As far as fall finales go, Batwoman Season 1 Episode 8 manages to deliver high drama while setting us up for some serious comeuppance in the back half (middle third now I guess with the full episode order) of the season.
To get at the heart of the matter, there are three major relationship shifts to address.
Each of them opens a door to potential future conflict and character development. None of them bode well for Kate.
Let's start with the one I honestly couldn't care less about -- Sophie and Tyler.
Despite Sophie determinedly choosing to ignore any feelings she still harbors for Kate and commit herself to her marriage on Batwoman Season 1 Episode 7, Tyler can't take that at face value apparently.
Fair enough. The woman you married hid a previous relationship and an entire aspect of her sexuality from you. We get it. Things are complicated.
Maybe it's because we've never seen these two interact when they aren't working or training but I'm not sure I even buy that their marriage wasn't already in trouble before Kate came back to Gotham.
Sophie's efforts to get him to re-engage with her seem in earnest but also feel desperate.
Not that I approve of any of his teenage-level emotional manipulations either.
Neither of them seems equipped to deal with bumps in the marital road and Tyler's whole go-find-yourself-but-don't-expect-me-to-wait-around response epitomizes exactly how little true connection there is between them.
It's a little hard to ignore the irony of using the engagement ring I got you to escape your ex-girlfriend's lunatic sister who didn't kill us because she knows more about your past relationships than I do.Tyler
Not sure how they plan on continuing to work together during this "break" but I can't imagine that it'll be with any degree of professionalism.
Of course, this means that Sophie will continue to be a distraction to Kate who has already admitted that she's still in love with her.
Mary's trauma and the resulting fissure between her and Kate was probably the hardest thing to watch.
Not that we didn't see this coming. Mary's been the optimistic, cheery, sunbeam-in-the-bleakest-of-nights character since the beginning whom Kate has treated like an over-eager puppy.
She's been the best sister Kate could ask for -- as well as a solid ally to Batwoman -- and has only wanted Kate to see her as family in more than name.
I know that this isn't important to you but it's important to me, okay? So why can't it be important to you that it's important to me?Mary
Yes, she's come across as young and naive at times despite her expertise as a medic but she has also been a welcome relief from the cynicism and snark that characterizes most of Gotham.
Despite their disagreements, Mary obviously cared deeply for her mother, and that made Alice's vengeance on Catherine so much more sadistic as she sought to make Mary suffer the way Beth had suffered, seeing her mother dead in front of her.
Now, I was never a fan of Catherine's. She wasn't a character written to be liked. And a lot of the things that happened to her were very much fruits of her own sowing.
That being said, her motivations were pretty straightforward: To make (and protect) a good life for herself and her family. It was her means to those ends that put her in the ambiguously amoral category.
She made a choice. Maybe, if she'd made better choices in the past, we wouldn't be here right now.Alice
Her final moments with Mary played out in an expected but still emotionally-wrought way.
Kudos to both Nicole Kang and Elizabeth Anweis (as well as the director, Holly Dale) for conveying the regrets and pain of such a tragic scenario without resorting to hysterics.
If there were one word to define Catherine throughout the series, it would be "decisive" and she is true to that trait to her final moments, basically ordering Mary to take the antidote.
Catherine: I've always wanted to see you work in your clinic.
Mary: How did you know about the clinic?
Catherine: I've always known.
Mary: How come you never said anything?
Catherine: The fastest way for you to stop doing something is for me to approve of it.
Mary has spent a lot of her time and energy trying to bring her family together. To have Alice destroy it all -- and knowing that Kate could've stopped her -- could prove to be the tipping point for Gotham's good doctor.
I'm not sure I'm ready for a dark and angry Mary.
Speaking of tipping points, Alice's actions here appear to have burned out the last remnants of hope for Kate and Jacob.
It's completely counter to Sophie's assessment that Alice is looking to cling to a relationship with Kate although there are persistent signs that that is true.
Kate: Did you hire the Rifle to kill me?
Alice: Says the walking, talking, living girl.
Alice may have spared Sophie's life in order to preserve some hope for Kate to love her but it's possible she's underestimated Kate's love for Mary and Jacob.
Catherine's death was brutal and deliberately cruel in its execution (no pun intended) and has united Jacob and Kate in their intention to end Alice once and for all.
By the way, I have to admire the twist in using a Hamilton Dynamics poison only to counter it with a cure-all antidote acquired from The Rifle's boss.
(One has to imagine the Coryana elixer is a sort of short-hand Lazarus Pit. Feels like a device that may crop up again. Along with Safiyah, maybe?)
My only gripe with what is, overall, a high-water mark for the season is that, because it is all about Alice getting everything she wants, she loses a lot of the nuance that has made the character interesting.
When all is said and done and the bodies are cleared away, the potential issues that may rise up in the fall-out are vast and mind-boggling.
What do you think will be the next twist in the narrative?
Will Luke or Mary be the first to go all-in on a vigilante side-gig?
Who's skin will Mouse be hijacking next?
Will we see Magpie or Hush in the next act of the season?
What will Alice do next now that her mad tea-party is in the rearview?
Let me hear your wildest predictions in the comments!
Diana Keng is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter.