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Batwoman - The Rabbit Hole - Review Roundtable: Waffles

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

Batwoman had a bit of an unsteady launch last week. This week the series released the second episode, The Rabbit Hole, below we will dive into specifics of the episode and give you our thoughts on everything. After reading our take on the below questions, please leave your own thoughts in the comments below.

Pilot episodes are notoriously usually one of the weakest episodes of a series. The second episode of any new show is when a series should really start settling into the story it wants to tell. Do you think this episode was an improvement over the series premiere? What did you see as the most improved aspects from the premiere? What do you think the show still needs to work on?

Aimee: I thought this was a monumental improvement over the series premiere. Just about everything was better. In fact, in my opinion, the network would have been better to launch the series as a two-hour premiere instead of letting the mediocre pilot sit as the sole ambassador of the show for an entire week. If this episode is any indication, the pilot did not do the series justice in the least. Nearly every aspect of the episode showed improvement over the pilot. The relationships felt stronger to the point that emotional beats hit hard. Visually the show is looking better. It’s clear they had a bigger budget for this episode than the pilot and they used their budget wisely. With that said they can still improve on some of the visuals since some of them aren’t quite up to par just yet. The Sophie (Meagan Tandy) and Kate (Ruby Rose) dynamic still feels a bit disconnected, but that could be by design as the writers try to figure out how to ramp up their inevitable story to reunite them as lovers. All around this was just a night and day difference from the pilot.

Donna: To be honest, I was not overly impressed on first viewing of this episode. Then, after realizing my opinion may have been influenced by being exhausted following an exhausting six-hour drive I watched it again. Upon second viewing, I can honestly say this episode was a marked improvement over the first. The visuals were sharper, sets more upscale and the storytelling was much better crafted. They are not wasting time interweaving a complex storyline and most of the characterizations were much better. For Ruby Rose we are getting much closer to the Batwoman I wrote about wanting to see in last week’s roundtable. Most other characterizations continue to grow, however, there are some that still need work. Scenes between Kate and her father and Kate and Sophie are just not hitting me with the emotional punch the dialogue is calling for. Some of the action and fight sequences seem clunky in spots and will hopefully come together as actors perhaps not known for action roles get used to the more physical aspects of their characters. I’m not going to single out those with Ruby Rose, however, giving them a break as her scenes were probably filmed not long after her surgery for her back/neck injury and she was being cautious in her movements.

Ellys: Huge improvements all around! The same writer and the same director as the pilot, but the episode felt brand new. A proper budget surely helped, but there’s just a higher level of care in every fiber of the show. The artist in my soul loved all the gorgeous, crisp visuals. We got much more heart too. While the pilot told us repeatedly how characters were connected and what they were doing, the second episode allows the cast to inhabit those characters and show us their bonds. I am very concerned the show is rushing through plot, undercutting some of what should be its most powerful moments, but the quality overall took such a leap forward that it gives me a little more confidence in the direction the show is going.

Marko: It was a decent follow up to the premiere, they worked on the character dynamics and relationships and deepened the mystery, trying to develop a connection so we as viewers would care about what goes down. And while it did a good job in that regard, the knife plot hole irked me badly. Like why didn`t Kate just take the knife to a different Lab and ask for DNA material. It was all very gullible.

Kate and Alice are clearly the hero and perceived villain of the series, but it was also revealed that there is another party at play that may put even Alice’s gang to shame. At some point, the twins may be forced into an uneasy union to survive their new common enemy. Do you see any scenario where the twins could end up working together?

AH: I believe that what Alice (Rachel Skarsten) wants more than anything is to have her sister by her side. With the introduction of a common enemy, one that doesn’t seem too keen on letting Alice live, I do see the potential for Kate to agree to fight with her sister if for no other reason than to protect her. Kate sees how twisted Alice is, but she is also one of the very few that can see past Alice and see Beth. That fact will, without doubt, be Kate’s Achilles heel when it comes to conflicts. That was already made pretty clear in this episode where she picked Alice over her own father. She’ll literally use herself as a human shield for Alice if that is what a situation calls for. From Kate’s perspective, she wants to get Beth back from the clutches of Alice, so I believe that she’ll take any opportunity presented to her to work with her sister. I think they’ll keep putting the sisters in these positions where Alice is trying to corrupt Kate while Kate is trying to rehabilitate Beth. It’s sure to make for some brilliant scenes between the two.

DC: I can see a scenario where Kate and Alice end up working together, in fact, they already have with the scene in the park and the accident afterward on the bridge. I think they may find they have to bond together to fight a common enemy to protect the thing dearest to them, family, when someone threatens that. While we know Alice is evil and a villain, people forget that at her core Batwoman isn’t a full-blown hero either. While her motives often fall on the right side of the law, Batwoman uses methods and techniques which circumvent the law. It wouldn’t be too far a stretch to say there may even be a time when Kate, Alice and Mary (Nicole Kang) all team up to defeat a common foe or to prove a point to their father/stepfather. Kate knows Alice is evil but a big part of her wants to believe the sister she knew is in there. Alice doesn’t like to share her family so may resent Mary for a while, but I can envision a scenario where she and Mary team up to save Kate.

EC: It’s curious and curiouser. The very fact that Catherine (Elizabeth Anweis) is a common enemy of Alice and Batwoman is almost a freak coincidence. I’m going to sound like a broken record throughout this roundtable, but I am very surprised by how swiftly the show is reuniting Beth and Kate. If the tension of at least one of them unknowingly being the other’s enemy isn’t the central conflict of Batwoman’s first season, then what is? With them both knowing the truth now, they will most likely align sooner rather than later.

MP: There certainly are some parallels between Kate and Alice and Oliver Queen (Stephen Amell) and Malcolm Merlyn (John Barrowman). And in the long run I could see Alice being an ally for convenience. At this point,
I am still wary about who Alice really is and what the end goal in her play is. It will be interesting to see how far they can push Alice as a villain and keep the show interesting.

Kate agreed with her father that Alice is mentally unstable, but she insists that under the insanity of Alice the Beth they both knew and loved still lives on. On occasion, there are glimpses of that person hiding under the persona of Alice. The CW DC universe loves a good redemption arc, do you think Alice should be redeemed? Can the writers ever properly redeem her given what all she has done?

AH: Clearly Beth went through a lot and until we know why she adopted the persona of Alice it’s hard to say for sure if she can be redeemed, but I would like to see them try sometime in the future. She wouldn’t be the first character in the CW DC Universe to be a killer turned good should the writers go that route. There is a huge unknown timeframe that the audience nor Kate knows anything about. Beth somehow survived the crash and from the way Alice described things she was in mortal danger as the car sank. Someone had to have saved her, but who? And why? The identity of that person, or people, might be the key to how Alice came to be. So, I do think the potential setup is there for her to be redeemed as she didn’t start off her life inherently bad or evil, but circumstances led her to the darkness. We got to see flashes of humanity hiding under the Alice persona, so I think Kate was right when she said that Beth is still inside Alice somewhere. The big question will be if Kate can reach her in time before their father decides he’s had enough and lets her be killed. Alice is a complex character who seems to be well aware of her own mental illness, but she has learned to embrace it to survive. So, can Alice be properly redeemed to ever be considered a hero? The short of it, is, yes. If the writers want to redeem her at some point down the road I think in the hands of the right writers playing into the incredible range Rachel Skarsten has Alice could very well have one of the best redemption stories that could even rival the brilliant one the Arrow writers did for Laurel/Black Siren (Katie Cassidy Rodgers). But something like that is likely quite a long time off as the writers are only just now diving into the depths of darkness that has consumed Beth. I suspect we’ll see a lot more chaos and mayhem from Alice before redemption ever becomes an option.

DC: I think Alice may be too far gone to be totally redeemed. Some of her actions such as slitting the throats of the police officers in the pilot and the couple in the second episode may have taken Alice too far over the edge for redemption. However, if it were revealed Alice’s mind had been tampered with after the accident and the effects could be reversed, an attempt at redemption could be an interesting storyline for them to follow. I do hope they find some way to keep Rachel Skarsten around. Her scenes with Ruby Rose in both episodes that have already aired are some of the best of the series. The two actresses seem to bring out the best of each other when sharing a scene.

EC: I have a million Alice questions. Where has she been for 15 years, and why did she come out to play now? What does she want from Kate? Their reunion scene in the park is just as much torture for Kate as it is for us, because Alice teases Kate with the possibility that she could be lying or could just be some poor crazy girl who decided one day she was the long-lost Beth. There is no reason that redemption couldn’t be a possible path for Alice.

MP: While I still ain`t convinced this really is Beth, in my weird speculating mind this still could be an imposter who spent time with Beth after the crash and after losing her is on a rampage against her family, a redemption at this point seems unlikely. Repentance maybe but real redemption doesn`t seem in the cards as she is a well-known villain. Reintegrating Alice/Beth into society would be an impossible task.

It was revealed that likely Catherine Hamilton-Kane (Elizabeth Anweis) staged the DNA results regarding Beth’s supposed death. What do you think she is up to? Who is she working for? What do you think she has to gain from keeping Alice from her family and the twins from reconnecting?

AH:I honestly have no idea who she may be working for. We still don’t have enough clues to really narrow that down just yet, but she’s clearly not doing this on her own. The flashback made it seem like Catherine took a very personal interest in helping to find Beth and then it was her investigators who supposedly found Beth’s bones and who supposedly identified them as Beth. Plus, let’s be honest, it is no coincidence that Catherine ended up married to Jacob (Dougray Scott). There is a bigger agenda at play here and the fact she had her people attack Kate to retrieve the dagger and is very likely behind Alice’s near-death says that whatever she is up to involves the twins not reuniting and Jacob not accepting the truth. I’m not sure what she has to gain from keeping the twins apart, but I suspect that when things start to be revealed we’ll learn that Catherine played some part in Beth becoming Alice. The series started off making the audience believe that Alice and her gang were the big bad evil doers of Gotham, and while they aren’t generally good people, there would seem to be an even bigger bad yet to be revealed.

DC: I’m not 100% convinced that Catherine is working for anyone but herself. To me, her goal is one thing and one thing only, power. I called it last week that she was somehow involved in all of this. It would not be surprising to learn this has been a long-term goal of hers and that she may have been involved in the initial accident that killed Kate’s mother. Now it may be a bizarre form of family revenge in keeping Alice and her family, and Alice and Kate apart. Reuniting the two sisters means less of the Kane fortune to share for her and Mary, whom she thinks is easily manipulated.

EC: Catherine doesn’t strike me as someone bad to the bone, but her extreme actions are either the result of her own instability or a truly atrocious secret she’s covering up. Catherine could have staged the evidence of Beth’s death because she felt it was the only way that Jacob and Kate would be able to move on. If that were the extent of her involvement, though, it wouldn’t explain why she is going to such lengths. There has to be more to it than wanting to save her marriage with Jacob. The only possible conclusion I can reach is that she is somehow more responsible for Beth’s current condition than has been revealed so far.

MP: Catherine`s gameplay is a big mystery. I wouldn`t be surprised if she and Alice are working for the same Boss, though. At this point, there is too little information to have a clear vision of where her story goes, but she certainly has some dirt on her fingers regarding the accident and the search party afterward. One bad deed and you work your whole life on covering it up.

Secret identities were a big aspect of this episode. Mary was trying to protect her identity as the person running the clinic. Kate avoided telling Mary the truth despite what happened to her because of Alice. Kate also lied to Sophie after being asked point-blank if she was the Bat that saved her. Alice was actually the only one who was fairly open about her true identity, even if the truth was hidden in some riddles. Now only Alice and Kate seem to know the truth about everyone else. Do you think the writers let Kate and Alice learn the truth about each other too early in the series? How could that impact things going forward? How long do you think Mary and Sophie should be kept in the dark?

AH: At the end of the first episode I thought it was perhaps a bit early for Kate to figure out the truth. Then the second episode made a strong case for why letting each other know the truth was a good idea. By them knowing from the start it allows the writers to spend less time on silly storylines with them trying to hide their identities and focus on the core, emotional heart of their complicated dynamic. The truth gives them each power over the other in very different and complex ways. As for Mary and Sophie, they definitely need to be let in on the secret sooner than later. Sadly, the writers appear to be going the route of the love interest being kept in the dark plot that has been way overdone, which seems absurd since Sophie seems more than capable of taking care of herself. So I suspect Sophie will be one of the last ones to learn the truth at some point in the future. Mary needs to be let in on the secret because that is the only way she and Kate are going to be able to connect. Plus, Kate already knows Mary’s big secret and keeping Mary in the dark puts her in a precarious position to keep coming up as Alice’s target since Alice does know the truth. Mary will be safer when she knows and will be in a better position to help Kate. And since Mary’s mom seems poised to be revealed to have sinister intentions it’ll be in Kate’s best interest to buddy up with Mary now. Every good Arrowverse hero and heroine have a group of people around them that know the truth. The writers need to rapidly work towards giving that to Kate. Spending too much time building up the hero’s team has hurt many of the CW DC shows. Better to pull Kate’s team together now so they can spend more time focused on the important parts of the story.

DC: At first, I thought it might have been a little early for Kate and Alice to learn each other’s identity but now I’m not so sure. There is also the possibility that Alice really isn’t Beth and is a maniacal puppet that has been set loose to cause chaos for the Kane family. While Sophie is suspicious, I think Mary will discover Kate’s secret or be brought into the Bat cave first. Mary may understand Kate’s gray areas more than Sophie. It’s already been proven Kate can’t trust Sophie with a secret from the way she’s betrayed Kate’s trust at least twice already in the series.

EC: I don’t know if I see the value in Alice learning that Kate is Batwoman so early. Alice’s reaction and subsequent note (a great nod to the comics) would have packed a punch had they come later. As it happens in this episode, Batwoman rescuing Alice feels nice, but there were no tears in my eyes, even as I acknowledged what a cool, well-crafted scene it was. This understanding doesn’t feel earned and will likely only make any upcoming Batwoman/Alice conflicts feel more frustrating. As for whether Mary and Sophie should find out, I have a different opinion for each. I was amused that Sophie immediately suspected Kate of being Batwoman and immediately accepted Kate’s denial. Either Sophie is perceptive, or she isn’t. Characters who only serve a purpose of being love interests aren’t my favorites, so Sophie is going to need a lot more than pretending-to-not-pine-for-Kate to make her a solid character. Kate had some great scenes with Mary this week, and I want to see their friendship grow as sisters and themselves before Mary learns about Batwoman.

MP: Considering the sisterly theme Mary seems like a more likely character to find out the truth than any other character. As for if the writers made the right decision with playing their cards open this early it is too early to tell. While it gives them more space for the emotional moves, the bigger question is how long they can play it and keep it interesting. It is all up to the writers to keep the game interesting.

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: It must be a tie again between Rachel Skarsten and Nicole Kang. They are truly the two most valuable performers on this series at the moment. For Rachel, her best scene was Alice in the park with Kate. The way Skarsten can shift through very conflicting emotions in the blink of an eye is impressive. The writers have given her very challenging material to work with and she not only nails it, but she elevates it. Every scene she is in is memorable. The scene in the water after Batwoman rescued her was also a very good moment for her. It is not easy to keep your eyes open underwater yet alone pour so much emotion into them. For a brief moment, I believe the audience got to see the Beth that Kate knew. The way she had Alice reach up and capture Kate’s face in her hands allowed the audience to really feel the connection they were experiencing in that moment. Both scenes were particularly powerful and brilliant displays of the wide range Skarsten has.

Nicole Kang also delivered some strong performances, but her scene at the clinic with Kate after the attack was particularly impactful. Mary wants a sister more than anything and she thought she had that in Kate. Since Kate knew her secret she thought that it would give them something to bond over and instead it almost got her killed and in her eyes, it was all for nothing. The truth is, knowing Mary’s secret seems to be bringing Kate closer to her step-sister, but Mary can’t see if because Kate is hiding behind Batwoman. They have a very complex dynamic and it’ll be interesting to see how that evolves, but for the purposes of this scene, Kang delivered a really powerful performance. It was impossible to not feel Mary’s disappointment and frustration as she spoke to Kate with tears in her eyes. Then the way she walked away with such certainty made it feel like for the time being Mary was the one shutting the door on their sisterly bonding. It was a standout moment for Kang.

DC: Rachel Skarsten was the MVP of this episode displaying an amazing range of emotions of her mentally unbalanced character. Her work and diatribe during the show’s twisted take on Alice’s tea party was masterful and maniacal as she skirted the edge of control. Later, she made you almost feel sorry for Alice during her meeting with Kate near the waffle stand. You could feel the emotion of a sister desperate for attention as she challenged Kate, trying to make her believe they were indeed sisters. She was going so far as to give Kate her DNA when the Crows arrived to disrupt the moment. That heartfelt scene at the waffle stand was stellar work from both actresses and clearly the outstanding moment of the episode for me.

EC: Dougray Scott, Gracyn Shinyei, Nicole Kang, Ruby Rose, and Rachel Skarsten brought their A-game in this episode. The flashback scenes of Jacob and young Kate (Shinyei) leaning on each other to survive their grief gave much-needed weight to the present-day rift between them. Mary getting real with Kate about how Kate’s rejection affected her and how ironic it was that Alice would see Mary as sisterly competition was some more outstanding work from Kang. The real love story in Batwoman Season One just became Kate and Mary, and it’s a love that can help them both grow. This part of the story also shines a light on part of Kate that is flawed, how she has difficulty being able to see other people’s pain through the haze of her own. The waffle stand reunion in the cluttered, dismal park was equally moving. Skarsten lets Alice ramble on and on but breaks unexpectedly into what could be the Beth part of herself. The near-hysteria and sorrow when she told Kate she kept calm in the sinking car because she knew someone would surely be coming to save her. This scene also brings additional excellent work from Rose as Kate tries as hard as she can to not act too hopeful, to stay in control of the situation. She is both horrified and eager, hanging on to every word that Alice speaks.

MP: Mary Hamilton is a lowkey favorite in my opinion. Nicole Kang brings a dose of neutrality and reality to the show, and her balance between Clinic Mary and in front of Catherine Mary is just a delight. Otherwise, Rachel Skarsten getting deep into Alice`s mental issue is a pure please to watch.

Reader submitted question by @Rover223 on Twitter: Why aren't the effects of injuries more lingering? If you've ever been in a bare-knuckle fight, you just don't get up and walk away, you're sore-even when you win.

AH: That is an excellent question and one I’ve thought about myself. Kate has taken some serious blows and there haven’t really been any long-lasting signs of those injuries. Especially since the show setup Mary with her own clinic you’d think the writers would want to take advantage of Kate having an illegal underground clinic to go to. I hope that in time they’ll get better at showing injuries and the lasting repercussions.

DC: Great question, one I asked myself last week when we saw Kate get bashed on the side of her head with the bat and come out of it without so much as a cut, stitch or bruise. As Batwoman she is likely to earn more bumps, bruises, cuts, and injuries, and having a doctor in the family running an underground clinic would be the perfect tie in every time she needed patching up. Unlike some other DC superheroes, she doesn’t have superpowers and she does bruise and bleed, I think they need to show that to remind us that she’s human but has a support system in Mary available to patch her up when injured.

EC: Mary got a Band-Aid in this episode! She had some medical gauze tape stuff wrapped around her arm. Unless a character’s scars are a particular part of who their character is, as with Oliver in Arrow, injuries will rarely appear visibly past a single episode. Batwoman seems particularly averse to any type of bruising or swelling. It’s true these situations require additional makeup effects and present continuity challenges. They may have decided they didn’t want that extra hassle at this point. As for other symptoms of injury such as limpness and soreness, those could show up in later episodes, or we could be asked to suspend disbelief and accept that everyone on the show has amazing regenerative powers.

MP: Rarely Superhero shows address this issue, most of the time they get a good beating and start throwing punches 10 minutes after it. The reason why the characters are so “resistant” is to keep the flow of the show going. Them recuperating a day or two after each fight would take too much time from the storytelling.

What are your final thoughts regarding this episode?

AH: Whereas the pilot was mediocre at best this was a standout episode where all of the performers really felt like they were comfortable in the skin of their character. I was impressed by how deep the story went and how much information they are revealing while still keeping plenty of tantalizing secrets close to the proverbial vest. The pacing of the episode was perfectly arranged and the writing was tight and the acting was perfectly executed. If this is the benchmark then this series has all the makings to best its CW DC sibling shows.

DC: Overall the writing, acting, and production values were greatly improved in this episode. The tight storytelling and characterization growth are showing flashes of the show that got everyone so excited when it was first announced. Hopefully, they will take their time with the storytelling and not rush characters into doing things too early. It was a great step forward for the show into taking its place as a solid addition to the CW DC superhero family.

EC: Worlds away from the pilot yet still burning through story at a reckless pace, I expect Batwoman to put the Alice story on the backburner soon to focus on the other villains and capers they have in store. I can’t wait for more character relationship development scenes, and I hope that both Sophie and Luke (Camrus Johnson) get brought off the one-note sidekick bench before midseason.

MP: All around a solid outing. It worked on many levels and added substance to characters and story. The show being able to work all their characters into an episode and provide them valuable screen time is important in the long run.

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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