[Review] Batwoman Episode 1×11: “An Un-Birthday Present”

written by Kate Danvers

What could possibli go wrong?

*checks notes*

…Wait, what show am I reviewing again?


Picking up where we left off, Kate attacks Beth and starts choking her. Beth reaches into her bag, pulls out a can of pepper spray, and gives Kate an eyeful before running out. Hate to say it, Kate, but you kind of deserved that.

In a flashback, Johnny Cartwright/Mouse gives Beth a kitten for her birthday, but she has to keep it a secret from his dad. August enters and lights the candle on Beth’s cake. Beth wishes to see her dad and sister again, but August tells her that if she says her wish out loud, it won’t come true. I really can’t wait to see this monster die horribly.

In the present day, Alice is being very uncooperative at Crows HQ. Kate visits Sophie asking about Alice’s escape. Sophie shows her a live feed of Alice in chains. The Beth who visited Kate must be someone else.

Mary is brought in because she saw Beth too. Luke lifted fingerprints off of Beth’s bag and they match Alice’s. There’s also an extremely convincing ID that’s not in the system, classwork, and a cell phone. Kate unlocks the phone with the password “waffles” – the only one Beth could ever remember. There are personal photos, including one of an adult Beth and Kate together. Mary runs off to investigate Gotham University for anyone who knows Beth. Once she leaves, Kate tells Luke she’s seen a picture like the one on the phone before…on another Earth.

At Crows HQ, Alice wants her book. Sophie refuses to give it to her until she confesses to killing Catherine. Then Mouse appears on TV demanding Alice’s freedom or he’ll kill his two hostages: the mayor’s son and the police commissioner’s son. He’s lucky the police commissioner on Earth-Prime isn’t Jim Gordon, because if he kidnapped his son, he’d be in so much trouble.

Kate goes looking for Beth at the waffle stand they used to go to. She convinces Beth she’s not going to attack her again. Beth is upset because no one seems to know her. The two hug it out and go to Kate’s bar that’s apparently named “The Hold Up.” What about “Butch Gardens?” “Puss ‘n’ Boots?” “Suffering Sappho?” “69 Pick-Up?”

…What was I talking about again?

“Liquor In Front, Poker In the Rear”

On Beth’s Earth, the car crash still happened, but her Kate managed to pull Beth out of the car in time. Ever since, Kate has been Beth’s hero and best friend. Luke calls Kate to tell her to turn on the TV. The reports of the kidnapping are still going on, but the commissioner hasn’t turned on the Bat-signal, citing concern over the victims and not being “distracted by politics.” Well, at least they’re painting that in the awful light in which it should be painted, instead of last episode where Vesper again went unchallenged in her obnoxious “keep politics out of superheroes” comment.

Sophie tries to interrogate Alice again, bringing her the Alice In Wonderland book. All she gets is more of Alice’s story in captivity, how she began to see August as the Caterpillar as he grew increasingly frustrated with his attempts at making a skin mask for Johnny.

Since Kate only has till 9 p.m. to find the hostages, she gets on her motorcycle and heads to the Batcave, but she’s intercepted by the Wonderland Gang – and by “intercepted” I mean they run her over. It’s not a gentle tap at low speed; this is a high-speed direct hit from the side that should have at least left Kate with several broken bones. She’s fine, though – or as fine as she could be being zip-tied to the steering wheel of a car in a scrapyard. Mouse’s other two hostages are in the back seat.

Mouse calls Sophie, who puts him on speaker phone for Alice. He puts Kate on, and after reminding Sophie of their survival training, she says “let Alice go” twice. Once the call ends, Sophie says she has no intention of letting Alice go, and that Kate’s repetition was a reference to their code in survival training. Repeating an order twice meant to do the opposite. Alice and Mouse also have their own little code they’ve had since childhood, when they needed to hide secrets from August. But it didn’t always work, and August discovered the kitten and killed it. Then he showed her a newspaper of Jacob’s second marriage, saying her family has forgotten about her. Seeing a sweater Alice sewed for the cat, he teaches her to sew faces for Johnny.

I really want to see this asshole die. A lot.

Beth goes to Wayne Tower and Luke blurts out that Kate has been kidnapped by Alice, who is also Beth, and I really don’t like where this is going. Before you can say “This is a Legends-level terrible idea,” Beth has Mary help doll her up to look like Alice. Mary is disturbed by the end result, since it’s the face of her mother’s murderer. Beth apologizes to Mary for Alice’s actions, feeling some responsibility because Alice is just another version of her. It has sort of the same vibe as Season Two of The Flash, where both Barry and Cisco worked through some of their Eobard-related trauma through their interactions with Harry. I think in a bizarre way, seeing the person Alice could have been actually helps Mary, if only a little bit.

Even with interdimensional travel, doppelgängers are still the cheapest form of mental health care in America.

Time is running out. Mouse douses the car in gasoline and fake Alice arrives. She tries to convince him to let the hostages go. He objects because he really wants to murder Kate. When he realizes that Beth isn’t Alice, he puts her in the trunk just as Kate escapes. As Kate starts fighting the Wonderland goons, Mouse gets impaled on some scrap metal (though not fatally), but he still manages to set the car ablaze.

Sophie pleads with the real Alice and gives her the book, which was once repaired with fishing line back when young Beth cracked under the stress of the kidnapping and horrors and took on the Alice persona. Alice likens herself to Sophie, escaping her prison by lying about who she is to herself and everyone else. Ouch. Done with her shit, Sophie has Alice hauled off to Arkham, but realizes too late that Alice has taken the fishing line out of the book. In an impressive display of improvised weaponry, Alice uses the fishing line to attack the Crows escorting her, gets one of their guns, kills them, and then holds Sophie at gunpoint. Alice menaces Sophie and then escapes into the night, leaving Sophie shaken but unharmed.

Are Sophie and the two guards the only ones on duty tonight? Goddamn, the Crows suck.

Kate tries to open the trunk, but can’t. She frees the other two hostages and rips out the back seat to get to Beth, but the seat frame remains and the bars are too narrow for Beth to fit through. Oh, do not fucking do this to Kate, Batwoman. And I mean both of us – Kate Kane and me! Beth puts her hands on Kate’s face and it looks very much like a “save yourself/goodbye” moment, but Kate is like nah, fuck that and grabs something to pry the frame off and free her sister.

That ended way too happily. When is the other Bat-boot going to drop?

Kate checks on Sophie, who’s rattled but okay. She wishes Kate a happy birthday. A news report on a nearby TV shows that because of Alice’s escape, there’s a crowd outside GCPD demanding that they turn on the Bat-Signal. Kate dons her suit and makes an appearance on the roof of the building, causing the crowd to cheer.

Big Damn Hero

I love it, I love it, I love it. Many things going on here: Any doubts Kate had about whether Gotham would accept her as their hero can be cast aside because they’re calling out for her. It’s a nice big “fuck you” to the old dudes living in the past who wouldn’t turn on the signal. Also, Kate really needed a win.

With Mouse in the hospital under guard, Sophie goes to see Jacob in jail. He sees Alice’s escape as a positive. They couldn’t just kill her in custody, but now she’s roaming free and they can shoot to kill. Beebo fucking Christ, Jacob. Also, aren’t those visits monitored?

At the Hold Up, Kate, Beth, Luke, and Mary gather for the twins’ birthday celebration. While Beth and Luke go for a refill, Mary posits that there could have been multiple parallel universes that got smashed together, and Beth is just a spare bracket that made it into the box of the Ikea bookshelf that is Earth-Prime. Kate is just like “I dunno, maybe?” and Mary dismisses her own theory as having too much to drink. Hang on, what did they actually tell Mary about mystery Beth? “Alice’s good clone just popped out of the ground, so we’re going to roll with it”?

Beth and Luke return with a cake with two candles on it, which the sisters blow out. Beth suddenly collapses from a headache, and we see that elsewhere, Alice is experiencing the same thing.

Goddamnit, I knew this was too good to be true.

I really loved this one. It once again delved into Alice’s origin, showing some really messed-up stuff. Mary got to work through some trauma in a very strange way. But the big thing is that it gave Kate what she wished for back in “Crisis on Infinite Earths: Part Two” by giving her a chance to get to know a Beth who never became Alice. While it probably won’t last, it was so heartwarming to see the two sisters take multiverse shenanigans in stride and accept the other as not quite the sister they know, but close enough.

I don’t think I talk about the acting enough, but everyone was so great this episode. Rachel Skarsten had to pull double duty as Beth and Alice in this one and she did a phenomenal job giving distinct life to both characters.

Next time: Well, we’re off for two weeks for the Mega Sport Bowl and Obscure Art Film Awards, but when we return, this Earth ain’t big enough for two of them.


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

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