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Batwoman - A Mad Tea-Party - Review Roundtable: Dark Days

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

Batwoman’smid-season finale delivered a powerful episode inA Mad Tea-Party that set things up for the upcoming crossover and all the drama to come when the show returns in January. Continue reading below to find out our thoughts on the episode. After reading, please leave your own thoughts in the comments.

In typical Arrowverse fashion, this week’s episode provided yet another prime example of why it is dangerous to be a parent on one of these shows. Of the two parents on the show, one ended up framed for murder and the other dead. What do you think the bigger ramifications will be in the wake of Catherine (Elizabeth Anweis)’s death and Jacob (Dougray Scott)’s arrest? Were you surprised that they killed off Catherine?

Aimee: I’ve watched enough of the Arrowverse shows to not be surprised in the least that a parent didn’t survive beyond the first half of the first season. What I am surprised about was that they didn’t drag out Catherine’s story just a little longer. They set up a lot of great things and didn’t follow through on them to the extent I would have liked to have seen. Many things were left up in the air. I was, however, surprised that Jacob was arrested. That was an interesting twist, but it likely won’t take long for the writers to get him out of jail and on the warpath after Alice (Rachel Skarsten). At least they set him up for an interesting plot in the back half of the season.

Donna: For one of the few times this season the show managed to surprise me by killing Catherine. This blew my theory that Catherine was, in reality, the mysterious entity pulling the strings of a conspiracy to destroy the Kane family, out of the water. She appeared to be calculating and devious enough. Now that being said, this bizarre idea has popped in my head, and I can’t get it out. Here’s a wild what if? I’ve got just enough doubt in my mind to wonder, what if Catherine’s “death” is an elaborate ruse by Catherine and she’s not among the dearly departed. I know, I know, it’s way out there! I think Batwoman is the one who will ultimately find the evidence to clear Jacob. Now, the more plausible thing is Catherine is really dead. What does this mean for Mary (Nicole Kang)? Does her mother’s death put her at the head of the family empire? What will Mary do now that she has the means to fully fund her clinic? Will she turn to Jacob to help run the company or remain bitter that a member of his family cost her both her only parent and her place in the Kane family?

Ellys: The theatrics of the death overpowered the parts of me that wanted to analyze its narrative shortcomings. Having processed the dramatic and emotional flair that made the scene itself good, I must acknowledge that I barely feel anything about Catherine being dead because she was a shell of a character. I have been grasping at straws for the entire season, hoping that something would be uncovered that would deepen our knowledge of who Catherine is or even make us care about her. Killing her both does and doesn’t feel like the show wasting a character, because there was never any solid indication the show would meaningfully incorporate her. However, Anweis does some nice work at the end trying to give Catherine what the show never did.

Alice really leaned into the darkness this week and for a brief moment almost took Kate (Ruby Rose) with her. Do you think this was the final straw that makes Alice unredeemable? Can she come back from the murder of Catherine? Do you think anyone will even try to help her anymore after this? Is this the point she becomes a true big bad? Do you think there is any shred of redemption left in her after this?

AH: The one thing I have learned from watching Arrowverse shows is that just when you think someone has done something that makes them irredeemable the writers do something completely absurd to start them down a redemption arc. So, while on the surface Alice is now beyond redemption, I would bet money that a redemption arc is plotted out for her at some point in the future. Because of that, I can’t say she is completely beyond redemption. As for can she come back from what she did? That is a trickier thing to answer. Even if Alice is one day redeemed that is likely to haunt her, so while I think she can one day overcome the stigma of what she did I do think it’ll live with her. That is pending she survives everything coming her way now that she doesn’t really have anyone on the outside looking after her. She got her wish from the early part of the season and completely alienated her father and sister. And, let’s face it, Mouse (Sam Littlefield) won’t have her back forever. He will inevitably be killed off or betray her and then she really will be on her own. I think she’ll be the Big Bad of the series for a bit until a bigger worse Big Bad comes along.

DC: I would be hard-pressed to see a path to redemption for Alice. I think she’s finally burned all her bridges. While she’s genuinely a psychopath, I’m not convinced she will be the Big Bad for the remainder of the season. Alice’s only glimmer, and a faint one at that, of redemption may come in saving Batwoman at some point by taking her to the one person who hates her worse than anyone, at the moment, Mary.

EC: Redemption and death mean little in the Arrowverse. The bigger question isn’t what the murder means for Alice but what it means for everyone else. Alice revealed in this episode she spent eleven years as the prisoner of Mouse’s father. The show isn’t done giving us reasons to sympathize with Alice, and I don’t think they will commit to making her the Big Bad. She will probably do other awful things, but the show doesn’t want to frame them as truly awful things. It will skip over them. A true Big Bad is waiting in the wings. Alice is losing her menace with every second.

Mary and Kate both lost their entire family this week. They even lost each other. What do you think comes next for these two? What will it take for them to come back together? Can Batwoman help Mary heal and bring her back to Kate? Or will the Batwoman secret Kate is carrying just cause a bigger divide between them?

AH: I think they’ll unite again, but they’ll spend a bit of time apart trying to figure themselves out and understand the new reality they both live in. Mary is even more alone than Kate, so I suspect Kate will keep a very watchful eye on her as Batwoman. I think that Batwoman might make more frequent visits to the clinic now. Perhaps the heroine and the doctor may even bond in a way that Kate and Mary have been unable to because of Kate’s secrets. I think that Kate will use Batwoman to try to push Mary back into her life. It may even work until Mary one day learns the truth and feels betrayed leading to another round of isolation for them both. I think, and dare to even hope, that Kate will fight to fix things with Mary even if it must be done with her hiding under the guise of Batwoman.

DC: Mary and Kate are both in pain and at a time when they should be supporting one another, they’ll push each other away. Kate may try to reach out to comfort Mary, the latter will lash out at Kate and her family. Where Kate fails, Batwoman may have greater success at reaching Mary. She may be the one who can provide Mary some level of comfort or at least someone to confide in. This may bring some insight and comfort to both women. Depending on how Mary learns about Kate’s secret identity, there is potential for more drama and dissension between the two.

EC: I do not expect Mary to move past this quickly. Her relationship with Kate, as far as we’ve been shown, never amounted to anything more than politeness. It is essentially nonexistent. The irony is that it was Alice who brought Kate and Mary the closest they had ever been. She kickstarted their sisterhood by kidnapping Sophie and injuring Kate, which makes me think that Sophie may be the one to bring Mary and Kate back together...just because narratively that would bring things full circle.

Nobody survived this episode without their life in shambles. Sophie (Meagan Tandy) was no exception. In the wake of the Kate revelation last week her husband laid it all on the line. Even some bonding while restrained together wasn’t enough to bring them back together. When the episode ended, Sophie’s life was a mess. Her husband essentially left her and Kate has pushed her away. What do you think will happen with Sophie when the season resumes in January?

AH: I can’t believe I’m saying this, but I actually feel bad for Tyler (Greyston Holt). He was put in an impossible situation where he still clearly loves his wife, but because of that love he knows he must set her free so she can understand what she wants. I really liked all the interactions these two had this week. It nicely set up a potential shift in the storyline for Sophie in the back half of the season where she is going to have to stop running from her feelings for Kate and confront them head-on. And I’d like to see Tyler stick around but being around Sophie may be too much for him now. After this week, I wouldn’t be opposed if they work things out and get their marriage back on track. It would free up a spot for Kate to get a love interest that Rose has stronger chemistry with. However, I realistically know that won’t happen. The writers will keep pushing Sophie and Kate until they figure out how in the world they are going to make a relationship work between them in the long term on screen.

DC: To be honest, I have very little invested in this character and her relationships and hope we see less of her in the foreseeable future. I’ve just not cared for the character or the way she has been written since the show began. I have come to conclude that it’s not Tandy’s fault, she is doing the best she can with the material they are giving her.

EC: Sophie and her husband spent nearly the whole episode trapped in chairs, and their scenes were absolutely lifeless. The less said the better. Someone give these two kids a divorce. I can’t remember a single time ever in the history of TV where two characters (romantically or platonically related) were tied up back-to-back and the result was scenes this devoid of all chemistry.

The episode ended with the first tease of Crisis on Infinite Earths, what do you think Kate’s role will be in the crossover? What would you like to see happen with Kate during the crossover event? She ended the mid-season finale of her show with her life in shambles. Do you think the crossover will pick up right after these events?

AH: I think Kate is going to play a big role in the crossover. They have teased her a lot in the promos, and she has a prominent place on the poster. But as to exactly what she’ll be up to, I’m not real sure just yet. I do hope, however, that reconnecting with Kara (Melissa Benoist) might provide her with a sounding board to figure out how to be a hero and not shut everyone out. I hope to see a lot of growth out of Kate during the crossover. I’m quite curious to see how she moves on from the mess her life was left in at the end of this episode. As for the timeline, the only thing we know for sure is the show caught up to Elseworlds which happened over a year ago. I am curious if we’ll see the Kate we know or a future version of her.

DC: I think Batwoman’s role in the crossover will serve as her official indoctrination into the Arrowverse. The challenges she faces then may prove to Kate that she is a hero and deserves to wear the cape. Hopefully, the aftermath of the crossover will serve as a sort of reboot for the parts of the show that are working. One thing I am looking forward to is her interactions with Supergirl/Kara. The two shared a very nice chemistry in last year’s crossover and crossovers between the two shows would be fun to watch.

EC: Somebody needs their Superfriends. I would love to see Kate get to hang with Alex (Chyler Leigh) and Kara on Supergirl a bit. However, considering that she’s grieving and spiraling, I expect her entire Batwoman arc to be ignored for the purposes of the crossover. She’ll just kick some ass and say some quippy things, walk by occasionally in a shot.

Reader Question: Submitted by Ivan. With the tease of the name Safiyah, the leader of The Many Arms of Death organization from the comics, as well as having one of its members, The Rifle, do you hope they become Season 2's Big Bad or do you want Alice to remain as the Big Bad?

AH: Honestly, until this question, I didn’t even understand the name that was said let alone the meaning of who she is in the greater comic lore. But I would welcome a new big bad that would potentially force Alice and her sister and father to forge a very uneasy alliance. I am rooting for Alice to not become a true Big Bad, but with each passing episode that is becoming harder and harder. So, I hope there is some big thing on the horizon for Alice that forces her to start trying to heal herself and change her ways. With all that said, I welcome a new Big Bad if for no other reason than to breathe a breath of fresh air into this show. That isn’t something I should have to be saying only eight episodes into a new show, but it already could use an infusion of life.

DC: Again, not being deeply versed in DC canon, I don’t know enough about the character and his/her story to comment. The show needs to straighten out the holes in its storytelling before bringing in too many overly complicated Big Bads.

EC: Alice doesn’t have the narrative or backstory oomph to make her an effective Big Bad. Safiyah better show up in the back half of the season to bring that. Casting will be everything. Everything.

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: This is a tough one. Rose, Skarsten, and Kang were all incredible. I must go with Kang, but she only just barely edged out the other two women who each delivered very strong performances. Kang has been a standout on this show from the start. We’ve seen her doctor side and her social media influencer side, but in this episode, we really got to see into the core of the character. Through an amazing performance by Kang the audience got to be right there with Mary as she went through the worst day of her life as she lost everything and everyone she loves. When she confronted Kate, it was heartbreaking. Kang has been and continues to be the best surprise within this series and I’ll forever be grateful to this show for giving this gifted actress a platform to showcase her talent to the masses. Now, the writers just need to keep giving Kang this strong material to work with so we can all sit back and marvel at her talent.

DC: Hands down the MVP of the episode was Kang. Her painful rebuke of Kate when trying to convince her to attend the gala for her was a heartbreaking moment. Her desperation to get Kate to choose her was masterfully played. Then, she was even better in her sequence with Skarsten, expertly going toe to toe with Alice while trying to save her mother. Time and again, Kang has been a standout on the show and the writers and producers would be smart to utilize her more post-crisis.

EC: Every second of the scene between Kang and Skarsten. The lighting of the scene too. The way the darkness pools around the floor where Mary is holding Catherine and the shadows infringe on Alice’s spotlight moment. It’s Kang who must make us feel Alice’s cruelty and wrongdoing because Skarsten is just doing her usual deranged, heartbroken, cunning performance. Watching Mary cross each step of realization that her mother is going to die…...there’s a reason that we aren’t shown the in-the-moment reactions of anyone else. We don’t even see Jacob react to being told his wife is dead. Mary is simply the most versatile character the show has. And what a chance for Kang’s consistent A-game to take center stage!

What are your final thoughts regarding this episode? What are your predictions for what will happen in the last half of the season?

AH: It was a decent enough mid-season finale. It wasn’t anything groundbreaking or spectacular, but at least it didn’t backtrack on quality. This show seriously suffers from not being able to find its narrative and a serious lack of consistency. Some episodes are amazing while others simply just fall flat. The show just doesn’t have a good flow and when it gets in a groove with a couple good episodes it always inevitably drops off. My big hope for the back half of the season is that with Crisis out of the way the show will have more freedom to play and really develop a strong narrative. I think the fact Crisis is looming has kept the writers boxed in as to what they could and couldn’t do. With that done and out of the way when the show returns, I really hope the writers let loose and start writing this show in a way it can capitalize on all the amazing potential it has. Rose and the entire cast have found their rhythm with their characters. Now we just need the writers to step up and give them the material they need to really make these characters shine and live up to their full potential. Also, I really hope to see a lot more of Julia (Christina Wolfe). I don’t care how the writers do it, but she needs to return as soon as possible when the show returns. And, please, let Sophie go on a journey of self-discovery before trying to hook her up with Kate again. In the meantime, give Kate some real viable love interests, like Julia or even the return of Reagan (Brianne Howey). I also hope they give Batwoman some good foes to do battle with that challenge her and aren’t easily beaten, but that she can eventually beat on her own. This show has so much potential, but far too often I see it being criminally squandered.

DC: It has been a rocky first half of the season. At times we were shown the show could be brilliant when it wanted to, unfortunately, we were given more mediocracy than that brilliance. The storytelling has been all over the place; we’ve had uninteresting characters forced upon us while clear standouts were pushed to the sidelines and not given the chance to shine as much as they should. I’ve said repeatedly I want to see the self-assured Kate and commanding Batwoman that we saw from Elseworlds. Hopefully, the life-changing challenges she is likely to experience in Crisis will give birth to that Kate and Batwoman.

EC: This was a quiet episode. It couldn’t be anything but with nearly all the characters in one helpless situation or another. I don’t feel this show has enough of an established sense of itself that I am able to predict where it will go. Hopefully, freed of needing to hold back for the crossover, the show will find its courage and rake into the world of the show and who the characters are. My hopes aren’t high, but I also feel that there’s just one or two changes that could transform the show and make it into something more entertaining. I want to want to tune in each week. To conclude, I can’t believe there was only one cup of tea at Alice’s party and no cakes or hats even!

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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