Batwoman 1×8 Review: ‘A Mad Tea-Party’

a mad tea party

Eight episodes in, this show has taken a hard left turn with ‘A Mad Tea-Party’. On the one hand, it seals Alice’s villain cred, which has been in doubt. On the other, now Kate definitely has to take Alice down hard. 

‘A Mad Tea-Party’ may have changed Batwoman for good, and I’m not sure whether that’s a good thing or a bad thing.

I’m all for high stakes, I really am, but also Batwoman has spent 7 epsiodes pulling punches when it comes the Alice storyline. The whole script has built her up as someone who’s potentially going to turn face. Think about it:

  • She only killed minor characters who could reasonably be seen as bad guys or “defensive kills” (which should 100% have been a bigger deal to Kate if you think about it, but in TV show logic makes Alice redeemable).
  • She went to extreme lengths to protect Kate from the only weapon that can pierce the Batsuit.
  • She kept sisterly mementos and showed occasional tenderness towards Kate.
  • She stood up for Kate to her long-time abuse partner Mouse.

Then ‘A Mad Tea-Party’ Happened, and … wow.

I mean, wow. Excruciatingly painful suffocation-by-paralysis deaths aren’t something I expected given the tone of the show so far. That was an intense scene – one of the best in the show so far, even if we knew how it was going to turn out.

Maybe now that Alice is Certified Awful we can get a healthier sister storyline with Kate and Mary instead of the whole “blood is thicker than water” crap that’s been happening.

Real talk, I’m not even convinced Catherine deserved that. Yes, she built a lot of weapons and weapons designers have a complicated reputation in comics, but it doesn’t make her a villain.

She pushed for an anti-Batsuit weapon, too, which made sense because Batman was seen as a danger by the Crows. (Also, Batman probably also has an anti-Batsuit weapon. Just saying.)

She didn’t fake Beth’s death to get together with Jacob. She did it because the constant searching was eating Jacob and Kate alive and it was the only way she could see to save them from themselves. I understand that Alice doesn’t see it that way, but the audience does. As far as Gotham citizens go, Catherine is actually trying to help, even if she has a weird way of showing it.

I guess now we know Alice is Definitely A Bad Guy.

Full disclosure, I had a hard time taking Alice seriously before ‘A Mad Tea-Party’. Maybe the showrunners did foreshadow this level of cruelty and I just didn’t pick up on it because… okay, well, there’s only so many times I can bring up how little I enjoy Rachel Skarsten’s acting choices without engaging in cruelty myself, but it was a factor here. Alice didn’t seem dangerous. She seemed bored and disengaged with a few flashes of something more. 

Now, reluctantly, I have to take her at least somewhat seriously. Not because I like her acting any better (though in all fairness there were a few flashes here as well), but because she’s actually killing named characters.

From a plot perspective, I do admire the well-executed revenge plot. Alice and Mouse got Kate out of the way while murdering the woman who got the Kanes to stop looking for Beth. Do I wonder why no one noticed how oddly Mouse-Jacob was acting for days on end? Yeah. Am I curious about why Real-Jacob didn’t call his daughter at least? I am. But with things as they stood, the bad guys checked a lot of boxes when it comes to High Quality Villainy. 

No one really thought those charges against Jacob through, though. They obviously won’t stick. He has so much evidence that he was outside Gotham – credit card purchases, phone records, all that – and he’ll clearly have drugs in his system that will prove he was unconscious long enough to clear him. I’ll be very surprised if he sits in jail for long. His reputation might be damaged, but that case is all flash, no substance. 

Aside from everything else that happened in ‘A Mad Tea-Party’, I’m walking away feeling sorry for Mary in a big way. She has been begging Kate to see how dangerous Alice is since – oh yeah, remember when Alice tried to kill Mary? The sister Kate DID grow up with? At this point in their lives, Mary is more a sister to Kate than Alice, and Kate didn’t realize it until it was too late. 

Things are rough right now. I don’t know where the show is going from here, and I’m a little scared to hazard a guess.

Oh yeah, and we have a nice little teaser for next week’s “Crisis on Infinite Earths” at the end which is… cool, I guess? I’m still shook from Catherine’s murder, as I assume Kate is. It will be weird to see her jump right into crossover banter with this hanging over her head.

What do you guys think is happening next? I’m taking a break from guessing but feel free to throw out some ideas in the comments below. 

Author: Khai

Khai is a writer, anthropologist, and games enthusiast. She is co-editor (alongside Alex DeCampi) of and contributor to “True War Stories”, a comic anthology published by Z2 Comics. When she’s not writing or creating games, Khai likes to run more tabletop RPGs than one person should reasonably juggle.

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