REVIEW: Batwoman, S1E4 – Who Are You?

“Who Are You?” is Batwoman‘s first foray into the truly procedural, and I’m not sure if it’s something they need to repeat. While Alice (Rachel Skarsten) is still burrowing her rabbit hole to Wonderland in the background, the focus this week is on Kate’s (Ruby Rose) face-off with a new villain named Magpie. She seems to be something of a Catwoman expy, though she does boast of her own comic book origin. Either way, though, her presence was infinitely less threatening than Alice and her motivations less threatening.

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Who are you, and where is Catwoman?

Perhaps the issue is that Batwoman leaned so heavily into its mythology and overarcing plot for the first few episodes that “Who Are You?” felt like something of a letdown. But it did serve as an important step in Kate’s superhero process: learning to love the lie. Now that she’s stepped out of Batman’s shadow, she has to protect the secret of her new identity, which means quickly derailing her day-old romance with psychic-wannabe Reagan. Instead of letting a virtual stranger into the Batcave, she has to make up barely believable lies about water mains and electrical fires at her cousin’s building so that she and Luke (Camrus Johnson) can track Magpie in peace. Unsurprisingly, Reagan gets the hint that Kate isn’t ready for a relationship after the fourth failed date in the span of 24 hours.

Not that I think “Who Are You?” needed to show the spectacular failure of Kate’s attempt at dating in order to prove that her life necessitated lies. The tension between she and Sophie (Meagan Tandy) as they worked together to stop Magpie, all while Kate dodged Sophie’s arch and knowing inquiries, was a better indicator of needing to keep her loved ones at bay. As was Mary (Nicole Kang) being put in the position to give medical care to Batwoman’s hostage, the very man who tried to kill her earlier, and question him – all without knowing that the hero she was helping was her own sister.

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Neither of them missed Sophie’s husband.

Both of those minor subplots would have benefitted from taking center stage instead of a guest star romance, and they would have dovetailed more effectively with the other big lie in “Who Are You?” A lie much harder to love, which was Catherine’s (Elizabeth Anweis) decade-old subterfuge perpetrated against her husband Jacob (Dougray Scott) and stepdaughter Kate. This was the first episode she actually came into her own as a character, in no small part thanks to Alice hounding her for proprietary equipment and blackmailing her with the truth she’d kept hidden so long.

In previous episodes of Batwoman, her motive for ‘finding’ bone fragments that put a stop to the search for Beth seemed very shady indeed. And she very well may be a sinister figure in the story, purposely orchestrating the death of Gabrielle Kane and then making sure Beth could never be found. But to Anweis’ credit, and to the benefit of Catherine’s character, her tearful confession to Jacob felt very genuine. It’s equally possible at this point that she might have put a stop to their Beth obsession because the family she had married into was losing themselves in it. And now, the question of how she will win back her husband’s trust after this actually opens up a world of possibilities for the Hamilton-Kane family unit. Further examination will shed further light, but this was the first time my interest was piqued.

“Who Are You?” was also the first time Alice’s boyfriend piqued any interest at all, mostly because in the wake of her forgetting about him, he actually dropped a breadcrumb for Kate to follow. Thanks to Mary’s quick thinking while he was under a morphine haze, she was able to derive the name “Mouse” as the one Alice had big plans for. Now that he’s chipped and let loose to find his love once more, Kate may be able to follow him down the rabbit role and discover what it is that her not-so-dead sister really wants.

Meanwhile, Magpie wasn’t anything to write home about, but she did provide Luke Fox with a chance to distinguish himself. He got more screen time than ever before, and his partnership with Kate finally felt like a mutually beneficial one. It’ll be fun to see them dip their toes into real estate, which Kate is doing with a charitable heart despite not knowing the first thing about the business. But at least it means Wayne Industries will finally house something other than the Batcave – though it does beg the question of what they were doing for the last three years before Kate walked in and essentially took over. Maybe we’ll find out next week!

Batwoman airs Sundays at 8/7 on The CW.