[Review] Batwoman Episode 1×17: “A Narrow Escape”

written by Kate Danvers

Okay okay okay, I know I said there was an episode the week after the last review, but the world, production schedules, and premiere dates are all kind of in flux right now and time makes fools of us all.

Damn it, I should have started the Legends review with that! $%#&;! @#%$! #@$#&;$! Spoiler cut! Goddamnit.


Kate and Alice are playing Mortal Kombat 11 together because NetherRealm Studios is owned by Warner Bros., who also owns DC, who oversees these shows, and this is totally product placement even if they don’t name-drop the game in either this or Legends of Tomorrow, which also had a pair of siblings playing the same game and yes, I do have a month of pent-up nitpicking inside me, why do you ask? Alice questions whether this is really happening and thanks her sister for never giving up on her before the fantasy fades. She’s still in Arkham and she’s receiving electroshock from Dr. Butler.

Side note: I haven’t played and have no intention of playing Mortal Kombat 11 because someone in NetherRealm or WB Games decided a good way to promote the game would be to recast Sonya Blade using the voice and likeness of transphobe, Sandy Hook conspiracy believer, and all-around piece of human trash Ronda Rousey.

Back to the show!

Kate is still having panic attacks when she suits up as Batwoman, due to killing August, so she hasn’t been answering the Bat-Signal for a week. In the meantime, the Detonator – a villain who disappeared seven years earlier – is back in Gotham. His gimmick is strapping bombs to people who are viewed as heroes and giving them a choice: Wait for the timer to tick down and blow themselves up, or press a button that will disarm their bomb, but will set off another nearby, killing other people. The Detonator does this to a police officer, who sacrifices a bank to save himself. Meanwhile, Julia pulls Kate out of her drunken misery and tells her to get back to work.

Alice and Mouse are attending group therapy sessions in Arkham. Mouse is content to just stay there where it’s safe, but Alice wants to escape. She sees an opportunity when she notices a knife in Tommy Elliot’s shoe while he’s ranting about Bruce Wayne. Later, Alice picks a fight with Tommy, catches a knife in her gut, and palms it before being taken to get stitched up.

Tommy, read the room and Hush.

Sophie is investigating the murders from the last episode. The shooter was paid through a wire transfer to an account at Gotham International – the bank that was bombed the night before. She and Julia start investigating on that front.

Kate finds Luke working out in the Batcave. He ducks her questions about his feelings regarding his dad’s killer being at large, and she ducks his questions about August Cartwright. Communication! They then get to work on the bombing case. Luke’s dad was working on the case with Batman, so they comb those files. The Detonator’s signature has been stamping the numbers “214” on every bomb. Kate links this to the form number on military discharge papers, DD-214 – something she has personal experience with. Kate refuses to suit up to interrogate the suspect to whom this evidence points, so Luke asks what’s up. She just says that if he knew, he wouldn’t want her to suit up either.

Kate goes to see George Adler Jr. and gets access to his apartment by pretending to be photographing apartments in the building she’s supposedly bought. She drops that act right away and starts questioning him about the bombings. Turns out her hunch was right, kind of. Junior wasn’t the original Detonator – his father, George Sr. was, and he died seven years ago. George Jr. also has an alibi for his whereabouts around the time of the bank bombing.

A defense attorney wakes up in his car. He’s wearing a C4 vest that would probably take out the overpass above him, if we’re being honest…which kind of negates the whole “heroic sacrifice” thing. He calls the Crows, because misery loves company, and Jacob has every building in a one-mile radius evacuated since the Detonator puts too many failsafes on his bombs to disarm them. The plan is to evacuate everyone, press the button to defuse the bomb, and let the building take one for the team because the Crows suck. Why? Here’s why:

Mary “Healthcare Is A Human Right” Hamilton and her clinic, proving that “abandoned” doesn’t mean “uninhabited.”

Mary’s clinic is in the area. She’s been dealing with Batwoman copycats getting hurt because the real one has been MIA. She evacuates her clinic as best she can, but some patients can’t be moved, so she tries to protect them as best she can. She’s also not leaving them. The GCPD and the Crows do their best to evacuate the area, but they’re obviously not checking every building. They give the all-clear and the attorney presses the button. A building blows and collapses, showering the clinic in debris as Kate arrives.

Kate helps Mary and her patients who are okay, but then experiences another panic attack when she sees one of the Batwoman copycats and steps out into the hallway. Mary follows her out and tells her that the copycats exist because Kate inspired hope and now people feel abandoned. She just tells Kate she knows she’s Batwoman and she should have figured it out sooner.

MARY: “It couldn’t be more obvious. Batwoman is the same person I’ve looked up to my entire life, and now this city needs you as much as I do.”

Kate gives her the “I’m not a hero” excuse, but Mary isn’t asking her to be a hero. She’s just asking her to keep going.

Meanwhile, Mouse stabs Dr. Butler, kills him, and steals his face. I’m trying very hard to feel bad for a psychiatrist who abuses his patients, but, uh…I got nothing.

Sophie and Julia, the investigative duo of Kate’s exes, bring further evidence to Luke. The building where the sniper lived was the one that just blew up. Since they know the Detonator is not the original, they turn to who would know the details of the case and find the investigating officer: Miguel Robles, who just so happens to be the head of the Crows’ homicide division. And someone in the Crows paid off the owner of the convenience store Lucius was killed in. And Robles was the one telling Jacob that the payment from the Crows wasn’t out of the ordinary.

Robles then kidnaps Jacob, straps a bomb to him, and hides the linked bomb in the parking garage under Wayne Tower.

Not to knock your normal sense of fashion, but that’s a dynamite vest, Jacob.

So Robles killed Lucius Fox, then years later hired a sniper to kill the owner of the convenience store, along with Reggie (the guy he framed for Lucius’ murder), Sophie, and Jacob. He bombed the bank that handled the money transfer to the sniper, then bombed the sniper’s apartment. Now he’s kidnapping his boss, who he also wants to kill, but sets it up so that Jacob saves himself by blowing up Wayne Tower, which would kill Luke…or maybe he’s hoping Jacob will be a hero and only let himself blow up? This guy is covering shit up by escalating it so far beyond the original crime.

Kate finally has the resolve to suit up. She chases down Robles, who’s already fleeing the city anyway, which looks hella suspicious. What’s the point of this cover-up? Man, you’ve been a Crow too long. You suck. Kate takes him to the Wayne Tower parking garage to hang out with her and the bomb. But Robles can’t disarm the bomb because the only way to disarm it is to let the other one blow up. Sophie and Julia go to Jacob and get ready to disarm his bomb once Batwoman gives the all-clear.

Luke steps into the parking a garage with a gun, locks down the tower, and demands to know why Robles killed his father. Robles confesses that Tommy Elliot paid him to rough up Lucius to get some journal he was writing. Robles tried to scare Lucius by threatening to go after Luke if he didn’t give Tommy the book. Lucius charged at Robles and Robles shot him, then spent four years on the most elaborate Looney Tunes cover-up the world has ever seen. I mean holy fuck, this guy would probably napalm a police precinct to get out of a parking ticket. Luke knocks him unconscious.

Kate tells Luke about Jacob, but Luke is focused on Robles, tempted to shoot him. Kate starts having another panic attack and blurts out that she killed Cartwright. She says the world is short on heroes and Luke shouldn’t let his anger turn him into someone he isn’t. And now that I’m going back and watching this scene again, I find it super distracting that the bomb’s clearly visible countdown is all over the place. It goes from 1:15 in one shot to 1:34 after a shot change, and it really isn’t consistent with the beeps either. Kate and Luke grab Robles as Kate tells Julia and Sophie to defuse Jacob’s bomb. Kate and Luke make it to a blast door just as the Wayne Tower bomb detonates. Thanks to the lockdown and the really good blast doors Lucius installed, the parking garage is the only room destroyed.

C4 explosions are instant, meaning expanding nitrogen and other gases would be released at a rate of 26,400 feet per second, annihilating– Fuck it. That’s not how explosions work.

Jacob officially welcomes Sophie back to the Crows and puts her at the head of a strike team to…SIIIIIIIGH “drain the swamp,” in his words. Can we fucking not with Sunkist Stalin’s campaign slogans? Fuck’s sake. Anyway, Sophie is going to have a partner in this endeavor, on loan from another agency – Julia Pennyworth! And they’ve already got lots of chemistry that would make HR step in.

Hang on, Julia is British. Shouldn’t her last name be NoughtPointEightPenceworth?

Luke thanks Kate for talking him down from crossing the line. She asks about the journal. It’s likely an instruction manual for Wayne technology…and maybe Batman tech? They also talk about Cartwright. Kate didn’t tell Luke because she didn’t want him to be disappointed in her. Luke isn’t, though. He still thinks she’s a hero.

KATE: “I broke Batman’s code.”
LUKE: “You think you’re the only one? Ever wonder why the Joker hasn’t reared his head in five years? He’s not in Arkham, Kate. Both you and Bruce stared into the abyss. The question is: How long are you going to let it stare back at you?”

Oh shit!

Mary comes in with a shot of Batwoman on the batcycle, praising Kate. Luke tries so hard to deny this even after Kate assures him it’s okay. He looks like his brain is bluescreening. Kate nopes out and lets her sidekicks work it out amongst themselves.

In Arkham, “Dr. Butler” (I’ve had to look up this guy’s name every time I’ve mentioned him so far) goes to collect Alice for her therapy session. Mouse is eager to leave now that he’s wearing Butler’s face. What did he do with the bodies of Butler and presumably the orderly he had to knock out? Alice wants to stay right where they are and take over Arkham as its king and queen, biding their time until they’re ready to strike. Mouse likes this idea and walks away, but after he does, Alice picks up the black queen from the chessboard in front of her and knocks over the black king.

This is either symbolism setting up Alice’s future arc or she really doesn’t know the rules of chess.

We’re back! I have no idea for how long since they didn’t finish filming before the shutdown. Convoluted cover-up plans aside, I liked this episode. Luke got some closure on his dad’s murder and had a really good scene in the parking garage. Camrus Johnson nailed a very emotional scene of anger and turmoil, just as he did last episode when Luke confronted Reggie.

Mary can finally be let into the inner circle! Well, if Kate and Luke don’t try to “keep her safe” or some bullshit like that. She’s been in danger numerous times without working directly with Batwoman. She can handle her own.

Something that really caught my attention – and I applaud the show for doing it – is confirming Joker’s death. I’m going to be real: There are very few depictions of the Joker that I’ve actually liked, and if I’m brutally honest, most of his comic appearances aren’t very good. He’s overused and is probably the A-list Batman villain with the least amount of depth. Taking him off the board this early prevents the show from constantly being pressured to include him in some form.

And it will make toxic dudebro Joker fans mad, so bonus!

Next time: the search for the journal is on! Please let it be a cookie recipe. Not just for the subversion of expectations, but because some characters in this show really need comfort food.


Batwoman airs Sunday nights at 8 Eastern/7 Central on the CW. Want to learn more about Kate’s complicated plot to cover up who really dealt what she smelt? Follow her on Twitter @WearyKatie.

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