REVIEW: Batwoman, S1E6 – I’ll Be Judge, I’ll Be Jury

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Batwoman relies on another villain of the week in “I’ll Be Judge, I’ll Be Jury,” but it works because the villain in question is compelling. Bertrand Elden, who goes by The Executioner, seeks to right the wrongs of the justice system. In a way, he’s not all that different from Kate (Ruby Rose) herself – except for the part where he murders the culprits instead of jailing them.

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Anyone else think Scarecrow for a second?

The A-plot draws from Luke’s (Camrus Johnson) past, Jacob’s (Dougray Scott) distrust of Batwoman, as well as Sophie (Meagan Tandy) and Mary’s (Nicole Kang) different ways of showing loyalty to Kate. It also touches on racism and police corruption, making it the show’s most ambitious story yet. In fact, “I’ll Be Judge, I’ll Be Jury” only (or rather most) falters when it comes to the accompanying B-plot, which doesn’t accompany much of anything at all. The disturbing and dysfunctional tale of Alice (Rachel Skarsten) and Mouse’s found family only connects back to the main storyline in that it acknowledges that Alice isn’t quite ready to give up on Kate.

Since it took up less of the episode, we can get the Alice story out of the way first. My old question about Mouse’s lack of plastic surgery was retroactively answered, as Batwoman revealed that Alice makes faces for Mouse so that he can pretend to be that person. In this case, he took the place of scientist Dean Devereux so that they could get their hands on Catherine’s (Elizabeth Anweis) new Batman suit-shredding weapon. Why she didn’t steal the tech Batman himself made when she had a chance in Episode 3 is unclear, but the real point of the plot is to set Mouse and Alice at odds when the former realizes his partner in crime isn’t willing to kill her sister (yet).

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Daddy Kane on the outs with both daughters?

As meek as Mouse was in the flashbacks, his unwillingness to help Beth escape was a foreshadowing of his possessive and controlling nature, which is on full displays in “I’ll Be Judge, I’ll Be Jury.” He lashes out so aggressively upon realizing the extent of Alice’s concern for Kate that it scares the villainess herself – and it certainly calls into question how much of Alice’s actions have been her choice up until now. The two make up when Alice promises she just wants Kate to join their tea party, and she’ll get rid of her if she doesn’t comply. But something tells me it won’t be that easy, especially as Jacob vows he won’t let his daughter slip through his fingers a second time.

Jacob’s resolution is backed by Kate’s own forgiveness of him, which she resolves on after an episode-long standoff between him and Batwoman. It’s interesting that the show so explicitly set him against his daughter, even going so far as to compare her to the Executioner himself, without actually villainizing him. He is a character in desperate need of more dimensions, and “I’ll Be Judge, I’ll Be Jury” went a long way towards achieving that.

There were plenty of other layers to the villain of the week plot, as well, seeing as Kate extended her protection to the murderer himself upon learning that he had uncovered corrupt convictions in Gotham. This discovery placed her at odds with Luke, who wanted The Executioner to be wrong because one of the prosecutors he blamed was the man who put away his father’s killer. The intersection of racial profiling with a very personal family history was surprising on Batwoman, and it worked so well that I almost forgave the show for killing Lucius Fox offscreen before we could ever meet him.

Another awkward intersection that they handled decently was Sophie’s desire to protect Kate nearly resulting in unmasking her. Sophie has Kate’s best interests at heart, but clearly not Kate’s own interests. Meanwhile, Mary doesn’t even know Kate is Batwoman and yet she seeks to protect her identity even from herself. She also calls Sophie out for having hurt Kate in the past, all of which is hopefully set-up for an episode that tells Sophie’s point of view about the relationship and aftermath. Right now it feels like Batwoman is piling on when it comes to her, although I appreciated that her good intentions came through and that she backed down upon witnessing a father-daughter reconciliation hug. And I can’t ignore the sparks between Sophie and both Kate and Batwoman, which certainly help me as I await her side of the story.

Overall, Batwoman is on an upswing after the first few shaky episodes, it just needs to balance the character work more and gain a firmer grasp of Kate herself. Find out if it does just that when it airs new episodes Sundays at 8/7c on The CW.