[Review] Batwoman Episode 1×04: “Who Are You?”

written by Kate Danvers

It’s like gay superheroes add a whole new dimension to the masked identity thing. Who’d have thought?


Kate wakes up in Reagan’s bed to reports of a thief in town and a call for Batwoman’s aid. After Luke texts her, she leaves Reagan with a flimsy excuse and then monologues about how she came out as gay way back in school but now has to hide that she’s Batwoman.

At Wayne Tower, a museum rep is photographing Martha Wayne’s pearls for an exhibit. She comments on Kate’s renovations to the office, which just makes me question what Kate’s cover story is for being in Wayne Tower. She was extremely vague about where she was going when she left Reagan, but the museum rep acts like Kate works there.

Luke’s call wasn’t about the pearls, though – it was about Dodgson. He’s dehydrated, septic, and crashing, so Kate finally relents to giving him medical care. Yikes. I know darker vigilante superheroes do this kind of thing all the time, but keeping someone shackled by their wrists and tortured for several days is a level of fucked up I’d rather not see from Batwoman. Kate, as Batwoman, drops Dodgson off at the clinic and asks number one Batwoman fan Mary to look after him. Mary is iffy on that since Dodgson tried to kill her, but “first do no harm.”

Meanwhile, in the cemetery, Catherine is having Beth Kane’s grave exhumed. It’s Plot #283, referring to the three cards Alice left on Catherine’s vanity last episode. As Catherine looks on, she’s confronted by Alice and her gang. Alice wants a weapon that Catherine’s company is developing in exchange for her silence over Catherine convincing Jacob that Beth’s body was found.

Kate gets the drop on the thief during another robbery attempt. The thief, Magpie, puts up a fight and then jumps out a window. When Kate tries to hit her with a Batarang, it misses and then she fails to catch it on the return, breaking a priceless vase. Back at the Batcave, Kate insists there’s something wrong with the Batarang. Luke thinks she was just using it wrong. She calls him out for “batsplaining” and the show has officially started stealing my jokes. Kate did manage to snag a toy from Magpie’s belt – a bird-shaped explosive.

Speaking of explosives, Sophie has figured out the type used to ambush the convoy in Episode 1×02. It uses unreleased tech made by Hamilton Dynamics – the Crows’ own supplier and Catherine’s company.

Kate’s lunch date with Reagan is interrupted by Luke finding something out about the explosive. However, before Kate can get to him, Magpie breaks in. She knocks out Luke and steals the pearls right out of the office. When Kate arrives, he tells her that Magpie’s explosives are 3D-printed with explosive ink…okay, that’s a new one. The Crows track that kind of thing, so Kate gets help from Sophie, who still suspects her of being Batwoman.

Kate finds Magpie’s hideout and enters a temperature-monitored room that will explode if it detects a rise in temperature from someone’s body heat entering…or, you know, from the door opening. That’d probably do it too, but let’s roll with it. The suit has a convenient body temperature control thing, so as long as Kate will be fine as long as she holds her breath. While she’s in there and can’t back-sass, Luke tells her he fixed the Batarang’s return function – it was calibrated to Bruce’s size. Oops. Kate copies Magpie’s hard drive, then finds a drawer full of feathers (which she’s allergic to) and her aunt’s pearls which she nabs…and then sneezes. Double oops. She grapples out before the kaboom.

Not her proudest moment, but I like a little humor in these shows.

At the museum, Kate tries to have another date with Reagan, but is also on the job as Batwoman. The pearls have arrived for the exhibit, which makes no sense because Luke and Kate never gave them to the museum. The hard drive shows that the last thing Magpie printed was a replica of the pearls, which she begins setting off as soon as Kate tries to stop her. The pearls go rolling and in a goofy action scene, Kate covers each pearl with her armored suit as they explode. A young girl picks up the last one, but a well-aimed Batarang knocks it out of her hand to explode safely in the air. Kate then uses her grapple gun to pull a fleeing Magpie off the fifth or sixth floor of a nearby building and into a fountain. That…would not be the soft landing they made it look like.

Reagan wants Kate to be honest with her because her flimsy excuses suck. Kate has to break up with her because she can’t be honest with her right now. Getting that superhero cliché out of the way fast, aren’t we? Granted, Reagan is someone she just started dating and maybe can’t fully trust yet, but if you need to lie that badly, say it’s a work thing and be convincing!

Alice catches some of Catherine’s goons trying to break into her hideout, so she cuts off one of their fingers and sends them back to Catherine. The nine-fingered goon quits, telling Catherine to deal with Alice herself. Rather than giving in to Alice’s demands, Catherine tells Jacob the truth: The bone fragments her employees found years ago were from a deer, and she paid to have the DNA report falsified so Jacob and Kate would stop destroying their lives trying to find Beth’s body. Jacob angrily tells Catherine to get away from him.

At the clinic, Dodgson deliriously mistakes Mary for Alice and says that it’s not him that Alice cares about; it’s someone named “Mouse,” who Alice has big plans for. Mary relays this to Batwoman, who injects a subdermal tracker in Dodgson’s neck. He’s going to lead her back to Alice.

Kate finds something to do in Wayne Tower – she’s going into real estate, but not the gentrification kind. On their lunch date earlier in the episode, Reagan told Kate she used to live somewhere that was bought up by some mogul and turned into a high-income area now under the watch of the Crows. Kate’s plan is to buy up old buildings in Gotham, keep the rent low, keep them out of the Crows’ district, and give them back to the community.

So…this episode wasn’t great. There were some good interactions between Luke and Kate, Mary got to aid in some detective work, and we got an early reveal of Catherine’s crimes, but the rest just fell apart. Magpie wasn’t an interesting villain, and they tried to give her some depth at the last minute with a little “eat the rich” type of speech as she was getting dragged away by the Crows. Kate’s breakup with Reagan was telegraphed from the first moment Kate gave a crappy excuse to bail on her. I feel like that could have lasted a few more episodes.

And then there was the third act action scene. Kate throws another Batarang at Magpie, then squats around a bunch of pearls exploding into CGI flames. The big “saving the day” moment is knocking an exploding pearl out of a little girl’s hand and then catching the Batarang on the return. After that, Magpie is just pulled off the side of a building. It’s lackluster at best and extremely goofy at worst.

Lastly, they really need to stop giving Vesper Fairchild sexist things to say. I haven’t mentioned it before, but Rachel Maddow is the voice of Vesper in radio broadcasts we hear throughout the episodes. It’s an okay way to get through a scene transition or to set up a villain of the week, like she does at the start of the episode, but some of these lines are cringeworthy. Since Batwoman hadn’t caught Magpie yet at the start of the episode, Vesper questions whether she was having her hair done or picking out lipstick. At the end when Magpie has been caught, Vesper says Batwoman has a pretty face and should “smile more.”

What the fuck are you doing, Batwoman crew? This is the shit I’d have expected from Andrew Kreisberg or the whiny manbabies on the internet who review-bombed this series with “WHY U MAKE BATMAN A LESBIAN SJW??” crap. It’s fine to have shitty lines like those in the show if they’re being challenged in some form. As it stands, Vesper exists in a vacuum. She’s never talking to anyone, she’s rarely mentioned by anyone else in the cast, and no one counters her talking points. Imagine how sleazy these lines would sound coming from a man. “Yikes,” we might say, “what the fuck?” Remarks like those don’t sound any less sexist coming from a woman if they’re still directed at a woman. It doesn’t make it funny, ironic, or transgressive if you’re just parroting the shit a sexist dude would say.

Next time: the horror story of how Beth became Alice.


Batwoman airs Sunday nights at 8 Eastern/7 Central on the CW. Kate can be found on Twitter @WearyKatie.

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