Batwoman Episode 1 – Does the Story Work? Unfortunately, not so far.

This post analyzes the Batwoman Series using the 5 Commandments of Storytelling and the Editor’s 6 Core Questions from the book The Story Grid by Shawn Coyne.

SPOILER ALERT!!!

This post contains spoilers from the Batwoman series, so make sure you watch the show before you read further.

This is a one shot blog post, mainly because I don’t think the story is working and I’m not sure if they will be able to fix it in the series given the path the writers have chosen to go down, so I probably won’t watch the rest of the series.

Expectations and Problems

I had high hopes for this series. I enjoyed Gotham. The Batman universe is very iconic. There was a lot of possibilities, so I gave the first episode a shot.

Here is the wikipedia blurb:

Three years after billionaire philanthropist Bruce Wayne and his vigilante alter-ego Batman disappeared, his cousin Kate Kane sets out to overcome her demons and become a symbol of hope by protecting the streets of Gotham City as Batwoman.

wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Batwoman_(TV_series)

So, I assume this will start with an origin story. It starts with future Batwoman getting survival training by diving into an iced over lake, retrieving a key to her handcuffs, and un-cuffing herself and then using the handcuffs to break through the ice. I liked this scene. Batman had often searched out mentors during his career, when he started and also to reset when something went wrong. I didn’t have a problem with this.

But I do have a lot of other problems.

Here is the trailer on Youtube, in case you missed it.

The first big thing that bothered me was all the Deus Ex Machina moments:

  • Kate Kane is Bruce Wayne’s cousin. I realize that backgrounds have to change from the comics, but it gives her a large boost over having to figure out how to fund and support herself. That is one of the great things about Batwoman, she isn’t rich, she needs to come in to her own. No longer.
  • She outwits the silly guard at Wayne Corp and downloads secret access to CCTV using the password Alfred. Come on.
  • And then, she recognizes a logo on the blanket used to capture her girlfriend from a place she used to play as a kid. Quite a coincidence.
  • Then she beats her dad’s security forces to Alice’s lair, has a huge fight with the bad guy and the security guys never even show up. It makes no sense why she would do that, she’s not a hero at this point. At the end of the fight she gets hit in the head with a huge wooden paddle that would have seriously caused her brain damage in the real world.
  • When she wakes up from her mild head trauma, she is being treated by her sister – socialite, dork by night but charity case doctor by day. Have the DC writers learned nothing from the Marvel series?
  • As soon as the connection between Kate and Bruce was made, I immediately assumed she would find the bat cave, which she did. Just by accident almost. It was a silly scene. And the guardian, didn’t even try to stop her.
  • Then she demands that this guardian guy (why would he help her?) make the uniform fit a woman, and basically she is in the next scene in the fitted uniform – pretty unrealistic even for the television
  • And to put the icing on the cape, she seems to be already versed in using all of batman’s gadgets. It was annoying really. I would have much preferred that she have a learning curve and we see her fail a couple times.

Beyond that, My second biggest problem with this episode/series is when Kate and her girlfriend get kicked out of a military academy for being lesbians. This is sooo stupid. The military has been nothing if not the most open armed supporters for LGBQ movement in the last years, if nothing else than in their rules. This is so mis-representative of any military organization, I really can’t believe they put this in there. The military completely allows same sex marriage and benefits to both parties. Ridiculous.

Anyway, that’s my initial rant. Here are my 5 commandments for the first episode of Batwoman.

The 5 Commandments for Episode 1

Inciting Incident

Kate Kane is conducting cold weather survival training under a shaman when she receives a call from her sister telling her that her old girlfriend has been kidnapped, so Kate returns to find her

Progressive Complication/ Turning Point

There are a number of progressive complications, just to mention a few: Kate’s father is in charge of a contract security force called the Crows that guards Gotham City since the Batman disappeared 3 years ago; Bruce Wayne has also disappeared and no one has seen him for three years; Alice is a new threat to the security of Gotham City; Kate has a troubled relationship with her father.

The turning point for Kate is after she confronts Alice and loses, basically her first strategy to rescue her girlfriend has failed.

Crisis

Kate’s crisis question then is what does she do? Does she give up or not?

Climax

Kate decides that Bruce is in hiding and that the security guard at Wayne Enterprises probably knows where he is, so she goes to find Bruce in order to get help

Resolution

As a result of searching for Bruce, she finds the Batcave, re-designs the Bat Suit, and becomes the Batwoman in a matter of minutes.

Value Shift

The Value shift for this episode is -/+. In the beginning, Kate’s girlfriend is kidnapper and at the end she is safe. In the beginning, Gotham has no knight since Batman has gone missing, by the end they have anew hero, the Batwoman.

Conventions and Obligatory Scenes for the Action Genre

It’s hard to determine any Obligatory scenes or Conventions without knowing more. We have an inciting attack by the villain, Alice, where she threatens Gotham and kidnaps Kate’s girlfriend, but it remains to be seen if she is a ‘Master Villain’ or not. It appears that the villain’s MacGuffin is to bring Kate to the dark side. There has been no speech in praise of the villain yet.

Summary

For an action story, I really hate that everyone knows fighting techniques, but that is tending to be the norm for the Arrow Universe. At least in Arrow and some of the other storylines they have a good backstory for how they got that way, and maybe, given time, Batwoman will too. Overall, I’m not to pleased with the series (if you can’t tell).

So, how could this have been done better?

Well, in my opinion, Batwoman has fallen prey to some lazy writing and the Me Too movement. I liked that Kate was narrating in the beginning because I was hoping that we had jumped into the series at the middle, that she already was the Batwoman, or training to be the Batwoman, and she was going to tell us the backstory. However, that was not the case. I liked that Kate was mad at Batman for what happened to her mother and sister, but she got over it too quickly when she learned that he was tormented over it. I hate that the villain is her sister that didn’t die in the car accident. I imagine her mother might come back too.

I really don’t know how to salvage this story to tell you the truth, I think they would have to scrap the whole thing and start over.

I hope the plot shapes up, I want to see something great, but right now I’m not getting that.

The Story Grid

For more information about the Story Grid, go to the Story Grid Webpage to find free videos and articles on how to implement the methodology.

Read these articles for more information about the 5 Commandments of Storytelling and the Editor’s 6 Core Questions from the book The Story Grid by Shawn Coyne.

For an example of how these techniques are used, read Jane Austin’s The Pride and the Prejudice with annotations by Shawn Coyne.

Story Grid Editing

If you are interested in having your manuscript reviewed by me, see my Editing Services.

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