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Batwoman - A Secret Kept from All The Rest - Review Roundtable: Secrets And Revelations

15 May 2020

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

Batwoman delivered a tense episode with A Secret Kept from All. Secrets were the main theme as secrets led all the characters into precarious positions. Big revelations set up what promises to be an intriguing season finale. After reading, please leave your thoughts in the comments.

Kate (Ruby Rose) seems to be acting out of character in the wake of the Reagan (Brianne Howey) betrayal. She was upset at Reagan, Luke (Camrus Johnson), and Julia (Christina Wolfe) for lying to her about various things yet she has literally spent most of the season lying to people like Mary. Do you think Kate's outburst is because she genuinely had feelings for Reagan? Or was this outburst caused by something deeper?

Aimee: I think it was a combination of both. I think she did genuinely care for Reagan, and while she ultimately came to understand why Reagan did what she did, Kate likely still felt extremely betrayed. I also definitely think there is something else going on. Julia hinted several times that there are things about Kate that aren't common knowledge. I suspect there is something deeper driving her, and she may not even fully understand it herself.

Donna: To be honest, I'm not entirely sure where this is coming from unless it's just another sign of Kate being overwhelmed by the responsibility suddenly on her shoulders in being Batwoman. She's having a hard time coming to grips with the secrecy that is sometimes necessary to protect those she cares about. That's not to say that is the only reason, I do think that part of it was because she did/does care for Raegan. I was pleased to see Mary and Luke and to an extent, even Julia call her on her out of character behavior when she lashed out at them for lying to her. They rightly pointed out to her it was no more than what she had been doing to an infinite number of people from the moment she decided to don cape and cowl.

Ellys: Kate's careless behavior last week struck me as more a failure of the writing than anything else, but it's possible that Kate is still feeling the guilt of betraying Alice. She could be projecting her anger towards herself onto the other people in her life.

Parker (Malia Pyles) joined the growing list of characters from earlier in the season that made a comeback in these last couple of episodes. What do you think about the part she played in the episode? Did you like her and Mary's (Nicole Kang) interactions? Do you think she was right to push Kate to fight harder for Sophie (Meagan Tandy)?

Aimee: I think Parker was a fun addition to the episode, if for no other reason than to give Mary another comedic relief character with whom she could interact. Pyles and Kang had really great timing with each other to pull off the banter between Parker and Mary. I could see Parker hanging around more and interacting with Mary. As for the Sophie situation, yeah, she should have left that alone. I like Sophie with Julia and I think Kate is better paired with Regan or even Julia. I have fully accepted that at some point the writers are going to try to circle back around and hook up Kate and Sophie, but I'd be thrilled if they surprise me and lean more into where the actual strong chemistry is in regards to the performers. They need to bring Howey back next season. I know she's pretty in demand, but if this show is smart, they'll lock her into at least a recurring contract. If would be a damn shame to squander the chemistry between her and Rose. The same goes for Wolfe who has strong chemistry with Tandy and Rose. Both Wolfe and Howey need to have big parts in the next season. So, I think Parker should have kept her thoughts to herself about Kate fighting for Sophie.

Donna: Can't tell you how much I loved the snark between Mary and Parker, please, please put these two together again, not as a couple but just as the yin and yang of the Bat Team! I thought it was interesting to use the much younger character, Parker, to point out that the equipment in the Batcave was somewhat outdated. It makes you wonder if Luke and Kate knew that but didn't want to fool with it because they somehow thought it might dishonor Bruce. The Bat Team itself isn't that old so it was fun watching them get schooled by the teenager. As much as I loved Parker in the Batcave and her sparring with Mary, I yelled, "Shut up, Parker!" at the TV screen when she gave Kate romantic advice to fight for Sophie! Get a grip, Parker, that ship is over hopefully because there is far more chemistry between Sophie and Julia than I ever saw on screen between Kate and Sophie. I think maybe Parker's reaction resulted from her being a teenager and possibly believing that first love equates to forever love and doesn't see that continuing that relationship may genuinely not be in Kate's best interest.

Ellys: Dear Parker, I think you are a super cool young person that could be a fun addition to this show. Your slightly antagonistic banter with Mary was especially delightful, and all our heroes could use a larger friend circle. That being said, you witnessed one meeting between Sophie and Kate. You might not know this, but they've never had less chemistry. One observation of two people doesn't elevate you to wise-woman-on-a-park-bench levels of relationship counseling. You are young, and you want to believe first love is only love. I get it.

Julia finally came clean that she made a deal with SafiyahSohail to try to protect Kate. Now both women have targets on them because of Julia's betrayal. While Kate has never heard of Safiyah the mysterious woman has heard of her, according to Julia. In the comics, Safiyah is connected to Coryana (a place we know has ties to Alice (Rachel Skarsten) as well) and has a rather complicated history with Kate. Where do you think this is all leading? Will Safiyah be a new big bad? Or is there something bigger at play? Also, Julia mentioned that she knew things about Kate that others don't, what do you think she was talking about?

Aimee: I honestly have no idea where Batwoman is ever actually heading. While that element of surprise would normally be a good thing, with this show it often results in me face-palming at the ridiculousness. What I would hope happens is they introduce Safiyah early on next season and make her a bit of a foe to Kate and the team before slowly slipping into some of the comic dynamics. I think Safiyah is being played up so heavily that she'll have to come in with a big explosive entrance, but what they do with her afterward is really anyone's guess at this point since it seems like they may diverge from the comics a smidge. My guess, and I have no facts to back this up, just what I'd like to see happen, is that there is an actual big bad behind Safiyah that will force her and Alice into an uneasy alliance with Kate and her team. That will lead to some level of reconciliation between Kate and Alice as well as set up something with Safiyah. Casting Safiyah is going to be an extremely critical decision. If they cast her right and make sure she and Rose had strong chemistry then they can probably do some great stuff with this storyline. If they don't cast her with chemistry with Rose in mind then next season could have some big problems. I also think that there is a chance that some of the stuff Julia was talking about regarding Kate could somehow tie back to Safiyah. As Julia pointed out, while Kate doesn't know Safiyah, the pirate seems to know Kate quite well. Maybe some amnesia at play? Could Safiyah be after the weapon to protect Kate? Or she is actually trying to end Batwoman? All I know for sure at this point is Safiyah will either save the show or quite literally help sink it next season. There is a lot riding on a character we've never actually seen who doesn't even yet have a performer behind her.

Donna: From all accounts, and from my limited knowledge of the character based on Google searches, Safiyah is a powerful woman that demands loyalty. Reminds me a little of maybe Nyssa Al'Ghul (Katrina Law), or Talia Al'Ghul (Lexa Doig) from the Arrowverse. I like the idea of a massively powerful and feared woman being the big bad next season, maybe a la Damien Dahrk (Neal McDonough) on Arrow and Legends. I'm just wondering if Julia knows that Kate not only has crossed paths with Safiyah but was trained by her and possibly romantically involved at one point without knowing the woman's true identity. Isn't that how we met Kate, to begin with? Wasn't she training with some mysterious shaman at the beginning of the show? Could Safiyah have been someone she met on her quest for knowledge? Why was she doing that, what had she been involved with that would have led her to seek out that type of training? That would go along with the comic book canon I've read about. The show toyed with a powerful woman in charge being the big bad with Catherine (Elizabeth Anweis) but sacrificed her to their Alice storyline.

Ellys: It seems that Batwoman has decided to give Kate's backstory more layers. This is all well and good if the show had bothered to lay any groundwork at all for such a development. (Narrator voice: They did not!). The writing also leaves it unclear if Safiyah is particularly interested in Kate or the Bats of Gotham. We could learn she was someone that Kate wronged earlier in life, although it's hard to imagine that being an interesting turn of events. It's far more likely that it will turn out Safiyah wants revenge on Batman and sees Batwoman as the only possible target for her ire. However, Batwoman has largely chosen to ignore how many of Batman's actions could affect Kate in the present day, so I am doubtful that will be the case either.

Batwoman and Jacob (Dougray Scott) had a tense meeting. He issued her a formal warning to vacate the city. What do you think will come of his warning? Is a showdown between father and daughter on the horizon? Do you think we will ever learn the truth about who Batwoman really is?

Aimee: I think Jacob was profoundly serious in his warning. He's done playing games with her and I think Kate is just about over her father's hatred of her vigilante persona. They are definitely heading for a big stakes showdown. What comes of that, again, I really have no idea at this point. What I'd like to see happen is for Batwoman to fall in battle (we all know she’d be brought back), either at the hands of her father or one of the many foes after her, and Jacob to realize what he has done. Either that or Jacob suddenly realizes in the middle of a fight with Batwoman who she really is and sacrifices himself to save her. Either scenario has a lot of potential. One way Jacob becomes more interesting next season and the other way we don't have to worry about him floundering around in obscurity next season only popping in to occasionally cause issues then go back to brooding in the background.

Donna: As usual Jacob is all bluster, his male ego hurt because the women are getting all the attention in Gotham. A showdown is in order, one he is going to lose badly. Of all the characters on the show, to me, Jacob is the most useless and the most poorly written. Finale promos show him declaring war on Batwoman and surrounding her. As usual, he will expect her to fight her way out, when what I would really like to see is Kate unmask in front of him. To me, there would be no quicker way to deflate his ego and bluster and make him question his motives. A thought just occurred to me. Does Jacob’s hatred of this Bat come from his sense of justice or was it because he was one-upped before by another Bat? It also begs the question did he know about cousin Bruce’s secret life?

Ellys: Jacob drew an interesting parallel when he said that Alice was Batwoman's Joker, a comparison that isn't accurate in the least. This speaks to how Jacob wants to disassociate from Alice; he needs to not see her as his daughter to be able to cope with who she is. The fact that Alice was troubling Gotham before Batwoman showed up is a detail he's chosen to overlook. He is as much to blame as Batwoman for the chaos at Arkham. Unfortunately, the writers of this show aren't invested in digging deeper into what makes Kate's father tick; we'll probably never know how interesting a character he could become.

Throughout the season we have seen Alice's obsession with her sister cause trouble with Mouse (Sam Littlefield). He'd seemingly prefer to kill Kate and be done with her. It seems the longer Alice drags this all on the more frustrated he becomes. What will be the breaking point in their relationship? How much longer can Alice's obsession go on before Mouse snaps and tries to take matters into his own hands? If he goes after Batwoman himself do you think that would irrevocably break their bond? Do you think Kate's life being in danger at the hands of someone other than herself will change her mind about killing her sister? Or do you think it would just drive her harder to be the one to kill Kate first?

Aimee: I think the relationship is already broken and it really has only been a matter of time before one of the many cracks finally broke open and shattered the whole delicate balance. I think taking Mouse out of his happy place at the top of Arkham might have been the final straw for him. I can see him going after Kate himself once he gets his hands on the Kryptonite. I think the relationship between him and Alice will be irreparable by the time he takes that action. What I think Alice really means when she says she wants to kill Batwoman is that she is more interested in killing their cousin. The moment she learned that Bruce was Batman she became even more interested in how to kill the Bat. I also find it interesting that she keeps going on about killing the Bat but doesn't necessarily say she wants to kill Kate. Either she is trying to disassociate the two to make it easier to kill her own sister. Or, does she think destroying the persona of the Bat without killing Kate would restore a bond with her sister? It's just the type of thing I can see Alice in her crazed state thinking. If her intention is to kill Kate then Alice will definitely violently go after anyone who may try to kill Kate first in order to get to the front of the line. It'll be interesting to see how the final showdown between Alice and Kate goes.

Donna: I think we are already past the breaking point between Mouse and Alice. Or, at least, we reached it in this episode. After Alice's single-minded actions regarding deciphering the journal and ultimately setting Arkham on fire, Mouse has finally had enough of her putting her sister before him. I'm not sure he will be away from Alice long enough to go after Batwoman himself, but if given the opportunity he will go after Batwoman. In her anger that he attacks and could almost kill Batwoman first, Alice will lash out and kill Mouse. No one is killing her sister but Alice!

Ellys: In this episode, we saw that Mouse didn't care about Batwoman, didn't care whether she was dead or not. He just wanted to stay in Arkham, a place he finally (and ironically) felt safe and in control. Mouse used to fear that Alice was too obsessed with turning Kate to their side, but now he's seeing his life trampled as Alice's only focus has become her revenge. What this could be building to is that Mouse will experience the ultimate reversal and decide to blame Alice for everything that has gone wrong in his life. He could try to kill Alice, and the bigger question then becomes how that will affect her. She's spent more time with Mouse than anyone else in her life.

There was a big surprising tidbit dropped in the final minutes that Kryptonite could be used against Batwoman. Kryptonite is the great weakness of Supergirl (Melissa Benoist) and Superman (Tyler Hoechlin), so what is your opinion on why it is now also a big threat to Batwoman? We know that Kara and Kate are friends, so are the two shows trying to interweave the shows more tightly? What do you think this means for both shows moving forward? Will they have a common enemy?

Aimee: Honestly, I feel like this came so far out of left field that it is incredibly absurd. I get that they want to tie together the stories of Supergirl and Batwoman more to make for easier crossovers between the two heroines. At the same time, it's just silly to give them both the same great weakness especially after they had Kate hold Kryptonite in Crisis with no ill-effects. I think the plan was to have some mini crossovers with Kryptonite in play on both shows. I would not even be surprised to see them both have to deal with a common enemy. However, I can't help but wonder if CoVid-19 production issues are going to cause such a fundamental shift in things that this big attempt at further connecting these two shows together could end up falling flat and disappearing into the abyss. I am curious to see how in the world the writers try to make this reveal work within the context of the show.

Donna: I had to refer to an article quoting one of the producers about the reveal to understand this. At first, I thought it had something to do with the piece of Bruce's Kryptonite Supergirl told Batwoman to keep during Crisis, but as I understand it now, Kryptonite is the only substance that can pierce the BatSuit. Yes, it is a case of Batwoman laying the groundwork for the much-anticipated World's Finest crossover with Supergirl that we deserve next season. They could likely end up with a common enemy created by this season's Girl of Steel baddie, Leviathan. Safiyah could have connections to them. However, I don’t think the writers have achieved that level of complexity and this was just something someone said, “What if?” and they threw it in for pure shock value.

Ellys: The pages that Alice read hinted at the show incorporating both the Suit of Sorrows (from brief Batman comic book lore) and Kryptonite as being capable of killing the Bat. I assume the latter means that the suit can only be penetrated by Kryptonite, but this barely makes sense, since we've seen there's at least one (possibly two) other weapons that could also allegedly do that. Bringing Kryptonite into this is peak silliness, almost unbearably unnecessary. As is the fact that Alice would target Kate as Batwoman and only as Batwoman in the first place. It wasn't Batwoman that locked her up; it was Kate as herself. Perhaps this means Alice is only lying about wanting to kill Kate, and she just wants to push Kate to the brink of death…but it's just mumbo jumbo at this point.

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: Nicole Kang without question this week. They didn't give her a ton of deep material, but I think that's what I enjoyed the most. We got to see Kang just get to have some fun portraying Mary's annoyance at so many other people knowing about Kate first. My favorite scenes were between her and Parker as they watched Kate and Sophie talk. We got to see what Mary might be like as a big sister while also seeing her younger sister side coming out.

Donna: This one is hard to call this week; everyone was given the opportunity to shine. Despite her character acting extremely out of character this week, Ruby Rose totally sold Kate's hurt and confusion, yet she grows more and more confident as Batwoman each time they put her in the suit, so please, let Batwoman be Batwoman more. Rachel Skarsten was, as always, stellar as Alice's obsession with killing her sister grows. Loved, loved the amount of snark and asides from Nicole Kang's Mary this week with the one-liners about being the last to know and her sniping with Parker in the Batcave. Kudos, as well to Megan Tandy and Christina Wolfe as Sophie and Julia, who crackle together in their scenes not just romantically but as a crime-fighting duo as well. However, I think top accolades this week go to Camrus Johnson as Luke, who did an incredible job with his scenes of Luke trying to bargain with Alice and talking with Julia to decipher the book all while tied to a chair. For me though, I loved his arguments with Kate, he is proving Luke is a necessary character and it is great to see him moving closer and closer toward donning his own Batwing costume soon.

Ellys: Camrus Johnson. Luke is at the beginning of this fascinating character evolution. His entire life is caught up in protecting other people's work and legacy at the expense of his own life. Now that Kate has twice jeopardized her mission, once with her own carelessness and once to save Luke and Julia, Luke is going to have to come up with a plan to keep her safe. I was particularly struck by the scenes he shares with Wolfe, especially the one where Luke starts to translate the journal and stops after he understands the contents. There's no question in Luke's mind that he won't do it, that he will sacrifice one of his oldest friends, that he'd rather die quickly than try to deceive Alice about the contents, that he isn't as smart as his father, etc. It's a bold, heartbreaking choice, one that also speaks to the fact that Luke is trapped in the shadow of those that came before.

What are your final thoughts regarding this episode?

Aimee: I liked it, but I didn't love it. At least the last episode had the final act that saved it. This one just never really connected for me. It was a lot of potentially interesting stuff that was never really nicely tied together. The Julia storyline has become the highlight for me. I think this was mostly a setup episode that was meant to launch into a big push to the season finale. It was never meant to serve as the penultimate episode of the season. That has me worrying about exactly what the newly minted season finale is going to deliver…or not deliver.

Donna: I'm torn about this episode. While some scenes were exceptional, especially those of Batwoman being Batwoman, Julia's argument with Kate, her chemistry with Sophie, the Mary and Parker sparring sessions, and Luke's journey, there were other aspects I found rather humorous or comical. Kate acting so out of character was jarring, as was the unnecessary confrontation with Jacob, while I love Rachel Skarsten and her work as Alice, I am growing weary of her bickering with Mouse which is why I think he'll end up a casualty in the season finale. And yes, as great as it was to tie the show to Supergirl with the Kryptonite reference there's a lot to be said for the fact that I had to go look up the references to figure out the truth behind the mention. Hopefully, the show can bring all its dangling loose ends together for a shortened by COVID-19 season and spend the time during this hiatus to examine what has and hasn't worked in this very uneven first season. They have so many great things in place here, take what works, Kate in the Batsuit, Luke's journey, Mary in the Batcave as part of the Bat Team, exploring Alice and Kate's complicated sister relationship, Sophie and Julia together, a potential World's Finest crossover, and adding Brianne Howey and Christina Wolfe as regulars next season. Then, get rid of the things that don't work, drop any idea of reuniting Sophie and Kate as a couple, bring in more classic Batwoman villains, find Alice new henchmen, and find a way to write better for Jacob or else get rid of his character entirely.

Ellys: To visually illustrate the plot and character development of Batwoman's first season, I would need a murder board with a lot of tacks and string. When I got done sticking all the tacks in and running all the string, it would still be mostly incoherent. The show has forgotten to tell a story, and the story it thinks about telling lacks the edge and grit that a show set in Gotham should have. It's too focused on making itself a Superhero and Friends show instead of meaningfully developing individual characters and stories. This episode was a testament to the show's disorganization: Julia's connection to Safiyah was revealed and forgiven all in one episode, Jacob threatened Batwoman with war after barely acknowledging her for the past few episodes, and the show hinted it will push Sophie and Kate as endgame after a scene so awkward I wished to dig myself a very deep hole. The good news is that Batwoman has a talented cast and access to decades of enthralling lore. The ingredients for something amazing are all available to the show; they just need someone to pull them all together.

Please use the comments section to let us know your thoughts on this episode.