Now that's a mid-season finale! The CW's Batwoman ties off its pre-"Crisis" storylines with some major stakes and seismic shifts in the lives of our characters. And while Alice's "Mad Tea Party" doesn't directly tie in to the upcoming "Crisis" crossover, our final scene gives us invaluable clues as to what is happening (video below).
Our main storyline revolves around a giant charity gala being thrown for Catherine Hamilton-Kane (Elizabeth Anweis) as Gotham's "Giver of the Year." Alice (Rachel Skarsten) hijacks the event, forcing Catherine to deliver a speech exposing that her company sells weapons of war to Gotham's criminals while her husband's Crows protect the rich from them, also for a tidy profit. She then collapses, and it's revealed that both she and Mary (Nicole Kang) have been poisoned.
Alice intervenes, offering an antidote in exchange for an apology, as she still blames Catherine for ruining her life and making her family stop searching for her. Unfortunately, Mary also drank the poisoned champagne, and there's only enough for one. Catherine forces her daughter to take the antidote and then in a truly touching scene reveals she's always known about the free clinic, that she's so proud of her daughter, and that she's the only thing she ever did right. It's a great and incredibly acted scene as then Catherine dies in her daughter's care.
As I've opined previously, Mary is the best thing about this show. This is going to give her character a huge new layer to explore, as she screamed to Alice that she will kill her for murdering her mother. Kang is also just an amazing actress, as she transitions through the episode from well-meaning sister trying to knit her family back together with stepsister Kate (Ruby Rose), to playing up to her Instagram following (which is basically her secret identity), to dealing with watching her mother die in her arms, knowing she drank the antidote instead of her. We've seen compassionate Mary, we've seen vapid Mary, but we've never seen warpath Mary. Can't wait.
And we haven't even talked about Batwoman yet. There's quite a bit for her to do in this episode, starting with a clandestine takedown of a Wonderland Gang goon to try to find Alice's location. During the first of several confrontations between the two sisters, Kate starts from a place of "there is still good in you" and trying to save her sister to vowing revenge by the end of the episode.
The real turning point is a final scene with Mary where she confonts Kate with the reality of what has happened and how her obsession with Alice/Beth led to this. It's a real journey, and there's a beautifully shot and edited scene where both Kate and Mary destroy their desktop possessions in rage and grief, the two stepsisters more united than ever before by the madness of their circumstances.
Oh, and on top of all of this, we get lots of Batwoman kicking ass. During the standoff at the gala, she has to fight through the Wonderland Gang and the Crows to try to get to Alice, and there's some really great fighting sequences. She's also using some staves to huge effect to take out opponents, which is especially fun to see. I want to see her bring these to Crisis and spar a few rounds with Green Arrow.
There's also a heartbreaking sideplot through all of this with Sophie (Meagan Tandy), another of the show's secret weapons. When Jacob (Dougray Scott) is revealed to actually be Mouse in disguise, he tranq-darts Sophie and her husband in his office and ties them up. Under the stress of the close quarters and revelations that Kate still has feelings for Sophie, they end up deciding to break up while she "figures herself out."
Dude, no. First, the correct answer is "Let's go to couples counseling together to learn how to communicate better," not "I'm hurt by finding out about your sexual history so I'm pre-emptively rejecting you because I feel insecure and this was literally the plot of Chasing Amy which is over 20 years old now and practically a cliche but that's how much of a fragile douche I am." Anyway, sorry Sophie. Your final scene crying in a stairwell is just another layer of heartbreak in the tragedy sandwich of this episode.
All of this sends us to our final scenes where Kate visits her father Jacob in jail, arrested for murdering his wife. (In what corrupt/incompetent city would you arrest a guy when both his daughters and two top lieutenants at his workplace can provide eyewitness proof he was being impersonated. . . oh, right. Gotham.) Kate is rage-crying, as her father promises when he gets out he is going to "put [Alice] down once and for all."
"This time I won't stop you."
Well now, that certainly sets up the second half of our season 1 of Batwoman incredibly well. Speaking of set-ups…
And then it all ends with a flash to Central City, at 11:58 pm on December 7, 2019– 2 minutes to midnight before the day of the "Crisis"! It's "Nash" Wells (Tom Cavanaugh) who has opened a hole to The Monitor's hideout below the city. Mar Novu's voice "Submit and begin your life anew. . . The knowledge is within. . ."
Just watch. Then join us back for "Crisis on Infinite Earths, Part 1" on Sunday, December 8, "Part 2" (this is technically the Batwoman episode of the crossover) on Monday, December 9, and "Part 3" on Tuesday, December 10.