NOTE: Full spoilers for this episode of, “Batwoman” are present in this review
It’s a new year, a new world, and a potentially fresh slate for Batwoman, both the newest and currently most struggling series in The CW’s DC drama catalogue. The show’s midseason premiere, “How Queer Everything is Today!”, presents a golden opportunity for Batwoman to pull its socks up after its rough debut in 2019, hopefully focusing in on some fresh storylines, renewed direction, and increased novelty. Sadly, that’s not really what ends up happening with this week’s episode, unfortunately leaving Batwoman continuing to struggle for the debut of its 2020 run, and once again displaying mismatched storytelling priorities amid more lacklustre villains-of-the-week.
Out of all of The CW’s Arrowverse programming, Batwoman is likely the series that will be affected the least in the fallout from the Crisis on Infinite Earths crossover event, simply because it’s so new. Even then though, there’s potential for Kate’s ongoing superhero career to try something different in the newly-created Earth-Prime, and perhaps move away from tired old conflicts that haven’t proven to work in Batwoman’s early episodes. Instead however, “How Queer Everything is Today!” goes all in on what’s ultimately a fairly small, if not completely unimportant detail, namely Kate’s sexuality, and how it may or may not define her in the public eye as a superhero. This could actually be interesting, since the Arrowverse’s other superheroes are all straight for the most part, with only passing exceptions like Supergirl’s Nia Nal/Dreamer or Arrow’s former Curtis Holt/Mister Terrific actually being part of the LGBT community. I guess Black Lightning’s Anissa Pierce/Thunder can be counted among those ranks now too, since Black Lightning has now been folded into the Arrowverse properly after Crisis on Infinite Earths.
The thing is though, Batwoman’s ideas regarding how to examine and portray Kate’s sexuality as her superhero alter-ego are very juvenile and contrived, and that undermines the otherwise noble endeavour behind motivating Kate to have Batwoman publicly come out as a lesbian. These problems start early as well, with a subway train being hijacked and nearly crashed, only for Kate to save it at the last second, and be snapped by onlookers in the arms of a hunky cop, when she makes another dumb rookie mistake with her grappling hook. Initially, Luke seems to welcome this trashy gossip story as well, since it helps throw villains off the scent of Batwoman’s secret identity, something that makes sense on paper, though Kate remains unconvinced that she should lie to Gotham City so much about who she is. The thing is though, when Luke says that’s the job, he’s kind of right, and while the result of Kate inevitably publicly announcing that Batwoman is gay is kind of heartwarming, it is also a little tactically questionable, since that significantly narrows down the field of suspects regarding who Batwoman could be.
Making matters worse is that this episode packs in another terrible villain-of-the-week to boot, one that doesn’t even make sense by any measure. Again, there’s a potentially interesting idea here, namely when a teenage girl struggling with her homosexuality forcibly blackmails Gotham City’s officials into a payout so she can flee town. Even so, the idea that this random teenager is able to hijack trains, broadcast all over the city, and display the mayor’s credit card number, all from inside her school (which is how Kate eventually deduces the identity of the hacker), is both ridiculous and inexplicable. It could have been interesting to have a villain-of-the-week be a misguided adolescent blackmailer that Kate has to save from her own anguish, especially when Alice intervenes and nearly kills the hacker at the school to try and get Kate to pay attention to her again, but the idea is just executed so incredibly sloppily here. Hell, despite the girl committing multiple major felonies and endangering people’s lives, she practically gets off with a slap on the wrist too, with Kate simply handing the hacker community service mandates, and demanding that she return her extorted money. Okay, fair enough, but are we really going to let teen angst function as an excuse for attempted murder?!
Amazingly though, we actually got a better storyline out of Mary for a change in this episode, hopefully presenting more evidence that Mary will stop being such an insufferable character, now that her mother is dead. Mary spending the episode struggling with losing her mother, while also shutting down her clinic, and desperately trying to get the attention of the authorities regarding how Mouse masqueraded as the incarcerated Jacob, all makes for legitimate problems for Mary for once, and leads to a much more grounded and sympathetic portrayal for Mary’s character. The fact that Mary is becoming consumed by obsession, to the point of supposedly seeing Alice at her university, is also pretty promising, especially when Mary sends the Crows into the school, which is inevitably revealed to be a false alarm. I suppose it could be worse though, since Alice does eventually end up in the Crows’ custody anyway, after Kate manages to subdue her during the core storyline at the local high school.
I must admit that this otherwise tedious and contrived midseason premiere for Batwoman at least ends on a good note as well, presenting another legitimately compelling mystery, which vindicates an unraveling Mary, while also presenting some actual potential consequences to the fallout from Crisis on Infinite Earths. After Kate publicly outs Batwoman as a lesbian via CatCo and her buddy, Kara Danvers (already an inspired way to utilize the Supergirl cast now co-existing in the same world as The CW’s other ongoing DC dramas), she returns to her office at Wayne Enterprises, only to find Alice, seemingly in disguise! Since Alice is in the Crows’ custody however, and the Alice in Kate’s office appears frightened by Kate’s coercion, insisting that she’s truly Beth, the evidence would appear to indicate that an untainted Beth Kane, one who never became Alice, is now standing before Kate.
That’s pretty awesome, and suggests a great unintended consequence to the world-merging that created Earth-Prime; Multiple doppelgangers of the same people may now exist on the new Earth. Remember, as far as the citizens of Earth-Prime are concerned, the worlds of the Arrowverse were always one, so it’s possible that the Beth standing before Kate may actually be Beth’s doppelganger from Earth-38 or Earth-73, or perhaps another Earth entirely, one that likely lived her life in a universe where her mother never died, and thus, she grew up with a normal Kate that never became Batwoman. This would obviously make Beth oblivious to the fact that her Earth-1 counterpart is now one of the most dangerous criminals in Gotham City, since, if she’s from Earth-38, for example, she wouldn’t know that Earth-38 and Earth-1 were not originally the same world. Sure, it could be Mouse in disguise too, but this seems less likely, considering how much trouble Mouse had to go to in order to simply disguise himself as Jacob. Besides, that would be a lame payoff to this twist, if I’m being honest.
Despite that great turn with a Beth that seemingly isn’t Alice showing up at the end though, Batwoman’s historic coming out as a lesbian is tragically undermined by another poorly-plotted and ridiculous core storyline, one that too often ruins the potential of Batwoman’s midseason premiere. Hell, the very coming out of Kate’s superhero identity itself is undermined by the creation of Earth-Prime to boot, since Black Lightning’s Anissa Pierce is now part of this same world, having beaten Batwoman to the punch as a debuting lesbian superhero (though, in Batwoman’s defense, Thunder’s sexuality is likely not public knowledge at this point). The interesting villain-of-the-week idea here is ruined by an unrealistic conflict and yet more juvenile distilling of the social themes too, and this core hacker storyline unfortunately takes up the vast majority of this episode, with Jacob simply being left to languish in prison most notably. Mary and Sophie get some decent moments here and there though, now that they’re both grief-stricken and angry in the wake of the midseason finale’s events, and that’s good, since those two characters are often the weakest in Batwoman’s current ensemble. Overall though, it sucks to see that Batwoman still isn’t very good in 2020, even if it’s at least starting to make a better effort to stop stealing story ideas from the Arrowverse’s other shows.
- Batwoman being inspired to come out by helping a struggling adolescent
- Mary and Sophie embracing darker character directions
- Very promising tease with the Beth doppelganger
- Hacker villain-of-the-week is extremely unrealistic and poorly-written
- Batwoman's public coming out is hampered by unfortunate story turns
- Jacob is given nothing to do in his subplot