Sunday, January 26, 2020

REVIEW: 'Batwoman' - Kate Finally Gets What She Has Always Wanted and Must Fight to Keep It in 'An Un-Birthday Present'

The CW's Batwoman - Episode 1.11 "An Un-Birthday Present"

On the Kane sisters' birthday, Kate and Alice contend with demons from the past, and an unexpected guest makes a surprise appearance in Gotham.

In 2019, the television industry aired 532 scripted shows across numerous outlets. The way people consume content now is different than it used to be. It happens according to one's own schedule. As such, it's less necessary to provide ample coverage of each episode in any given season from a show. Moreover, it is simply impossible to watch everything. As such, this site provides 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.

"An Un-Birthday Present" was written by Chad Fiveash & James Stoteraux and directed by Mairzee Almas

Kate has given up trying to convert Alice back to Beth. She understands that it's a futile effort. Her sister is too far gone to find redemption. The audience can plainly see the moment when Beth gave up and had to adopt this twisted new reality. Those flashbacks to her captivity inform so much about her. She never wanted to give up hope that her family would rescue her. However, the trauma from seeing them move on as well as being forced to create the masks out of skin for Mouse did a significant amount of damage. She saw the Alice in Wonderland novel as her only escape. Even in the present day, it continues to help her. She is still perfectly fine discarding it in order to escape from her captivity once more. But it has special resonance when it comes to the way she conducts herself. It forms the entire basis of her relationship with Mouse. And now, it's absolutely miraculous that an Earth-Prime consequence is the addition of a Beth from another universe. When Kate saw her sister in her office, she didn't react with celebration. Instead, she thought it was yet another trick Alice was pulling in order to deceive and hurt her. She has been tortured because of Alice's mind games this season. This genuinely is Beth. Kate's wish has finally come true. This Beth comes from another universe that collapsed in on itself during the creation of Earth-Prime. That is a consequence that all of the DC shows are dealing with at the moment. They are realizing that not everything in this world lines up completely. Beth feels all alone because no one in this world recognizes her. She can have a fresh start. Kate can be with her sister once more. However, it puts things into perspective for her as well. Kate always punished herself for not going back into the car to save Beth. Adults have consistently told her it was the smart decision too. She accepted that she would have died that day as well if she made that choice. And yet, Beth comes from a universe in which she was rescued. Kate had the opportunity to save her. That runs the risk of tearing Kate's world apart knowing that she could have prevented the creation of Alice all those years ago. All this suffering could have turned out differently. But this truly is the woman Beth was destined to be. As such, Kate is willing to fight to keep her for as long as possible. Sure, she and Luke can talk openly about how all of this is possible. Beth understands it as well because she happens to be an astrophysics major. And yet, Mary is welcomed into the friendship as well with no real clear explanation for her to understand all of this. That is weird and awkward. She is out of the loop in a way that is condescending and belittling of her. That isn't fair. This runs the risk of her being pushed out by her sister Kate once more. She never feels like she can fully engage in that sibling bond. That remains tragic. However, Kate is motivated to ensure that history doesn't repeat itself. Beth is more than willing to be a hero and rescue Kate for what she did for her all those years ago. She pretends to be Alice not knowing just how intense and specific her bond with Mouse actually is. That puts her in even more danger. But it's also incredibly rousing to watch as Kate refuses to leave Beth behind to die. She won't make that same mistake even though the flames are quickly consuming them. They can celebrate their birthdays happily together. Sure, Alice escapes once more and remains extremely dangerous. The happiness of this moment is never destined to last. The crippling headaches Alice and Beth experience showcase how only one of them can survive in this world. But that creates a very engaging storyline for the future. It's clear which version of her sister Kate wants to stay alive. And yet, Alice has proven incredibly capable when it comes to evading capture or any damage to her grand plans for the city. Rachel Skarsten is incredible in both roles as the audience gets a fair understanding of both of them. They are two incredibly different women. One is clearly a villain who deceives and abuses the world. That's a direct result of her trauma and torture. The other is a proud and powerful sister wanting to do the right thing in a foreign world. They can't both survive. The fight to determine who is stronger will be very engaging to watch especially as the city rallies around Batwoman - not knowing just how personal this conflict actually is for her.