Sunday, October 27, 2019

REVIEW: 'Batwoman' - Kate Struggles to Maintain a Secret Identity While Alice Pressures Catherine in 'Who Are You?'

The CW's Batwoman - Episode 1.04 "Who Are You?"

A new villain with an eye for all things that sparkle drops in on the city. Kate attempts to find a balance between her personal life and her new role as Gotham's guardian. Catherine has an uncomfortable encounter with Alice. Batwoman pays Mary a visit to ask for a favor. Jacob and Sophie try to piece together who was after their prisoner. Luke continues to finetune Batwoman's arsenal of weapons as the pair track their unwelcome visitor and discover she has more sinister plans than snatching shiny objects.

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 next episode of The CW's Batwoman.

"Who Are You?" was written by Nancy Kiu & Denise Harkavy and directed by Holly Dale

It's absolutely agonizing to withhold a core part of one's identity from loved ones. Kate has always lived openly. That is a powerful statement. She has always had confidence and acceptance with her sexuality. With all the trauma and tragedy in her past, that can't be seen in the same light. Sure, she has melodrama with Sophie. But that plays as typical and normal relationship woes that are always prevalent in superhero shows. It's part of the genre. It being so accepted here allows the show to feel special and commonplace. Sure, the show runs the risk of not making it as passionate and vocal as possible when it comes to the revolutionary aspects of this potential coupling. But it does highlight how Kate struggles when it comes to living a secret identity. She has never had to hide a part of herself. She wants to be open with the people she spends her time with. People suspect some connection between her and Batwoman because they always happen to be interested in the same cases. Of course, the entire city of Gotham comes across as wrapped up in the daily crime events that plague this town. Everyone is willing to embrace Batwoman as the new savior they need. Meanwhile, the Crows quickly come across as the police force for the elite. The show tackles the wealth disparity head on here with Reagan noting just how much Gotham has changed because of real estate developers making fortunes at the expense of struggling families. Kate has sympathy for that plight and even vows to make an effort to reinvigorate the philanthropy of her family name. She may not know anything about real estate. But she is passionate about making a difference. She wants to be a hero for Gotham in more ways than one. She struggles detailing what exactly she does in Gotham now. She is a bad liar when pressed for believable details about her whereabouts from Reagan. It's tragic that this relationship is so short-lived. They just met but Kate essentially ends it because she is still struggling with her own identity. She feels like she is suppose to be suffering and uncomfortable now. That comes with putting on the mask and protecting the city as a vigilante. It's a struggle and a hardship. She will be criticized for every mistake she makes. She is ridiculed by the press. And yet, she keeps having to go back out there because there is always someone who needs saving. The villain-of-the-week component of this hour isn't that great. It mostly keeps Batwoman busy as she learns how to effectively serve as the hero of the city. A young girl does look up to her with admiration. She catches the criminal and saves all of the precious jewelry. That's this masked vigilante doing what it takes to help the privileged and elite of the world. She saves everyone though. She makes that a core part of her mission. That's where her sympathy and compassion is. She wants to believe that Beth can still be saved. And yet, the narrative shifts the blame from Jacob to Catherine regarding why the Kane family stopped looking for her. Previously, it felt like Jacob made up the lie regarding bone fragments in order to convince Kate that it was time to move on. He did so because he was her father and he had to worry about her future. But it was actually Catherine who made that decision out of some selfish interest that an outside perspective knew what was best for this family. As such, she is increasingly becoming isolated and vilified as the creator of a weapon that can destroy the city. She won't just hand that over to Alice as she continues to plot out her grand scheme. But it also means that Catherine and Jacob's marriage is shattered. They can no longer live behind the illusion that once existed. That may allow some much needed perspective into the proceedings. That's really a question for the future though because the show still doesn't quite know how to incorporate some of these characters. Kate Kane remains the most valuable source of storytelling in this narrative.