Batwoman recap: Infinite lives, infinite deaths
And so the never-ending battle between Kate’s hope that she can bring her sister back after years of trauma, and all the murderous evidence to the contrary, continues. Yes, this is yet another episode where the story hinges on the idea of Alice’s “humanity” and her ability to maybe become the sister Kate once knew again. Yes, “Take Your Choice” once again finds Kate struggling to see Alice as the killer that she is, despite the whole poisoning Catherine and Mary deal and the fallout from all of that. Yes, Kate once again finds herself on the wrong end of Alice’s violence. So it goes, again and again and again.
Before we get to why this episode is yet another disappointing instance of Batwoman failing to build narrative momentum and intrigue, let’s begin with Jacob, whose arc is the very definition of lifeless. Sophie and Jacob are working hard to convince Dr. Campbell to sign an affidavit swearing that someone could realistically create a mask made of skin and impersonate someone and commit a crime. Campbell is hesitant to do it, but agrees when he’s told he can meet with Mouse, who’s locked up in a hospital.
As it turns out, Campbell has his own motivations for wanting to see Mouse. It’s because he’s not Campbell. The well-respected doctor is actually August Cartwright, a.k.a. Jonathan/Mouse’s father. He rips off his mask in a dramatic reveal and sets about chastising his son for straying from him and making a family with Alice. I don’t know about you, but I’m already very tired of all the face-swapping, identity-stealing plot points. It’s just too much, and it feels like the show is trying to create shocking moments where there’s otherwise no dramatic tension. When I realized what “Dr. Campbell” was about to do, my eyes nearly rolled completely out of my head.
Anyways, back to The Problem of Two Beths. Both Beth and Alice can’t exist in a single universe. It causes some serious problems, and now both of them are dying. They have seven hours to live, which means Kate and the team have less than seven hours to find a way to save them. The thing is, not everyone is on the same page. Mary doesn’t think Alice is worth saving. Neither does Sophie, who’s currently using the full power of The Crows to find her former lover’s wicked sister. She’s on a power trip after Jacob gives her a rah-rah “using excessive force is heroic and necessary!” speech, sending The Crows into every disadvantaged community in Gotham to look for Alice. She also gives her team a “shoot to kill” order, so that’s fun. At least the show is aware that this isn’t a good look, and has Batwoman call Sophie out on her methods.
Still, it all contributes to the feeling that Batwoman doesn’t have a hold on its characters and their motivations. Sophie has been about five different people across these 12 episodes. Jacob is barely a character with actual emotions and ideas. Mary is there largely to be the contrasting voice to Kate’s own motivations. Then there’s Alice, who’s meant to be a sympathetic character but also murderous but also maybe kinda nice but also there were the multiple attempts to kill people, and the show is completely failing to bring some focus to the character so that we can understand how to feel about her. Alice isn’t a “complicated” character who’s morally ambiguous; she’s just thinly written.
Anyways, there’s really not much going on in this episode; everything boils down to Kate’s decision to save either Beth or Alice. The rest of the episode is just exposition telling us what we already know, which is kind of Batwoman‘s thing. So, Mary figures out that she can use her blood, which was inoculated against the poison that Alice tried to use on her, to save Beth or Alice. She gives the syringe of blood to Kate, who has to make the tough choice. The episode crosscuts between Kate sitting with Beth and Alice, trying to ratchet up the tension. Of course, there’s no way Alice is going anywhere, so watching is just a matter of waiting to see how the show keeps her alive. Kate decides to save her nice sister from another universe, and heads to Mary’s clinic to say goodbye to her evil sister as she dies. But then, Cartwright kills Beth, who dies in Luke’s arms, and Alice springs back to life, absolutely pissed that Kate didn’t choose to keep her alive.
And so begins another round of “can Alice really be saved?” which you would think is a question that has already been answered.