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Batwoman - Down, Down, Down - Review Roundtable: House of Cards

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This review was written by Aimee Hicks, Donna Cromeans (DJRiter), and Marko Pekic.

Batwomandelivered another strong episode in Down, Down, Down. Please continue reading below to find out all of our thoughts on the episode. After reading, please leave your own thoughts in the comments.

There has been debate both in the show and in the fandom regarding if Alice is actually Beth or not. This episode gave a lot of hints that Alice has been truthful about her true identity. But the debate is likely to continue until DNA definitively confirms or denies who Alice really is. After this episode where do you stand on the topic? Why do you feel that way?

Aimee: I could be proven entirely wrong as the show goes on, but for the moment I truly believe that Alice is Beth. This episode alone had so many things that really made me believe that Alice is Beth. The nightmare that launched the episode seemed to be of a young Beth entering a creepy basement and finding a pool of water when a mask boiled up, terrifying her. The way that nightmare impacted Alice told me that she had a very real connection to that moment. It seemed symbolic of Beth going into the water only to emerge wearing the mask of Alice. Then there was the fact that she knew the special song that Beth shared with her father. She was also visibly moved when she found the box that Kate had been keeping regarding Beth. It was also a nice touch that the crumpled search map from the last episode was brought back into the story. It was sweet to see that Kate had recovered it and held onto it all these years. Perhaps that even played into why Alice saved Kate shortly afterward. That brings me to the sisterly bond that Alice pushed so hard for with Kate only to suddenly start pushing against it as soon as Kate started to get to close to her. It seems a case of “doth protest too much” where Alice realized Beth was starting to seep back to the surface and panicked. This plays back into the nightmare, and now to get Beth pushed back down she must push Kate away. Even with that in mind, she keeps seeking out Kate like she can’t help it because of some powerful sisterly bond that pulls them back together. I’m not completely dismissing the possibility that at some point Alice encountered the real Beth and for some reason has taken up this odd vengeance mission, but it seems unlikely with each passing episode. If Alice turns out to not be the real Beth then I would have to give the writers props for pulling off a hell of a slide of hand. But for the moment I truly believe Alice and Beth are two and the same.

Donna: I’m not sure where to stand on this but kudos to the writers for keeping me guessing on this one. It usually takes a lot for a show to surprise me and Batwoman is doing just that with Alice’s identity. Part of me wants her to be Beth and watch how she continues to challenge Kate and irritate their father. Another part of me would like to see them not do the predictable thing in making her be Beth. Perhaps she was someone who helped cared for Beth before she died and is seeking revenge. That would be fun to watch, if only to see how Kate would react to someone that twisted who would manipulate her emotions like that. Whether she is Beth or not, Alice is strangely (to her) drawn and connected to Kate.

Marko: The chance of Alice not being Beth are quite slim. Still, the seed of doubt is there. The episode pushed more towards the fact that she is, but whenever writers push hard towards a fact it is mostly not true. The basement scene though, we didn`t see from Beth`s POV, it seemed more like someone *cough* Alice *cough* looked at Beth experiencing that scare. So, there is that. Let`s just leave it at that.

This episode introduced Reagan (Brianne Howey) as the new love interest for Kate. There are growing signs that Sophie isn’t as over Kate as she’d like people to believe. Do you think Kate belongs with Sophie? How long do you think they should/will draw out this will-they-or-won’t-they storyline? Or do you think they should follow the lead of other shows and go a surprising direction with Kate’s love life? What are your thoughts regarding Reagan?

AH: Realistically I know the show is pushing for the Kate and Sophie dynamic to happen at some point in the future. The problem with that is that I honestly don’t feel the chemistry between Kate and Sophie even in the flashbacks in the pilot. Ruby Rose and Meagan Tandy just can’t quite lock in the level of chemistry this star-crossed lovers duo need to make the dynamic work. So, do I think they should be together? At this moment in time, no, I don’t. That could very well change down the road, but at this stage of things, Rose and Tandy just aren’t connecting. In complete contrast, I felt instantaneous chemistry the moment Reagan started interacting with Kate. Rose and Howey fell into an immediate rhythm with each other. Logically, I know Reagan will be a quick blip on the radar of this show, but they would be smart to not ignore the chemistry that these two actresses bring to these characters and find a way to keep Howey around or bring her back later. I felt more from these two in a couple of short scenes than in three episodes with Sophie and Kate. But to be fair the stuff in the present day with Sophie and Kate is meant to be tense and we’ve already established the pilot was flawed. So maybe I’ll have a different opinion after seeing future flashbacks with Sophie and Kate. For right now, however, I’m definitely excited to see the Kate and Reagan dynamic continue to grow for however long they keep her around for in the story.

DC: Although it’s being written that way for Kate and Sophie to be together, I hope they go in the surprising direction with Kate’s love life. Kate appears to the be kind of person that when she gives her love, true love, she goes all in and gives her whole heart. She deserves someone who returns that depth of emotion, which in my opinion is not Sophie. To me, she’s not shown she was as invested in the relationship as Kate was. She never told her husband about Kate which is a big red flag for me. I honestly felt more chemistry between Kate and Reagan than I have from Kate and Sophie. Reagan seemed to relate, be more open and communicate with Kate much easier than Sophie appears interested in doing. I think the show should do what Sophie initially told Kate, move on and focus on someone new for Kate.

MP: As a big fan of Brianne Howey I am totally fine with Reagan being there for now. Reagan seemed fun, not complicated and probably just what Kate needs at this moment. As for Sophie, her character gets less likable which each episode, Tandy doesn`t really seem comfortable in this role and the writing is just out there. Probably the weakest aspect of the show for now.

Alice left a very clear message for Catherine. They seem to know each other in more than reputation. Unfortunately, the message was one that only they apparently understand. What do you think the cards Alice left for Catherine mean?

AH: I honestly have no idea what the cards mean, but I’m insanely curious to find out. To me, it did confirm that Alice and Catherine know each other. It just adds another layer to why I believe that Alice really is Beth. I think Catherine has known this whole time that Beth was alive. I suspect Catherine’s secrets are going to come crashing down around her sooner than later. While I don’t know the message Alice was trying to send I do think from the perspective of the writers it was symbolic of a house of cards crumbling. I’m very curious to find out exactly what the message means.

DC: I think the cards were a reminder to Catherine from Alice, that she’s back and she’s not going anywhere, which would indicate that Alice is indeed Beth. She’s telling Catherine that she knows some of Catherine’s secrets. Not sure what the specific cards mean, 2 of hearts - maybe indicates Beth and Kate as Thomas’ children, 3 of diamonds perhaps his wealth, the 8 of clubs has me stumped.

MP: It could be a date, a location, a room number, the possibilities are "endless". The writers are creating a big mystery surrounding Catherine and her involvement with Beth`s rescue mission/disappearance and I am here for all of it. I am intrigued to see how Catherine will respond/retaliate to this message.

Kate finally embraced her fate as Batwoman and was officially given her moniker by Sophie. What are your thoughts on her journey to becoming Batwoman? Do you think it happened too soon or not soon enough? What do you think about the new suit? Should it have been Sophie to name her or should that honor have gone to Kate? Do you think Sophie still has a suspicion that Kate is Batwoman?

AH: I was happy with how the series worked up to Kate accepting her role as Batwoman. I think it happened at the exact right time as it gave Rose the opportunity to grow into portraying Batwoman. By the time this episode ended, I finally began to understand the potential they saw in her when she was cast. It took her a bit of time to grow into being Kate and I think having Kate grow along with her probably helped a lot. Rose still has a lot of room to grow, but with each episode, she is improving and as long as she keeps doing that then in time I believe she will really and truly be an incredible Batwoman. I really like the new suit especially since the one it replaced was not at all visually pleasing. The new suit is a major upgrade. As for Kate finally being given the title as Batwoman, I’m really torn regarding Sophie being the one to give her the name. On one hand, down the road, when Sophie inevitably knows Kate is Batwoman and they are inevitably dating again (come on, we all know it will happen one day) it’ll probably be cute and really endearing. On the other hand, at this moment in time, it doesn’t feel right. It would have had a bigger impact if Mary or even Alice had given Kate the name. As for Sophie still thinking Kate is Batwoman, yeah, I think she does. There was a bit too much pride behind the way she named Batwoman for her not to have a feeling in her gut that she’s really Kate. But I don’t think she’s completely convinced just yet, but has very strong suspicions.

DC: I really like that they had Kate grow into the idea and be almost shoved into taking up her cousin’s mantel of the Bat. The timing was perfect instead of having Kate put on the suit and liking it and started going on patrol right away, she grew into the role brought about by her sense of responsibility and justice. Love the new suit, initially Kate in the costume seemed awkward, but with that red crest and the addition of the wig, for the first time, the character came to vivid life. Having Sophie name her robbed Kate of uttering that almost iconic declaration much like Batman in the movies, declaring, “I’m Batwoman.” I’m sure Sophie is convinced Kate is this new Batwoman, only because she knows Kate may be better than her own family.

MP: Batman`s presence is strongly looming over Kate and the show in general. The need to step out of that shadow was palpable throughout these first couple of episodes. The way it was done was smart and felt natural within the show’s parameters. The fact is Batman created enough enemies during his years of fighting crime and the idea of baddies coming for Gotham to lure him out made sense. While Kate`s initial mission wasn´t about saving Gotham, her actions can`t be why the people of Gotham are suffering. So, it was a good decision on the writer’s side.

This was the first episode to really have a villain other than Alice. The show is likely to follow in the footsteps of other CW DC shows and take on a villain of the week format. Do you want to see more Batman villains or would you like to see Kate build up her own mob of original enemies? What were your thoughts about Tommy Elliot aka Hush (Gabriel Mann) as the first villain of the week?

AH: I like the nostalgia of the occasional Batman villain, but they don’t need to happen frequently. It would be nice to see Batwoman take on new villains that come out of the woodwork to target her. Hush was a good enough villain to start with and the casting of Gabriel Mann was inspired. He clearly had fun with the character and made him interesting to watch. He put a little extra something into the character that really made him pop. I think they could have gone with a better villain that was more of a match for Kate, but I get that they wanted to start with an enemy close to Bruce to tie everything together. But I do hope that they start to branch out to original villains or at least those more tied to the Batwoman comics.

DC: I don’t mind the villain of the week format either original or from Batman lore. What I do want is the villains to be interesting and have purpose. Unless there is more to come from him, my initial thought is that Tommy Elliot comes across more as a petulant child than a serious villain. That said, it made sense that the first villain of the week that served the impetus that pushes Kate toward the suit, have a strong connection to Batman. Mann did well with what he was given, the question remains is this the last we’ve seen of him and Hush?

MP: If they can bring in amazing guest stars like Gabriel Mann, they can do as many Villains of the Week as they want. It is all about balance and storytelling. While the show is able to bring in enough variety and good developments while doing those villains, I don`t care who they are. As for Hush, Gabriel Mann was great in the role, he carries a great energy and really consumes the scenes he is in, certainly wouldn`t mind seeing him recur.

Which performer do you think delivered the most memorable performance in the episode? Why did their performance standout for you? What were their best scenes?

AH: Rachel Skarsten continues to knock it out of the park every week with her performance. Skarsten can switch between crazy Alice and vulnerable Alice in the blink of an eye in a way I’ve not seen a performer be able to successfully pull off in a very long time. In this episode, she had so many great scenes, but the one that really stood out was on the rooftop with Kate after she saved her. That was when the two sides of Alice were really visible, the side that cares for Kate and the side that is desperately trying to push her away always claiming to be crazy. There were these deep flashes of vulnerability that were quickly replaced by crazy eyes, but they happened. If Alice is Kate’s weakness, then Kate is Alice’s and neither likes being vulnerable. That is likely to keep leading to some fun push and pull between the two of them. Kate claimed she’d give up on Alice being her sister if she kept killing, but we all know that’s not true. She’ll never be able to give up on Alice especially when Alice keeps doing crazy things like saving her life. I also liked the scene when Alice was in Jacob and Catherine’s penthouse and found the box of stuff that Kate had been keeping relating to Beth. For a brief moment Alice finally realized that Kate really hadn’t given up on Beth. That is surely only going to add into the drama that is sure to be on the horizon for them. Alice is out for vengeance on those that gave up on Beth and knowing that Kate didn’t could challenge Alice’s conviction to make them all pay. Alice might be one of the richest characters to ever inhabit the CW DC Universe and in Skarsten’s hands, she’s likely only to keep growing each week. I also need to give an honorable mention to Nicole Kang who continues to impress me every week as Mary.

DC: For me Ruby Rose owned this episode from start to finish. We saw so many layers to Kate, from her interactions with her father, collaborating with Luke on whether to continue her cousin’s crusade, or flirting with Reagan. But where she really grabbed onto the character and made the role her own were as Kate in her scenes with Alice. The chemistry between Rose and Skarsten is insane and any scenes with the two of them have grown into some of the best of the series and just crackle with electricity, they bring out the best of both actresses. However, Rose really shined as we watched Kate reason through why she had to become the Bat and modify the iconic suit to make it her own. She dominated the screen stepping out of the darkness for the first time as Batwoman, strong and self-assured. This was the Batwoman we first met in the Elseworlds crossover and it’s going to be exciting watching her the rest of the season.

MP: Gabriel Mann for sure. He just was crazy enough to sell Hush`s tormented and obsessed mind. From the moment he entered the episode he was so into the character and his delusions and obsessions regarding Bruce.

Reader Question: Submitted by Ivan. When do we expect the season will catch up to real-time to be in time for the Crisis on Infinite Earths crossover and present-day overall? Because the show right now is set in the past.

AH: That is a good question and I wish I knew the exact answer. They took a good first step this week, but this Kate Kane is clearly not the same one we met in the crossover last year. She’s got a ton of growing to do and not much time to do it in, so I feel like a time jump could be in the cards either in the actual series or during the crossover. Either way, I’m excited to hopefully see a more mature Batwoman in the crossover.

DC: I think now that Kate has fully become Batwoman, things may accelerate, and a small-time jump will occur soon, bringing the show in line with the other shows during Crisis.

MP: I assume they might do a time jump ahead or within episode 8, just ahead of the crossover event. Do some sort of cliffhanger and then move ahead with a one-year time jump. We shall see though. They might not do a time jump at this moment as the show’s current storyline isn`t connected to the Crisis.

What are your final thoughts regarding this episode?

AH: This was a strong episode and Ruby Rose finally started to feel like the series lead this show needs. Rachel Skarsten has really been carrying the show up to this point and Rose needed to start to carry her own weight as the lead. I finally felt like she started to do that this week. As I said earlier, she’s still got room to improve, but she’s getting better each week. The story this week had a nice flow and I like how the show allows the characters to interact in different dynamics. A lot of the CW DC shows get locked into ruts where certain characters only interact with the same characters. I’m glad that for now these writers are exploring all the different dynamics and allowing the bonds to naturally grow. I’m excited to see what comes next.

DC: I am becoming more and more impressed with Batwoman each week. This week’s episode had a great script with complex twists and surprises, and the characters of Alice and Mary continued to evolve and be crowd-pleasers. But it was seeing Ruby Rose take command as both Kate Kane and Batwoman that were the highlights of Down, Down, Down for me.

MP: Another quite solid outing. The writing and storytelling were good and the world-building is quite satisfactory. Still, not the biggest fan of Ruby Rose in the role but she gets the job done. Nicole Kang is still quite the scene-stealer and I look forward to seeing her grow more as a character. The writers should give a bit more focus on their relationship.

Each week we will select one question from all of you to include in our roundtable. Please submit your questions in the comments section below.

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