On this week’s Batwoman, we meet Executioner, who uses the very methods Gotham uses to enforce the death penalty to take out its cops and lawyers. The villain-of-the-week formula is taken to the next level with some great character work by our main cast, but, most of all, a serious interrogation of the justice of capital punishment.
We start with the brutal (and fun, Rube-Goldberg-esque!) murder of a Gotham Assistant DA. But he’s not just any ADA– he put away both the man who killed Lucius Fox and this universe’s Joker, who we learned was once Jack Napier. [This scans with what we know of the upcoming “Crisis” crossover that is going to invoke elements of the Burton Batman movies]
Executioner also goes after cops and judges, as it turns out he believes they were part of a corrupt system which put hundreds of people to death– and almost all of them black/brown and poor, and potentially innocent, railroaded by people who wanted convictions rather than justice. This matches real world statistics on the use of the death penalty, and, more than anything else, is what we most need from Batwoman. Give me an exploration of power and the ethics of vigilantism outside the law and lace it with a very 2019 indictment of inequality and racism. I mean, Watchmen is doing it too (and perhaps better) but this is what I want from Batwoman.
After a “firing squad” style trap set by Executioner hits Sophie (Meagan Tandy), Kate (Ruby Rose) takes her to get medical care with Mary (Nicole Kang) in her free clinic. Mary continues to be one of the top reasons to watch the show. Her pairing with Sophie also continues a fun contrast between the two that was planted in previous episodes. But the real fun is watching them react to each other (and later to Batwoman) when the subject of her secret identity comes up.
Meanwhile, all is not peaches and cream in the world of Alice. She and Mouse have a particularly brutal series of conversations about their plans for Gotham and for Kate. Mouse is jealous and thinks Alice has gone soft. We definitely see her having second thoughts now confronted with her sister, but she still takes up a stolen Hamilton Industries weapon that can easily pierce the batsuit.
The beauty of the episode is we see a parallel story in conversations between Kate and her father Jacob (Dougray Scott). While it is all draped in conversations about Batman and vigilantes, really it’s about the guilt they both carry.
This is one of the best episodes of Batwoman so far, with great character development and some real ethical and moral questions they’re posing. This seems to continue next week, with “Tell Me the Truth” as Kate and Sophie are on a collision course about their previous relationship and Kate’s secret identity on the line.