“No one can be a lone wolf forever.”
Doing its level-best to regain the momentum so viciously driven off-course by last week’s abomination of a television hour, this week’s Batwoman does a serviceable job with a new and interesting character, better choreographed action, and hopefully putting to bed (for now, at least) the ‘Will they? Won’t they?’ between Sophie and Kate.
For the first time since the premiere, flashbacks to Point Rock are the focal point as the narrative replays Sophie and Kate’s break-up, sprinkling some new scenes to round out those events. The most surprising addition to the past is Sophie’s conversation with Jacob that sparked her to change her mind, telling Kate that she owed it to those depending on her, thus giving credence to her going along to get along.
Personally, this is one of the best parts of Batwoman thus far, the tug-of-war about how to stay true to ourselves when the world doesn’t always want to see who we really are but also balancing in what you’re willing to lose by being yourself. Sophie’s decision may not be popular to those who see it as bowing down to ‘tha man’ in the context of race and sexuality. However, it goes far beyond socially hot topics; every day we make decisions on when to speak out and when to remain silent.
If you try to fight every single battle, it’ll all but assure that you lose the war and, in the end, isn’t the goal to win the whole dang thing? This is not to support or rebuke Sophie’s decision; more so pointing out that it’s understandable, as is Kate’s anger. Though Kate may be disappointed that Sophie didn’t come out proud, much of her resentment is Sophie lying to her about things, even doing the typical hero’s “I don’t love you” thing to make the break as clean as possible. If “Tell Me the Truth” emphasizes anything, it’s that both women still have feelings for one another but, in order to best further the story and not have Batwoman devolve into a relationship drama, it needs to put the Sophie/Kate thing on the back burner. At least for now.
Relationships aside, “Tell Me the Truth” introduces two new characters, one of which shares a past with Kate. First off is the Rifle, a most generic name for an assassin (and what I’d call a poor man’s Deadshot) who’s picking off the scientists who built the coil accelerator and working with Alice in order to retrieve the said weapon for his boss, Sofiyah. Though his skills don’t come across as particularly frightening, Garfield Wilson (Altered Carbon, The Man in the High Castle) carries enough menace to pique my interest in his character’s inevitable return to the show. On the other end is Julia Pennyworth (Christina Wolfe, The Royals), a charming and formidable British agent who was, at one time Kate’s combat instructor and former lover; she’s also Alfred Pennyworth’s daughter. Wolfe’s charisma is a welcome addition to the show that, other than Camrus Johnson, is lacking that one person that just lights up the screen (Ruby Rose and Rachel Skarsten have their moments, but the writing doesn’t always play to their strengths). She’s also part of what is hands down, the best fight scene to-date when she and Kate scrap just as the latter wrangles in the Rifle. It’s another one of those hero vs hero trope moments, where no one gets hurt and they are evenly matched and though it makes no sense for them to fight and let the bad guy getaway, I did get a kick out of the action.
As the title suggests, the core of “Tell Me the Truth” ends up with Kate’s decision to keep her secret life from Sophie. It’s done in part to distance herself from Sophie, a mature move considering the other woman’s marriage to Tyler. Being Batwoman is a lonely life, one that Julia warns Kate about. Not counting Alice, there are only two people who know her secret. The question Kate will need to figure out is who to bring into her circle because, the more secrets you keep, the less truth you can have in any of your relationships. For someone who is so quick to speak her mind, that may be a dicey balancing act for Kate to perform without stumbling off the ledge.
From the Journal of Kate Kane
- The entire Alice/Mouse thread was again a weak link. Maybe the plan makes a bit more sense going forward but, right now, I’ve no interest in Alice since Mouse’s introduction. The one saving grace is the reveal that Mouse was impersonating Jacob, mending the fences between him and Catherine, likely to gain even greater access to Hamilton Dynamics.
- Also, the ‘dress Julia up as Batwoman to fool Sophie’ was such a poorly executed scene. It’s another one of those hero tropes which always comes across as eye-rollingly bad but this scene played out as if it was a last second addition to the shooting schedule, written in five minutes and filmed in one take. It didn’t belong in the show and hamstrung another otherwise decently sharp narrative.
- The writers need to be careful with the melodrama they continue to inject into the show; from the overuse of flashbacks telling Sophie and Kate’s relationship, Mary’s petulance (a disservice to her character’s capable depth), the overt and ham-fisted social justice angle with the restaurant owner taking offense to Kate’s sexuality, and pockets of less than refined acting in certain situations, Batwoman could easily go the route of another CW show that started off strong but went off the rails. Granted, I think the pieces here are stronger than they were in Supergirl, but even the best franchises (see Terminator, The; Predator, The Hangover) can fall; it’s much easier for a show with much less capital to be forgotten because the creators rather send messages than to focus on telling good, fun, and coherent stories where the message is less in-your-face but much more effective because of its subtlety. Just one man’s opinion.