Hello, Soda Swillers! Thanks to the vagaries of streaming and my schedule — my girlfriend, who has a PhD in Theater, has been enchanted by this silly show — I’m a week behind the most recent episode that’s aired. Guess that’s how it’s gonna be! This episode, “Tell Me the Truth,” has a lot of twists and turns to dig into, so let’s dig in.
The Story (Spoilers)
I’m really interested in playing with time in narrative, and this episode finally completes our understanding of Kate and Sophie’s relationship. This episode is structured around flashbacks to Kate and Sophie’s final days at West Poin — Point Rock. In the present time, there are a lot of big set pieces and transitions, but for the life of me I couldn’t understand why we were hurriedly running from one place to another. The dialogue is snappy and individual scenes work well, but the glue holding everything together is not as strong as the writers want you to think. It’s my major gripe about the Batwoman comic and that’s translated into the show — in some ways the adaptation is too faithful.
In other ways, it’s not in problematic ways and I’ll get to that in a minute. I’m not going to get into the minutiae of this episode because it’s kind of a mess.
The important things to know are Sophie has figured out Batwoman’s real identity. Kate decides to head things off at the path and come clean with Sophie…by taking her out to a restaurant where Kate had saved a Hamilton Dynamics engineer (who worked on the Batman Gun) from assassination. While Kate tracked the assassin (who’s named the Rifle) down, she was confronted by a Mysterious Attacker who was weirdly horny for her. Turns out, it’s Alfred’s daughter Julia, who is tracking down the Rifle and other agents of a shadowy group called the Many Arms of Death.
Julia’s lust means the Rifle escapes — to a rendezvous with Alice. She has mouse stab the engineer to death and takes a vial of something-or-other from the Rifle in exchange for the Batman Gun, which she’s tampered with. (I couldn’t quite catch it but it seemed like the vial he gave her was the thing that made it work, though he didn’t know that? If he couldn’t get the thing he came for, why did he let her have the thing she wanted…?)
Also, Julia and Kate are also exes?! And she knows Lucas because of their dads? Which means she also knows that Bruce is Batman? And so did the Jared Kushner/Riddler knock-off from episode 3? Who doesn’t know at this point??? Julia was Kate’s rebound after Sophie. Kate’s clearly not interested in rekindling that flame. Interestingly, Julia’s jacket has an orange stripe on it, which suggests they may cast her as Flamebird instead of Mary. Guess we’ll see!
Anyhoozles, at the restaurant Kate and Sophie begin to Process Their Feelings and tell reveal just what happened at their disciplinary hearings. Turns out Jacob suggested that Sophie deny their relationship so she could stay in school. Kate’s willing to make a martyr of herself, but Sophie, whose parents are not billionaires, has other things to consider — like sacrificing everything she’s worked for. It’s still a sticking point with Kate, which is not a good look on her. I think we’re supposed to take Kate’s side, and there are certainly people on the Twitter-verse who agree. I say that’s peak White Liberal, which I’ll also get into at the end.
To stress how Kate and Sophie approach being queer differently, the maitre d’, who was so grateful to Batwoman after the shooting, attempts to kick the pair out when he sees them holding hands. Kate raises a stink, then threatens to let Mary sic her followers on the restaurant. First of all, don’t you think Gotham would have a Human Rights Comission? (Something many American cities have.) Also, if this dude knows who Mary is, wouldn’t he know not to fuck with Kate, also one of the wealthiest people in Gotham?
Anyway, that Batman Gun is still missing. The Crows chase it to somewhere that Kate happens to be, so I guess it’s her apartment? Julia, dressed as Batwoman to fake Sophie out, gets hit by the gun, but since it’s missing a part she just gets blasted through a concrete wall instead of dying instantly. Sophie is fooled.
Now Kate has to let Sophie believe that she and Batwoman are different people. Sophie thought Kate had invited her to a fancy lunch to rekindle their relationship, I guess, and gave Kate a present: the sharpshooter medal that the instructors at Point Rock wanted to throw out once she got expelled. Kate is sad about pushing Sophie away. Julia reminds Kate that she can’t be alone like Batman was.
Also, Sophie’s husband Tyler (close enough to Chad) is upset that she never told him that she dated women, thus continuing this horrifically bi-phobic storyline where everyone assumes that bi people are constantly yearning for a partner of another gender. Like that’s somehow different than constantly yearning for someone of your gender, Chad! What’s up with all of these TV show partners (usually but not always men) demanding to know their partner’s entire sexual history? Who cares? It’s in the past!
There’s drama between Jacob and Catherine. We find out at the end of the episode that, actually, Jacob is being held by Alice, so we’ve been seeing Mouse impersonating Jacob this whole time. He seems to imply that he slept with Catherine, though? That’s rape but the show doesn’t seem to want to get into that. Awesome.
Lastly, Kate’s using her newfound mission to de-gentrify Gotham City by opening a gay bar directly across the street from the restaurant that slighted her. Um…that’s her first project? Is it going to at least be a community center? Or serve as a homeless shelter, given that the vast majority of homeless youth identify as queer? Or is it a vanity project to address the homophobia she experienced in a fancy restaurant with basically no material impact on her life?
I don’t think the writers are savvy enough to realize that this is perpetuating real-life discrimination within the queer community, in which wealthy white people (usually cis men) prioritize the more cosmetic needs of the community rather than the fundamentals: access to healthcare, housing, and jobs. Combine that with her disdain for Sophie’s self-preservation and it shows Kate to be another self-righteous, self-centered, wealthy crusader.
- The actions scenes in this episode were beautiful and there was some incredible editing throughout. Slowly but surely, the show is developing a sleek visual style separate from the other superhero shows.
- Here’s where I talk about some problems with this adaptation. In the comic, Julia Pennyworth is black. The Mary Sue covered the decision behind casting a blonde white woman instead. It’s not a good look. And if they do follow through with making Julia Flamebird instead of Mary, then this one woman is taking roles that would have been cast by two women of color. That looks real bad.
- The Many Arms of Death are key to the last few story arcs in the comics — guess they’re burning through all the source material this season, huh?
- Ruby Rose is getting really good at comic acting. Catch her cradling a little T-Rex in the Batcave, or that moment when Mary almost catches her, Lucas, and Julia entering the Batcave.
Overall: 4 out of 6 sodas for neo-liberal do-gooding!