Sunday, November 10, 2019

REVIEW: 'Batwoman' - Kate and the Crows Hunt Down a Man Taking Justice Into His Own Hands in 'I'll Be Judge, I'll Be Jury'

The CW's Batwoman - Episode 1.06 "I'll Be Judge, I'll Be Jury"

A disturbing death has Gotham reeling and the city reaches out for their new vigilante hero. Luke confides in Kate, while Sophie asks Jacob for a special assignment. Alice continues her nefarious plot against the Kanes, with Catherine being a conduit to part of her plan. Batwoman pays another visit to Mary.

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.

"I'll Be Judge, I'll Be Jury" was written by James Stoteraux & Chad Fiveash and directed by Scott Peters

Kate Kane believes in the criminal justice system. She believes that it can provide justice for those hurt by the worst of humanity. It ensures a fair and just punishment that matches the crime. Sure, she may be optimistic and somewhat naive in that assertion. The system is prone to corruption and bias. The Executioner points out that he became a killer because law enforcement and the judicial system accepted capital punishment and forced innocent people of color to be put to death. It's horrifying while speaking to some of the true ugliness of the real world as well. These are issues that plague the criminal justice system. The punishment doesn't always match the crime. Some communities are policed more fiercely than others. Luke and many people in Gotham look to the lawyers and judges as those fighting the good fight to provide justice during their darkest hours. The sad reality though is that they simply used these tragedies in order to advance a racist agenda where they didn't ultimately care who committed the crime. It was simply about punishing those whose physical appearance matches what these small-minded individuals perceive to be criminals. The Executioner acts because he sees no one else as willing to take on these systemic abuses. He is furious that Batwoman is willing to stop him in this crusade. Again, she has hope that the justice system can work. Sure, she may live in a city that once elected Oswald Cobblepot as mayor who brought back firing squads as a way to kill inmates on death row.  However, the system becomes inherently corrupt the moment that people stop holding onto the hope of its ideals. People have to keep fighting for it to ensure that the right criminals are held accountable for their actions. It's a nuanced debate with so many implications for the way a society carries out justice. It ties into the ongoing debate about vigilantism as well. Jacob sees the city turning to Batwoman for support instead of the Crows. Both sides feel personally motivated to prove their worth and how they can best provide the protection the city needs right now. But again, this is a world that lives in extremes. Batwoman offers hope when there may not be any elsewhere. Meanwhile, the Crows offer the appearance of law and order returning to the streets. However, it still builds to an epic climax where the Executioner is killed while Kate and Jacob have to grow closer in order to survive a makeshift gas chamber. It's logistically insane while still fundamentally saying that death is the most fitting conclusion for people who take justice into their own hands. The Executioner kills because he was forced to kill by others. Jacob kills in order to protect his city. Kate certainly has that capacity as well. But it's still a binary presentation of what justice looks like. That sucks a lot of power out of the proceedings. The show doesn't even mention whether or not the judge actually gets the punishment Kate hopes is awaiting him. There is simply the understanding that these cases will be reopened. That will bring hardship to Luke in the hopes of providing him with more character definition. The same also applies to Sophie who is adamant about proving Kate is Batwoman. She operates with that certainty and is absolutely right. It's just lame how the show keeps her in the dark. That is limiting to her as a character. Plus, this hour highlights how captivating Alice is as the central villain. She brings such a profound spark to the proceedings. When that is missing, the narrative suffers. It's unfortunate. Kate and Jacob have to accept that they can no longer blame others for their past mistakes. Forgiveness may be the best way forward. That is a powerful moment. It just comes in an hour where Alice doesn't do much except spend time with someone who is just as crazy as she is. Again, it's not subtle in the slightest but also plays as a weird tangent while the main plot simply has big ideas and lackluster execution.