REVIEWED: SEASON 1 (EPISODES 1 - 3)
The latest addition to the Greg Berlanti-overseen Arrowverse, Batwoman was given the best possible start on the CW channel with a lead-in from the already established Supergirl, with a re-run of the first episode two days later also benefitting from following the season-opener of The Flash. With the show also having been given a back-door pilot as part of last year’s Arrowverse crossover, it remained only for the opening episodes to capture an audience eager for Gotham action in their CW superhero shows. And you know what? They pulled it off.
Ruby Rose, the centre of so much controversy when she was cast to play Batwoman/Kate Kane, is more than up to the job, exuding a fragile confidence that befits the dual role. As the show begins, Kate returns to Gotham after five years of training for a position in her father’s private security company, Crows Security, which is just about the only thing standing between the city and chaos after the disappearance of Batman.
Kate’s return coincides with a play by the Wonderland-themed villain Alice to disrupt the Crows’ operations and, instead of joining the Crows, Kate stumbles across her cousin Bruce Wayne’s abandoned BatCave and adopts his identity to bring some order back to Gotham.
Alice is the real delight here, a portrait of the damaged artist, and a solid answer for “what’s the best version of The Joker?” There are reasons she’s obsessed with bringing down Kate’s father, and it complicates the relationship between arch-villain and superhero even further. Rachel Skarsten lights up the screen with her presence as the kooky murderer, and only Nicole Kang’s Mary (Kate’s step-sister and budding Leslie Tompkins) rivals her for sheer charm and intrigue.
With the first three episodes leaving Batwoman just about where the crossover last year found her, it’s all to play for from here on in. The mystery of why Bruce Wayne abandoned Gotham three years earlier is set to run and run, with Batman villains Hush and The Riddler already being woven into Batwoman’s mythos, and much like Supergirl, which absented the Man of Steel so that his titular cousin could establish herself as a hero in her own right, expect to see Kate Kane have to deal with some of her cousin’s unfinished business.
Batwoman is off to a great start. With Arrow coming to an end early next year, there’s a gap in the Arrowverse for a dark vigilante show; Kate Kane – and Alice – look set to fill that gap with ease.