In the latest Batwoman episode, we learn about Alice’s origins. It’s dark, gruesome, and not for the faint of heart.
Batwoman fans have been waiting to find out how innocent Beth Kane (Ava Sleeth) turned into Alice (Rachel Skarsten), the latest menace to terrorise Gotham.
In episode five of season one of Batwoman, ‘Mine is a Long, and a Sad Tale’, Alice finally reveals what happened to her after the accident that killed her mother and doomed her to a life of crime.
We break down what took place in the episode and why it was such a dark story. Spoilers ahead!
Alice and the Mouse
Following the crash, Beth woke up in a seemingly normal home. The Cartwrights had found her and were going to nurse her back to health. But as one would expect in a show like Batwoman, that’s not what happened at all.
It turned out that Jonathan Cartwright (John Emmett Tracy) only wanted Beth so she could be a friend to his son, young Johnny, or Mouse, as he was known.
Mouse had been in an accident some time ago which left him with serious injuries. The world had shunned him, leaving the boy feeling lonely.
Beth was supposed to be the answer. Except the poor child really just wanted to go home.
When her insistence on returning home became too much, Cartwright locked Beth in a room, one which contained a sink with a floating skin mask in it.
As if the child wasn’t horrified enough by the sight, it seems that in the intervening years between Beth becoming Alice, she was actually taught the process of making these skin masks.
In the opening of the episode, Batwoman (Ruby Rose) and her associate, Luke Fox (Camrus Jackson) discover that Gotham’s new Skin Pirate—a thief who was stealing patches of skin from bodies in the morgue—was actually Alice.
This is definitely the most gruesome of any episodes we have seen in the Arrowverse, but the gore appears to be necessary. Because the skin that Alice has been stealing is an important plot device to be developed in later episodes.
By the end of the episode, Alice and an adult Mouse are planning something using the stolen skin—perhaps they will be making realistic masks so Mouse can impersonate people in Gotham?
Considering that Mouse has uncanny mimicry abilities, he could potentially become a dangerous tool in Alice’s hands.
And I get the feeling that the first person Alice will be targeting is her own father. We are excited, and quite terrified, to see what Alice has in mind next week.
Kate and Beth
We have written about how Batwoman has put the focus on sisters in this first season.
Despite following the trope of twins on opposite sides of the law, what really works in this show is the obvious bond between Kate and Beth.
At the start of the season, it looked like Kate’s doomed relationship with Sophie (Meagan Tandy) would be the heart of the show.
But instead it’s been about how Kate never recovered from her sister’s loss and that she is now determined to redeem Alice.
In this episode, what we see happening to young Beth is chilling, but it’s what we don’t see that’s really frightening. Our imaginations are left to fill in the gaps from what we learn and that is always more terrifying.
And that’s exactly what has been going through Kate’s mind since she learned about her connection to Alice.
Having Alice’s backstory revealed to her was supposed to bring Kate comfort. Instead, it makes things much worse.
While being held captive, Beth had made one escape attempt and managed to call her father. GCPD refused to help—they had given up on Beth’s case.
But Jacob (Dougray Scott) and Kate traced the call to the Cartwright house. Unfortunately, Cartwright used Mouse’s mimicry skills to fool Jacob.
But worse, a wandering Kate found her way to the basement, to the room where Beth was being held. She even called out Beth’s name. But Beth stayed quiet because Cartwright had threatened to kill her family if Beth said anything.
So, Jacob and Kate left and Beth was tormented into becoming Alice.
But what really struck me was Alice being furious with Kate for not ‘feeling’ her through the door. If Kate wasn’t haunted already, she definitely is now.
This moment felt very real to me—twins generally believe that they have some kind of special bond that connects them and allows them to communicate without speaking.
Legendary Australian cricket twins Steve and Mark Waugh have spoken about how they rarely had to say anything to each other when they were batting together—twin instinct would take over.
But this instinct failed Kate and Beth, leaving the latter to a life of misery and crime.
I loved the subtlety of the scene that showed that failed connection—it was heartbreaking and, quite honestly, like watching a nightmare come to life.
I know Alice has done some terrible things but from a personal standpoint, I sincerely hope that Batwoman will be able to give Alice the redemption she needs and that the show will find a way to return to Kate the sister she so loves.
This was a very heavy episode but props to the Batwoman writers for finding a way to insert some humour into proceedings via Luke, and Kate’s step-sister, Mary Hamilton (Nicole Kang).
Mary’s mother, Catherine (Elizabeth Anweis), confesses to falsifying evidence that ‘proved’ Beth had died in the crash. Mary is horrified and leaves her mother to go on a bender (understandably).
Her next port of call—once she is completely sloshed—is Wayne Tower, to speak to Kate. But Kate is with Alice, leaving poor Luke in charge of a very angry, and very drunk, Mary.
As expected, much hilarity ensues thanks to Johnson and Kang, who effortlessly play off each other. Their scenes are a welcome break from the darkness of Alice’s story.
I like that Batwoman is attempting to balance the darkness and the light with its storytelling—something that Arrow never quite managed to do.
However, our main takeaway from this episode of Batwoman is that this is not a happy tale—what Gotham story ever is?
Will there be a silver lining at the end of this dark tunnel? For Kate certainly, but hopefully also for Alice. We will have to wait and watch.