The Batwoman season 1 premiere is a thrilling launch to the new Arrowverse show - and raises a lot of questions for the future. Ruby Rose made her Arrowverse debut as Batwoman in last year's "Elseworlds" event, which saw the assembled heroes head to Gotham City. They discovered a dark, sinister place where hope itself had died after Batman mysteriously vanished - but realized the city had a new champion, Batwoman.
The Batwoman season 1 premiere takes a step back in time, revealing how Kate Kane became Batwoman. The disappearance of an old lover forces Kate to return to Gotham in the hope of helping, and she immediately knows enough to head to Wayne Tower for information. While there, Kate unwittingly uncovers a cavern beneath the tower, and learns that Bruce Wayne himself was Batman. She resolves that Gotham needs a protector, and has the Bat-suit adapted to fit a woman's form. In Kate's view, she's only a temporary fix for Gotham's greatest need, because she believes that Batman will surely return soon.
Like all season premieres, the pilot episode of Batwoman is essentially setup. It sets the scene, establishing the mysteries and narrative arcs that will drive the story going forward. So let's explore all the biggest questions.
11. What Has Happened To Batman?
According to the Batwoman season 1 premiere, Batman has been missing for three years now. The disappearance left Gotham City divided, with many believing the Dark Knight had simply abandoned them. Interestingly, dialogue in Batwoman suggested that Bruce Wayne stuck around for a little longer, before he too vanished. Nobody has heard from Bruce for "a little under three years," although it's interesting to note that both Kate Kane and Luke Fox believe he could return whenever he chooses. "I believe you're going to come home one day, Bruce," Kate reflects.
This is clearly the mystery that's going to drive Batwoman season 1. Kate believes she's stepping into Batman's shoes for just a brief period, and she's even leaving a record so Batman can know what she's been doing in his name and with his equipment upon his return. That narrative conceit can only drive a show for so long, meaning Batman must either come back in the end - or, instead, Kate must learn what has happened to him.
10. What Has Happened To Gotham City Without Batman?
In the absence of Batman, Gotham City has crumbled, with law and order becoming abstract concepts. The first look at City Hall is designed to make Gotham look as though it's been forced to become some sort of fascist state, with security cameras set up across the entire city. The local government has turned to a private security firm, Crow Security, because the police were insufficient. Colonel Jacob Kane, the head of Crow Security, views himself as Gotham's White Knight - its last defender.
9. Has Anyone Ever Attempted to Fill Batman's Shoes Before?
The Batwoman season 1 premiere reveals that Kate Kane isn't the first person to attempt to fill the void left by Batman's mysterious disappearance. Batwoman's first act of heroism leads to a surge of hope in Gotham that Batman is back - she's not seen directly, instead glimpsed swinging from the rooftops at a distance - but Jacob Kane doesn't believe it for a second. "The city's had wannabes before," he tells his agents. That's all he believes Batwoman to be; just another wannabe.
Of course, this raises the disturbing question of whether Bruce Wayne really did leave Gotham City defenseless. There's comic book precedent for Batman to leave Gotham, but to assign someone else to take over in the meantime; the most notable example was in the aftermath of "Knightfall," when Batman's back was broken. There, he passed the torch on to Azrael, who frankly proved himself unworthy of it. It's possible Batman assigned Gotham a replacement while he was away, but that said replacement was killed. According to Kane, all these "wannabes" typically die "in spectacular fashion."
8. What Happened To Alice?
The Batwoman season 1 premiere reveals a disturbing connection between Batwoman and Rachel Skarsten's Alice. At first, Alice seems like just another Gotham lunatic, as obsessed with Alice in Wonderland as the more well-known Batman foe the Mad Hatter. She even has a suitor who calls himelf Dodgson, which could be an amusing Easter egg, or could reflect that he changed his name to fit with his lover's obsession. But Batwoman realizes the disturbing truth; Alice is in fact her long-missing sister, Beth. It seems she survived the car accident that was believed to have killed her, and over the decades has been twisted into something very dangerous indeed.
7. Why Does Alice Hate Jacob Kane?
Alice may be willing to burn Gotham City down, but in truth she's motivated by something a lot more personal. She appears to hate Jacob Kane with a passion, and wants to tear down everything he has built. In one scene, Alice confronts a captive Kate, and perhaps gives an insight into how she feels about their father. "Your father doesn't want you, Kate," Alice seethes. "He shipped you away, you showed up without proper postage." The implication is that Alice blames Jacob Kane for not looking for her all these years, for believing she was dead rather than trying to find her.
6. Does Every Version Of Batman Need A Pearl Necklace?
It's interesting to note how central Martha Wayne's pearl necklace has become to the Batman mythology. In the original comics, Bruce Wayne was orphaned in a mugging, when a thug attempted to steal his mother's necklace. Frank Miller's Batman: The Dark Knight Returns turned that into a pearl necklace, and included the iconic imagery of the necklace snapping in the mugger's hands, with the pearls going everywhere. Since then, the pearl necklace has become an established part of Batman lore, appearing in every big-screen version of Batman's origin story.
It even appears in Batwoman, where it seems Bruce Wayne collected the pearls together and had the necklace repaired and put on display in his office at Wayne Tower. An observant Kate realizes that the necklace has been carefully placed, and uses it to unlock the entrance to a Batcave.
5. How Many Batcaves Are There In Gotham?
Batwoman draws loose inspiration from the post-"Rebirth" Batman comics, where Bruce Wayne kept secret Batcaves hidden throughout Gotham City, including one beneath Wayne Tower. The Batwoman season 1 premiere thus raises the interesting question; how many other Batcaves are hidden in Gotham? It's entirely possible Batwoman will use the resources of this cave to discover others - and surely at least one of them will have a version of the Batmobile.
4. Will Batwoman Go Up Against Joker?
"Elseworlds" already established that Batwoman will go up against Batman's rogues' gallery, but the Batwoman season 1 premiere suggested that could even mean she'll cross paths with the Joker. The Clown Prince of Crime is explicitly mentioned in this episode; it seems Batman's pursuit of the Joker led to the tragic accident that Kate believes killed her mother and sister. Oddly enough, without Batman in Gotham, the Joker may have gone quiet for a while; he lives for the thrill of the chase, after all. If the Joker concludes that Batwoman is the heir apparent, he could strike at her from the shadows.
3. Does Sophie Know That Kate Kane Is Batwoman?
Batwoman's first act of heroism is rescuing Sophie, her old lover, from Alice. It leads to an intense and romantic scene in which the two stare into one another's eyes, and it's clear Sophie finds something about the vigilante troubling. Even more curious, Sophie avoids telling Jacob Kane that she was rescued by a woman, not a man, suggesting that she could well be hiding something more. Sophie is clearly smart, and it's entirely possible she worked out who this mysterious masked woman was.
2. Why Does Batman Use "Alfred" As A Password?
Batman has always been portrayed as paranoid, and most versions would be expected to use complex encrypted passwords. The Batwoman season 1 premiere reveals that, in the Arrowverse, Batman's passwords leave a lot to be desired; Kate is able to access Bruce's computer systems by entering "Alfred," the name of Bruce's trusted butler. That seems a pretty easy one to guess.
1. Who Is Vesper Fairchild?
Attentive viewers will notice a radio show presented by one Vesper Fairchild, played by Rachel Maddow. This is actually quite an important name in Batman lore; in the comics, Vesper Fairchild was a Gotham City celebrity who became romantically involved with Bruce Wayne. Batman has never exactly been likely to get a "Happily Ever After," so it came as no surprise to readers when the developing romance ended in tragedy; she was murdered by one of Ra's al Ghul's servants. Vesper made her Arrowverse debut in last year's "Elseworlds" crossover, when it was revealed she'd once slept with Oliver Queen.