“An Un-Birthday Present”
Writers: James Stoteraux & Chad Fiveash
Director: Mairzee Almas
Starring: Ruby Rose, Rachel Skarsten, Meagan Tandy, Nicole Kang, Camrus Johnson, Dougray Scott, Sam Littlefield, John Emmet Tracy, Nicholas Holmes, Ava Sleeth and Rachel Maddow
Review by Steve J. Ray
This episode had a very tough act to follow after last week’s excellent “How Queer Everything Is Today!” I am extremely pleased to report that since the “Crisis” crossover this show has come back all guns blazing, and “An Un-Birthday Present” is another rock-solid episode of Batwoman.
Writers Chad Fiveash & James Stoteraux have given more depth to Alice’s character and Rachel Skarsten has once again delivered an outstanding performance… or two. Last week’s shock appearance of Beth, a version of Kate Kane’s sister who didn’t become Alice, blew me away. The repercussions are the main focus of this episode, and Rachel Skarsten’s acting skills are on full display. Beth and Alice couldn’t be more different, but there are a few moments where we do see glimpses of A in B… and vice-versa. Alice is at her disturbed best, while Beth has a fragility that disguises some true inner strength.
Nicole Kang as Mary is also on great form, as a champion for truth, and as tipsy kid sister. There’s a wonderful moment where we see Beth attempt something truly heroic (in the darkest way possible), and Nicole’s reaction to the change is simply wonderful.
“An Un-Birthday Present” delivered a few very welcome surprises. Alice’s intelligence is terrifying, but seeing her doppelganger’s equal – yet completely opposite intellect – adds depths to the villain, by underlining how tragic her descent into insanity and villainy truly is.
The aftershocks of Batwoman’s coming out to the world as gay are felt this week too. The reactions of the GCPD and the politicians sadly smack of real-life all to accurately. Having the authorities behave in this manner was upsetting, but seeing the majority of Gothamites supporting and celebrating the heroine made me smile. The scene where Batwoman makes her triumphant appearance at the end of the episode is a true punch the air moment.
The entire cast shone this week. Camrus Johnson had some great moments with Beth and Kate (terrible singing notwithstanding). Ruby Rose is really starting to settle into the character of Kate Kane, and her scenes with both versions of her sister were heartfelt and engaging. The one person I’ll be keeping my eye on, though, is Jacob. He is now a man on a mission, and I can’t help but feel that innocents will suffer in his quest for vengeance against Alice.
The episode ends on another cliffhanger. Can two versions of one person co-exist? Will Alice be Beth’s undoing? Can Kate keep her father in check?
Batwoman is on a roll, and I can’t wait for the next episode.
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