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Batwoman proves Kate Kane is the hero of her own story

Photo: Robert Falconer (The CW)
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It was Halloween this past week, so Batwoman opting for a very sinister, dark, and chilling episode is the right move. Even though it could have felt forced, the development of the story is naturally getting more twisted as Kate goes further down the rabbit hole with Alice as her guide. Alice’s child-like euphemisms no longer feel like a tacky gimmick—instead, they are warping into the perverse reality Alice lives by and has been kept in for so long. While no one has to sympathize with Alice, this episode certainly shows how she has such a gnarled worldview in the present day.

“Mine Is A Long And Sad Tale” brings fans deeper than ever before into Alice’s tragic story. Young Beth was terrorized by a creepy, calm man with a skewed perception of how to make friends for his son. Alice has done some grisly crimes throughout four episodes so far, and while she doesn’t seem remorseful, her past is hard to overlook. She’s the poster child for being the product of your environment and managed, yet again, to steal the show this week.

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Even though Alice says waking up in that strange house and being held hostage was the “first worst day of her life,” she did gain a brother there. The bond she forms with Mouse is secure and juxtaposed with her relationship with Kate at the end of the episode. Alice yells at her sister and says they have a fake twin bond, even though you can see that it almost made Kate find Beth in the basement as kids. Mouse and Alice share a deep connection through their isolated childhoods: hers as a prisoner, his as a societal outcast. Even though theirs is an almost a Stockholm Syndrome-type relationship, Alice In Wonderland gets Mouse and Alice through dark times and has an eerie effect on them as adults. The audience can especially feel Halloween’s impact on the episode in their scene through the witchy lighting and the bone-chilling closing lines of dialogue: “Are we mad?” “I’m afraid so.”

This episode finally shows Mary’s breaking point, and it’s just as meaningful and resolute as everything else this woman does. She has a very appropriate response to her mother’s lies and feels terrible for Kate and Jacob. Kate has clung to her grief over Beth’s perceived loss, and as shown in episode 2, “The Rabbit Hole,” it affects her relationship with Mary. Although they’ve been step-sisters for over a decade, Mary still strives for Kate’s affections. She’s a loving person who works to give back to others, traits that no doubt influenced her pursuit of a medical degree. Kate’s obliviousness to this has visibly hurt Mary, and this episode is the proverbial tipping point.

Photo: Jean Whiteside (The CW)
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In episode 2, Mary gave a sad yet accepting response to Kate when she realized that she was a target of Alice’s jealousy. It was heartbreaking to see Mary succumb to the fact that she wasn’t a threat to Alice/Beth in Kate’s mind, even though she wanted to be. She wants Kate as a sister, and Catherine’s betrayal is another obstacle toward that reality. This episode shows Mary’s rejection has transformed into anger, and she’s beyond annoyed that Kate won’t pick her since, you know, she hasn’t killed anyone. Mary demands the love and acceptance she deserves, and if she doesn’t get that soon or at least by the end of the season, we riot. Just kidding about that last part (sort of).

According to Caroline Dries, the showrunner, Batwoman is all caught up with “Elseworlds” from last year, when The CW first introduced Ruby Rose’s Kate Kane to the world. At first, that was a little confusing, because it’s not that obvious in episode four. But in the wake of Dries’ tweet and episode four, Luke did mention the Arkham Asylum breakout that is a central part of the Flash, Arrow, and Supergirl’s visit to Gotham. Mary had no idea, though, so that means it was pretty well contained from the public.

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Photo: Jeffery Garland (The CW)

Having Kate just getting into her role on Batwoman now makes greater sense, since Barry and Oliver hadn’t heard of her yet. While that was confusing last year, it all falls into place with “Mine Is A Sad And Long Tale.” It also explains the “urban legend” status of Batman, whose absence makes his active years seem sort of like a fever dream to anyone outside of Gotham. It does raise one question, though: how will Batwoman catch up to the timeline of the current crossover? All the other shows have had a year to do so. Will the Alice situation be handled by December 9, so a time jump can happen? Only time will tell. But this intriguing episode keeps audiences in Alice’s sinister grasp. It works very well despite having only one scene at the beginning that involved Batwoman. Batwoman’s absence shows that the actors are carrying these characters and can move the story along without the vigilante. Of course, she is the point of the show and a good superhero so far, but Kate Kane can be the hero of her own story without the cap, and that’s powerful in itself.

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Stray observations:

  • Praise be that the two best characters, Luke and Mary, met up this episode. Despite his outward display of annoyance, something is telling me this isn’t the last time they’ll share the screen.
  • The absence of Batwoman action this episode was a nice reprieve from Vesper Fairchild’s narration. And Kate’s. I don’t seem to mind the voice-overs as much as a lot of you watching the show, but the lack of them in this episode was nice, I will admit. But they are useful in moving the story along.
  • It was hard to watch that scene with Kate and Beth as kids, when Kate nearly stumbles upon her imprisoned sister. Beth’s expression when she wants to cry out but can’t because she’s trying to save her family is very moving. But it also shows her captor’s attempt at brainwashing has already taken effect—Beth’s efforts to keep her remaining family alive solidify her fate as a maniacal villain.
  • It was very easy to predict that Alice would stab Jacob Kane. Even though she knows he believes she’s Beth now, or is at least starting to, she’s still all in on killing him. Revenge is a difficult thing to understand.
  • Catherine isn’t acting like someone with evil cards up her sleeve. Instead, she’s very remorseful when Mary finds out. It’s looking like she genuinely did fake the bone fragments for selfish gain. But honestly, who knows.
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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.