Batwoman boss dishes on Hush's 'crazy' debut and 'impulsive instincts'
Batwoman is paying off a lot of seeds planted at the beginning of the season.
In the CW superhero drama's most recent episode, Kate (Ruby Rose) reconnected with Reagan (Brianne Howey), who she briefly dated in episode 4. But when she woke up the next morning, she discovered Reagan was gone and had stolen Lucius Fox's journal, because it turns out she's actually Magpie's (Rachel Matthews) sister. Now in Sunday's outing, we'll finally see Tommy Elliot (Gabriel Mann), who was introduced in episode 3, embrace his comic-book-mandated destiny and become Hush. With his disfigured face wrapped in bandages and two pistols in hand, he's going to terrorize the city as he searches for a way to decode the highly coveted journal.
Ahead of "A Secret Kept From All the Rest," EW hopped on the phone with Batwoman showrunner Caroline Dries to discuss that Reagan twist, Tommy's transformation into Hush, and the coming friction between Kate and Luke.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Did you know Reagan was goin to be Magpie’s sister when she was first introduced?
CAROLINE DRIES: No. So when we originally broke the episode that Magpie and Reagan were both in, episode 4, we were going to have Magpie and Reagan be the same character. We got a note from the studio and they were like, "Really, what are the chances? That’s such a coincidence, the first girl that Kate likes happens to be the villain of the week." So we decided to split them up, but it kind of made some sense that both of these women had the same point of view about social inequality and Gotham, and both characters really popped. We really loved the dynamic between Reagan and Kate, so we knew at some point we were going to bring Reagan back. We went back and watched episode 4 and [thought], “Really, it makes sense that they're sisters. Let's make this a little mini version of Kate and Alice, you know, with Reagan and Magpie.”
So it sounds like this came up organically in the writing process.
Yes. We always just knew in the back of our minds we wanted Reagan to somehow have this vein of deceit. And then when we cast her, Brianne is so not deceitful-seeming, so it kind of was perfect casting to hide the ball a little bit. Then we knew in episode 18 we were going to bring back Magpie, and we were like, “We're bringing back so many people. Let's just make it a full-blown villain affair, [a reunion of] characters we've seen before.”
You're also finally paying off Tommy Elliot's introduction at the beginning of the season. Why did it feel right to have him go full Hush now?
At the beginning of the year, DC gave us this deck of Batman villains that we're approved to use for the season. Hush was the biggest name on that list. So when we were introducing the character of Kate Kane and launching her journey as Batwoman, it made sense that Tommy Elliot, who was unique in that he knew Bruce Wayne was Batman prior to the mythology of our show starting, would be the villain that forced Kate to make a decision: Am I going to embrace the symbol of the bat, or am I going to just be Kate Kane and ignore my destiny? We wanted to use him early on. Then, the great part about Arkham is that these characters can sit idle for a while and then when we’re ready to use them, we can go back to them.
The other big story line we had obviously going through the season was Alice and her special talent of being able to steal people’s faces. Of course, that linked perfectly with what we know of Tommy Elliot from the comic books and the transformation he goes through. We thought this was meshing perfectly with where we’re going. So we kind of knew midway through the season that Tommy was going to be the sort of villain towards the end as Hush and actually bring that character to life for the first time.
What conversations have you had with Gabriel about his performance as he goes from Tommy to Hush?
He goes through a few changes. So when we meet him, [he’s] the cliché douchebag rich guy, just like your typical unlikeable guy. And it was important for us to say to Gabe like, “You are a privileged jerk, but you're also Bruce Wayne's best friend and we like Bruce Wayne, so there has to be something likable about you for him to sort of tolerate you at least through his adolescence.” But then of course we revealed the layers of Tommy's bleak backstory with his mom and trying to kill his parents. Gabriel was really good in terms of being this Gotham City villain, which is a little bit more heightened, but also he still exists in the real world.
Then when we met him in Arkham, I wanted to show some character growth for him that had happened between episodes 3 and 17. His big thing in the comics is his obsession with Bruce Wayne, which we obviously hinted at. But now it's like, this is somebody who's been getting his brains zapped for the last however many months, and so he should be at a different level of psychosis at this point. So he’s now really off his rocker when we meet him in 17. Then now what's great about when we see him as Hush is he has a very, very, very clear drive: He wants a face, and he's going to stop at nothing to get it. So it brings out all of his crazy and impulsive instincts.
Mary [Nicole Kang] is also now a member of the Bat Team. How does having her there change the dynamic?
Well, we wanted it to feel natural, you know, Mary’s baby steps onto the team. I wanted it to be like it was with Kate becoming Batwoman. There’s a little bit of a learning curve, and Mary is good at some things and not great at other things. Episode 19 is sort of about how hard it really is to be part of the Bat Team, and that everyone has their own special job there. You know, Kate needs to go in and save the day, and Luke [Camrus Johnson] is instrumental in kind of controlling the operations from the logistical point of view. So when one of those pieces is missing, you can't just slot a new person in and expect it to go swimmingly.
How is Luke handling the fact that Kate lost his father’s journal?
We’re usually not this serialized, where the stakes from one episode to the next are similar and continue to rise. But for the first time in this episode early on, we see some real friction between Kate and Luke, and it just goes to show how important this journal is. Luke kind of feels like he’s not in control of something that is so important to his family’s legacy. It’s so much more than just a book. It’s so much more than just the recipes of all the Wayne Enterprises technology. It’s a piece of his father, and so it’s hard for him to articulate his frustrations that Kate, his hero in present day, let him down.
Is friction that can be overcome, or something that will continue to grow?
I think it's going to be overcome. At the end of the day, they’re each other’s family, so it’s more of a brother-sister kind of fight. But we use the episode to dramatize what happens if one of the pieces of the Bat Team [isn't] working on full cylinders.
The last episode teased that Julia [Christina Wolfe] is working for someone. Is this a character that we’ve seen or heard of before?
So Julia is wonderful because she’s such a likable character, and now that episode 18 revealed this new layer of her — that she’s not been working for the SRR for so long [and] she’s kind of playing both sides — we’re wondering, who the heck is she talking to and why she is making this side deal for Lucius’ journal? We'll come to learn in detail what she’s up to in episode 19, and it is somebody that we have mentioned in the past.
Batwoman airs Sundays at 8 p.m. ET/PT on the CW.