written by Kate Danvers
I have a really great vampire joke that’s way too inappropriate for this review and especially for the article preview.
Okay okay, what did one lesbian vampire say to the other lesbian vampire?
SPOILER WARNINGS ARE IN EFFECT
I’m going to start off this recap by saying that there is a Nocturna in the comics and she has crossed paths with Batwoman before. It’s not a storyline I recommend, and I dodge around or flat-out tell people to avoid these issues if they’re reading Batwoman comics.
Content warning: the following paragraph describes a storyline with implied sexual assault.
In 2013, J.H. Williams III and W. Haden Blackman left their run on Batwoman Volume 2 over DC editorial’s refusal to allow Kate Kane to marry her fiancée, Maggie Sawyer. Marc Andreyko took over writing duties mid-storyline, didn’t resolve it until an annual later, and then told a new story. It consisted of Kate breaking up with Maggie, Nocturna hypnotizing Kate, the two “dating,” Kate doing Nocturna’s bidding, sleeping with her, being hypnotized into thinking she was a vampire, being framed for murder, and in the end being gaslit into thinking she allowed herself to be manipulated by Nocturna because she was so heartbroken over Maggie. It was a horribly conceived storyline in desperate need of sensitivity readers that DC just didn’t have, and it was hot on the heels of a boneheaded editorial decision that cost DC Comics the creative team behind a comic that topped the New York Times bestseller list. And yes, this is the storyline that made me drop the book for a while. It’s the fucking worst.
Luckily, the show ignores that shitty storyline.
Sophie and a newly exonerated Jacob go to the morgue to view Beth’s body, believing her to be Alice. Jacob feels empty inside seeing his daughter like that. He questions why Sophie didn’t take the shot and she lies, saying she couldn’t get a clean shot. Jacob reckons that Alice had a lot of enemies who could have done it.
Kate, Luke, and Mary mourn Beth and prepare for whatever Alice has planned next. Luke gives Kate Beth’s birthstone necklace that he took off her after she was shot. They don’t have much of a lead on the shooter, so Luke and Kate focus on catching Nocturna, a “vampire” who’s draining her victims of their blood and leaving them strung up. Kate suggests she stake out Curse, a nightclub where Nocturna will likely go to find her necks victim.
Why yes, I do have a checklist of vampire puns that I’m just crossing out.
Kate suits up and hears a scream near the club. She finds Nocturna’s latest victim hanging in a warehouse. She’s jumped from behind by Nocturna and in the scuffle Kate is bitten. I’d make a “type” joke, but the show already did for me, so…yeah. The bite paralyzes Kate and she’s tied up to be drained of her blood, but the Crows storm the place so Nocturna makes her escape.
LUKE: “She injected you with a paralytic.”
KATE: “I got that.”
LUKE: “And you have six Crows incoming.”
KATE: “I got that too.”
LUKE: “Gonna hit you with an adrenaline shot. Takes about thirty seconds to kick in.”
KATE: “I don’t got that.”
Have I mentioned how much I love the banter between those two?
Luke remotely activates her voice modulator as Sophie walks in. Sophie starts to free Kate and there’s this weird sexual tension going on as she does. She says she has to arrest Batwoman next time, so there can’t be a next time. Kate leaves as the other Crows arrive.
Kate – as Kate – goes to Mary’s clinic to have her blood checked, claiming she feels a flu coming on. What? No. This is a terrible idea. Go as Batwoman or have the tests run by someone else. This is going to come back to bite you. Mary diagnoses her with feeling guilty over choosing Beth over Alice…oh, and also having ketamine in her system. Mary asks how that happened and yeah, seriously, how? Are Nocturna’s fangs actually syringes full of ketamine? Kate bullshits an “I was partying” excuse and runs off.
A trap is laid for Nocturna at Kate’s bar, The Hold Up. Jacob, wanting to catch Nocturna and Batwoman, sends Sophie in undercover. Mary is also there doing her social media thing while Luke and Kate monitor from the manager’s office. Both are concerned about luring a vampire to a bar full of walking blood bags, but it’s too late now. Huh, if a bar is an all-you-can-eat blood buffet, does that make Nocturna “Vampire the Buffet Slayer”?
Sophie is approached by a woman named Elle Scantlin, who starts talking her up. Luke notes her as a potential suspect and points out how she and Sophie are hitting it off. Kate goes to the bar and accidentally cuts her finger, drawing blood. Elle reacts with nausea, so Kate thinks that eliminates her as a suspect…and she and Luke discuss this over comms while Luke is standing right next to Mary. Brilliant.
Alice appears outside, staring into a security camera, so Kate goes out to talk. Alice wants Mouse back, but Kate doesn’t have him. Kate tries to get through to Alice and explain her reasons for picking Beth. In anger, Alice goes back to her hideout and has an angry conversation with a mannequin wearing one of Mouse’s skin masks, telling him he was right about her letting her guard down around Kate. Her rant is interrupted when Nocturna attacks and kidnaps her.
Reviewing the security footage, Luke and Kate see a woman follow Alice out of the alley. Facial recognition identifies her as Natalia Knight, which is like one step down from “Dr. Acula.” Natalia has a type of porphyria – she’s sensitive to sunlight and her kidneys have trouble cleaning her blood, hence why she’s getting blood bags from her victims. But…why the ketamine fangs, though? I guess you can’t be a serial killer in Gotham without a gimmick.
To bargain for her own life, Alice offers a more delicious blood bag. As Mary is leaving The Hold Up, she’s taken by Nocturna. Kate saves Alice and recognizes the ropes Nocturna has been using as bell ropes, which means Nocturna is using Gotham Cathedral as a hideout. Kate gets there in time to spoil Nocturna’s Bloody Mary. They fight, Alice saves Kate, and Nocturna tries to escape with the blood bags. Mary needs blood and Alice is a universal donor…but Kate isn’t? Hang on… Okay, yeah, fraternal twins can have different blood types. Huh, you learn something new every day.
Alice gives Mary a blood transfusion while Kate chases down Nocturna. In the scuffle, Kate uses a UV light on the non-vampire, giving her a wicked sunburn and then cuffing her to a bell. She calls Sophie to pick her up, but Sophie is in a meeting with Jacob, who has security footage of her freeing Batwoman the night before. Sophie pleads for understanding, suggesting Batwoman can help them since they’ve lost the public’s trust and turned Gotham into a police state. Jacob suspends Sophie.
Kate visits Mary at the clinic. After she was rescued by Batwoman, she was taken there and Batwoman gave her a container of cookies. Mary muses that the idea of Batwoman going to a store to buy her cookies is priceless. Now I wish we’d gotten that scene. Mary did find out that Nocturna was after her desert rose blood cure.
Kate brings that to Alice, knowing she sent Nocturna after Mary. Alice wants a pat on the back for saving Mary in the end. Kate isn’t going to give her that. She makes it clear that Alice’s isn’t worth a second chance and regrets ever trying to redeem her. This kind of shatters Alice and she says maybe she doesn’t want Kate to give up on her. Kate just walks away. One of the Wonderland Gang informs Alice that Mouse only had two visitors before his abduction: Alice and Dr. Campbell. With the information she’s given on the doctor, she figures out he’s August Cartwright.
Alice isn’t the only one putting pieces together. Nocturna was using ketamine, Kate had ketamine in her blood, Sophie told her that Nocturna drugged Batwoman, Luke was talking to Kate on a hidden earpiece, and the very last piece – Batwoman is a lesbian. AAAAAH! Mary, I’m so proud of you! This is going to be such a problem for Kate and Luke, who will probably try to deny it to Mary’s face, but goddamn I love when the supporting characters deduce a hero’s bullshit on their own.
Sophie calls Batwoman to the roof of the GCPD with the Bat-signal and fills her in on being suspended. She’s at a loss because her job is everything she’s trained for and it would be insane to jeopardize that by working with Batwoman. Before we get to unpack all of that, Kate says she’ll keep her distance but Sophie stops her from leaving and kisses her.
THAT ENDING. So hey. If you missed the obvious parallel, Sophie wouldn’t jeopardize her military career to be with Kate, but when a perceived alliance with Batwoman puts her private security career in jeopardy, she says “fuck it” and goes all in on that Batwoman lovin’. Now obviously the subtext is that her brush with Don’t Ask Don’t Tell in the past, years of regrets, and the emotions stirred by recent events (including her failing marriage) have Sophie reexamining things and steered her away from making the same mistake twice. Once even might suggest that on some level, Batwoman is her surrogate for Kate in atoning for mistakes of the past – doing it right this time.
But you know what else? You know what this is going to do to Kate in the short term? She was rejected by Sophie years ago, and now that Sophie is in a similar position, she’s choosing Batwoman over her job. Batwoman – the vigilante she should be 100% convinced is not Kate Kane. What may go through Kate’s mind: “Sophie wouldn’t give up her career for me but she’ll give it up for a redhead in black leather…who is also me.”
Drama! I love it!
I really hope Mary gets pulled into the team. She helps them a lot already and she deserves this. If they pull the same crap they did with Sophie, I’ll be so disappointed.
As for Nocturna – that was a different take. I’m very glad they didn’t go down the path that the comic went down. No hypnosis, no enthralling, no non-consensual relationship – just ketamine fangs and stringing up people to use as blood bags. Cut and dry supervillain.
Next time: Another one week break, then we’re back with a villain wielding a box cutter. Use the week off to celebrate the end of Dan DiDio’s tenure at DC Comics.
Batwoman airs Sunday nights at 8 Eastern/7 Central on the CW. Kate can be found on Twitter @WearyKatie.