BATWOMAN S01E03 “Down, Down, Down” review

Batwoman airs Sundays at 8/7c on The CW in North America which episodes available to stream the following day on The CW app. The series is yet to announce a premiere date in the UK.

Synopsis

GOODBYE TO THE BAT – As the city waits impatiently for another visit from who they think is Batman, Alice (Rachel Skarsten) continues to taunt Kate (Ruby Rose) with a secret but also sets her sights on Jacob (Dougray Scott) and Catherine (Elizabeth Anweis). Kate is visited by Tommy Elliot (guest star Gabriel Mann), a childhood friend of her cousin who has finally realized his lifelong dream of being wealthier than Bruce Wayne and throws a party so all of Gotham can celebrate his success. Mary (Nicole Kang) gets an unexpected new bestie when Sophie (Meagan Tandy) is assigned to protect her. Luke (Camrus Johnson) and Kate work together to uncover who may have taken a valuable weapon from Batman’s arsenal. And as Batwoman faces a new enemy, Kate realizes she must either walk away from her new role or fully embrace the mantle as Gotham’s new hope. Dermott Downs directed the episode written by Holly Henderson and Don Whitehead (#103). Original airdate 10/20/2019. Every episode of BATWOMAN will be available to stream on CWTV.com and The CW App the day after broadcast for free and without a subscription, log-in or authentication required.

Review

This week Batwoman took a huge creative leap forwards by closing the door on Gotham’s belief that Batman had returned. After two episodes of hiding in the shadows Kate Kane (Ruby Rose) finally took a step in to the light and outed the mysterious Bat-figure as a woman.

In doing so the show, masterminded by The Vampire Diaries Caroline Dries, was also finally able to step out from behind the shadow of the Bat… so to speak.

Whilst I wouldn’t have said that either of the first two episodes (reviewed here and here) suffered from an overbearing presence of Bruce Wayne, in throwing off the shackles of pretending to be Batman the show suddenly feels like it has more creative drive in its storytelling.

In effect this episode could have been called “Batwoman Begins” but that would have been far too on the nose. But essentially that is the story of this episode. Early on Kate is unwilling to put the costume on but feels compelled to when Tommy Elliot (guest star Gabriel Mann) calls out the Batman and escalates the level of violence in Gotham.

In the pilot Kate put on the Bat-suit out of necessity for the situation. She used the suit to protect herself from Alice’s men whilst trying to rescue Sophie (Meagan Tandy). Whereas here she feels a responsibility to Gotham because those initial actions have had a similar reaction from the villainous underworld.

This episode, written by Holly Henderson (Smallville) and Don Whitehead (also Smallville) also tosses aside the more soapy aspects of the previous episodes. But whilst I’m sure they will return, this is The CW afterall, it’s a welcome change here.

That’s not to say that Catherine (Elizabeth Anweis) and Mary (Nicole Kang) have reduced roles. They’re still omnipresent in the episode, they’re just involved in the story rather than making it.

A subplot featuring Sophie becoming Mary’s personal security feels contrived to get her closer to Kate but surprisingly bring out another strong moment for Mary’s character after the first lift crashes to the ground in Tommy Elliot’s new acquisition. If the show can put more focus on her medical training and less on awful lines like “I’m a social media influencer!” then she could become a much more compelling character.

It’s Luke Fox (Camrus Johnson) who takes MVP of the supporting cast this week. I’ve seen other reviewers judge his character as a Cisco rip-off but Luke has very much come in to his own. This episode highlights how far he has developed in just three weeks, going from reluctant enabler to confidant and supporting player in Batwoman’s arsenal.

Johnson is filling both the Alfred Pennyworth and Lucius Fox roles in Kate’s life at this stage and unknowingly has given Gotham the sign of hope that it needs.

Johnson also has great chemistry with Ruby Rose. Their scenes together are easily a highlight of each episode and this week they’re able to take that relationship outside of the Batcave. The scene in the Wayne vault which has been broken in to shines a little more light on how the two can work together in future.

Alice (Rachel Skarsten) also takes a back seat in this episode to allow Tommy Elliot to be the villain-of-the-week. But, again her subplot is till well utilised by the writers to push the overall narrative of the season forwards. We’re beginning to see hints that there may be someone above Alice (Mad Hatter?) who is pulling the strings.

The writers are also rapidly moving her character forwards. In episode one it felt as though she was being painted the villain of the piece. With the revelation of her parentage it instantly added shades of grey to the world of Batwoman. Now we’re seeing Kate and Alice develop a far more complex relationship befitting of sisters.

She’s unlikely to ever be the hero, as this episode points out she enjoys killing and finds it hard to not. She is certainly a character to watch in terms of how she will develop over the remainder of the season.

There is, however, one narrative slip-up albeit a little less obvious than last week. During the Wayne Industries break-in Kate happens upon a device which Luke tells her not to mess with. He casually mentions it’s a double-ended grappling gun.

What comes in handy when Batwoman needs to stop multiple lifts from plummeting to uncertain doom later in the episode… a double-ended grappling gun! This tech-piece-of-the-week shtick needs to stop as it’s bringing down the rest of the show. The tech is great, enjoy it, don’t clobber us over the head with its uses right before it is required.

There’s plenty more going on in this episode to distract from sloppy writing. Kate meets new love interest Reagan (Brianne Howey – The Passage). The dialogue between the two is sparky from the outset and hopefully she won’t double-cross and turn out to be a villain in a couple of weeks time.

We go deep on Batman-lore with a Riddler easter egg and Tommy Elliot becomes the latest inmate to be thrown in the as-yet-unseen Arkham Asylum. His character is put to good use here although we never quite get to see him with bandages wrapped around his head… not yet anyway!

It’s understandable that Dries and the writing team want Batwoman to stand on her own two feet and not to surround her with big name villains like Joker or Penguin or even other heroes like Nightwing or one of the Robin’s. But given this is a Gotham which had a Batman it does need to acknowledge which characters have existed and the legacy they have left behind.

Verdict

“Down, Down, Down” is another step forwards for the show. This closing chapter in Batwoman’s origin will hopefully serve as a jumping off point for the show to solidify its identity and continue as a unique entry in to The CW’s Arrowverse.

7/10

Batwoman stars Ruby Rose as Kate Kane/Batwoman. The series co-stars Dougray Scott, Elizabeth Anweis, Meagan Tandy, Camrus Johnson, Nicole Kang and Rachel Skarsten.


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About Neil Vagg 3938 Articles
Neil is the GYCO Editorial Chief. He has a BA in Film & Tv and an MA in Scriptwriting; he currently works 9-5 as an office manager and 5-9 as a reviewer/web designer. He has been subscribing to comics for around nine years but has been reading them as long as he can remember. Favourite comics: Batman; Nightwing, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and All New X-Men Favourite films: Batman (any apart from & Robin); Star Trek Generations, Underworld, Beetlejuice Favourite TV shows: Fringe; Buffy, Arrow, TBBT, Being Human UK and Star Trek TNG