Review: Batwoman 1×05 – “Mine Is A Long And A Sad Tale”
[Editor’s Note: This review may contain spoilers]
Director: Carl Seaton
Writers: Jerry Shandy and Ebony Gilbert
Starring: Ruby Rose, Rachel Skarsten, Meagan Tandy, Camrus Johnson, Elizabeth Anweis, Dougray Scott, Sam Littlefield, Gracyn Shinyei, Ava Sleeth, John Emmett Tracy, Nicholas Holmes
Reviewed by: Jason Larouche
Batwoman 1×05: While Alice finally tells Kate what happened to her after the accident, Mary finds out from her mother what she did and winds up at Wayne Tower in a drunken stupor.
Rachel Skarsten and Ava Sleeth stole this show this week by leaping to the forefront. At last, we learn Alice’s origin, and both actresses – playing two phases of the same character’s life – had incredible moments. The emotion that had been hidden in the whimsy and gunfire finally welled to the surface. Rachel’s scenes in the house with both Kate and later her father perfectly bookended the flashback to when their last chance to be reunited was dashed away by Beth’s instilled fear. The scene where both sisters touch the door at the same time is perfectly framed; the door is a canyon-sized wall that Beth is holding up to protect her family. It’s within that part of her present-day conversation with Kate that she finally unleashes her anger and hurt that Kate failed as much as her father. Dougray and Rachel were at their best in this episode. Alice’s rage at being the forgotten, overlooked daughter finally comes to the surface now that the truth is out. Rachel’s performance in racking sobs until she stabs her father was brilliant. We also learn of her “brother” Mouse and his role in her transformation into Alice. The scenes of Beth in the house gives off that twisted vibe before young Beth looks in that sink. The writing perfectly conveys that sense of confinement and helplessness. She truly doesn’t have a chance of escaping. The viewer is truly taken down the rabbit hole, and given Alice’s hints, this isn’t the entire story.
Dougray and Meagan in their scenes together as Jacob and Sophie this week reveal much about Jacob’s mental state. Last week he learns his wife covered up the survival of his daughter, and to boot she tried to kill Alice for real to keep the truth from him. This is a man who has held his own daughter at gunpoint, denied their relation multiple times, and even distanced himself from Kate because of this lie. Sophie is his soundboard, even though not much is said. The way he snaps at Dodgson is very telling of how fragile his emotional balance is. The moment he finally calls Alice by her real name symbolically shows the viewer he accepts the truth. You see the commander disappear and see a grieving father completely remorseful for what he didn’t do years before. The near-speechless moment with Kate on the bridge parallels that with Sophie; to him, both women are virtually the same and he treats both like his daughters whether he acknowledges it or not. And at that moment, both Kate and Jacob are at a loss as to what to do about Beth. You see the father-daughter connection visually as you hear the audio track of Kate venting to Bruce.
Speaking of Bruce, what worked well in Batwoman 1×05 was a limited amount of the mantle of the bat. This installment was about The Kane Family as opposed to a Bat-problem. However, the one scene Kate did suit up paid fan service via shadow-covered take downs and those awesome night vision lenses. The latter design perfectly conveyed the white-eyed look of every masked hero.
Meagan’s performance comes off as wooden in her dialogue during the diner scene. And while Mary’s distress is more fallout from her mother’s deceit, and her interactions with Luke provided some laughs, the scenes come off as filler.
I give this week, and this series, its first 5 out of 5. Less emphasis on the bat and more on plot development and actual dramatic performance scored big. Ruby, Dougray, and Rachel were incredible, as were young Ava and Graycin. The inclusion of Mouse – an Arkham escapee with a talent for skin theft – provides the plot with possibilities. Again, Alice may have only given Kate the “Year One” of her journey; the rabbit hole may go down further, and she even as a “brother” to join in the fun.