Sunday, October 6, 2019

REVIEW: 'Batwoman' - Kate Kane Returns to Gotham to Face Complicated Personal Relationships and a New Mission in 'Pilot'

The CW's Batwoman - Episode 1.01 "Pilot"

Kate Kane returns home to Gotham when the Alice in Wonderland gang targets her father and his security firm by kidnapping his best Crow officer - and Kate's ex-girlfriend - Sophie Moore. Armed with a passion for social justice and a flair for speaking her mind, Kate soars through the shadowed streets of Gotham as Batwoman.

In 2018, there were 495 scripted shows airing amongst the linear channels and streaming services. The way people are consuming content now is so different than it used to be. It happens according to one's own schedule. As such, there is less necessity to provide ample coverage of each specific episode in any given season from a show. Moreover, it is simply impossible to watch everything. As such, this site is making the move to shorter episodic reviews in order to cover as many shows as possible. With all of that being said, here are my thoughts on the series premiere of The CW's Batwoman.

"Pilot" was written by Caroline Dries and directed by Marcos Siega

Kate Kane made her debut in the DC universe across The CW shows during last fall's crossover event between Arrow, The Flash and Supergirl. She was a hero already protecting Gotham as Batwoman. And now, this premiere backtracks in order to depict her origin story. It does so with a lot of exposition. She was a fun and stylish character in her first appearance. She still exists as such because of Ruby Rose's stellar performance. However, this hour is bogged down by a lot of exposition, tortured flashbacks and voiceovers that explain everything that's going on. It makes everything painfully clear to the audience. That runs the risk of the entire show seeming a little too formulaic and derivative. It should never be seen as such because it features an out lesbian superhero played by an out lesbian actress. Her love interest is a woman of color as well. These details are so crucial and visible. It makes the show seem revolutionary. The drama is still very complicated between them too. And yet, it's a meaningful relationship between Kate and Sophie that defines most of what drives the narrative forward at the moment. All of that is significant. Kate returns to Gotham after years away training because Sophie has been taken by the villainous Alice and her Wonderland gang. Kate presents as the only person with the skills to track down this threat even though she stubbornly goes into battle by herself. She wants the appreciation from her father that comes from being a part of his elite security task force that watches over the city, the Crows. However, he never seems inclined to give that to her. Alice insists that it's because Jacob simply doesn't love Kate as his daughter. She is just a reminder of all the pain and suffering he has been dealt. Sophie is the daughter he always wanted. The one who would always remain loyal and not do anything that would jeopardize the core mission. That's what fundamentally destroyed Kate and Sophie's relationship when they were at the military academy. Kate needed to live proudly and openly. Meanwhile, Sophie couldn't let anything destroy her standing in the program. She said what she was prompted to say because she didn't have the luxury of being offended. That too provides some teases about the socioeconomics of this region. The Crows may provide safety and security to Gotham but they also provide a way to a better life for the people who join their ranks. Kate doesn't need that success. She already comes from a wealthy family full of opportunities. Even when she's kicked out of school, she can just get away to a trip to the Mediterranean sea. She had the ability to travel the world seeking out the best trainers so that she was better prepared than anyone else for the threats in Gotham. She did so wanting to be a Crow. However, she returns to the city as something else entirely. All of this does feel a little familiar to the journey Oliver Queen went on at the start of Arrow. No one thinks it's suspicious that Bruce Wayne and Batman went missing at the same time. Similarly, no one thinks it's suspicious that Batwoman arrives alongside Kate. Of course, the hour has to feature Kate learning the truth about her cousin and realizing the true extent of the technology available to him. She has long blamed Batman for the deaths of her sister and mother. Faulty technology was truly to blame. That devastated Bruce for years. He provided comfort to Kate. That relationship may not be seen on the screen though because of all the film plans for that specific character. So now, Kate is the one to realize that her sister is still alive. She has just become disillusioned about the city and her father's influence. That's why she is targeting the Crows as Alice. She views it as the only way to reveal to the city that nothing will make them safe. It's all an illusion that can go away at a moment's notice. It plays as an effective twist at the end of the premiere. But again, the show needs to relax a little bit so that it can just flourish in these character relationships instead of having to overly explain everything to the audience in an extremely melodramatic way.