For a story set firmly in Batman's Gotham City, The CW's Batwoman has taken a creative approach over the course of the first season to its introduction of villains that inhabit that pocket of the DC Universe and Sunday night's "Grinning From Ear to Ear" is no exception. The episode, which saw a new villain dubbed "the Slashionista" going after social media influencers, may have just introduced another villain with strong associations to Batman and the Joker -- Duela Dent, aka The Joker's Daughter.
Spoilers for Sunday's episode of Batwoman, "Grinning From Ear to Ear," below.
Sunday's episode opened up with a flashback to 2011 with a pretty young woman getting ready in a bathroom, frantically doing her makeup while what sounds like a YouTube makeup tutorial voiceover plays and an unseen voice yells for "Duela" to hurry up. No matter what the young woman -- Duela -- does with her makeup, though, she doesn't feel pretty. The reflection she sees in her mirror is distorted, her face twisted into a grim, exaggerated frown. Frustrated, she punches and breaks a mirror then takes a shard of the glass and disfigures her own face while her mother discovers the horrific scene.
Fans of the comics may recognize "Duela" as Duela Dent, also known as The Joker's Daughter. While the character has had several iterations in comic book canon, one of the best known comes from The New 52. In that version, a young Duela Dent cut her face with a box cutter and, despite being taken to the hospital by her parents, struggled against the restorative surgery leaving her face half-deformed. Her parents were horrified by her appearance, but Duela embraced it and, ultimately, ran away from home for Gotham. After finding a The Joker's face -- and mistaking it for her own -- Duela began wearing that face, becoming The Joker's Daughter.
It's an origin that parallel's Duela's history in "Grinning From Ear to Ear". In the episode, Duela is the niece of Harvey Dent who mutilated her own face just as we saw in the episode and was treated by Dr. Ethan Campbell (really August Cartwright) for her disfiguring injuries. Considering that the not so good Dr. Campbell is himself wearing a false face and forced Alice to learn to make them for his son, Mouse, it makes for an interesting remix of the primary elements of The Joker's Daughter's comic book origin and a truly chilling villain of the week.
How chilling? By episode's end, Alice had figured out a way to use Duela to get to Dr. Campbell. She used the skills she developed as a child as his prisoner to cut off Duela's face and while Alice wore that face as a mask to go after the bad doctor, for Duela the disfigurement brought a measure of joy. When authorities show up to arrest her, she happily tells them she's "finally perfect" despite her bloody, twisted, horrific visage.