In Batman's absence, Kate Kane is here to offer hope.
If you love origin stories, then you’re probably going to love the series premiere of Batwoman. It is filled with origin story calling cards: a training sequence; flashbacks that tell a story but not the whole story; our main character providing a voiceover; and plenty of exposition to explain everything that’s happening. It’s a lot to take in, but hey, that just seems to be how series premieres work these days.
Anyway, the episode begins with the aforementioned training sequence. Luckily it isn’t excessive. Rather, we’re introduced to Kate Kane (Ruby Rose) as she dives through a hole in a frozen lake, swims to the bottom, retrieves a key, and unlocks the cuffs around her hands and ankles. She attempts to get back to the surface, but the hole’s been blocked. She panics, we see a flashback of some accident involving her sister and Batman, and then she comes back to reality and punches her way through the ice using the cuffs.
She trudges back to a hut where her training master chastises her for not getting out sooner. Classic training master stuff. Then, Kate begins narrating her story. It’s been three years since Batman left Gotham unannounced, and nobody has heard from him since. In the absence of the vigilante, Kate’s father, Jacob, started Crow Security, which is basically a private military force that’s meant to protect the city. Gotham’s citizens live in constant fear, but the city is hoping to turn a corner at a ceremony where the Bat-Signal will finally be turned off, representing a new start.
So, a bunch of the richest and most influential people in Gotham gather for the ceremony, but things don’t go as planned. A villain by the name of Alice, along with her Wonderland Gang, attack The Crows and kidnap one of them, an agent named Sophie. Mary, Kate’s step-sister, calls Kate and lets her know that Sophie has gone missing, and in a flashback we see Kate and Sophie kissing. That means her training, which was meant to get her a job as one of the Crows, has ended early, and she’s headed back to Gotham to help find her former (current?) girlfriend.
Of course, Kate isn’t accepted onto the team. Her father insists she’s not ready, so she sets about proving him wrong. She goes to Wayne Towers, where her cousin Bruce Wayne used to live, breaks in, and promptly gets handcuffed by Luke Fox (presumably Lucius’s son). Kate, being the badass that she is, can make this work though. When Luke brings her into the security room, not believing that she’s Bruce’s cousin, she swiftly uncuffs herself and locks him up instead. Then she scours Bruce’s own private security footage of Gotham and gets a lead on Sophie’s whereabouts.
She brings the footage to her father and tells them that there’s an old orphanage where Sophie is likely being held. Jacob dispatches his team, but Kate goes rogue. She gets there first, fights off a few masked baddies while wearing a leather jacket and a Ramones tee, and is eventually knocked out and brought in front of Alice. Alice seems to know a lot about her and is only keeping her alive so that she can send a message to her father. She kicks Kate while she’s down, saying that her father never loved her and that Sophie was the kind of daughter he wanted. She then knocks Kate out again. The pain is only compounded by a flashback where Kate is kicked out of the Academy for refusing to denounce her homosexuality, while Sophie chooses to stay, saying she doesn’t love Kate.
Kate wakes up in an illegal clinic that Mary runs to help the underserved citizens of Gotham get medical care. She gets stitched up, confronts her father about pushing her away, and then heads back to Wayne Towers. Things finally start picking up, as she discovers an elevator to the Bat Cave, which sends Luke into a panic. She descends, sees the famous suit, and puts it all together. Bruce Wayne is Batman. Luke tells her that Batman spent much of his time regretting not being able to save Kate’s sister Beth and their mom. As it turns out, someone hijacked a school bus and ran the Kanes off the road and over a bridge. Batman thought he’d saved the car from tumbling into the river by attaching cables to it, but the trunk let loose, sending the car, and Kate’s family, into the water as Batman saved the kids on the bus.
The premiere covers a lot of emotional and storytelling ground. Kate gets all this information, suddenly forgives Batman, and seems totally unfazed by the whole Bruce is Batman thing. She then decides it’s time to forge her own path and give Gotham some hope. So, she has Luke fix the suit so that it fits her, and just in time too.
Gotham is holding its first public event in three years, a movie night in the park. It’s the perfect opportunity for Alice to make her mark, and she forces Jacob to choose between saving the citizens of Gotham from a bomb and saving Sophie from a deadly drop off the top of a building. In swoops Kate, already adept at using every one of Bruce’s Bat Tools. She saves Sophie and stops the bomb from going off, but Alice gets away, leaving only a butterfly knife behind.
The sighting of “Batman” brings hope back to the city, but the premiere isn’t done just yet: we need a few more twists. First, there’s Kate and Sophie reuniting after so much time apart, only for Sophie’s husband to walk into the frame, shocking Kate. Then, as the episode comes to a close and Kate finishes writing a journal entry to Bruce — hence the voiceover — Luke mentions that “for what it’s worth,” Bruce never stopped looking for Beth’s body.
That’s right, Beth isn’t dead. In fact, as noted by the ruby in the butterfly knife Kate took earlier on, Alice is Beth. Two sisters, struggling to control the fate of Gotham.
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