written by Kate Danvers
There can be only one.
Luckily nothing with that phrase in it has ever ended poorly. *cough*
SPOILER WARNINGS ARE IN EFFECT
Jacob and Sophie meet with Dr. Ethan Campbell, the man who presented Catherine with the Humanitarian of the Year Award and the same scientist whom Mary failed to convince to testify at Jacob’s trial about skin grafts. Hahaha, because this show only has one egghead-looking guy so he has to pull triple duty, right? Can’t be anything else. Sophie and Jacob present him with the evidence of a skin mask they got from Mouse but he still refuses to testify, calling it science fiction. However, his curiosity is piqued when they mention Mouse is in custody, and he says if he can talk to Mouse and run some tests, he can probably prove the validity of the skin mask evidence.
Sophie takes charge of the Crows and gives a not-so-rousing speech that begins with “I don’t know who’s a bigger threat to Gotham: Alice, or us for letting her get away.” Look, you said it, not me. She issues a shoot-on-sight order for Alice. Luke, Mary, and Beth are caught at a checkpoint trying to get Beth out of the city, but Kate drives up on the Batcycle and takes care of the Crows, allowing her friends to escape. However, the city is on lockdown, and they’re not getting Beth out.
Mary discovers that Beth’s cells are disintegrating and Beth hypothesizes that the same thing is happening to Alice because two Beth Kanes can’t coexist in the same universe. So fewer established Arrowverse multiverse rules and more Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse rules? Got it. Mary calculates that they have about seven hours.
Alice (who’s doing about as well as Beth) kills a Crow, steals his uniform, and sneaks into Mouse’s hospital room because the Crows suck. Mouse doesn’t want to see her because he’s been fooled by one fake Alice already. She convinces him, but figures out something is up, so she changes plans and leaves him there.
Kate attempts to talk to Sophie as Batwoman and asks her to cancel the shoot-to-kill order on Alice. I’d like to note that Sophie just told the Crows to check doors, dumpsters, rafters, drain pipes, etc., yet a lady in a bright red wig still got the drop on her because the Crows suck. Also they ran past dumpsters without checking them as she was saying that. Anyway, Sophie is salty about Batwoman crashing a checkpoint and still hung up on Alice getting away, so no deal.
Also, they keep changing the Batwoman costume. It looks like someone took a flat iron to the wig and the collar now features an exposed neck. I’m not complaining; I like that they’re still tweaking the look, especially if it’s for the comfort of Ruby Rose and any stunt/body doubles wearing the suit. It’s a better alternative than going years with a costume that doesn’t let the actor turn their head.
At Wayne Tower, Beth comes to the dire conclusion that for one Beth to live, the other has to die. Conveniently, Alice walks in and after getting the multiverse explanation, Kate finally arrives. There’s a tense conversation as Beth tries to show Alice a little empathy, but that just leads to Alice finding out that Beth’s Kate saved her. Oh good, that guilt trip again. No one thinks that maybe the Bat-cables held a minute longer on that Earth? Alice tries to kill Beth but is stopped by Kate, then she escapes.
Jacob is jumped by ex-Crow – and Alice’s ex-boyfriend – Dodgson in prison. He’s saved by another inmate, who wants a favor once Jacob gets out.
Mary is working late at the clinic because that always goes well and oh hey, there’s Alice. Alice wants Mary to fix her because Alice was so generous in giving Mary the antidote that time she poisoned her. Oh, there’s an idea! Mary still has the universal cure-all in her system. Alice knocks her out and draws her blood, but Mary wakes up, kicks Alice’s ass, handcuffs her to a bed, and starts making her way back to Beth with the syringe of blood. Alice reaches a phone that Beth hit her with and calls the Crows, sending them to Wayne Tower.
Doctor Campbell visits Mouse in the hospital. He’s intrigued. Wait…no… Campbell says Mouse is all grown up and he’s impressed. No no no… Mouse asks if he’s supposed to know Campbell. Campbell says no, and that’s the point. Goddamnit, no! Campbell calls him “Johnny,” saying his purpose has been to protect his son. FUCK! August Cartwright pulls off his Campbell mask. HOW IS THIS ASSHOLE STILL ALIVE?! Alice would kill someone for getting her Starbucks order wrong and this guy kidnapped her and kept her in hell prison for years.
Mouse thought August was dead. It’s implied he’s been Campbell for a while now, so the Campbell we’ve seen since the beginning has always been August. But he feels betrayed by Mouse and blames Alice for turning him against his own father. Mouse won’t give up Alice’s location, so August drugs him and takes him out of the hospital because the Crows suuuuuck.
Speaking of Gotham’s shittiest private army, they storm Wayne Tower, forcing Kate and Luke to hide Beth in the Batcave. On the way, Beth lets it slip that her Kate had a soulmate, but she won’t say who it was. When Beth sees the cave and the suit, she’s a bit jealous of Kate:
BETH: “Why risk your life every night for a city of strangers?”
KATE: “Well, I think not saving Beth that day on the bridge ignited something in me.”
BETH: “You couldn’t save your own mom and sister, so now you save every mom and sister.”
Kate chalks it up to guilt, but Beth calls it courage. I think Beth is right.
Meanwhile, Alice hallucinates Catherine, taunting her over Kate getting everything she wanted from the other Beth. Alice is sure Kate is going to use the syringe to save her, not the doppelgänger. Catherine promises to save her a seat in Hell if she’s wrong. This doesn’t have much bearing on the plot, but goddamn.
Mary calls from outside, so Kate goes out to meet her. They can’t give the blood to both because it would cancel out. One has to have the advantage over the other. Kate has to make a choice between Beth and Alice.
What follows is…awkward. We alternate between scenes: Kate with Alice at the clinic, and Kate with Beth in the Batcave. Kate left Alice once and she’s not doing it again. She already gave the blood to Beth, and she came to the clinic to say goodbye. Alice sobs and wants to know why – Kate doesn’t even know the real her. Kate says that Alice didn’t really give her a chance to, and the “her” she showed was a monster. Alice asks Kate to stay with her and the two hold each other as Alice dies.
Luke gets Beth past the checkpoints, but Sophie has followed them. She’s ready to take a sniper shot on “Alice,” but backs down at the last second and calls for backup to arrest Beth instead. A shot rings out as August (disguised as Campbell) shoots Beth and she dies in Luke’s arms.
At the clinic, Alice suddenly revives and angrily states that Kate let her die before hitting her with a metal tray.
There’s not much else to say, is there? Just…fuck. I knew Beth wasn’t going to stick around for long and the status quo would eventually be restored, but I’d hoped for some kind of merger between Beth and Alice that would eventually lead to Alice being rehabilitated. While that may still happen eventually, they keep pushing Alice further and further in the wrong direction.
The August twist was an infuriating surprise. I’d been waiting on a flashback where a teenage Alice and Mouse murder him, but now they’ve sort of set him up as another antagonist. I really want to see him get his comeuppance.
The idea behind the two Beths slowly killing each other doesn’t jive with any previously established multiverse science in the Arrowverse, but it actually kind of works here? I can’t really fault them for ignoring how the other shows are handling doppelgängers post-Crisis when it made for a good plot, and I’m sure if he’d been consulted, Cisco Ramon would have said something about Earth-Prime and Beth’s Earth being not as far removed from each other and thus they vibrate at too similar a frequency. There we go, I fixed it.
But hey, the creative teams not collaborating on how shit works post-Crisis is probably the most faithful adaptation of the comics we’ve seen in the CW shows.
Initially, I had a problem with Kate having to decide between Beth and Alice at the end and why that would be a difficult choice for her, but the more I think about it, the more sense it makes. For one thing, there was no choice at all – Kate immediately gave Beth the blood to save her. For another, of course Kate is going to have conflicted feelings about letting Alice die. Beth isn’t just the good version of Alice; she’s the “there but by the grace of god” version of the sister that Kate still feels guilt about not being able to save. She didn’t pull her Beth from the car, she didn’t find her during the search, she didn’t “sense” her behind the door in the Cartwright house, and she gave up the search. Even with a perfect version of her sister right there, Alice is still the sister Kate thinks she failed to save. Turning her back on her and letting her die, even if she’s an unrepentant murderer, feels like failing her all over again.
That’s why I really liked how Kate went to sit with Alice while she died. She thought it was over, that Beth was safe, so she needed to be there to say goodbye and make peace with the “bad sister.” In that moment, that was the closure she needed.
Finally, holy crap, Rachel Skarsten. She’s been killing it (har) this season as Alice, but for the past two episodes she’s pulled double duty playing very different versions of the same character and absolutely knocking it out of the park. We’ve seen actors playing two or more characters in an episode before on the CW shows, so doppelgängers are nothing new, but Skarsten is throwing so much emotional weight behind both characters that this is the most impressed I’ve been with the concept. The scene of Alice talking to Beth and pointing out how Beth never lived the horrors that Alice did was so chilling and gut-wrenching.
Next time: Oh gods, they’re doing the Nocturna storyline. At least it can’t turn out any worse than it was in the comics…wait, is that why the suit has an open neck now? This is going to suck.
Batwoman airs Sunday nights at 8 Eastern/7 Central on the CW. Kate can be found on Twitter @WearyKatie.