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Batwoman - An Un-Birthday Present - Review Roundtable: The Birth of Alice



This review was written by Aimee Hicks, Donna Cromeans (DJRiter), and Marko Pekic. Writer Ellys Cartin was unable to join us this week.

Batwoman is two for two coming back from its winter break with some of the best material this series has produced to date. If this trend continues the theory that Crisis on Infinite Earths was holding this show back might be confirmed. Continue reading below to find out our thoughts on the episode. After reading, please leave your own thoughts in the comments.


This week we got to see the exact moment that Beth became Alice. Does knowing everything that made Beth into Alice change your thoughts on her? Do you agree with Sophie that Beth is still inside Alice? Or is Alice right that Beth never made it out of that basement?

Aimee: I stand by all my prior statements that Alice was mentally abused, and she developed this Alice persona to survive. It is truly as if two personalities inhabit the same body and we got to see the moment that Alice came into existence. Also, I must give a shout out to Ava Sleeth who plays Young Beth, she has been great at capturing Skarsten’s mannerisms, but she took it to a whole new level when Beth became Alice. There was a brief moment when Sleeth just shut Beth down and then she allowed the audience to see the moment Alice emerged. The way Sleeth played it makes me think Beth is still alive and well inside Alice. It is just going to come down to whether or not Kate can ever find a way to reach her. So, I do agree with Sophie and I think she was on the right track to try to get through to Beth. That scared little girl is still inside Alice and the thought of that terrifies Alice because letting Beth back out means dealing with things she clearly doesn’t want to deal with.

Donna: I’m of the opinion that any goodness or remnants of Beth did die in the basement. Any humanity in her was destroyed by the horrors and torture she endured. Now she has only two emotions, anger and revenge. The only glimmer of humanity she has in her is her twin connection to her sister. Even that is growing thin and will be tested after the arrival of this new Beth.

Marko: Honestly it is a bit of both. Beth is trapped in that basement, but this basement is somewhere buried within Alice. Alice became the monster she is because of the torture and heartache she went through in that basement and she’ll carry that with herself, forever. The real question is can she escape the basement? I don’t think they conceive Alice as purely bad or good, just damaged to an extreme. I see her becoming the Slade of the Batwoman story dancing between light and shadows.


Kate got a very big birthday present. Her wish for a second chance came true. Beth, or at least a version of Beth, is back and this time when their lives are threatened Kate saves her sister. Is she truly the Beth that Kate has been longing for or is there another side to her?

Aimee: I do think that this Beth is the ideal version of Beth that Kate has been longing for. And knowing how close their stories were minus the outcome of the accident makes her the most likely version of who Kate’s Beth could have become. Also, seeing how insanely smart this Beth is really ups the stakes for how truly dangerous Alice is with that sort of brain power behind her. I don’t think there is another side to this Beth. I think what you see is what you get with her. I think she is the good, kind, and brave version of Alice. Even though Kate was able to save Beth this time, from the car, that isn’t going to change the guilt she still feels about not being able to save her Beth. And that’s the thing, this Beth will never be Kate’s Beth and will always just be a substitute, so I don’t think them finding a way to keep this Beth around would ever stop Kate from trying to destroy Alice and save her Beth.

Donna: As much as I long for her to be the Beth that Kate has yearned for, the skeptic in me says she has some dark skeletons in her closet. Is she as calculating, menacing and evil as Alice? I don’t think so, but I don’t fully trust her just yet. Either way, either Beth, it is a pure delight watching Skarsten work her acting magic as these characters.

Marko: This is a tough one, to be honest. Loss is such a devastating part of life and second chances come around not so often. Seeing this version of Beth maybe makes Kate see that there is a reason to fight for Alice cause somewhere in her this Beth is hiding. It really puts a strain on Kate’s further choices regarding Alice.


Even slightly drunk Mary comes closer to the knowledge of the multi-verse and its consequences. Isn’t it past time that Kate and Lucas made Mary an official part of the team? Was Mary playing dumb? Does she truly know what’s going on? Will she feel threatened by Kate’s relationship with this Beth?

Aimee: At this point it is absurd that nobody has told Mary the truth already. She can clearly handle it and she’s a pro with secrets, so them not telling her just gets more ridiculous with each passing week. Also, it feels like something was left out of the episode because one minute Mary is on a mission to find out who Beth is and the next, they are buddies and she’s helping to prepare her to go save Kate? They either had to cut a scene or that was a bit of sloppy writing because it was very random. I like how Mary is able to figure things out on her own though. I suspect that she at least has a suspicion about Kate as well regarding Batwoman. But the longer they drag this out the more absurd it gets, so I need them to let her in on it all already. And, no, I don’t think this Beth will make Mary jealous or threaten her relationship with Kate. If nothing else, this Beth has helped her understand why Kate has been fighting for so long for her Beth.

Donna: People are grossly underestimating how wise our shining star scene-stealer Mary is. It wouldn’t surprise me that she suspects or already knows about Kate and Batwoman. I think her inebriated discussion was just her way of saying, “wink-wink guys, I know what’s really going on.” Unlike with Alice, she sees how much having this Beth back has meant to Kate and has concluded there is more than enough room in Kate’s heart for two sisters.

Marko: Nicole Kang is the best thing about Batwoman. That girl has a spark and it is time for her to unleash it. Where the writers will take her character is a questionable situation. I am in love with the Mary we’ve got who is living in her world and fighting the shadows in her own way. On the other hand, it would be so cool to see her join the fight, either behind the scenes or on the streets. Rumors were initially going around Mary was supposed to take on the Flamebird mantle and while I would dig getting to see it. Mary being the pull to the ground for Kate is what makes her character work so well. The revelation is inevitable for sure I wouldn’t mind for her to stay in the dark for some time.


Coming out has unintended consequences for Batwoman and Sophie (Meghan Tandy). What does it say about Kate’s demeanor that she still goes to help the city despite the commissioner not turning on the Bat-signal due to the superhero’s orientation? Meanwhile, Alice was doing an admirable job of getting Sophie to admit some hard truths about her feelings for Kate. Who had a harder time coming out? And speaking of Alice and Sophie, what were your thoughts about their cat and mouse game in interrogation? Why didn’t Alice kill Sophie when she had the chance after making her escape?

Aimee: Kate is a hero with or without the Bat-signal. She doesn’t need to be invited to a fight, so that was never going to be an issue. The only fallout from her coming out was the small-mindedness of the Commissioner which is sadly a reality in today’s world. The big show of support at the end was beautiful and nicely put into the episode. Well, Sophie isn’t actually out to the world yet, not really, so I’d say she is having a harder time. Alice did a great job of seizing on the insecurities that every person in the closet lives with. She managed to throw Sophie off her game and because of it she did get the upper hand. But it was fun to watch. Sophie and Tandy are both really coming into their own and I’m finally enjoying watching Sophie’s story unfold. Alice made it pretty clear why she didn’t kill Sophie. She is enjoying watching Sophie live with the torment of her sexuality and while sadistic to find joy in something like that, it's right up Alice’s alley. There might have also been some small part of Alice that knew killing Sophie would fully destroy any chance she has with her sister and despite what Alice says she does want her sister in her life. So I think it was a combination of things that all culminated in Alice deciding it was for the best to let Sophie live.

Donna: Kate is the Paragon of Courage. So, that means having the courage to accept the unpleasant truth of the police commissioner’s narrow-minded response to her coming out and helping the city anyway. Sophie, hands-down, is having the harder time coming out. The dynamic between Alice and Sophie was fraught with electricity with Tandy delivering some of her best work of the season and took another step in making her a likable character for me. To me, there was more chemistry between Skarsten and Tandy, Alice and Sophie, than any scene I’ve seen between Kate and Sophie. I’m sorry, I know the Kate/Sophie pairing is where the show is heading, but I am still struggling mightily to see any strong connection that way between them. Alice didn’t kill her because she realized they both have something in common, they’re both vying for Kate’s attention and love. She needed Sophie alive so she can exploit her to get to Kate.

Marko: It was an interesting direction the writers took with this story. While our orientation defines us in so many ways but doesn’t make us any less human. The city standing up for Batwoman and believing in her is an example we should all follow. Without prejudice and with a lot of heart. After a very long time, I quite enjoyed Sophie as a character. She was a major mess up till this point and I hope her character lives her truth, no matter if straight, bi or gay. The scenes between Alice and Sophie worked quite well, the dynamic between them flowed well and showed how much Sophie knows Kate so she was able to get close to Alice. Sophie survived only because Alice is very much top name on Kate’s naughty list. But don’t think she will get lucky the next time around.


Alice and Beth are the first victims of another fallout of the Crisis a paradox where to can’t stay on the same earth. The preview for the next episode revealed that dealing with this problem is going to be the plot of the next episode. What do you think will be the outcome? Who will survive this whole situation? Which version will survive? How far will Kate go to hang onto her sister?

Aimee: I think this will go one of two ways, it’ll either end up with Beth and Alice somehow merged changing Alice or it’ll end up with Alice killing Beth. The bottom line is the show won’t get rid of Alice as their main antagonist, so if they can’t find a way for both of them to exist then whatever outcome happens will end with Alice or a version of Alice surviving. But I think Kate will go to extreme lengths to try to save them both because they both mean something to her. I think her initial reaction will be to fight harder for new Beth simply because she is right in front of her and Alice is likely off with Mouse somewhere. It should make for an intense episode though and an emotional journey for Kate as she is put in an impossible situation. Hopefully, the show will utilize Mary and her medical knowledge to help deal with this especially since she was there when Beth went down.

Donna: I am hoping there is a loophole in the paradox and there is a way to keep both around. Maybe they can merge them in some fashion like a split personality or perhaps it’s a proximity issue and post-Crisis Beth can live but must leave Gotham but can return for a visit from time to time. There is no doubt that Kate would move Heaven and Earth to keep new Beth. She just got her sister back so she will fight like hell to not lose her again.

Marko: Despite Alice being the obvious choice to prevail and I believe she will, I expect an unexpected twist to change all what we believe will happen. Maybe even in the form of Kate taking Beth’s life because she knows this isn’t where she was supposed to be. I honestly wish they would prolong this story for a longer beat just to see Skarsten getting more of this amazing material to work with.


Reader Question: Submitted by Ivan: From the looks of upcoming episodes, we'll be getting a real-life vampire in comic character Nocturna, so do you want Kate to battle more non-human villains or do you want them to stick with more grounded characters like Arrow even in this new Earth Prime?

Aimee: I think the very nature of Crisis and how it ended means that all the shows will be dealing with new foes in the form of aliens, metas, and everything in-between. I would like to see Kate have to deal with it all as it opens up the world of Gotham and gives a good excuse for future crossovers. Let’s face it, the show hasn’t had any great villains of the week. Mouse is the best thing they have going for them in terms of an evil antagonist besides Alice. So I’m all for the world opening up for the villains she’ll have to face off against.

Donna: While it is Bat-canon that Batwoman battles more grounded criminals, the merging of the Earths into Earth Prime is going to make it nearly impossible to follow that. It is inevitable that she will encounter the occasional meta or alien going forward (the latter paving the way for a visit from her new friend Supergirl (Melissa Benoist). I don’t have a problem with any of that as it will challenge both Kate and Batwoman’s skills as a person and as a superhero.

Marko: I expect the show to slowly introduce more metahumans and aliens on Earth Prime’s Gotham city. It would make no sense that aliens only stick around in National City and metas in Central City, and I am all for it while it properly serves the story.


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?

Aimee: They were all good again this week, but it must be a tie between Rachel Skarsten and Ava Sleeth. They both play different sides of the same character and they are both so good at it. Sleeth nailed Beth’s struggle to survive and the birth of Alice with brilliant acting. Skarsten had a heavy load on her in this episode as well, as she had to play the same character in two very different ways. Her performance as the brave, but untrained Beth with a heart of gold willing to risk everything for Kate was stunningly done. Then there was her performance as Alice struggling with the past while also playing games with Sophie. It was an amazing episode to showcase just how brilliant an actress she is.

Donna: This episode was a showcase for the amazing talents of Rachel Skarsten. She’s incredible as both Alice and the new Beth and appears to be having the time of her life playing both parts. She’s the type of actress that other actors benefit from simply by being in a scene with her. Young Ava Sleeth was right on Skarsten’s heels in the performance department this week. Watching her evolve from frightened victim Beth into Alice was as heartbreaking as it was chilling.

Marko: Rachel Skartsen was simply brilliant as expected. Still, young Beth actress, Ava Sleeth, was just as brilliant. That switch between Beth and Alice was masterfully handled.


What are your final thoughts regarding this episode? What are your predictions for what is going to happen in the coming weeks as we head into February Sweeps?

Aimee: This was a great episode in terms of performances. The story was a bit all over the place and at times it felt disjointed, but the performers picked up the slack and held the episode together. It wasn’t, in my opinion, as strong as last week, but it was definitely still a well-done episode that tops most of what came before it in the first half of the season. As for February Sweeps, I think things are going to get crazy. The next episode is the first of the sweeps month and it promises to be a big epic battle for survival, so that should be amazing. Maybe, just maybe, we can finally get Mary learning the truth. And, maybe, with some luck, Kate can finally get a love interest that will stick around for more than two episodes. But I do have considerably higher hopes for sweeps and the whole back half of the season than I did going into the winter break. If the show can keep up the pace and energy of these last two episodes then they may finally be finding their footing.

Donna: The show hasn’t pulled any punches since returning after Crisis and it shows. The quality of the last two episodes has been better than it has all season. Yet, that doesn’t mean there isn’t room for improvement. While the actors have settled nicely into their roles and continue to grow, the storytelling could be a little tighter. I look for the same quality to continue for the rest of the season and am looking forward to the moment Mary finds out about Batwoman. As far as villains and challenges ahead for Batwoman, the possibilities are endless, and all the pieces are in place for a stellar second half of the season.

Marko: The episode really ranks high in the so-far excellent Season 1 of Batwoman. It had a great balance between action, confusion and light moments. The way the writers explore the trauma the characters went through and how it affects the choices they make.


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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