Batwoman Season 1: An Uneven But Wild Ride

The first season of CW’s Batwoman was about as tumultuous as the last half of 2019 and this half of 2020. Ruby Rose, the show’s lead is gone. The showrunners have announced they’re going to replace Kate Kane altogether, rather than recast the roll.

Ruby Rose as Batwoman
Batwoman — “Drink Me” — IPictured (L-R): Amber Lewis as Elle Scantlin, Ruby Rose as Kate Kane/Batwoman and Meagan Tandy as Sophie Moore — Photo: Bettina Strauss/The CW — © 2020 The CW Network, LLC. All rights reserved.

Meanwhile, we didn’t get the planned season finale due to COVID-19, but we ended up in an exciting cliffhanger: Mouse is dead; Mary’s in the Bat-Team; Sophie and Julia, both Kate’s exes, are an item; Julia is embroiled in intrigue with Safiyah and the assassin’s island of Coryana; Jacob and Batwoman are “at war”; the Hush is disguised as Bruce Wayne.

It’s the culmination of what Batwoman has done best so far: play the characters off each other to create a tangled web. And with a new character…what happens to that?

For a show that has lots of people PEELING EACH OTHER’S FACES OFF TO WEAR, I feel like the showrunners could have asked the audience to accept a completely different human in the Bat-suit. It would be perfectly in keeping with the show to either replace the actor with a nod and a wink — or come up with something wacky and gruesome. Or even create some kind of weird multiverse explanation.

But now the show is trying to aim younger by casting a younger person as the lead. When Parker Torres (Malia Pyles), the spitfire queer hacker, is right there.

Oh well. As uneven as the show was, I enjoyed the heck out of it and maybe it can ride on some of that forward momentum for season two. Let’s look at who I think should be cast for the lead — and then we’ll go back to my hopes and dreams for the show and see if they hit the mark.

Who Will Bear the Wig and Cowl?

If they’re not going to make Parker Batwoman, which I think they could get away with, here are some other casting choices I’d want to see.

  • I always felt Bex Taylor-Klaus was the obvious choice for the role. They had already played Sin in arrow. Since Bex is a bit shorter, they’re often cast as teenagers. Plus, since this seems to be important to some fans, Bex is Jewish. The show did such an embarrassing job of incorporating Kate’s Judaism that I would just as soon have them not do it at all. Bex, on the other hand, is butch as hell and would’ve been an awesome Kate Kane — or whomever they invent. They’re now making network TV history by playing a non-binary character on Deputy; but maybe the show won’t be renewed.
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  • When it was announced that Ruby Rose was leaving, a friend of mine joked that Brooklyn 99‘s Stephanie Beatriz should take her place. About 5 minutes later, Beatriz made it clear on Twitter that she wanted the part. Even if she doesn’t play Kate, I would 10,000% support this because we know Diaz can do drama, humor, romance, and action scenes without breaking a sweat.
  • I think it would be much less disruptive for the show to “promote” one of the current characters to Batwoman. I’d love to see Nicole Kang (Kate’s cousin Mary) take that on. If the show followed the comics, Mary would likely have become Flamebird anyway. Kang and Camrus Johnson were the glue that held the “good guys” portion of the show together. She’s proven herself to be an excellent actress.
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  • Even if it turned into a low-budget Gotham, make the show focus on Alice (Rachel Skarsten) and make whoever the new Batwoman is into a secondary character. Skarsten stole the entire series and keeping Alice in the limelight would preserve all the relationships the show painstakingly crafted.
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The Hero We Deserve?

There were five things I wanted out of Batwoman when the show was announced. Did season one deliver?

  • Dynamic Visuals: While never as flashy as the comics, the TV adaptation has the tightest action scenes of any of the Arrowverse shows. Meanwhile, the show’s gray palate served to highlight both Kate’s affinity for scarlet and all of the characters’ moral ambiguities. Gotham’s glitziness contrasted with its citizens’ depravity. Each episode had at least one shot that was beautifully composed. I call it a win.
  • Campy Tone: This show is exactly what Ilene Chaiken of The L Word would have written if she had been given the wheels. Truly ridiculous plots, sudden betrayals, humor, romantic tension, and characters that somehow, in spite of yourself, you come to care deeply about.
  • Jewish Cultural Competency: lol. I wrote in basically all of my reviews that it doesn’t seem like anyone on this set is Jewish or knowledgeable about it. Most of the things they got wrong were a simple Wikipedia search away! Like, if you’re going to do it, do it right! Fail.
  • Writing Trauma: Most TV shows don’t get PTSD right and Batwoman was no exception. Whatever. But there sure were a lot of characters drinking and alluding to cocaine as coping mechanisms, so pivoting to target the show to younger viewers just is concerning! Fail!
  • Let Batwoman Be Batwoman: The writers did a great job of separating Kate from Bruce! I was a little concerned that it didn’t take a full season before Bruce Wayne (even a fake one) was re-introduced. Overall, though, it was a good balance.

So they got 3/5 right which makes 60%. Not quite a failing grade, but more could be done!

Overall, Batwoman was a wild and enjoyable ride. I trust the showrunners to get season two up and running, but if it’s anything like season one, it’ll be a while before they settle in.