“If you kill again, it’s over…and I will stop thinking of you as my sister.”
As word of Batman Returns continues to spread through Gotham, Kate wrestles with the weight of being the city’s embodiment of hope and the fact that while many may love the thought of the Caped Crusader’s return, others will not be so welcoming.
Still reeling a bit from Alice recognizing her under the cowl, Kate meets with her sister to discuss the whereabouts of her boyfriend, Dodgson. Tossing out the perfunctory quip (“he’s hanging around”), Kate tries dangling him as a behavioral carrot for Alice to take a time-out on killing. Go 24 hours without dropping a body, she tells Alice, and maybe they’ll be able to come to an arrangement.
The sisterly back-and-forth has been Batwoman’s narrative heart and soul early on and “Down Down Down” continues in that direction. The sisters bookend the episode, with this early rooftop meet followed at the end by, well, another rooftop meet where Alice becomes the hero if for but a moment. Like a good villain though, Alice attributes her actions to wanting Kate to suffer, though based on her obvious instabilities, she may not even be aware of her own motivations. This uncertainty, for both the characters and audience, is the type of drama that, if carefully measured, could really be a foundational aspect of the series, making up for some of the more heavy-handed narrative beats, like the Kate/Sophie/Tyler love triangle.
Though there has been nothing overtly bad about Sophie’s character, to this point she’s had no real agency of her own. Every scene Sophie’s been in has, in some respect, intersected with Kate. If Sophie’s to be her own character and not just a love interest or someone for Kate to save, the writers must create some type of legitimate arc for her. Maybe that’s what they were trying to do when Sophie requested Jacob’s permission for a special assignment, even if that assignment was to become Mary’s shadow. At least that’s what it seems to be on the surface; hopefully, this is a multi-layered approach, offering Sophie a chance to, if not shine, at least move from under Kate’s shadow.
Even as Alice and Kate reach a detente of sorts—though Alice can’t hold back on the killing—she remains the series antagonist. But a pseudo-filler episode like “Down Down Down” needs its own mini-villain and that role falls to Tommy Elliot (Gabriel Mann, Revenge, Ray Donovan).
A former friend (and still business rival) of Bruce Wayne, not only does Elliot know his former friend is Batman, but he blames the Bats for the 13 years he had to suffer under his mother until the inheritance became his own. Yes, Tommy wants revenge because Batman saved his mother (a mother that’s implied he tried to kill). As motives go, it’s convoluted and shallow; and the on-screen performance isn’t enough to rescue the poorly written character. Even though he ends up having Batwoman at his mercy (only to get KO’d by Alice), the episode does nothing to make him out to be any sort of real threat. He’s one of those fill-in-the-blank antagonists who, other than his mention of the Riddler, exhibited no redeeming quality. How he was able to steal the rail gun from Bruce Wayne’s armory doesn’t really add up. Even with his deep pockets, Tommy is an insignificant entity and, unless his time in Arkham molds him into a halfway decent threat, let this be his first and last appearance on the show.
Thanks to getting more of the Alice/Kate drama, “Down Down Down” is an improvement on last week’s disappointment. The series is still working through some of the rough patches expected of a first season but as Ruby Rose continues to progress from week-to-week, coupled with her character’s substantial narrative dilemmas, an unexpectedly strong partner in Luke Fox, and a half-sister Mary whose character may have been given the most depth so far, the individual parts are here to keep building towards a cohesive seasonal narrative. Throw in the curiosity of Catherine’s secret moves and the mysterious cards she found and this third entry into the franchise, while not particularly memorable, does its job well enough to gain a passing grade.
From the Journal of Kate Kane
- While this addendum is named after Kate’s voice-over, I’m not a fan of it in the show. Maybe it’s Rose’s delivery, but something about it seems stiff…false. Yet, it is necessary to the equation, giving voice to Kate’s internal strife. Indeed, her struggles with accepting what she’s started are one of the more captivating aspects of her character. Not feeling as if she’s entitled to the role but knowing that she’s started something and taking responsibility to see it through is a powerful motive for her accepting the mantle. It didn’t hurt that touching up the suit with a bit of red was the right way to go. They even gave it meaning, further emphasizing her complicated relationship with Alice.
- One thing these shows tend to do a bit too quickly is introduce a love interest for the protagonist and, more often than not, sparking jealousy in that person’s ex. Reagan (Brianne Howey, The Passage, The Exorcist) is that love interest for Kate, and though I’m a fan of Howey (and what little we’ve seen of her character), her introduction plays out like that by-the-numbers rook, there only to spice up the drama instead of further enrich the story. Hopefully my speculation is proven wrong, and they make Reagan more than just Kate’s lover.
- Jacob Kane didn’t have much in the way of material this go-round but his conversation with Alice added another layer to the emotional complexities of his character. It looks like he’ll have more to deal with in the future as his wife Catherine seems to have a few skeletons of her own threatening to break out into the open.