Batwoman: 1.17 A Narrow Escape
It would be fair to say that the Batwoman writers really swung for the fences with A Narrow Escape. Not only does the episode hold up the high bar set by the previous episode, it also ties up some major loose ends as well as reintroducing some plot threads that are clearly meant to come into play as the season finale approaches. There is also some gorgeous cinematography in this episode, particularly at the opening when Batwoman shoots up a staircase after a thief.
This episode does however have a weak spot in its "villain of the week." While The Detonator is a somewhat interesting premise, it does come across as derivative of Jigsaw in the SAW franchise (down to the tape player that says PLAY ME). That being said, their actions do create some of the most tension-fueled moments all season, so the derivative nature could be somewhat overlooked.
Perhaps the biggest plot resolution in this episode is that the longstanding issue of who killed Lucius Fox is finally answered. These answers, not surprisingly, come with some huge revelations, as well as providing Luke Fox with a sizable character-defining moment. That being said, while Luke (and Kate) both take a huge step forward with their character development, this episode also demonstrated that both still have issues with opening up when something is bothering them. It's good that the show is presenting their characters as flawed beings; it makes everything they do that much more believable.
This episode also had a few pleasant surprises, one of them being the reintroduction of Tommy Elliot (Gabriel Mann) to the story. Given that Elliot hasn't been seen since episode 3, seeing him now can only mean he has some further part to play in the story. Curiously, Magpie, the villain of the week from episode 4 is also glimpsed at Arkham. With everything that's happened recently, it's easy to forget that there are several villains currently in Arkham that were all put there by Batwoman...including Alice (more on her in a moment). Even if we don't see these characters the rest of the season, it's good that the show is reminding us these characters exist. It's too easy for shows to churn out a stream of one-off characters that are never seen or heard of again, but Batwoman definitely isn't going that direction.
Speaking of surprises, the best moment in this episode came when Mary finally confessed to Kate that she knows her former step-sister is Batwoman. This is a powerful moment between the two. Not only does Mary's speech convince Kate to keep going in her role as Batwoman, but it also reveals that Kate has in fact played a sizable role in Mary's life. And without a doubt this speech also contains the best line of the night, when Kate is trying to convince Mary that she can't possibly be a hero (in light of killing Cartwright):
Kate: "I'm not a hero"
Mary: "I'm not asking you to be. I'm just asking you to keep going."
Officially adding Mary to Team Batwoman should definitely change the team dynamic, especially since Mary and Luke already get along pretty well together.
Finally, there's the ongoing adventures of Alice, now locked up in Arkham. As great as this episode is, Alice's story arc this episode is somewhat confusing. The opening implies that Alice is well on her way to being emotionally broken anew, yet it soon becomes clear that the former leader of the Wonderland Gang is plotting more than ever. One would think Alice would've spent more time brooding over her twin's "betrayal" but by episode's end Alice is in position to build a power base in a place no one would ever suspect. Perhaps we're meant to believe that Alice's insanity is what makes her so resilient after yet another betrayal, because it's a little hard to accept that Alice can bounce back just like that (and in Arkham of all places).
With several storyline issues wrapped up, A Narrow Escape firmly places Batwoman's story on the road to the season finale. With Julia Pennyworth sticking around Gotham for the time being and Mary now part of the Batwoman team, it will make for an interesting change in the few episodes that remain. This is also some of the best storytelling seen in the first season of Batwoman.