comes to a head when she finds out Kate is Batwoman and Kate still refuses to tell Mary her secret.
How to Move Forward
The other three main characters in the show are a bit of a mixed bag for me. I think Ruby Rose as Kate is very good at the aloof part of the character, but in the genuine moments of connection, I think she’s still seems to struggle. It’s likely that they are trying to draw a parallel between her and Bruce Wayne, (but as someone who knows very little of the comic version of Bruce Wayne, take that with a grain of salt). However when you have so many characters who do have an emotional connection with Kate, like her sisters, her father, Luke Fox , or Sophie (her ex-girlfriend who works for her father on The Crows) the performance doesn’t work as well for me.
I think Luke had a pretty good second half of the season, but he didn’t start off great. There was a flatness in the character or the performance and it just didn’t work. What eventually won me over, is two-fold, Luke is very clearly the voice for the absent Bruce. As his relationship to Kate developed, he even shares things that perhaps he never would, about his loneliness, his responsibility. We also see Luke’s own dedication and search for justice by finding his father Lucius’s killer, and how he will risk his own life in order to protect his father’s secrets. As a small side note, Luke is the guy back at HQ role, so I like that he is very different from similar characters in The Arrowverse like Cisco, Felicity, and even Winn.
Sophie probably would have made the first section, except that I’m not sure she’s made enough of an impact on the show yet to say she’s failing. Sophie is kind of a bland character, who’s at her most interesting as we see her and Kate struggle throughout the beginning of the series. With Sophie being closeted and Kate being out, how this tore them apart in military academy, and is married to a man. On top of all that she also works for Kate’s father, it’s impossibly complicated between the two of them. The writers seem to have trouble picking a lane with Sophie, she’s not bold and empowered, nor is she timid and weak. She kind of flip-flops back and forth.
Going forward, into season 2, I think that these three characters can all be improved and really work for the show. I think with Kate, they were starting to work on the aloofness problem in the last couple of episodes, (maybe if they’d been given the whole season run I wouldn’t have this complaint at all). The same can be said with Luke, I think he was a slow start, but they’re getting there, and I hope that they go even further with him. With Sophie, I think she kind of has to embrace herself more in season 2, even if she goes a bit overboard at first, it would make sense, and propel her forward.
I think they should find someway in season 2 (and I kind of think they may have been working toward this at the end of season 1) of getting rid of The Crows. They just don’t work. Getting rid of them wouldn’t be difficult from a writing stand-point, and I would argue that if you just put one character in (a Mayor or something) who realizes how ridiculous they are, dismantling them could take a couple of episodes tops.
As for Commander Kane, there are three options that I see, they could kill him off, try to turn him into a human with emotions (I don’t really think this works without ignoring some of what we already have seen of him), or lastly make him outright a villain. The series could dismantle The Crows and Kane could become a vigilante hell bent on avenging them, it’s the only way I think you can keep him on the show and have him work. I just really think the dude is broken beyond repair.
The letters to Bruce Wayne are maybe the toughest fix. I think the series has been fairly inconsistent in doing them to be completely honest, I think maybe they should just get rid of them altogether. At the end of the finale, Alice has transformed the villain Hush, into a doppelgänger of Bruce Wayne. I think having a few episodes of ‘Bruce Wayne’ around will make the letters redundant. Unless Kate knows right off the bat (I swear that wasn’t intended) that he’s not the real Bruce.
The show has a lot of potential, and needs a lot of growth, but I think it’s a worthy inclusion to The Arrowverse. If they work out the kinks in Season 2, there could be some really cool opportunities for interesting character work. Don’t go in expecting a finely tuned machine, but a diamond in the rough.
In Part 2 of our Fall 2019 TV Preview, we’ll be focusing on one of my personal favorite corners of pop culture, The CW’s Arrowverse. The Arrowverse, as it’s come to be known, began 8 years ago on The CW with the series premiere of Arrow, a dark, gritty take on the story of classic DC hero, The Green Arrow. The series premiere of Arrow was, at the time, the most watched episode of television in the network’s history (that record went on to be broken by The Flash and Riverdale). Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight Trilogy was clearly a massive influence on the series in its first season. Even the most grounded and “realistic” superheroes, like Green Arrow and Batman, still require some level of suspension of disbelief. Having said that, the show’s first episodes showed us a world where there weren’t other superheroes, super powers didn’t exist, and any “crazy, comic book elements” you’d normally see in a story based on a long time DC Universe character, were absent in the first season. Boy, did that fucking change! When they introduced Barry Allen in Season 2, they began with super soldiers, from there we got The Flash, The first real super powered superhero in The Arrowverse. From there this universe has expanded to include time travel, meta-humans, aliens, the multi-verse, psychic gorillas, demons, alternate timelines, and literally thousands of other batshit crazy things. I think the smartest thing Arrow ever did was the show’s decision to stop trying to be a cheap carbon copy of Christopher Nolan‘s Dark Knight Trilogy and instead create their own identity by embracing some of the more in sane and out there aspects of the DC Universe. In this article, I’ll be previewing what we know about the individual seasons of the shows that make up The Arrowverse, as well is the up-to-date news about the mega crossover Crisis on Infinite Earths. The annual crossover is by far one of the most ambitious things ever attempted on television so it’s going to loom large over all of the shows for the first half of their seasons.
Arrow Season Premiere: 10/15/19
As far as what the final season will look like, Season 8 will consist of 10 episodes. 7 of the episodes will each act as an homage to specific parts of the show’s history from Season’s 1-7, while also tying up any loose ends associated with that part of the show’s journey. At the same time, the first 7 episodes will also serve to help set up Crisis on Infinite Earths, with Oliver traveling the world with The Monitor in an attempt to prepare for the coming disaster. Episode 8 will be Arrow’s installment of Crisis on Infinite Earths. Once the crossover has ended, the final two episodes, airing at the beginning of 2020, will serve as the show’s true series finale. A new trailer for Season 8 has been released, check it out below:
The Flash Season 6 Premiere 10/8/19
There hasn’t been much news from The Flash Season 6 since the first trailer for the season dropped during Comic-Con A few months ago. However, as we get closer to the show’s season premiere, more content is becoming available. Like this new trailer released today. Check it out, then I’ll can give you some of my thoughts:
I think it looks very cool. The Flash used to be one of my favorite shows, but I felt over the last few years, it had lost its way a little bit. I think the series can only benefit from tying into Crisis on Infinite Earths. After all, Crisis was first teased in the pilot episode of The Flash and no other show in The Arrowverse has more consistently referenced the event since. Barry Allen is one of the most significant and important characters in Crisis On Infinite Earths, so I think this is the perfect opportunity for the show to get back to the greatness it once had. It should also be mentioned that unlike other seasons, season six will have two big bags.
One for the first half of the season, the character Bloodwork played by Sendhil Ramamurthy (Heroes) and an unknown villain for the second half of the Season 6 in 2020. Considering that both The Thinker in Season 4 and Cicada in Season 5 were both pretty lackluster villains, I’m on board with any kind of new strategy to inject some life into the threats that Team Flash faces.
Legends of Tomorrow Season Premiere 1/21/20/Crisis On Infinite Earths begin 12/8/19:
Easily one of the coolest pieces of news concerning a member of the Legends Of Tomorrow cast, is the first photo of Brandon Routh (Ray Palmer AKA The Atom on Legends) as Kingdom Comic Superman! We already new Routh would be returning to the role that made him famous, just not quite the EXACT same Superman, but actually seeing him in the Kingdom Come Superman uniform is really exciting!
Speaking of The Atom, a new bit of casting news broke today, reports surfaced that actor Osric Chau, Best known for playing Kevin Tran on one of my all-time favorite television shows supernatural, will be playing DC character Ryan Choi in the upcoming Crisis Crossover. According to EW.com, Ryan Choi is an Ivy Town University Physics professor with a “key” role to play in the crossover event. In the comics, the character is a protégé of Ray Palmer who takes up the mantle of The Atom alongside Ray Palmer and in his absence. This makes a lot of sense because unfortunately Brandon Routh will be leaving Legends of Tomorrow by the end of this coming season. So you can see why they would want to have a character in place to become The New Atom, if need be. Osric Chau looks great on supernatural and I’m sure he’ll fit right in with the Legends cast. Right now he’s only being reported as a recurring guest star role in the crossover. But don’t be surprised if he ends up becoming a part of The Waverider crew on Legends.
Another interesting last-minute addition to the ever growing cast of this massive and ambitious event will be Ashley Scott reprising her role as The Huntress from the short lived and god awful Birds of Prey series in the early 2000’s. Considering how many characters are involved in this project I have a feeling that appearances like this one will be closer to a cameo status then a significant role. More like just a fun wink and nod to the audience, but we’ll see.
Even though it had been heavily rumored to the point that most people considered it a foregone conclusion, last week it was confirmed, 100%, that Tom Welling would be returning to play Smallville’s Clark Kent in Crisis. A pleasant surprise is that Smallville’s Lois Lane, Erica Durance, will also be returning in the crossover. Unfortunately, Michael Rosenbaum will not be reprising his iconic role as Lex Luthor in the project. He was approached about appearing, but for his own reasons, declined to participate.
I think what’s really interesting here is that it’s very clear that Welling will be playing Smallville‘s version of Superman in the crossover. Which should be exciting to Smallville fans because despite all of the heroics we saw Clark perform across 10 years of television, we really only saw him as Superman for about 20 seconds in the series finale. It looks like his role in Crisis is a significant one, so multiple episodes of that Clark Kent in his prime as Superman will be really cool to see. It’ll be especially exciting to see Welling as Superman alongside Tyler Hoechlin‘s established and already beloved take on Superman in The Arrowverse, and Brandon Routh playing the Kingdom Come version of Superman. All three are pretty different takes on the character, so I imagine seeing 3 different Supermen in the mix will not only be thrilling, but it’s also a great way to show just how much of a threat The Anti-Monitor poses. Below I have two cool pictures, one is from the set of the currently filming Crisis on Infinite Earths and shows Tom Welling and Erica Durance reunited at The Kent Family Farm. I also have a fantastic rendition of what the Smallville Clark Kent could look like in the full superman costume, in this awesome piece of fan art. Check out both below:
Supergirl Season Premiere 10/6/2019:
Last but not least we have Supergirl. Supergirl has a tough act to follow after it’s phenomenal 4th season. I think it was probably my favorite Arrowverse show last year and that’s saying a lot. That was due in no small part to Jon Cryer’s unexpectedly spectacular performance as Lex Luthor. Luckily, he’ll be back for Crisis On Infinite Earths, so it’s pretty likely he’ll pop up in Supergirl Season 5, as well. As far as the story for Season 5, I have heard that this Season will be very much about Kara and Lena‘s relationship. That will be the main focus of the season. Will they repair their friendship? Or are they doomed to repeat the same pattern that Superman and Lex fell into? Along with the looming threat of Crisis On Infinite Earths, when it comes to villains this season, the secret society Leviathan will be making their presence known after their introduction in the Season 4 finale. J’onn J’onzz’s evil brother, Ma’alefa’ak. so it will be interesting to see how the show in ports that relatively new concepts from the comics. Another really interesting development on the show this season, is Supergirl will be introducing Atlanteans, like Aquaman Atlantean’s! It’s pretty fucking cool. With superman and Batman pretty soon officially becoming part of the hour of hers maybe we’ll get to see the arrow verse version of Aquaman?. This is not the first time Aquaman has been referenced, in fact there have been multiple references to The King of The Seven Seas in The Flash. Anyway you can check out the latest trailer below. And by the way? I ❤️her new costume :
Crisis on Infinite Earths will kick off on December 8 in Supergirl. Part 2 will hit Batwoman on December 9, before The Flash takes part 3 on December 10. Then on January 14, 2020, Arrow and DC’s Legends of Tomorrow will wrap up the crossover
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