Now that Mockingbird is dealt with, Batwoman S1E5 takes a hard turn back to the main plot as Alice reveals her own origin story with a fitting episode title; “Mine is a Long and Sad Tale.” With Catherine’s secret out, the Kanes plan a family road trip. Carl Seaton directed the episode written by Jerry Shandy and Ebony Gilbert and, I’ll say now, they do a bang up job.
This is a full recap of Batwoman S1E5: AKA beware of spoilers.
If you’re not caught up already, make sure to read through our backlog of recaps.
“They’re calling him the skin pirate because he likes to take skin from the booty.”
Okay if, like me, you don’t like visuals of skin steaks being sliced off of thighs, look away for the first minute or so of this episode as Alice (Rachel Skarsten) does just that. Keep your ears open, though as Luke (Camrus Johnson) makes the best awful joke yet (see above). In the batcave, he briefs Kate (Ruby Rose) on the matter, then, thanks to closed circuit cameras, Luke identifies the skin pirate as Alice. Kate jumps into action. Literally.
Alice, reunited with her boyfriend, is ambushed by Batwoman, equipped with night vision goggles for a very comic-booky, very well done action scene. In a turn around from the pilot, Kate has her sister cuffed and captured. She interrogates her about her skin plans and about Mouse, the key part of the plan we discovered last week. Despite the hardball, Kate still has a soft spot for Alice, offering her access to rehab facilities and even calling her Beth. Alice, unaffected, throws a world’s greatest detective insult in her face, to which Kate responds with a threat. Spill the beans, or I’m calling Dad – Commander Jacob Kane (Dougray Scott).
Alice cooperates and the two sisters head off on a road trip. Alice fills her in on Catherine’s lie and prods her to ask more questions about why Alice is who she is now. Flashback! Turns out Alice washed up on the riverbank, where she was found and taken in by a creepy man and his creepy son. The Alice in Wonderland references start to make a lot more sense here, too. It’s genuinely off-putting and the duality of this family not being what they say they are really brings home this season’s dual identity motifs. (Also the kid’s face is scarred on one side). Back in the present, Alive gives Kate directions to a diner.
“And that was just the first day.”
In Gotham, having received Kate’s message that she’s with Alice, Jacob and Sophie (Meagan Tandy) track Kate’s phone and gear up for a rescue mission. Then, some more Mary (Nicole Kang) content in a scene with Catherine (Elizabeth Anweis) and, although we can’t discuss the content of their chat, these actresses do a seriously excellent job here.
At the diner, Alice and Kate are seated at a table. Alice, still handcuffed (nothing weird going on here!), tries to order Kate a beer, but she declines. Alice vaguely builds up the tragedy of what happened to her, saying that booze is the only way to handle it. Kate, again riding between her bad ass exterior and her feelings for her sister, reiterates her ultimatum. So, Alice picks up the story again, describing one particular room as “a child’s wonderland,” and, if the hidden identity stuff wasn’t hit hard enough this episode, there’s even a mask displayed prominently. Alice explains how her situation escalated and confirms that the face floating in the water from a few episodes ago was, actually, a real thing. Cue heebie jeebies.
At Gotham Tower, the moment we’ve all been waiting for. Mary and Luke meet for the first time (squeals). Mary, coping with the news Catherine just dropped on her, is looking for Kate and hoping to apologize but, as we know already, her step-sister has some prior engagements. Hearing that, Mary decides Luke will make a good enough stand-in to let off some steam. Confused and frazzled, he’s not given much choice but to listen to her.
“Guess. How many people have I killed?”
Road trip party number two sets off and Sophie nudges Jacob, trying to get Mr. Manly to talk about what he’s going through. Thankfully, his façade falters and he tells Sophie everything about Catherine’s deception. They both admit Kate was probably right all along and, speak of the devil, their signal locks on to Kate’s location.
Sipping at her beer and now visibly worried, Kate has lots of questions about her sister’s captors. Needless to say, Beth’s situation only gets spookier in a flashback where Creepy Dad reveals more about his son and what he wants, also providing a connection to Gotham’s modern day Skin Pirate, minus the booty. Kate tries to put the pieces together, but her mind goes fuzzy as, apparently, Alice has a pal at this diner and got them to drug her beer. She collapses over the table.
Outside said diner, Jacob and Sophie arrive to an ambush. There’s a full blown shootout between the two Crows and the Wonderland Gang. Did I mention this diner looked full of civilians? Anyway, Luke had the skin pirate line, Sophie gets “there’s a propane tank on the east. I’ll distract them,” and – yep! She blows it up. The resulting explosion conveniently knocks all the baddies on their booties, Alice’s boyfriend included. Jacob has a discussion with him that turns punchy fast.
It’s back to Wayne Tower with the dynamic duo. Mary who’s sloshed, still has the class to garnish her drinks. Respect. Luke tries to get her to go and Mary lashes back as she realizes that Kate isn’t here because she’s with Alice – the “real” sister. The tension between step-sibs simmers here as Mary pleads with Luke that she’s the good sister. Just ask her how many people she’s murdered!
“I guess what they say about twins being connected is just fantasy.”
In a dark basement, Alice reveals to a now tied up Kate that she’s been in control of things this entire episode. She’s finally managed to bring Kate down the terrible rabbit hole that created her. Alice gives yet another glimpse into her life after being kidnapped; one that Kate remembers, too. It’s a tense scene with a very grumpy Jacob. Although the resolution in this flashback seems a bit manufactured, there’s definite potential for recovery in future episodes.
In the present, Jacob and Sophie are back on the road after their skirmish, when he realizes that he knows exactly where to go.
Luke, who’s just as bad a liar as Kate, leaves a fifth voicemail on her phone as Mary stumbles onto his Skin Pirate research. Mary says it makes her hungry for pizza. Same! Also, apparently there was a recent Arkham breakout covered up so well that it was only brought to our attention at this moment. ¯_(ツ)_/¯
What follows from here treads deep into CW’s DNR list for this episode. That’s unfortunate because some of the weird plot points have some wonderful payoffs. Skarsten and Scott share an especially emotional scene, there’s another skin mask and a whole lot of fighting, which Tandy totally excels at. The meat of this episode is here and, boy is it tasty.
On the other side of the spoiler zone, we catch up again with Mary and Luke. He’s finally arranged for a ride to come pick her up, along with a tasty looking ‘za. With that, he sends her on her way.
Elsewhere in the city, Kate and Jacob meet up, coping with the events of this episode and the flashbacks therein. Elsewhere elsewhere, Alice and Mouse are reunited, thanks to the aforementioned Arkham breakout. They share some ominous dialogue about being in each other’s dreams and, finally, make sense out of all these Alice in Wonderland references. After five episodes and a Batboat full of allusions, I gotta say, it’s well worth it. Because there’s icing on this cake, Mouse wraps the episode with the line, “Are we mad? I’m afraid so.”
Woo! After last week’s episode that felt like it was being pulled in several directions, Batwoman S1E5 is a definite palette cleanser. There’s one central plot and everything else strings out of it cleanly (most of the time) with several reveals and strong character moments. “Mine is a Long and Sad Tale” brings Alice back to the foreground in a great way which, in turn, sheds some more light on Kate. Their dynamic is one of the show’s best – but the sugary bickering between Mary and Luke is just as good. Both characters are well established and their actors even better. If they don’t team up to help Batwoman, I will riot.
Tune back next week, as we find out more about Alice and Mouse’s plan – and what happens with all that skin!