- Series: Batwoman
- Season: 1
- Episodes: 20 (Plus Crisis on Infinite Earths 5-episode disc)
- Discs: 4 (Plus Crisis)
- Cast: Ruby Rose, Camrus Johnson, Rachel Skarsten, Nicole Tang, Meagan Tandy, Christina Wolfe, Dougray Scott, Sam Littlefield
- Network: CW (Warner Brothers Productions)
- DVD Format: Color, Widescreen
This post contains spoilers for season 1 of Batwoman.
Kate Kane returns to Gotham, and her father, Jacob Kane, refuses to allow her to join his private security firm, Crows Security. Kate meets Luke Fox, son of Lucius Fox who was murdered a few years ago. Kate, reluctantly at first, takes up the mantle of her missing cousin – Bruce Wayne aka Batman, and becomes Batwoman.
At thirteen, Kate, her sister Beth, and her mother were in a horrific car crash, caused by a car chase between Batman and a bad guy who had threatened a school bus full of children. Despite Batman’s best efforts to secure the car with cables as it hung over the edge of a bridge – the cables snap. Only Kate survives. Her mother died in the initial crash and Beth is taken over the edge and into the river. Despite the best efforts of Jacob Kane, the girls’ father, Beth is never found. Jacob’s new wife, Catherine, it turns out fakes DNA tests on some bones that are found – which convinces Jacob and Kate that Beth is dead.
A new villain appears in Gotham – Alice. She appears to be sowing chaos and to have a vendetta against Jacob Kane and Kate Kane. Alice, it turns out, was, once upon a time – Beth. She survived the crash, was washed up on shore, then found by a cruel man who kidnapped her to be a companion to his son, “Johnny”. Johnny, whom Beth calls “Mouse” after the Dormouse in Alice in Wonderland, was horribly burned somehow. The father thinks his son’s burns make him ugly and unsuited to function in society – so he keeps him at home. He keeps Beth hidden in the basement, telling her father doesn’t want her because he has a new family (Catherine his wife, and her daughter, Mary). After killing the kitten Mouse gave Alice, this abusive man finds the sweater she knitted or sewed for the kitten. He then forces Beth to sew together masks of human skin for Johnny. When she’s washing the blood off her hands, Beth has a psychotic break and becomes Alice – the character from the one and only book Mouse snuck into her early in her captivity. We also learn that “the Queen”, Johnny / Mouse’s grandmother is extremely abusive – torturing Beth by pouring boiling water on her hands and simply screaming at her. When Beth discovers her real mother’s head in a freezer she kills the old woman.
In Gotham, Kate slowly learns how to be Batwoman, dealing with one-time villains like the Detonator and Magpie (who makes a reappearance towards the end of the season), and the skin pirate who leads to Mouse and Alice. And of course, Alice runs rampant in Gotham, causing chaos and trying to convince Kate they are the same because they are sisters.
The full Crisis on Infinite Earth crossover is included in the Blu-Ray set of Batwoman Season 1 but this time I skipped watching it because I had already seen it several times and because in terms of the Batwoman storyline it’s more of an interruption than integrated into the plot of the season as it was for Arrow and The Flash. After Crisis, Beth, the real Beth from another Earth, simply appears. She was pulled from the crash by Kate and never became Alice. However, now two versions of the same person cannot live on the single Earth Prime. One will die. Kate finds an antidote and chooses to give it to Beth, and then stays with Alice while she’s dying. But Beth is shot and dies and Alice lives anyway. It’s one of the saddest moments in Season 1, which is full of sadness and tragedy. And it wasn’t even the Crows who killed Beth – but the abusive man who held Beth/Alice and Mouse captive. He’s now masquerading as a plastic surgeon in Gotham and kills Beth thinking she’s Alice and can expose him.
Kate works with Luke Fox backing her up as the voice in her ear while she’s out doing her thing as Batwoman. Julia Pennyworth arrives briefly, then leaves then returns. Using the codename, “Tuxedo 1”, she’s a British secret agent, but at the end of the season, we learn she left the service and ended-up making a devil’s bargain with the mysterious “Safaryah” to protect Kate/Batwoman from being killed. Mary, Kate’s step-sister is a med student who runs an illegal clinic in one of the poorer areas of Gotham. After several run-ins with Batwoman and Kate she finally puts it together – by the end of the season, she’s part of Kate’s team. Finally, Parker, a teenaged female hacker gets herself in trouble by hacking a commuter train and blackmailing Gotham. But Kate is sympathetic when she finds out why Parker did it and let her go if she promises to return the money she took and not do it again. When Parker’s hacking skills are needed, she’s brought into the team as well.
But due to Corvid19, the set was shut down and the last two episodes never filmed. The season ends on a cliffhanger and has no resolution. To make matters worse, Ruby Rose, who actually did a good job as Kate Kane and Batwoman quit the show. CW has announced they are re-casting the part and that there will be a season 2, but plot-wise who knows what will happen, since this show really left us hanging. Overall, I liked Ruby Rose in the part, and her Batwoman costume was dead-on perfect. It’s great to see Luke Fox as a major character – he’s a character from the comics that seldom sees screen time. I liked Mary and Julia a lot – both bring something different to the mix of characters. Rachel Skarsten kills it as Alice – terrifying and sympathetic all at once. But this show is dark, one of the darkest series the CW has done. The abuse Alice and Mouse suffered is horrific. The show could even be triggery for some viewers. Hopefully, CW will find a way to wrap-up the unanswered questions of the first season, and successfully hand over the mantle to a new actress as Batwoman.