The first half-season of Batwoman has had its fair share of big action, but when you boil it down, the story has basically been about the ways Kate Kane (Ruby Rose) is torn between the family of her childhood -- embodied by Beth (Rachel Skarsten), her twin sister, who now goes by Alice and leads the Wonderland Gang -- and the family of her teenage and adult years. After Kate's mom and sister were in a car accident that resulted in her mother's death and her sister's disappearance, she never really got over the loss. Her father remarried and had another daughter -- Mary Hamilton, played by Nicole Kang -- and while Kate had a good enough relationship with them, it wasn't the same.
That dynamic has informed a lot of what has gone into the first half of the season, which culminated tonight. Recently, Kate and her father Jacob (Dougray Scott) learned that Jacob's wife Catherine (Elizabeth Anweis) had falsified evidence in order to convince her husband that his missing daughter had died. While the motivation wasn't evil -- she believed that Beth was gone and wanted to force someone she loved to move beyond a tragedy and face reality -- the fact that she was wrong made it pretty hard to hide the lie eventually.
So when Kate declines an invitation to a gala celebrating Catherine, Mary asks what might be the obvious question: why Kate can't forgive her mother, when she keeps giving Beth/Alice more chances? Beth says that she gives Beth chances because they are family, and while it isn't meant to sting Mary the way it does, she immediately knows it was the wrong thing to say.
Spoilers ahead for Batwoman's midseason finale, titled "A Mad Tea-Party," after this point.
It also means that when Alice shows up to the gala and threatens the lives of Mary and Catherine, Kate is not there to take control of the situation.
Things get ugly fast, as Alice manipulates Catherine into confessing some of her "sins" during an award acceptance speech, and then poisons her, leaving her clinging to life as Mary begs Alice for mercy. Eventually, "mercy" is granted in the form of a single dose of antidote, but not before Alice reveals that she had poisoned Mary, too, and that in order to save her daughter, Catherine will have to choose to sacrifice herself.
Of course, that's exactly what Catherine does, leaving a distraught Mary behind. And when she sees Kate again, she has not forgiven her half-sister for essentially choosing Alice's side over Catherine's. Noting that up to this point, it has seemed to the audience like Mary is the one putting all the work into the relationship, while Kate has been focused on other things, Kang told ComicBook.com that this experience will alter that relationship going forward.
"Mary puts in so much effort and tries to make wild vegan dinner reservations when Kate absolutely does not have the time. But I think Mary really puts her foot down in this moment," Kang explained. "I think a mother dying shifts you forever, and I think this is just maybe a new facet we haven't seen. Mary hasn't been pushed up against a corner. This hasn't happened to her before, where she really puts her foot down, and I think it's like, 'you know what? At a certain point you're going to have to choose, or else I can't be here anymore. It's like my life is in danger. My life is in danger first, but it's actually my mother's death that has me draw the line in the sand, and is like, maybe you may not be able to do everything you want to do without hurting the people who love you. And so you're going to have to choose, because I've just lost the most significant person in my life and I don't know how to reconcile that.'"
She also suggested that it won't just be Mary, but it will be Gotham more broadly, that has to deal with the loss of Catherine.
"I played the reality of my mother dying, and then, only afterwards do I see the reverberations of it being in Gotham, being a Kane, unknowingly being related to Batwoman," Kang explained. "Because Mary doesn't know those things, she's just holding her dying mother in her arms. And that is what helped in episodes one, two, and three, for me too, in order to play somebody that was full and not just playing a trope or not just playing one side. I just took episode one. I played to the reality of not seeing my sister in so many years, and really being someone I look up to and who I think is cool...which, I think Ruby is cool. I handle one moment at a time in Mary's life, so far it successfully helps reveal more and more parts of an already full person as opposed to trying to guess and play a story that these characters, if well-played, don't even know that they're in. The Joker doesn't know he's The Joker. We're always interested in the how, how he got there, or why he is the way he is. So I think we're in Mary's why, how, how is she becoming the person she is?"
Batwoman airs Sundays at 8/7c on The CW. Tonight's midseason finale will be followed by next week, when Batwoman has the second chapter in the "Crisis on Infinite Earths" crossover, before going on hiatus until January.
“Crisis on Infinite Earths” kicks off on Sunday, December 8 on Supergirl, runs through a Monday episode of Batwoman and that Tuesday’s episode of The Flash. That will be the midseason cliffhanger, as the shows go on hiatus for the holidays and return on January 14 to finish out the event with the midseason premiere of Arrow and a "special episode" of DC's Legends of Tomorrow, which launches as a midseason series this year and so will not have an episode on the air before the Crisis.