blogging by Andrew Wickliffe

Batwoman (2019) s01e08 – A Mad Tea-Party

This episode has Sam Littlefield’s character—just the character, not Littlefield himself, which is great because Littlefield’s awful—but Littlefield’s character is impersonating Dougray Scott, who’s also terrible. Only when Scott’s pretending to be Littlefield pretending to be Scott, Scott’s almost all right. Scott has some regular scenes too. Big weepy scenes where a better actor would be able to get a lot of mileage out of the emotion but Scott’s just terrible. Some of it’s the writing of course; Scott’s a brutal mercenary the show wants us to “like.” Similarly his wife Elizabeth Anweis is an arms manufacturer—one of the subplots involves Anweis making chemical weapons—so it’s difficult to find the characters sympathetic. Without realizing it (because the show, a true CW show, is all about gaping at ostentatious displays of wealth), the only humanizing thing in the show is Nicole Kang.

Kang’s great this episode, even though there’s plenty of nonsense for her to act through. While she’s got drama with “dad” Scott and mom Anweis, Ruby Rose is busying trying to contain psychotic villain and her twin sister Alice (Rachel Skarsten, who’s still good but not as good as usual). The way things shake out Rose doesn’t just play second or third fiddle, she ends up fifth—behind Kang, Skarsten, Meagan Tandy (who doesn’t do much this episode but is in it a lot because she and husband Greyston Holt need to fight about Tandy’s relationship with Rose), and then Rose’s fight double. There’s a great Batwoman action sequence where it’s very obviously not Rose. But great Batwoman action. Pretty much makes the episode.

Then there’s some tragedy and protracted final dramatics, along with a bad scene between Scott and Rose. Some of the writing—from Nancy Kiu—is really strong, but then most of it’s not. And the plotting is silly and manipulative, especially the cliffhanger. Of course, then there’s the added cliffhanger setting up Crisis, which takes over the show next episode at the worst time. This episode irrevocably changes the ground situation, next week’s a crossover, then it’s basically on hiatus for a month.

Also weird is how last episode established a new normal for Rose and the supporting players and this episode flips that switch in a third direction.

But, hey, the Batwoman action sequence was awesome.

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