Batwoman Showrunner Caroline Dries Previews a Complicated and Intense Finale

Bettina Strauss/The CW
Bettina Strauss/The CW

While the global pandemic may have come in and cut short production on Season 1 of Batwoman, the series still seems ready to pack quite a finale punch. Last week’s episode certainly felt like a penultimate one in many ways, as Alice (Rachel Skarsten) broke out of Arkham and discovered, using Lucius Fox’ journal, that Kryptonite — the green rock lethal to Supergirl (Melissa Benoist) — was also the only thing that can pierce Kate’s (Ruby Rose) Batsuit. 

Alice may possess this crucial new information in this week’s finale, airing Sunday at 8 p.m. ET on the CW and Showcase, but she’s also starting to lose control over Mouse (Sam Littlefield) and Hush (Gabriel Mann). Meanwhile, Batwoman, along with Commander Kane (Dougray Scott) are busy on the defensive when one of Gotham’s former heroes returns to settle a score. Elsewhere, after Julia (Christina Wolfe) and Sophie (Meagan Tandy) seemed ready to take the next step, but new information surfaces that may force Julia to tell her the truth about what’s really going on.

As the end of the season arrives, The TV Junkies got the chance to chat with Batwoman showrunner Caroline Dries about the show’s journey this season, and how things were affected by the early pandemic shutdown. She also previews what Alice may be up to in the finale, why she decided to have Kryptonite come into play, and how Safiyah Sohail, revealed to be the one Julia was working for to get Lucius’ journal, may come into play in Season 2.

 

The TV Junkies: So I know your season got cut short, but last week felt like a true penultimate episode in many ways. How did the pandemic shutdown affect your plans for the season?

Caroline Dries: It was a huge bummer. Everyone who worked in TV production felt really disappointed by how things had to go. We had two episodes written, and one we were ready to shoot, so we had to literally pull the plug. We got lucky in that our Episode 20 is a good finale. We were building up to a bigger climax, with more resolution, but that’s okay because we can push a lot of that into the next season. We still leave with a giant cliffhanger that will make people want to come back for Season 2 and see what happens. It’s kind of like, ‘Oh my god, are they doing it?’ In a weird way it kind of worked out, but it’s still totally heartbreaking. 

I always tell the writers that we have to write Act 6, the last one of every episode, so that it feels like we’re really making the audience want to come back. We try to use emotional scenes and a big cliffhanger so they come back, and we do that with this episode.

TTVJ: Of all the things you prepare for as a showrunner, and the possible obstacles that can come your way, I’m sure “global pandemic” isn’t one you were thinking of.

CD: Not one of them! I had a lot on my plate and I’m constantly spinning plates, but this was just like a meteor fell on our set. [laughs]

Jean Whiteside/The CW
Jean Whiteside/The CW

TTVJ: Now that you’ve got the season under your belt, how do you feel about the journey and the path the show took this season?CD: I’m so proud of it. So much of this season I had mapped out in my mind ahead of time. You start writing a pilot, you’ve been working on it forever, and have all this time to prep it. It’s just been in your mind forever and you start building the world and characters with this luxury of time. I could map out the things I wanted to do and we stuck with so much of it. I was grateful for the amount of episodes we got to shoot because you can really make the stories richer and set things up properly so they feel like they pay off. 

The character of Tommy, for example, if we were in a 10 episode show, that storyline would’ve really got rushed or we wouldn’t be able to do it. But being able to say, ‘Here’s a bad guy,’ then not see him for like 14 episodes, see him again, and then make him the Big Bad towards the end of the season is a privilege to be able to get to do. 

I love how it turned out and am appreciative to fans for jumping on the journey with us. The whole point of Kate becoming Batwoman is this woman who is figuring it out as she goes. I think the audience really appreciated that, and now we’re at the tail end of it as Batwoman is super confident in who she is. The show is firing on all cylinders as well.

TTVJ: One of the great things about the show is not only its innate queerness and how Kate was out from the beginning, but the way you all continue to take that even further by showing many different aspects of a person’s journey, such as the one Sophie is on. In the opening minutes of last week’s episode there were six queer characters and a show like yours feels more important than ever.

CD: Yea, you don’t even realize it when you’re writing. You’re just writing people that are part of your family and their day-to-day drama so you’re not even thinking about how it’s a very lesbian-heavy show. But I’m really proud of that and we’re lucky we cast such great actors who can play the nuance of that journey, which isn’t black and white or an on and off switch. It’s all such a journey.

Bettina Strauss/The CW
Bettina Strauss/The CW

TTVJ: Along similar lines, I love all your many different types of female characters. They don’t all have to be super feminine or dress one type of way. Was that something you always wanted to do from the beginning? Is it something you all discuss when developing the characters, especially female ones?

CD: Yes, it is. We knew with Kate we wanted her to have a more masculine vibe because that’s what the comic book character was like. A lot of it too though depends on who we cast, and then we adapt to them. I always find it a little uncomfortable when there’s a really feminine looking actress and people try to butch her up with haircuts and clothes, but it doesn’t feel natural to who they are. For us, it was about embracing what the actor’s natural attributes are. For example, Julia is very feminine but has this innate toughness to her that comes out in her physical fighting style. She sticks up for herself and she’s mysterious. Those things come as you understand the nuances of the actual actor.

TTVJ: It truly is enjoyable as a viewer to watch all these many different ways to be a woman.

CD: Thank you for that. Also, with someone like Sophie, I was desperate to get her off the Crows so we could put her in regular civilian clothing. It was like, ‘What is her style? What kind of clothes does she wear?’ She’s in a suit all the time and we’re trying to get to know her better

TTVJ: Turning towards the finale, you dropped a pretty big bombshell last week by having Alice discover that Kryptonite is the only thing that will pierce the Batsuit. Why did you want to bring that element into the Batwoman world?

CD: There were two reasons. One, we had set up Kryptonite as this token between Kara and Kate that represented more than a weapon, but it could hurt Kara, so it was a symbol of their trust and bond. It’s just sitting in Kate’s possession so what’s going on with that? There’s also a rule of threes in writing. We’ve talked about ways of penetrating the Batsuit and established early on it’s bulletproof. We had a weapon Tommy wanted called the rail gun and then Catherine wanted this coil accelerator, and I thought, ‘What’s the third thing that could penetrate the suit and still be in play?’ I didn’t want something that could be built in a lab because then it feels like anyone could make it, if they had the right resources. I was trying to think of what’s unique, rare, and special. 

It occurred to me that we had this piece of Kryptonite in play so what if it were that? I started to think about it and it made sense because Lucius Fox knew that Bruce [Wayne] and Clark Kent were friends, and Clark could’ve given it to Bruce at some point, which he did in the comics. It all made sense to me that this would be the Batman failsafe if anyone ever got possession of the Batsuit or if Batman went crazy or something this is the thing that could stop him.

Dean Buscher/The CW
Dean Buscher/The CW

TTVJ: This conflict between Kate and Alice, which is only magnified and intensified by the fact that they’re sisters, has been so wonderful to watch all season long. What can we expect from them in the finale and as you look ahead to Season 2?

CD: The Kate/Alice relationship is the emotional spine of the series and what makes our show unique. It’s also one of my favorite parts of the show. Right now we’re in an Alice revenge spiral and she’s got blinders on. As we will see in the finale, nothing is going to stand in the way of what she wants, and she’s so convinced she wants to kill Batwoman. It tees up in Season 2, that she might come to realize that her revenge is blinding her. She has these childish knee-jerk reactions to not getting her way, and I think they fog what she really wants. She’s so scared to feel her real emotions.

TTVJ: Julia told Kate she was interested in gaining the journal because of Safiyah Sohail. Can we expect her to make an appearance in Season 2? If so, what will you be looking for when casting that role?

CD: We’ve established Safiyah as the person that Alice is scared of and wanted to leave Gotham when Safiyah started sniffing her out. Alice even stayed in Arkham to avoid Safiyah and found it as a safety zone for her. We will be seeing Safiyah in Season 2. What’s great about her is that she’s the one person who can actually intimidate Alice and knows all of Alice’s tricks. We’re going to get to learn a little more about Alice’s past and why this woman is such a formidable enemy to Alice, and why Alice is scared of her. Obviously when we’re casting her, we need to cast someone who has the gravitas to stand up to Rachel Skarsten who is a scene-stealer.

TTVJ: You’ve established a bit of a love triangle between Kate, Julia and Sophie. Julia and Sophie seem to have taken the next step last week. Where is their relationship headed going into the finale and beyond?

CD: One of the tragedies of COVID from a creative point of view, is that we had to trim a little of the next chapter of their relationship. Leading up to the finale, we’ll realize that when you date Julia, it comes with some baggage for Sophie. She is going to have to decide if she’s going to live with the danger, move on, or what the next step is going to be. It becomes, to put it quite simply, more complicated in the finale.

 

Any predictions for the Batwoman finale? Sound off below!

The Batwoman Season 1 finale airs Sunday at 8 p.m. ET on the CW and Showcase. Viewers can stream the full season from the beginning on STACKTV and the Global TV app.

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