Further flashbacks reveal Alice’s tragic past…
In Off With Her Head, Batwoman returns to disturbing territory once again, in an extended flashback of Alice’s time spent as a captive in the home of August Cartwright. On this occasion, we learn that August’s mother Mabel (labeled in Alice’s mind as the “Queen of Hearts”) comes to live with her son, and it seems she’s ten times worse when it comes to inflicting pain on Alice and Mouse than Cartwright ever was.
As with the bulk of Mine is a Long and a Sad Tale, the scenes with Mabel are pretty difficult to watch, especially when we’re made privy to some of the nastier things she did to Alice. While this thoroughly unlikable character is given a satisfying exit, it does return to the one thing I don’t like about Batwoman to date; the extended flashback sequences to Alice’s time in captivity.
Are all of these brutal scenes really necessary? It’s been made more than clear time and time again that Alice’s years in captivity warped and twisted her into the psychotic being she is today. Is it necessary for the show to spell out all of these horrific moments, several of which were very hard to watch just in this one episode? With this particular flashback climaxing as it did, hopefully this means the trips back to the Cartwright home have come to an end.
The most interesting part of this episode involves Kate and her actions with Cartwright. No matter how you feel about this scene- and whether or not it makes sense – there’s no denying that this is a pivotal moment for Kate Kane and Batwoman by extension. Kate has crossed a line that Batman (to our knowledge) never did. Well, at least the Batman of this Earth never did. Keep in mind that Kate remembers meeting the Bruce of Earth-99, one who eventually had no trouble killing enemies. It’s very possible that Kate has this in mind in the aftermath of her actions, which would definitely explain why she’s pulling into herself; she certainly doesn’t want to be anything like that version of Bruce.
At the same time, I can’t quite escape the belief that this entire situation was set up by Alice who wanted Kate to do what she did. Keep in mind that a running theme this season has been Alice’s unwavering belief that she and her twin need to be together again. By that token, manipulating Kate into getting rid of the problem that is August Cartwright makes all the sense in the world, because surely now (in Alice’s mind) Kate will come running to her sister and all will be right with the world again. No doubt Alice has grossly misunderstood the situation, but there is a strong impression given that it will take Kate a long time (possibly forever) to get over what happened with Cartwright.
Compared to the previous episode, Off With Her Head was really difficult to get through and almost felt like a half-step backward since we were taken, once again, back to Alice’s time in captivity. The major positive in this episode is that the saga of August Cartwright appears to have come to an end, though the full ramifications of this may take a while to make themselves fully known. How this will affect Kate (and her role as Batwoman) going forward remains to be seen.
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