Kate’s Batwoman duties finds her investigating a city hacker, battling the mess that is Alice, and dealing with the uncomfortable city gossip linking her to a handsome new GCPD officer.
As the new kid on the block without much in the way of established lore, I figured that out of all the CW shows, Batwoman would be the least affected by Crisis on Infinite Earths. For much of “How Queer Everything is Today!” that holds true. Rachel Maddow’s annoyingly pointless voice-over mentions Oliver’s death but, for Kate, it’s business as usual. This week, a mysterious hacker arises as another Gotham villain for Kate to fight but it’s not long before she realizes it’s not quite that serious. The hacker turns out to be Parker Torres (Malia Pyles, Baskets, The Fosters) a teenager who initiated the hacks in the hopes that her parents wouldn’t treat her as a pariah. Outed as gay by her ex-girlfriend, Parker’s parents now want to disown her, unable to accept their daughter for who she is. She dismisses Batwoman’s initial attempts to empathize because she thinks Batwoman can’t understand what she’s feeling. It’s a shock when she discovers that Kate — an openly gay woman — is the face under the cowl. Sandwiched between Parker’s angry rant and the pleasant chemistry she shares with Kate after being steered back on track, “How Queer” is more about the message than the story.
“We all wear a mask. Maybe it’s time you took yours off.”
I’ve long held the belief that inserting themes germane to the times is inevitable, particularly in the current climate of activism. This is only a bad thing when the message falls into the realm of preaching to the audience. No matter how good the intentions or widely held a belief, it does a disservice to both viewers and the story when deftness is cast aside for a heavy-handed approach. “How Queer” suffers from this and threatened to divebomb this episode into an abject failure.
Yet, despite the sloppy delivery, one cannot deny the importance of someone being comfortable in who they are (if that person is not hurting people like, say, Alice!). Where “How Queer” saves itself is spreading this message across several characters and not just Parker; giving the narrative a passable symmetry. After reluctantly accepting the headlines ‘shipping her and Slam Bradley (Kurt Szarka, Fallen Hearts), Kate’s journey is just as profound as Parker’s. Though coming out as gay may create another connection between her divergent lives, Kate doesn’t want to live more in the shadows than she already is. It’s reckless but also consistent with her character who, after all, is the Paragon of Courage.
Still processing the death of her mother and stepfather’s incarceration Mary’s arc may be an important first step in making her character relevant. Feeling the strain of having her stepfather on trial for Catherine’s murder, Mary is understandably upset at Kate who, for the longest time, refused to give up on the idea of Alice’s redemption. At the end of the day, she and Kate make amends but perhaps the biggest positive is that Nicole Kang is put in a position to succeed. Whereas her usually upbeat and positive nature is often stiff and forced, Kang’s ability to get in touch with Mary’s pain was decidedly organic. The same could be said for Meagan Tandy as Sophie is having her own emotional spiral (her husband left her). Both actresses, while having limited range excelled this week and if they can hold onto this newfound realness, it’s only going to improve Batwoman since, to date, Ruby Rose and Camrus Johnson have been the only two who have been consistently on their game week-in and week-out.
Finally, there’s the Alice/Kate thing which, frankly, is wearing thin for me. A big part of this is how fast the show had Alice go away from trying not to murder those in her way. She is undeniably crazy but having her return to her ways so quickly effectively sapped the tension of Kate trying to recover her sister. At this point, Alice has become irredeemable and with that goes a healthy chunk of what could have been a fascinating back-and-forth. But despite the seeming mishandling of Alice, “How Queer” drops the biggest shocker of Batwoman’s first season when Kate finds her sister Beth waiting for her at episode end. Most definitely one of those aftereffects of Crisis, the addition of a sane Beth Kane, not only gives Kate what she’s wanted all this time but may be the push that drives Alice, whose unorthodox and psychotic behavior regarding Kate is motivated by a twisted sort of love, past the point where even Kate may become her enemy. And considering she’s gotten the better of Kate on more than one occasion, that is a very scary prospect for Gotham’s nascent protector.
From the Journal of Kate Kane
• While I have issues with the execution of the episode’s theme of accepting who you are, there is no denying the importance of what it’s trying to say regarding the difficulties people face because they are different. With that said, I’m not a fan of it perpetuating the idea (however unintentional) of only listening to someone if they are like you. Parker taking Kate’s earlier words to heart only after discovering her orientation, while understandable, is also one of the big mistakes people make. Yes, it’s natural to relate to someone like you in a time of crisis but there’s also something to be said for evaluating the message, not just the messenger. Maybe it’s easier to understand coming from a teenager like Parker, but giving credence to someone’s opinion or advice only if that person looks, sounds, or believes like can make you miss some good advice.
• Though she had a somewhat shaky start, Parker was a very good addition to the series. It’s not just that Malia Pyles shared some strong chemistry with Ruby Rose but, from a narrative perspective, Parker could be a little sister role and, perhaps, even a protégé, forcing Kate into being her mentor. The only caution now is that, with the addition of this new Beth, things could get a bit crowded and, if they’re not careful, could shortchange other characters’ arcs (like Jacob, Mary, or Sophie).
‘Batwoman: How Queer Everything is Today!’
6 out of 10