“I’m gonna ask you again, Kate: is Alice worth it?”
For weeks now, Kate has gone back-and-forth with Alice, trying to reach the person she once was before circumstance tore their family apart. Though this type of storyline, when used sparingly, can put the protagonist in a bind—how to weigh their own love for someone despite the obvious evils that someone has committed—one can only go to that well a few times before it hits that quotient of melodrama overload. As the mid-season finale (not counting the upcoming Crisis on Infinite Earths crossover), “A Mad Tea-Party” addresses that issues and forces Kate Kane to finally see that, for all she hopes and wishes, her sister Beth is long gone, and Alice is here to stay.
Things start off with the same uneven and questionable narrative that has plagued the series thus far. Evidently Mouse’s impersonation of Jacob Kane happened before the Wonderland Gang kidnapped him. It calls into question a few things, such as, how was Mouse able to gain access the Crows HQ with such ease; surely such a high-profile security agency would have measures in place to prevent such a thing, right?
Still, Alice’s entire plan seems to be innocent enough—embarrass Catherine and Jacob at the Humanitarian Gala but it quickly takes a darker turn when she poisons Catherine and Mary in order to pull a sincere apology from Catherine’s dying lips. If that isn’t bad enough, Alice forces the mother and daughter duo to choose which one lives as she provides them with enough antidote for only one of them.
It’s no surprise when Catherine sacrifices herself for Mary whose earlier callout of Kate’s hypocrisy as it relates to Alice becomes even more pronounced after such an evil act. If anything, it pulls the wool from Kate’s eyes and she finally understands that Beth is gone and in her place is a sick and twisted nightmare of a woman who just so happened, once upon a time, to have been her sister.
Network shows, particularly those in the genre vein, tend to stumble about during their freshmen seasons. Batwoman is no different. It started off decent enough but, for the last few weeks (and for much of “A Mad Tea-Party”) it careened into the guardrails after hitting some bumps along the way. With a string of questionable direction for certain characters to an uneven narrative strung together by nonsensical actions, Batwoman desperately needed to narrow its focus and give the titular character a more defined sense of direction.
Though much of “A Mad Tea-Party” is stained by the same types of uneven storytelling as the first two months of the series, the last ten minutes may have saved the season from becoming nothing more than a forgettable title of what could have been. Instead, it created a strong and heartfelt pain for the Kane family while erasing any real hope of a sisterly reunion as Alice has taken that final step over the line, ensuring that she will be the villain of this story. It’s the impetus Kate needed to take the next step towards becoming the hero of Gotham that her cousin Bruce once was.
From the Journal of Kate Kane
- The more attention they give the Sophie/Kate/Tyler love-triangle, the more obvious that it just doesn’t work. Though Ruby Rose has proven she can hold her own in every sense of the word—the pain she displayed when realizing that Alice is beyond saving may have been her best scene yet—and Greyston Holt is serviceable enough. Unfortunately, Meagan Tandy continues to be the weak link. I can’t call her a bad actress as there have been glimpses of what she can do but too often it seems as if she’s rushing through the emotional notes required for her scenes. It doesn’t help her either that the material on this front is sorely lacking but, as an actor, one must make the best of what one is given and for Tandy, it’s just not working. Maybe now that she’s alone—Tyler’s decision for them to separate until Sophie works through her emotional turmoil—and,if the writers do a better job of beefing up her material, maybe Tandy will be able to explore Sophie in a way that will make her a more appealing character.
- It was so satisfying how Mary called out Kate’s hypocrisy regarding Alice. One of the bigger fails of the series thus far is Kate’s lack of guilt regarding the people injured or killed because she’s refused to take Alice down. This is not on Rose, rather the showrunners forgetting that Kane’s entire reason for donning the Batsuit is to help the city of Gotham and while the stumbles she’s taken along the way add a bit of credibility to her being a hero for the first time, she still needs to give voice to the consequences of her actions.
- And, of course, we can’t end things without talking about that post-credits scene, with Nash Wells being drawn into the Monitor’s hidden chamber. The preceding conversation where the voice from the chamber bids Nash to “submit and begin your life anew” raises all sorts of questions as to Nash’s past but also the promises the voice offers. Out of all the crossovers they’ve done, Crisis on Infinite Earths truly has an MCU movie type feel to it.