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Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Illustration for article titled On iBatwoman/i, tragedy makes the heart grow stronger yet again
Photo: Katie Yu (The CW)
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Kate Kane is now a vigilante in her own right. She’s made a name and identity for herself utterly separate from her cousin, despite his big shoes hanging around for her to fill. She’s worked hard and gained most of Gotham’s trust. However, last episode, Kate strayed further away from Bruce Wayne’s alter-ego, towards a murderous direction. She killed Augustus Cartwright, and even though he was a sadistic man who tore her family apart, she’s battered up about it.

Batman has a no-kill policy, and Kate strangled Cartwright till he died. It was a gruesome moment—emotionally and physically—to match that episode’s tone. Now, Kate has to deal with the fact that maybe she’s just like Alice? Granted, Kate killed a man that not only abducted her twin but also hoarded their mother’s frozen, severed head for more than a decade. But that’s the kicker: The lack of remorse Kate feels at murdering Cartwright leaves her unsettled.

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But, the death does bring about a macabre family outing that consists of burying the body. “The monster who ripped us apart has brought us back together again,” Alice astutely says. Oddly, there are some moving or semi-tender moments between the three remaining Kanes. Of course, the underlying darkness—not to mention Alice’s insanity—mars the moments and prevents their actions from actually being a family reunion. But at least there’s a standstill in violence, right?

Also, this small truce introduces the hilarious dynamic of Alice being on the This small truce introduces the hilarious dynamic of Alice being on the same side as Jacob and Kate. She takes every moment to remind Kate that she killed a man for Alice’s benefit, of course. Alice’s delight, while cynical and twisted, is fun to see. As I’ve noted time and again, Rachel Skarsten’s portrayal of Alice is one of the best things on this show, and she’s shown several sides to Beth/Alice. Last week, we finally saw Beth right before her switch into the murderous Alice we’ve come to know, and now Skarsten is giving viewers a more playful and somewhat carefree Alice. Odd, but not unwelcome.

Kate is at a considerably fraught moment in her vigilante career. Not only did her family just bond (maybe?) over burying a man, but no one knows about it—and she has to go right back to being a purveyor of justice. That anger she has towards Cartwright transfers right over into her duties, and now it’s even more taxing than the actual kill. Kate doesn’t feel bad about what she did to Cartwright, which in turn makes her feel worse.

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Illustration for article titled On iBatwoman/i, tragedy makes the heart grow stronger yet again
Photo: Katie Yu (The CW)

Now, she’s taking all that rage into her work, if you will, and inflicting a murderous pain onto others. While these are still “bad guys,” none of them are Cartwright, so the remorse she lacked before comes back ten times stronger when she nearly strangles another man. “What does that make me now?” Kate asks later in the episode. She’s feeling guilty about everything, and as viewers know, Kate does not do well when intense feelings eat away at her.

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Finally, after weeks of Luke Fox not being featured in a significant way, “Through The Looking-Glass” offers a story that highlights him. Like Mary, Luke plays such an essential role on Batwoman—not just by figuring so prominently in Kate’s life, but also because by being one of the most endearing and charming characters on the show. With that said, it is truly heartbreaking to sit through Luke’s arc in this episode. Reggie Harris, who went to jail for reportedly murdering Lucious Fox (Luke’s dad), saved Jacob in prison. Since Jacob got out, the possibility of a retrial has become possible because the Crows are so shady. The Crows’ corruption has been an issue since the premiere, because they are privatized security for the rich, and Jacob remains oblivious to why that’s bad. Reggie was put behind bars to cover up the real killer, and Crow intel helped with that somehow.

Luke has to relive his dad’s death, as well as the confirmation that his dad’s killer is still out there. Reggie’s death is surprising at the moment but makes sense when you consider that Sophie was also nearly offed because of her work with the new case. This storyline hits hard, but viewers truly get to see how close Mary and Luke are getting. That’s not necessarily in a romantic capacity right now, but these are two people who have each other’s backs. It’s the one bright light in all of this.

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Illustration for article titled On iBatwoman/i, tragedy makes the heart grow stronger yet again
Photo: Colin Bentley (The CW)

The other heavy-hitter this episode is seeing Kate and Alice’s trust system, or lack thereof. Alice is Alice: She’s made herself untrustworthy, despite her blood relation to Kate. However, Alice needs her sister to break Mouse out of good ole Arkham Asylum. And despite Alice planting Cartwright in Kate’s custody in hopes that she’d kill him, Kate agrees, and this freaky dynamic duo is born.

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Not to praise Alice or diminish all that she’s done, but ever since her run-in with the fear toxin, she’s been a bit more vulnerable with Kate. While on the floor of Kate’s bar, they share a touching, sisterly moment. These types of conversations aren’t something viewers have seen much of, for obvious reasons. All the pain Cartwright inflicted on Alice/Beth is visible in her eyes, and her openness makes for a sweet moment, insanity be damned. This is a fractured version of something Kate’s wanted: to have her sister back, even just for a little bit.

This closeness, and Kate’s betrayal, end up throwing us for a loop. Alice is indeed a villain. But that show of tenderness, and the fact that she truly did trust Kate, makes it hard not to feel bad for her when Kate and Jacob lock her away. I’ll go ahead and say it: It’s heartbreaking seeing Alice scramble like this, sobbing, “Don’t leave me” at the only family she has left, family who she thought she had gotten back for a little bit. Underneath it all, Alice is a battered, tortured woman who came out of her imprisonment a survivor. She does kill people for a living, so that brings everyone back to the same page eventually. But it was still rough to watch.

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The last two scenes of “Through The Looking-Glass” are eerie and foreboding. After everything Kate did in this episode, she’s still torn about Cartwright’s murder and fooling Alice. “I don’t know who I am right now,” Kate tells Julia Pennyworth. “I don’t wanna be my sister.” While she’s not Alice, the aftermath of locking her up will play with Kate’s head for a while to come. Alice’s chilling statement—“I don’t want to be anybody’s prisoner, I want to be a queen”—was the perfect closer.

Stray observations

  • First off, I want to send a huge shoutout to Kyle for filling in for me as I (tried) to have a vacation. Missed some great episodes, but luckily I have more beef with the state of the world; so no archnemesis rivalry here. Maybe next time though, especially if you come after Mary!
  • I’m loving the fact that Nine Inch Nails have a pretty strong, canon hold on superheroes right now.
  • It was slightly a surprise to see Julia Pennyworth again, but she was such a delight last time, that she’s welcomed back with open arms. It’s also very entertaining to see Kate’s exes interact. Plus, I’m not mad at Kate and Julia linking up. Is it under distressing pretenses and might end up badly? Sure. But who doesn’t love romantic messes? The CW sure does.
  • “Flying rodent” doesn’t have the same ring as Batwoman but… it is funnier.
  • Alright, I know we’re not supposed to root for Alice, but this team with Kate? It’s very much a pleasure to watch.
  • I did some digging on Coryana, and it wasn’t hard to find out that it actually connects to the antidote Alice gave Mary (the flower it comes from is from the Coryana desert). And it also connects to the “Safiyah” Alice is so frightened of, which she mentioned several episodes back. So, without going so deep that I spoil anything, Alice isn’t gone, even though she’s holed up in Arkham. Although, this Safiyah from Coryana might be a terrifying resurgence for Alice. Very excited, looking forward.
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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.

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