'Batwoman' Episode 1 sets up rivalry with Alice as Kate Kane's on-screen origin story leaves much to be desired
The first episode, in an attempt to drive the fact home that Batwoman is her own person, steadfast and sure about herself, pushes the aspect of Kate Kane's sexual identity hard. It tries hard to set in stone a character of a woman superhero, who is a rebel
The CW's 'Batwoman', an origin story about one of Gotham's superheroes premiered Sunday and it was not exactly a great start. The excitement of seeing a Kate Kane (Ruby Rose) find her way to her alter-ego was dampened by the show's treatment of Kate's journey.
The driving force of the show is not Kate's self-realization about the role she could play in saving the world, or herself for that matter. It is more about proving her father Jacob Kane wrong while helping her ex-flame Sophie Moore (Meagan Tandy).
The first episode, in an attempt to drive the fact home that Batwoman is her own person, steadfast and sure about herself, pushes the aspect of Kate Kane's sexual identity hard. It tries hard to set in stone a character of a woman superhero, who is a rebel. She has to be unfathomable as an enemy and for that, her vulnerabilities cannot surface for too long.
When Kate explains her distaste for rules or her look of surprise when she sees the batsuit in her cousin's secret cave for the first time, her performance doesn't ring true. Her devil may care attitude doesn't exactly blend too well into the plotline and that is going to be one big problem which 'Batwoman' will have to address. Yes, the episode very wells sets up a clash between Batwoman and Alice (Rachel Skarsten), a psychopath.
Alice wants to prove to residents of Gotham that in the absence of Batman they are unsafe. To do so, Alice targets the event where reputed members of Gotham have gathered to switch off the bat signal. As Jacob's wife and Kate's stepmother Catherine Hamilton-Kane (Elizabeth Anweis) says, "Batman gave up on us."
The city wants to move on from Batman and to do so Jacob (Dougray Scott) does his part as well. He tells the elite residents of the city that his security company, "Crows, represent order. Security. Safety." The one sure shot way to undermine the Crows' reputation is by pulling off something major at a Crow secured event and Alice, with the help of her masked associates, manage to kidnap Sophie Moore, a Crow agent.
Kate, who hears of the kidnapping from her stepsister Mary Hamilton (Nicole Kang), returns to Gotham only to find her cousin Bruce Wayne is missing. Her father Jacob, rejects her plea to let her help with the case. Why would he? No one seems to knows of Kate's history with Sophie.
They were once lovers in the military academy and when they got outed for their sexual orientation, Kate gave up on the academy with no second thought. She was discharged under the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy used to restrict the United States military from outing closeted gay, lesbian and bisexual members in the military while barring individuals who are open about their sexual orientation from serving. Sophie stays in the closet, does her time in the military and now is kidnapped.
In an attempt to help, Kate gets herself captured as well, however, that does nobody good and so she attempts to get into the Wayne building to see if she can get some help there. It is here that she finds out her cousin's secret when Luke Fox (Camrus Johnson), a loyal employee of Bruce Wayne who is also aware of Wayne's alter-ego, is unable to stop her from exploring.
Imagine the surprise when you find out one fine day your cousin is Batman. The magnitude of this realization isn't done justice in the episode. This underwhelming feeling returns when Kate, towards the end of the episode, sits down to contemplate what she knows of her sister, Elizabeth, who was killed with their mother and what she knows of Alice, the leader of Wonderland Gang, after facing her in and out of a super suit. These are, possibly, two of the biggest moments in the first episode and yet we never truly feel their magnitude.
Choosing to adorn the suit herself, being mistaken for Batman the first time around and coming to the conclusion she needs to create her own alter-ego, were not originally easy for Kate in the comics, though this was not portrayed in the show. And that lack of depth is what makes Batwoman's premiere episode an underwhelming and dull affair.
The next episode of 'Batwoman' will air on The CW at 8 p.m. ET on Sunday.