Batwoman Season 1 Had the Arrowverse's Best Love Triangle Yet

We're still a ways away from the return of Batwoman, which will give the second season of the hit The CW series a major new status quo. The new batch of episodes will see Javicia Leslie stepping into the series' titular role, after Ruby Rose announced her exit as Kate Kane earlier this year. Instead of simply recasting Kate, Leslie will be portraying an entirely new character named Ryan Wilder, something that is expected to completely shake up the show as we know it. While fans are overwhelmingly excited to see that new normal in Season 2, it will bring an end to some of the show's most interesting plotlines -- including the love triangle between Kate, Sophie Moore (Meagan Tandy), and Julia Pennyworth (Christina Wolfe). Love triangles on superhero TV shows have been hit or miss over the years (and those within The CW's Arrowverse have drawn ire amongst some viewers), but Batwoman's take on the romantic goings-on of those three characters felt like a breath of fresh air, and showed how pivotal personal connections can be in a superhero's origin story.

For those who need a bit of a refresher on Batwoman's first season -- the series premiere established that Kate and Sophie had secretly been lovers while at military academy, only for them to be outed as queer and threatened with expulsion from the school. Kate decided to accept the expulsion and use that time to travel around the world, while Sophie denied her sexuality, and later married a male member of The Crows, the Gotham security firm she works for. Once Kate returned to Gotham, she realized that she still had some repressed feelings for Sophie, just as Sophie began to independently question whether or not she was happy in her marriage. Shortly after the midseason premiere, Sophie separated from her husband, and briefly had a romantic connection to Batwoman (not realizing, of course, that she was really Kate).

Meanwhile, Julia, the openly-queer daughter of Alfred Pennyworth, arrived shortly before the show's mid-season finale, and was confirmed to have briefly had a casual fling with Kate, and it was clear that Kate and Julia still had an emotional bond. After being gone from the show for a good stretch of episodes, Julia returned to Gotham after learning that there was a ransom for Sophie's death, and saved her from being shot by a sniper. After bonding over both being "Kate's exes", the pair then teamed up to investigate who was after Sophie and the other members of the Crows, and a spark developed between them in the process. Outside of a tender moment of her kissing Kate on the rooftop of Wayne Enterprises, Julia and Sophie's relationship only seemed to grow, especially once the pair were put in charge of a new Crows strike team. In one particular instance towards the end of the season, Kate walked in on Julia and Sophie sharing a kiss, but quickly moved on to confronting Julia about what she wanted with Lucius Fox's journal.

Throughout Season 1 of Batwoman, there was never a sense that any combination of Kate/Sophie/Julia was inherently betraying the third party, or that any of the women had to "compete" for anyone else's affection. If anything, the show leaned more into the inherent awkwardness of Julia and Sophie having grown closer entirely independent of Kate, particularly with one scene in the season's (unintentional, thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic) penultimate episode. As Batwoman showrunner Caroline Dries put it to ComicBook.com earlier this year, the storyline "kind of represents lesbian culture, where you end up having dated your current [girlfriend's] ex at some point". There also was never a feeling that Kate's career as Batwoman was going to live or die by her romantic relationships with Julia or Sophie, with her brief fling with Reagan (Brianne Howey) complicating her super-heroics more. If anything, Sophie was the one whose individual arc was boosted by the love triangle, with Julia helping her become more comfortable with her own sexuality.

To an extent, the love triangle on Batwoman wasn't always a major focus in Season 1 -- something that feels subtly revolutionary in and of itself, especially when juxtaposed with the Arrowverse's other major love triangles. Arrow's most notable love triangle - the Season 1 dynamic between Oliver Queen, Laurel Lance, and Tommy Merlyn - was certainly emotional and enthralling at the time, especially once it culminated in Tommy's tragic death in the Season 1 finale. But in retrospect, the plotline leaned heavily into melodramatic miscommunications and hurt feelings, and ultimately served as plot fodder for some extension of Oliver's own emotional turmoil. Just a few years later, The Flash's first season introduced a similar, slightly-upbeat set-up between Barry Allen, Iris West, and Eddie Thawne -- right down to Eddie sacrificing himself in the Season 1 finale. While both plotlines had wildly different endgames (Arrow's Oliver/Laurel romance largely fizzled out, despite having decades of comic canon to draw from, while Iris and Barry are still married on The Flash), there was a sense that both triangles were largely there to prop up their main character's individual journey, with the other characters losing a small bit of agency in the process.

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In comparison, Batwoman's Season 1 love triangle was less concerned with making fans emotional or drawing out a comic-accurate relationship, and more with just letting its three characters just be three-dimensional characters. Maybe that’s because Kate’s two biggest comic-accurate relationships were tied up in other properties - Maggie Sawyer appeared on Supergirl during its second season, and Renee Montoya appeared on the big screen in Birds of Prey earlier this year - but there was a sense of awesome unpredictability that came with her relationships with Julia and Sophie. While we have no way of knowing exactly what that endgame would have been in the Kate/Sophie/Julia dynamic - much less what Julia or Sophie's relationship with Ryan Wilder will be like - we can at least celebrate the unconventional, authentic storyline that we got in Season 1.

Batwoman is expected to return with new episodes in January of 2021.

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