Batwoman’s Rachel Skarsten Reflects on Alice’s Journey and Where She’s Headed

Katie Yu/The CW
Katie Yu/The CW

It’s all a bit ironic, isn’t it? Alice (Rachel Skarsten) has finally learned the secret to taking down Batwoman, her sister Kate Kane (Ruby Rose), but at the same time, she’s losing her hold over Mouse (Sam Littlefield) and Hush (Gabriel Mann). Will Alice’s desire to take down her sister ultimately win out over trying to keep Mouse by her side? The Batwoman Season 1 finale, airing this Sunday, May 17 at 8 p.m. ET on the CW and Showcase, promises to give a clearer answer to that very question. 

Skarsten recently spoke with The TV Junkies about Alice’s motives, and how she feels now that she and Mouse are out of Arkham but not seeing eye-to-eye. Skarsten also looks back over the season as a whole and the journey that Alice has taken this year. She also discusses why she’s very excited for the second edition of HomeCon, the virtual fan convention that she started with Lost Girl co-star Paul Amos, to take place this weekend on Twitch. The convention will feature panels with casts from Wynonna Earp, The Rookie, Vikings, Orphan Black, and The 100.

 

The TV Junkies: We’re at the end of Season 1, and I have to assume that Alice is just as fun to play as she is for us to watch. How do you feel now, having a whole season under your belt, about the role and the journey she went on in Season 1?

Rachel Skarsten: When you start any show, it’s like starting a new high school. You don’t really know any of the people you’re working with, what they’re going to bring to their characters, and it takes a minute for you to settle into who your character is. I was so worried in the beginning, especially with Alice, because there’s this fine line of crazy. You don’t want to take it too far, but you need it to be evident enough. That was my primary concern, but going deeper into the season I became more comfortable with who Alice was. I felt like I really got to play with her and all her levels. Looking back on the season as a whole, I feel really grateful that the writers trusted me with so much, and that I didn’t totally dive bomb. [laughs]

TTVJ: Not only that, but you got a whole other character to play in Beth.

RS: Oh, I know! I thought, ‘Wow, you guys really trust me!’ I liked playing Beth a lot, and loved how she was received, but in comparison to Alice she’s a little Melba toast. [laughs] I thought, ‘Oh this is what it’s like to play a normal character again. Cool.’

Katie Yu/The CW
Katie Yu/The CW

TTVJ: I love that even though Alice is the main villain on the show, as viewers we find ourselves really rooting for her. Why do you think that is? What about her, even though she’s doing bad things, endears her to us?

RS: There’s darkness in all of us. That’s part of the human condition and we all have good and bad. Alice has taken it to an extreme, but she also suffered extreme trauma. That really helped the audience to empathize with her being in the situation she’s in today. You see this incredibly human, incredibly broken side of her, and you understand on a different level how she came to be the person she is. I think that makes the most interesting villain because you root for them because of the possibility of redemption. If you can understand why someone got to be the way they are, then maybe you can envision them becoming another way as well. The writers did that so beautifully with Alice. That, and she’s just wickedly smart and hilarious. It’s fun to watch all of her reactions to things.

She takes the piss out of herself too in a way. I think one of my favorite lines from the whole show is when she walks in, and all her cats and rabbits are dead, but she doesn’t know that yet. She comes in the room and is calling for them and they’re not answering. So she says, ‘Hello? Evil henchmen?’ Who calls their evil henchmen that but Alice? She knows it’s ridiculous, and I love that about her. It makes you think, ‘Wow, are you really this crazy? Or are you just a complete mastermind?’ There’s all this duality of character with Alice.

TTVJ: You’ve been part of a lot of shows, like Lost Girl and Reign, that are very female-focused and have plenty of women in power. Batwoman certainly follows along those lines. What is it like getting to be a part of yet another show that does that?

RS: I’ve been really lucky to find myself on lots of shows like that and I’m very grateful for it. The thing I really like about all three shows you mention is that they were all powerful women, yet beautifully, and in a very complex way, imperfect. I loved that. I think there’s this tremendous pressure on women to achieve this level of perfection. I love seeing all of the female characters on Lost Girl, Batwoman, and Reign really struggle at times, but throughout that, stand in their own power and own who they are and what they’re about. They do it even though they aren’t perfect. I think that’s something that I’m the most proud of in all those shows. It’s something that’s really important to me to tell little girls. You can be powerful, do whatever you want to do, but you’re not ever going to be perfect. You can still do all these incredible things despite that. 

Katie Yu/The CW
Katie Yu/The CW

TTVJ: Alice just finally got out of Arkham, but you had some pretty intense scenes while she was there. What was it like filming those scenes, especially when she was being submitted to torture?

RS: A lot of people asked me at the beginning of the show if it was hard to stay in the character. I think they asked that because a lot of people who have played The Joker have felt that. I did not think that at all when I started Alice, and then I definitely felt it, specifically in “Off with Her Head” [Episode 115].  It was a very emotionally challenging episode for me. It takes us about 8-10 days to film an episode, so you’re sitting in that sadness and crying for 18 hours straight. It’s a lot and dark. That was a really dark episode. 

Having said that, I got to do fun things in Arkham the next episode and work with Gabriel Mann and Sam Littlefield who I adore. It’s not consistently dark. It’s also oddly cathartic when you’re crying all day at work.

TTVJ: With the breakout, Alice and Mouse now seem to have conflicting motives. What will those differences of opinion mean for their relationship?

RS: For Mouse, he’s given up everything for Alice. He’s happy and satisfied because Alice is enough for him, but Mouse is not enough for Alice. That’s where the crux of their deep conflict has always been throughout the show and it comes to a head in the finale. There’s really only one way to resolve something like that. It doesn’t have to be murder, but eventually there has to be a parting of ways. Mouse has very much deferred his personal desire to Alice’s desire throughout the season and he wasn’t going to do that anymore. Alice recognized that and it instantly changed the dynamic of their relationship forever. 

TTVJ: Does the addition of Hush factor at all into that equation?

RS: Alice, I think, really only cares for a few people. Everyone else, it’s just how useful of a tool they can be and a means to an end. Hush is a means to an end for Alice. There’s no personal connection there for her or personal investment, other than how he can be useful to her.

Dean Buscher/The CW
Dean Buscher/The CW

TTVJ: Alice just learned about what Kryptonite can do to Batwoman. Can you preview at all what she may do with that information?

RS: Up until the episode when Kate left Alice in Arkham, Alice’s sole mission in life was to get Kate back on her side and reunite them as a unit. When Kate left her there, that changed, and Alice continued her obsession with her sister, but it turned to taking her down. Will she ever be able to cross the line of actually destroying and killing her? That I don’t know. At the end of the day, they are twins and they are one in the same. What is Alice without Kate? There’s definitely a lot of love lost between the two of them.

TTVJ: You also have HomeCon 2.0 coming up this weekend. What excites you about that the second time around?

RS: I’m excited first and foremost because it started with Paul Amos and I just thinking that we were putting the Lost Girl cast back together. Two weeks later we put on the first HomeCon and it was a whirlwind. I’m excited we have had more time to organize it this time. I’m so excited about some of our guests and we just announced Nathan Fillion (The Rookie). Michael Rooker will be there as well and he’s my Walking Dead favorite.

The thing that came out of the first one that was the most beautiful is that A, people who had never been to cons before — be it because of physical disabilities, or they don’t like crowds, or didn’t have the financial means — they got to experience the beautiful world and community of comic con. We loved that. Then B, the feedback we had from the actors who participated really warmed my heart as well. They all said what a wonderful time they had and got more out of the interactions than the fans had. At the end of the day, no matter who you are or big of an actor, you’re just a human being and we’re all collectively experiencing this pandemic and the isolation and uncertainty of it. To have two days connecting over these shows and characters, as well as have some laughs, has been really special.

 

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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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