The wait is over, as Gotham is finally formally introduced into the Arrowverse. The pilot cleverly delivers Kate Kane’s backstory and shows her journey to become a fully fledged Batwoman within one single episode. It quickly skims over Bruce Wayne’s history and the show doesn’t shy away from their Bat-family connection.
‘You are a female Bruce Wayne.’
We are introduced to Kate Kane (Ruby Rose) and see her handcuffed, trapped under an ice-covered lake. Kate’s only exit through the ice is blocked by her mentor. We watch her collect the key to her cuffs and fight her way out. She disrupts her own traumatic memories of a car crash on a bridge and saves herself from an untimely death yet again. This proves her capability and superhero credentials within the first few minutes. She trains and learns combat skills under guidance similar to Batman’s own experiences.
Return to Gotham City
Kate returns to Gotham after discovering her once-lover-now-best-friend Sophie has gone missing. Batman has been gone for three years from Gotham and nobody knows why. Gotham is paying the price. Blink and you miss it but there are posters on the wall showing that criminals’ now reign, including a wanted poster for the Joker.
Kate’s father Jacob runs his own security firm, Crows, in attempt to replace the protection that Batman gave Gotham. They are about to switch off the Bat-signal at an official ceremony, but this seasons’ big bad Alice has other ideas. Alice interrupts the festivities citing Batman’s return.
‘Well, I believe 6 impossible things before breakfast’.
The show doesn’t disappoint with its Alice in Wonderland references, citing most of the well-known Lewis Caroll quotes within the very first episode. What was once whimsical and ethereal is turned deadly and cinical by villain Alice (Rachel Skarsten).
‘Batman couldn’t save you and neither will they’.
We watch as Agent Sophie Moore follows the white rabbit down the rabbit hole, as she is kidnapped and held hostage in a horror-inspired Wonderland. Cut to Ruby Rose as Kate clutches her own ruby necklace, followed by more flashbacks. Batwoman uses a very similar premise to Arrow in tone and formula. It uses flashbacks to fill in the gaps of the story, to add context, whilst the current story remains dark, gritty and raw.
Find your own path
Commander Kane, won’t let his daughter Kate help his Crow crew find Sophie. Instead Kate is forced into vigilantism in order to help. She breaks into her cousin’s Wayne Enterprises, bypassing his personal security Luke Fox in order to gain access to crucial CCTV footage. She then searches for her father but inadvertently arrives at her own surprise party organised by her step-sister Mary.
We are treated to more flashbacks from Kate’s memories. Sophie and Kate were lovers but this is quickly interrupted as she is subjected to prejudice during combat training. Her superiors ban homosexuality from their ranks and penalise Sophie and Kate for their sexuality. Sophie signs a waver to denounce her own sexuality in order to carry on in the training, however Kate refuses to be forced into living a lie and stands up for what is right, but at great personal career cost. She is dismissed from the combat training and loses her chance to pursue her dream job.
Kate shares the security footage with her father. He instantly dismisses her find but then Kate spots that it has a lead to Burnside Orphanage. Rather than wait for Crow security to arrive at the scene, Kate takes matters into her own hands and arrives before them. She fights the white rabbits and the cheshire cat before being knocked out. It becomes ‘Curiouser and Curiouser’ as Kate is strung up by Alice. Alice reveals her vendetta against Jacob Kane, cue another Batman reference.
’He thinks he’s Gotham’s White Knight.
The wall reads ‘Twinkle Twinkle Little Bat’ in the background as we get our proper introduction to Batwoman’s villain. ‘I’m Alice’ she explains, just in case we hadn’t figured it out by now. Kate’s father realises she’s missing and Kate wakes up to being patched up at her sister Mary’s illegal hospital.
‘I’m the Meredith Grey of Sherwood Forest’ she jokes.
Honestly, I love to spot all the geeky references in the Arrowverse. Robin Hood and Grey’s Anatomy is enough to win me over. I love spotting all the ‘Hood’ references in Arrow, and it seems Batwoman is following suit. Bravo.
Kate explains Alice’s vendetta to her dad and asks him outright why she cannot be part of his security team. Commander Kane responds to her that:
‘You are not everyone else’ to which she replies: ‘I’m not and I never will be’.
It is a turning point in the episode where Kate realises she doesn’t need her fathers permission to do what she dreams. Instead Kate embarks on her own path to get where she wants to be and be herself.
Wayne Enterprises Revisited
We start to learn that there is a family tragedy. Kate speaks as though the loss of Beth and her mum hangs heavy on her dad’s shoulders and distances him from her. Kate breaks into Wayne Enterprises again, where she finds Martha’s beads framed by Bruce, from the night his mother and father Thomas were killed. Batman’s backstory is cleverly summed up in a sentence because we do not need yet another cinematic retelling of that ill-fated tragedy. Kate finds the switch to the Bat-cave and discovers her cousin Bruce Wayne is indeed Batman.
The cave seems very accurate to the current comics and is well designed. We see the Batsuit, his gadgets, his super computer. Bats fly at Kate, reminiscent of Batman Begins, and well, most Batman retellings. Kate discovers that Batman is still trying to solve her mother and sisters’ murder. He is still unable to find her sister Beth’s body, despite having every piece of tech imaginable. We learn that her mother and sister were driven off the road by a hijacked school bus. Kate has spent her entire life believing that Batman didn’t try to save them, but actually he just made a human mistake. Although he saved the 34 kids on the bus, he has regretted the damage to his only-living family ever since.
Cue Kate Kane’s transformation into Batwoman. She wants her own suit designing to which Luke comments that Batman’s ‘Suit is literal perfection.’ Kate replies ‘it will be, when it fits a woman’.
Mary has now located Sophie. The movie in the park event is happening at Gotham City. The Commander learns that Alice has hidden a bomb in the back of one of their security vans. In true Jack Nicholson style, there are also balloon-like lanterns in the background, possibly reminiscent of the 1989 Batman movie. ‘Gotham is looking a little like the good old days.’
‘We’re all mad here Commander’.
We discover that there is a traitor within Crow’s security team as Dobson is aiding Alice. ‘How do you like the cream said the cat’, Alice baits. In true Batman style, they can only save Sophie or Gotham.
‘Why is a raven like a writing desk’ Alice answers Kate as yet another Lewis Carroll quote sneaks its way into the show.
Unsurprisingly, Batwoman manages to save Sophie and Gotham. The press have a field day as they claim that Batman lives. Everybody assumes that the Bat-like figure they see save Gotham is male. Kate’s hidden identity remains intact whilst Sophie hides Batwoman’s secret. Kate is crushed to learn that Sophie has married a new husband, Tyler whilst she has been away.
Kate’s father and his team prepare for the fight against Alice that will follow presumably during the remainder of the season. Jacob admits that he forfeited her career in order to maintain her safety. He offers Kate a place on his team but she realises she does not want that anymore. It is time to find her true path. Kate discovers that the ruby in the knife she has obtained from Alice matches the Ruby in her necklace. Her sister Beth also had this necklace when they were kids. Kate realises that Alice is Beth. They never found her sister’s body because she is still alive. The audience are left to linger on that emotional bombshell.
In true Arrow style Kate narrates a few final inspirational words:
‘I spent fifteen years searching for somewhere where I fit and I think I finally found it. Some see fear, others see hope, I see the freedom to be myself, to play by my own rules… I want you to read my story, because it has only just begun.’