SDCC 2019: Preview Night Brings ‘Batwoman’ Episode 1 to a Comic Con Audience

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The pilot episode of Batwoman had its world premiere during Preview Night of San Diego Comic-Con. So, how did it fare, compared to the rest of the CW’s superhero lineup? The answer: so so.

Audiences were no doubt curious as to how Ruby Rose‘s Kate Kane would stand on her own two feet, especially after the events of the Elseworlds crossover. The good news is that Rose is the best thing about the pilot. She continues to give off the same take-no-prisoners attitude and dogged determination that can only come from being related to Bruce Wayne. Unfortunately, the usual CW tropes spring up and threaten to be a thorn in the series’ side.

Batwoman finds Kate Kane returning to Gotham City, which has drastically changed after Batman mysteriously vanished three years ago. In the Dark Knight’s absence, the Crows Security Firm, led by Kate’s father Jacob (Dougray Scott) has risen up to provide law and order. But that order is challenged by the arrival of Alice (Rachel Skarsten) who has an ax to grind against Gotham and the Crows. When Alice’s men kidnap Crow officer Sophie Moore (Meagan Tandy) who happens to be Kate’s ex, Kate takes up her cousin’s mantle to rescue Sophie and strike fear into the heart of Gotham’s criminal underworld.

As I stated before, most of the characters fall into the usual CW tropes that their other superhero shows have come to embrace. Luke Fox (Camrus Johnson) is the nerdy tech support who ends up being the hero’s BFF. Sophie is the unrequited love interest, much like Laurel Lance in the earlier seasons of Arrow. Jacob Kane is Quentin Lance 2.0, and Alice will make you wish that Kate was fighting the Mad Hatter instead. I understand the old adage “write what you know”, but Greg Berlanti, along with producer Sarah Schecter and showrunner Caroline Dries are pushing it.

The CW-isms also extend to a voiceover that is peppered throughout the pilot. It’s here that Rose’s acting falters. From the way she delivers her lines, you’d think she was rudely jerked out of bed and placed in front of a microphone. Worse, the voiceover breaks the cardinal rule of storytelling: Show, don’t tell. Arrow and The Flash wisely did away with this after a few episodes and I hope Batwoman follows suit.

Despite those issues, there were elements of the pilot I enjoyed. Namely, the production design. As it did during Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight Trilogy, Chicago doubles as Gotham and lends a lived-in, realistic look to the proceedings. The Batcave also has a great design. It’s a small, sparsely populated space, and feels like the haven of a man who dedicated his life to fighting crime. There’s also a twist near the end of the episode that connects characters, and it was surprisingly subtle.

Despite a supporting cast that didn’t catch my attention and leaning too much on tropes the audience is wise to at this point, the pilot episode of Batwoman is a solid start to a new series, especially where it’s a lead actress is concerned. Hopefully, future episodes will iron out the kinks.

Batwoman will premiere Sunday, October 6th, on the CW.

Final Rating: 7/10 Batarangs