Batwoman boss breaks down that Mouse twist, Julia Pennyworth's casting
Warning: This article contains spoilers from the latest episode of Batwoman, titled “Tell Me the Truth.” Read at your own risk!
Halloween may have been two weeks ago, but that didn’t stop a couple Batwoman characters who aren’t Kate Kane from dressing up in costumes and trick or treating around Gotham City (well, mostly tricking) in Sunday’s episode.
First, there was Alfred’s daughter Julia Pennyworth (Christina Wolfe), who donned the Batwoman super-suit and showed up in the same room as Kate in order to convince Sophie (Meagan Tandy) that Kate wasn’t Gotham’s new red-haired vigilante. (Oliver Queen pulled off a similar gambit in Arrow season 1 episode 7).
Next (and more worrisome) were Alice (Rachel Skarsten) and Mouse (Sam Littlefield). With Jacob Kane (Dougray Scott) out of town on assignment, Alice sent her face-swapping brother into Crows HQ as Jacob to stir up some drama for Jacob and Catherine (Elizabeth Anweis). As Jacob, Mouse tricked Catherine into believing that there was a chance Jacob wouldn’t go through with the divorce. All of this was in service of the “mad tea party” Alice is planning for the Kane family and all of Gotham City.
“The next episode is our mad tea party,” Batwoman showrunner Caroline Dries tells EW about the midseason finale (and last episode before the epic “Crisis on Infinite Earths” crossover). “So it’s a grand affair of Gotham who’s who, and Alice is going to invite herself.”
Below, EW chats with Dries about the hour’s other major developments, the thought-process behind Julia Pennyworth’s casting, and more.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: In the comics, the current incarnation of Julia Pennyworth, who appears in the most recent Batwoman series, is depicted as mixed race. Here, was there a specific reason why you chose a Caucasian actress for the role?
CAROLINE DRIES: Yeah, we stressed about that a lot. And the reason is we knew we wanted a character to come in [and] put on the Batwoman suit so we could fool Sophie, and we also fell in love with the idea of using Julia Pennyworth. Then when we realized that Sophie would not be fooled by a mixed race Batwoman, we were like, “Oh s–t, you know, but we decided just to own it and go with it anyway.”
Before settling on Julia Pennyworth, did you consider creating a new and different character who could masquerade as Batwoman, or was there something specific about Julia Pennyworth that made you excited about bringing that character into the show?
We were really excited about Julia because she exists in the cannon and because we wanted to introduce this idea of: Alice gets that serum from this woman named Safiyah, and that’s what Julia is in Gotham dealing with. We kind of just wanted to plant the seeds of that, so it made perfect sense for us that it would be Julie Pennyworth. We wanted also just to enhance Kate’s backstory a little bit, and being so early on in the season [and] series still, just kind of adding to the depths of the Bruce Wayne connection to Kate and stuff like that. So it made sense it was someone sort of in both the Batman and Batwoman lore.
The Rifle does mention Safiyah, who is a relatively new character from the Batwoman comic series. Can we expect to meet her at all this season, and can you tease what you have planned for that character?
Our plans for this season is just to drop little teases like that. So if you get you catch it, and you read the comics, you’ll be like, “Oh, I’m intrigued!” and if you don’t, it’s not a big deal. It just seems like it’s a bad guy somewhere else. I think laying the pipe is our task for this season, at least as far as I can see what we’re doing in season 1. So just creating intrigue.
So we shouldn’t be prepared for the season to suddenly twist and become about the Many Arms of Death, terrorist organization Safiyah is connected to?
No, we will not do that.
Mouse masqueraded as Jacob Kane in tonight’s episode. What effect does that have going forward?
Well, he’s proven how convincing he is as Jacob, and Catherine, of all people, is convinced. So her now feeling that there’s some thaw in her marriage with Jacob is a positive sign for her that could possibly blind her. It just shows you also how convincing Mouse is and how dangerous he can be and will be as a villain.
We’re conscientious of as writers that you don’t want to overplay the mask idea because you only get so many goes at it before the audience is groaning. So, it is definitely his “superpower,” but we’re careful with how we use.
This episode also ended with Kate deciding to put some distance between her and Sophie. Where do they go from here?
Yeah, Kate’s focus is going to be a lot on Alice moving forward, and Alice is going to take the front seat in her personal life. As much as Kate would love to be with Sophie, she has a lot of other stuff to be dealing with.
Based on the voiceover, it seems like Kate is trying to improve on Bruce Wayne’s Bat-model by allowing herself to open up a tiny bit to others. How successful does she end up being in that?
She’s gonna struggle with that because we’ll see while Kate and Sophie are running in different storylines, Batwoman continues to need Sophie dealing with what she’s dealing with. And so Batwoman and Sophie are going to have a connection. While Kate is trying to play the superhero and be focused on work, her feelings for Sophie obviously didn’t go away. So, Sophie and Kate’s humanity basically is going to become an obstacle for Batwoman.
It sounds like there’s a bit of an early Superman-Clark Kent-Lois Lane situation. Clark wants to be with Lois and can’t, but he ends up spending a lot of time with her as Superman.
Yeah, exactly. And then she also on top of it has sort of this Jim Gordon-Batman relationship with Sophie that starts up. That’s of course confused by the fact that she has feelings of love towards her. So it’s a fun, complicated dynamic.
Was Kate’s decision to open up a gay bar through her realty company at all inspired by how Arrow had Oliver open a club when he returned from the island in season 1?
I forget which came [first]. She’s like a party girl in the comics, and doesn’t have a job. So I thought long and hard about what she was going to do and I did think, “Oh, maybe she’s a party girl [and] she opens the bar.” But then I was like, “Oh, no Arrow did that.” So I wanted to put her into real estate, but what happened with this is that as we were breaking out the early part of the season, we had all these amazing set and locations for our characters, but no one set was communal where we had an excuse for Luke and Mary to run into each other, or Sophia and to run into each other, or Luke and Sophie to run into each other naturally, without a really forged reason. So, I wanted to create a bar restaurant type place like The Abbey [in West Hollywood, Calif.], where you might just pop in for a coffee and run into somebody and then now we can have a scene. So it was a sort of a writer decision and also I love the idea that she opens a gay bar.
As far as you’ve written, are there any fun pairings that have come out of this new setting?
Not yet, because there’s sort of a progression for Kate, because you saw the condition it was in. So Kate has to give it a makeover first, and then open it. And when she has her grand opening, that’s not for a while, but it brings everyone together for the first time and it’s really fun.
Batwoman airs Sundays at 8 p.m. on The CW.