Batwoman Showrunner Caroline Dries Looks Back at Season 1 Ahead of the Finale

Batwoman Showrunner Caroline Dries Looks Back at Season 1 Ahead of the Finale

Ahead of tonight’s season finale of Batwoman, showrunner Caroline Dries joined us for a look back at Season 1, and what’s coming up in Gotham City. Read the highlights from that conversation below, or listen to the full interview in our Fem TV podcast episode. (If you aren’t completely up to date on the first season, please note that there are spoilers ahead.)

Watch the Season finale of Batwoman tonight at 8pm ET on Showcase in Canada or 8/7c on The CW in the US. Canadian viewers can also catch up on the first season from the beginning on STACKTV and the Global TV app. You can also read our interview with Rachel Skarsten (Alice) here.

Batwoman has a much darker tone than most of the other DC TV shows. Did embracing that darkness offer more freedom in adapting this story for the small screen?

Yeah, it never even occurred to me that it was getting darker. That’s just my sensibilities, and what the characters are dealing with is so life and death. Obviously, we infuse it with comedy — and Mary and Luke are really good for that. But it’s so serious that it feels more natural and more grounded. It’s our job as writers to ground everything that is as crazy, weird, heightened and macabre as it is, and make it feel like this could actually happen if things went haywire.

When I took on the project, initially I had to get over the hurdle of the idea of Batman. He’s a man who is very sophisticated and cool who put on a costume with a cape and went around saving people. I kept re-reading the comics and watching all the Christopher Nolan movies and they make you believe that’s cool. I come from Smallville where the rule back in the day was no one wears a costume, nobody’s wearing a cape, and nobody’s in tights. That has evolved in the last 20 years, obviously for the better because now the characters are so vibrant and cool. But it all comes with keeping everything grounded. Part of keeping it grounded was to embrace the innate darkness of Gotham City.

The show almost borders on horror with respect to how it deals with technology or medicine that exists or is close to existing, and how people can manipulate those for bad or good. It treads that line between dark and light.

It has to be a tone that comes with high stakes. It’s hard to explain this, but when you have The Flash who’s dealing with metahumans or Supergirl who’s dealing with super badass aliens who can crush a building with by stepping on it or whatever, they are going up against really, really scary [superpowered] people. Kate is going up against human beings so I have to make them scary enough that she has some competition.

Given that most of the show is more grounded in reality, I was surprised by the reveal that Kryptonite is the one thing that can pierce the Batsuit and harm Kate. What brought you and the writers to that decision?

I was thinking about what was unique that could penetrate the Batsuit, and we’ve established through the season that the Batsuit is bulletproof. In Episode 3, Tommy was looking for this rail gun that he got his hands on and ultimately lost. Later in the season, Catherine was after the coil accelerator, and then Alice compromised it so it wouldn’t work.

Alice wants to kill Batwoman and needs a weapon to do it. So, what is a unique, rare thing that could penetrate the suit that can’t be built in a lab or that access to great technology could be able to make? I wanted it to be rare, really special, and hard for Alice to get. Then I remembered that Kara and Kate have this bond, and part of that bond is a piece of Kryptonite that Kara gave to Kate in Crisis on Infinite Earths which represents more than a rock. It represents the trust in that friendship, and if Kara were to ever go off the rails, she trusts Kate to bring her back down to Earth with the Kryptonite.

And I started thinking if I’m Lucius Fox and building the suit, what if it got in the wrong hands or if Batman went nuts and somebody needed to stop him? He would need a failsafe. So what if the failsafe was something that Clark Kent — Superman — had given him? I was like, “Kryptonite.” There’s one little piece of it in their ether, so it’s really special and it’s also the thing that can penetrate the Batsuit.

Alice has been so much fun to watch this season and while I don’t question her ruthlessness, I can’t say with certainty that she could actually end Kate’s life. The sisters have shared some bonding moments and we’ve seen a bit of what could’ve been had Kate pulled Beth/Alice from the car wreck.

It’s so fun to play and it’s basically the emotional side of the season. It’s the push and pull, and the tragedy that results from a toxic relationship or a codependent relationship when sometimes it could be good. They’re both incredibly deep and have gone through very similar experiences because they had the same childhood. Then there’s this rift where Alice went one way and Kate went the other way. At the end of the day, how can Alice take her sister’s life? But Alice is super impulsive and uses revenge so she doesn’t have to feel real emotion. It’s a very clean way to get her through the day whereas if she really sat back and thought about what she’s actually feeling — betrayal, rejection and all those awful things — she would probably explode. This desire for revenge is what keeps Alice getting up in the morning.

Until Episode 19, I thought for sure that Julia was working with Bruce, but you’ve set up this whole other storyline from the comics. Can you share a bit about that without going into spoiler territory?

Several times over the course of the season, we hinted at this woman named Safiyah Sohail in the context that Alice knew who she was and was afraid of her. Obviously, Alice is our villain of Season 1 but at some point, your villain needs to meet its match. For us, that’s Safiyah. In Season 2, Safiyah will make her way back into Alice’s life and for the first time, we’ll get to see Alice really, really afraid.

Sophie spent much of Season 1 denying her truth and hiding her past with Kate but had started to take that back toward the end of the season only to end up romantically tied to Julia. Does this set up a triangle going forward?

We saw glimpses of that triangle in Episode 19. All lesbians can tell you that it’s inevitable that at some point, you start dating somebody who either you know your ex dated or your friend dated so it is very true to life. When you’re in a marginalized community, there’s only so many people to pick from so it’s a very relatable dilemma that these women are in. What we’ll see in the finale is a little bit of the continuation of the Julia-Sophie journey together and Sophie realizing Julia comes with some baggage beyond Kate and it’s getting a little complicated.

The other thread we have going into this finale is the relationship between Kate and her father. Jacob is hell-bent on stopping Batwoman, but would learning that his daughter is the one in the Batsuit change his mind?

When we get there, it won’t be black and white. He has all of these feelings and baggage that he associates with the Bat symbol that dates back to 15 years ago when his wife was killed. We delve into this relationship in our finale because it really mirrors the pilot where Kate was trying to win the approval of her father and it didn’t matter what she did. Kate’s coming into this episode with those same desires. She just wants her dad to accept her, which is obviously a metaphor for kids coming out to their parents and all they want is to show that their kid really isn’t any different, it’s the child that they love. It’s one of the fundamental relationships on the show and I’m glad that we got to tell this story before the season was cut short.

Do you have any last thoughts on the season finale that you’d like to share?

To me, it is the best cliffhanger we’ve had all season. It will have people wondering what the heck are we going to do come Season 2 because it’s going to open with such a bang. We’re going to have more Bat tech. Not going to hint too much at what we’re going to do, but something we’ve been working on for a very long time is going to come into play and people will love it.

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