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Batwoman is still no Batman, and that's the whole point

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Photo: Sergei Bachlakov (The CW)
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“Batman would have never done that.” Usually, if you hear a character say something more than two or three times, it’s important to note. And, boy, was this line a good summation of this episode. Now that Kate has stepped into full vigilante duty, the comparisons to her cousin are undeniable; their differences, even more so. As Vesper Fairchild aptly points out throughout the episode, Batwoman is a full-time job, something that Kate hasn’t fully grasped yet. In an ideal world, there would be a learning curve, but for superheroes? That does not exist. Her lack of commitment to being Batwoman makes sense though, considering it wasn’t until the last moments of the previous episode that she embraced wearing the cowl for the people of Gotham, not just to catch Alice.

Despite having the (virtually) same suit, gadgets, and Batcave, the juxtaposition between Batwoman and Batman is evident—even the Batarangs can tell the difference. This motif also embodies the show, which works best when Batwoman is working as a unit with Luke. While Batman teamed up with other heroes, Alfred, and even Lucius Fox at times, Bruce didn’t really have a “man in the chair” partner like Luke, as Kate does. Now, that’s not to overlook the Dynamic Duo of Batman and Robin, but it goes to show that even their partnerships are contrasted.

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Another strong part of this episode is how they choose to highlight Kate’s internal struggle with identity. Not only is she having a tough time juggling her personal life and this new, huge commitment, she is also feeling trapped with this new secret. From the beginning, Kate doesn’t have any hesitation claiming her sexuality; she knows damn well who she is and wholeheartedly embraces it. It’s honestly freeing to see a queer character so open and content with who she is, wearing her authentic self on her sleeve. But now, she has to hide part of herself again.

In fact, Kate’s aversion to withholding things is evident in her inability to lie. She is maybe the world’s worst liar, and there’s no doubt “Kate is Batwoman” has already crossed Reagan’s mind, as pointed out. When Kate decides to make the cowl her own at the end of this episode, she says, “Lies don’t make anyone comfortable, especially the one telling them.” She states that Batwoman isn’t a job that is made for comfort, and it’s a fitting way to break out of her struggle with hiding this part of who she is. It also makes a difference that she’s not hiding Batwoman out of shame, but because anonymity is safest for her and her loved ones.

Photo: The CW
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Despite all the personal sacrifices and tough first days as Gotham’s Batwoman, it does all click into place for Kate when she saves that little girl. She comes to the conclusion that Batwoman is a job she wants to commit to, a job that includes all the hiding and loss of a love life (for now). She’s also helping the city as Kate, not just the red-haired hero, which highlights the good nature at her very core.

It’s interesting to see the drama unfold and get more of the mystery out of the way each week. Now that Catherine’s motives have been laid out in the open, things will get a bit messier in Kate’s life, and not just when she’s Batwoman. One good thing about this reveal, though, is that if Catherine’s telling the truth about why she faked Beth’s bones, she was acting out of a selfish impulse, not an evil one. This leaves one less evil mastermind, but also might not be the whole story.

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Photo: Sergei Bachlakov (The CW)

Batwoman is really hitting all the right notes, and the weaker moments this episode didn’t sour the progress the show’s made in just four weeks. “Who Are You?” does a great job of making you empathize and root for Kate, something all superhero shows should elicit from its audience. There’s just some great, classic heroism going on, and it’s enjoyable too.

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Stray observations:

  • Magpie was a pretty good addition to Batwoman’s rogue gallery. She had style, she had some witty remarks. Overall, a good adversary.
  • The addition of the Rihanna quote, “Hurt me with the truth, don’t comfort me with a lie” was a nice touch, and Riri’s influence strikes again.
  • Don’t mind Kate, just nonchalantly mentioning Killer Croc as pillow talk. But in all seriousness, why does Batwoman feel like it’s doing such a good job of really tying in other DC characters and villains? Other Arrowverse shows do it as well, but it seems like the show is name-dropping in every episode. So far, it’s mentioned Wonder Woman, The Riddler, and Killer Croc, to name a few. I’m not mad about it; I actually like keeping my ears open each week to see what else they’ll reveal. It’s just something to note.
  • Reagan was a good match for Kate, so it’s a bummer their relationship didn’t work out right now. With this newfound responsibility, Kate had to make this sensical call while navigating Batwoman duties. But wow, that’s why this sucks. The budding shippers are in mourning, it’s fine!
  • Did you all die at Mary’s Alice impression? It was... pretty good! Not to mention, fast thinking. Mary is always making us proud, isn’t she?
  • I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: Alice is a perfect villain. She’s chilling to the core, dynamic, obviously broken. There’s an inkling of humanity left in her that you can see a little bit, here and there, which makes her story all the more tragic.
  • Any guesses on who Mouse is? Odds are it’s Kate and Beth’s dad, Jacob. In Alice In Wonderland, the Dormouse is a main character who’s always sleeping and missing the action going on at the tea parties, much like Jacob who’s always a step or two behind Alice.
  • This was a really solid episode, and it’s proving that Batwoman only has good things to come (hopefully). Although, they might not all be pleasant for the characters.
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About the author

Alani Vargas

Alani Vargas is an entertainment writer and A.V. Club contributor. Her work also appears on Showbiz Cheat Sheet, INSIDER, Bustle, Refinery29, and Elite Daily.