Batwoman 1×06 “I’ll Be Judge, I’ll Be Jury…”
Director: Scott Peters
Writers: James Patrick Stoteraux and Chad Fiveash
Starring: Ruby Rose, Rachel Skarsten, Meagan Tandy, Nicole Kang, Camrus Johnson, Elizabeth Anweis, Dougray Scott, Sam Littlefield, Jim Pirri, Greyston Holt, Rachel Maddow (voice), Matthew Graham, Kheon Clarke, Mark Gibbon, Philip Mitchell, Brent Midler, Sean Kuling, Allison Riley, Andrew Creightney
Synopsis: As Kate investigates the complex case of “The Executioner,” Mouse questions Alice’s motives and Sophie grapples with what to do with what she knows.
The writing deepens the subplot of certain characters this week and creates conflict for both sides. (One visual improvement, side note, is seeing Ruby in costume without the cape and cowl)
On the side of the angels, we have Luke Fox. Up until now, his father Luscius’s fate was uncovered. Layering his father’s murder case as one of Gotham’s miscarriages of justice gave Camrus dramatic material after straddling the fence as comic relief. The content of his father’s murder also gives reasoning to Bruce Wayne’s hiring him. The notion of a corrupt attorney deceiving Luke and his family to such an intimate level would unnerve anyone. It remains to be seen where Luke takes that file on his father’s murder.
Speaking of revelations, Jacob being forced to confront his actual motivations to hate anything Bat-related was what everyone had been waiting for. Ruby providing voice to the obvious burden Bruce had felt adds to the tragedy. His own uncle had accused him every day of letting his aunt and cousin die right to his face and he had to keep his playboy façade up in spite of it. Even finding out more details about Mouse’s father and the circumstances under which Beth suffered does nothing to assuage his fury. He accuses Batwoman of dodging accountability behind a mask, yet hypocritically projected his own feelings of guilt and shame over giving up on finding his daughter onto Batman. Besides self-denial, psychologists would diagnose that as displacement of anger. While it will be interesting to see whether Jacob will change towards Batwoman following their near-death experience is beside the point. The moments this week between father and daughter, the latter who acknowledges her own similar guilt over Beth becoming Alice, were the best performance Dougray and Ruby have given to date. Seeing them come together was worth the wait. You get a sense of reunification through their commitment to help Beth.
Sophie knowing Kate is Batwoman makes Meagan’s character the wild card. The writers are smart in continuing the drama by first establishing through recap how things ended between she and Kate. That works to bookend Mary taking her to task over her actions. She callously chose her career over Kate, then covered up that period when she met her husband. Her track record of self-interest is very telling, and Mary, of all ironies, is the one to point this out to her. The fact that a woman she always regarded as a society flake is running an illegal free clinic – aside from pulling a slug out of her – may change Sophie’s views much as Jacob’s may have. Meagan portrays Sophie as an officer who sees the world in black and white. To her, Batwoman is a cry for help from her ex, when that is not even remotely the case. That glance that Kate and Sophie throw at each other in that final scene is appropriately open-ended.
Team Alice also gets the familial conflict. While last week revealed the depth of connection between Alice and Mouse, this week revealed more about Mouse’s feelings and motivations. Beth was abducted and confined to be his playmate and friend, and he feels as though he “saved” her by making her feel more at home. Hell, her choice of identity is based on a copy of “Alice in Wonderland” given to her by Mouse. The possibility of being replaced by Kate invokes rage and Sam conveys that perfectly. You also get that twisted logic since he knows that Beth was forced to be in that house, and yet that Stockholm Syndrome his father instilled negates that reality. With regards to his infiltration of Hamilton Industries, you also understand Mouse’s skills when combined with Alice’s skill with flesh. The writers are clever in showing Beth had been forced to be this insane doctor’s protégé. While there is genuine affection towards her adopted brother, the maneuvering Alice is playing with for their “tea party” is potentially malicious and duplicitous. Three episodes before she indicated she doesn’t like to share, and this “table for two” may not include sibling #3. Mouse may have more cause to distrust Alice’s motives than he believed.
The only complaint I have is why there is no traffic on the street leading towards Wayne Enterprises. It seems like everybody can sit in the middle of that block. Kate has parked her bike there, and Mouse pouts in front of it. The writers have to come up with reasons for the barrenness of that street. And while The Executioner’s motives and mission unearths many hidden truths, his background doesn’t seem to cover how he could invent those elaborate traps. Further, he seems to be the latest in a line of fill-in criminals. Alice is still the central villain and the writers seem to have difficulty giving these other criminals relevance. Lastly, why does Kate only activate the voice modulator on her belt with a select few, yet lets her normal voice be heard with villains that have never met Kate Kane? She’s as careless with that than with who she brings to Mary’s clinic.
I give this episode a strong 4.5 out of 5. The writing team this week scored big on character development and complex subplots. With the inclusion of Mouse on Alice’s team, and Jacob and Kate now on the same page regarding Alice, the plot seems to be moving forward. It’s just the aesthetic BS that the creative team have to deal with, like the voice modulator thing and that absent street. See you guys next week!