Batwoman: 1.01 Pilot
Warning: Batwoman has not aired in the UK yet, so this review may contain minor spoilers you'll wish to avoid...
Pilot episodes can be very tricky things. They have the responsibility of not only telling a story, but introducing most if not all of the elements that will make up the show. As a result, pilot episodes can be hit or miss. That being said, I think Batwoman's series premiere is a definite hit.
Batwoman doesn't waste much time in setting up the basic plot of the series; three years earlier, for reasons unknown, Batman disappeared (along with Bruce Wayne). Enter Kate Kane (Ruby Rose), Bruce's cousin; a tattooed rebel who has been trying to find her own way ever since her mom and sister were killed 15 years earlier in a tragic accident. Notably, this was also an accident that Batman was unable to prevent from happening, a detail that strongly influences how Kate perceives the Caped Crusader, while also being unaware of his true identity. Kate narrates the action at various points throughout the episode, and while I'm not sure if it will be a recurring feature, it worked in this episode since it gave us some insight into Kate's thinking.
The main cast was introduced in a way that felt relatively smooth; I really liked how it's emphasized which characters you're not meant to like. And I am completely in love with Alice (Rachel Skarsten) who appears to be the main villain of the season, if not the series overall. Alice has the makings of a very interesting villain. She strikes me as a cross between the Joker, the Mad Hatter, and just a touch of Harley Quinn. I'm very excited to see where the series goes with Alice in future episodes.
Another detail I liked in this episode is how the show is changing up certain details in the Batman mythos, like the location of the Batcave. Correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe every other incarnation of the Batman story places the entrance to the cave at Wayne Manor, so it's really nice to see the cave located somewhere else for once. On a related note, I'm really enjoying the banter between Luke Fox (Camrus Johnson) and Kate. That has the potential to be a lot of fun once we get to know the characters better.
Batwoman also features some flashbacks, though after sitting through the endless flashbacks on Arrow I'm really hoping the ones on Batwoman are limited to the pilot episode. At least for the start of the series they make sense, since they're used to flesh out a few relevant plot points. The way they detail the evolution of the relationship between Kate and Sophie (Meagan Tandy) was very well done. That is a dynamic that will bear watching as the season continues.
With all of the positives that happened in this episode, there is one detail that concerns me as much as it excites me. A huge plot twist is revealed in the course of this episode, and while it is a good plot twist, I question the wisdom of revealing it in the very first episode of the series. On the one hand, it definitely will provide a hook for viewers to tune back in and see what the show does with this piece of information. Then again, how can the show top a twist like that?
I also have to discuss Kate's modified costume. While the suit has been customized to fit her perfectly, she does not yet have the wig of red hair that distinguishes her as Batwoman (as seen in last year's Arrowverse crossover event). I'm curious as to when that will be added, as the previews for next week's episode still show her without it. Adding the iconic red hair is a moment that I eagerly await.
All in all, Batwoman is off to a great start. The characters all have potential, and the series will hopefully begin to flesh them out starting next week. While it's too soon to say for certain, I think this show has all the potential to be a great addition to the Arrowverse.