Batwoman: 1.05 Mine is a Long and a Sad Tale
*warning: plot spoilers located below...
I have to start off this review with a confession and a warning: it's taken me a while to write down my thoughts on Mine is a Long and a Sad Tale because it genuinely upset me as it played out. In fact, if you are bothered by stories of children being held against their will or in imminent peril, then you might want to avoid reading about this episode. With that in mind, let's get on to the review.
Mine is a Long and a Sad Tale finally lays out in full detail, through a series of flashbacks, what happened to turn Beth Kane into the psychotic and twisted Alice. This story is told by Alice to a frustrated Kate, who wants to bring Alice's criminal career to an end once and for all. In brief: Beth was "rescued" by an unnamed man and his son, later revealed to be the eponymous "Mouse" who is so critical to Alice's plans, and forcibly held at the home against her will, to be a friend to Mouse, who has a facial disfigurement.
At one point, I theorized with some friends that Beth must have been held captive by one of the classic Batman villains to turn out so twisted, like the Mad Hatter, and it wouldn't have been a bad way to introduce one to the story. While this theory turned out to be false, I think I would've preferred it anyway, because Beth's unnamed captor made my skin crawl. What makes him so menacing, oddly enough, is that he dresses and acts like everything he's doing is completely normal, and his voice almost never rises. This is a man committed to doing whatever he wants, right or wrong, and the way he emotionlessly takes in Beth's pleas to go home are equally rage-inducing and heartbreaking.
But the worst was yet to come. The emotional climax of this episode comes with the revelation that Jacob and Kate very nearly discovered where Beth was being held, and only threats from her captor kept Beth from revealing her location in the house. At this point, I nearly turned the episode off because I could barely take in the idea that everything that happened to Beth/Alice could have been avoided. It's a heart wrenching moment, and one that is rather difficult to watch.
Thankfully, this episode wasn't all doom and gloom. Interspersed with these flashbacks was a rather humorous series of moments between Luke Fox and Mary, Kate's stepsister. It wasn't until they met that I realized I need to see these two characters onscreen together much more often, because they are really funny together. Hopefully there will be more interactions between Luke and Mary in the future. And on a side note, I can't help but wonder how Mary's mother Catherine will react now that her husband and her daughter want nothing to do with her.
The episode hints at the end that Alice has big plans still to come for Gotham. Given her behavior through this episode, and the series as a whole, I'm excited and more than a little terrified to see what those plans are going to be. In all seriousness, I hope Batwoman won't have too many episodes like this one. It can't be emphasized enough how upsetting the flashbacks with Beth were. I understand stories can offer gut punches at time, but this one was almost too much for me.