REVIEW: Batwoman S1E7 – “Tell Me The Truth”

Hello, Thomas here, reporting in for regular Batwoman correspondent Paul. Paul likes to write out paragraphs of analysis and summary, but I like a messier approach. Put on your invincible Bat-armor and rev up those motorcycles, it’s time to take a look at Batwoman’s seventh episode, “Tell Me The Truth.” I’ll keep it honest, right down to the up-front SPOILER ALERT.

IMDb Premise: Kate and Sophie must reconcile with their past as Kate questions just how much she can trust her former lover. Kate and Luke have an encounter with an old friend. Mary grapples with the fate of the Kane family as Catherine Seeks Jacob’s help. Alice and a new cohort are in on yet another nefarious plan, but her motives are more than they seem.

Does it work? It worked for me! My wishlist for this series is not very demanding: does Kate do Batwoman things; does her Bat Team (Luke, and now Julia) impart any new skills, knowledge, or tech; are the show’s secondary characters able to contribute to the story without spinning the ol’ CW wheels for too long. I think this episode succeeded on all three fronts, with the arguable cost of Alice and Mouse taking more of a backseat than usual. I’m okay with that – let them putter around Team Rocket style before they hatch another grand scheme.

Does Kate do Batwoman things: Yes! She grappling-hooks a sniper who goes by The Rifle, preventing an assassination. He frees himself with a pistol (lent by a younger sibling going by The Six-Shooter, no doubt). Kate’s sharp-shooting accuracy comes up in flashbacks, with her setting a marksman record at the military academy while drunk. Kate’s unerring aim comes in handy a couple more times, with her tossing a bolo at The Rifle and shooting out a truck tire with perfect aim each time. 

Bat Team Contributions: Julia Pennyworth shows up in pursuit of The Rifle and ends up hopping aboard the Kate+Luke vigilante train. As her sitting style suggests, Julia is England’s emissary of bi culture, and her mentions of being Kate’s krav maga trainer is laced with suggestive delivery (did Bruce and Alfred know?). The Batwoman outfit switcheroo to keep Sophie in the dark  is classic Silver Age secret identity hijinks – hey, it also worked for Arrow! Luke walks into scenes to deliver exposition and make self-deprecating acknowledgments over how Kate doesn’t treat him with the most respect.

This One time, At Military Academy: We get a closer look at how Sophie and Kate split up. Kate’s dad gives Sophie a warning via flashback that she and Kate are definitely going to get kicked out if they don’t disavow their homosexuality, but twice insists the decision is entirely up to her. Combine this with Sophie’s later justification to present-day Kate that keeping her head down allowed her to earn money for her family as well as lead the Crows. There’s a strong contrast to be made here. One one side is the headstrong Kate, who readily calls out a restuarant manager’s homophobic bias to the point of opening a gay bar across the street from it complete with a rainbow flag in the window, and on the other is Sophie who wishes she had rebelled when given the option but is now entrenched in a world of rules and loyalty, from her job to her husband/coworker Tyler.

Tyler’s take on all this is refreshingly focused on Sophie’s actions and not her sexual orientation. Straight people in relationships with bisexuals are prone to the selfish perspective of, “if they’re into more than one kind of relationship, then they’ll betray me for the alternative,” oblivious to the fact that plenty of straight people in the world betray their partners just fine. Tyler focuses on Sophie’s feelings for Kate and their connection to a years-long relationship that makes him feel like their marriage can’t compare. His frustration is justified and not misguided, but he also doesn’t have much going on in the story, so I’m not terribly sad for him. When Kate and Sophie finally declare their continued separation, I’m counting down to Tyler getting taken out by Alice, whether killed or simply maimed and held up in a hospital. Hey, at least Mr. Kane’s divorce appears to be turning around?

Random asides:

  • Finally, CW’s unspoken-secret trope is busted by a powerful security firm’s hidden camera footage, only to emerge triumhant yet again thanks to CW’s “nothing happened” lying
  • Catherine tells Mary, “When you’re a mother, you will understand why I did what I did.” Lady, your daughter runs an underground hospital for vigilantes, criminals, and the poor. Mary knows plenty about mitigating risk!
  • Mouse stabs someone to death in an alley for Alice, which seems absolutely small potatoes for where the series and the Arrowverse are these days. I remain convinced a girl scout would kick Mouse’s ass.
  • Dino the mini dinosaur! “Bruce would be so happy.”
  • Julia teasing some “glimpses of pleasure” based on past training – she was Kate’s krav maga teacher and probable lover.
  • Hey, remember when New 52 Batwoman’s story started to age and gay marriage was legalized, and everyone was like, they’re gonna have to retcon this story pretty quickly because America’s turning around on gay people, then it turned out bigotry didn’t die all at once after all? Yeah, this cadet stuff is still extremely relevant.
  • Alessandro’s had the bullet framed where it hit the wall! This reminds me of a great piece of comics store lore from a now-closed location, Silver City Comics, in Columbia, South Carolina. Friendly folks, great collection. IIRC, their store was shot, with a bullet tearing through several issues in a box and stopping at a Superman issue. They openly advertised that issue to customers.
  • Allesandro’s bigotry being disguised in a selective dress code policy against sneakers is an excellent display of how bigotry places the burden of recognition on the victim. It’s easier to fight back against someone who clearly states your existence makes them uncomfortable – it’s also easier to feel suffocated in a sea of respectability politics. Ossobuco is overrated, anyway – it’s just veal!
  • This super-gun is taking on an oddly elevated status. I understand that Kate’s batsuit can repel bullets, but are we to understand that a high-velocity sniper bullet wouldn’t ruin her? Only this sci-fi pistol can take her out of commission? Wasn’t she nearly taken out by an axe and poison gas last episode? Rooms rigged to explode? I’m fine with the gun’s status as a superweapon, I’m just jaded at the premise that it represents some all-powerful threat to Batwoman. In the context of the episode, it does a good job representing of Kate’s hidden vulnerability and how it’s carried between her sister and her ex-girlfriend.
  • Great stunt crash with the armored truck!
  • “You were hit by a gun that should have killed you. I don’t know why it didn’t.” Me neither, it knocked her out of a building and down at least a couple stories to the ground. Even if the gun didn’t kill Julia Batwoman, the impact should have.
  • Is Ruby Rose’s acting getting better? Her sarcastic smiles and sharp frowns are becoming more convincing, and scenes of broadcasting defiant confidence seem to play very naturally for her.

VERDICT 4 out of 5

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Thomas is a teen services librarian who reads way too many comics. He can be found gobbling pancakes at the nearest diner with Jessica Cruz, Forsythe Jones III, Jane Foster, and Hellboy. He reviews media for the public here and graphic novels for librarians at No Flying, No Tights.

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