There’s an old Simpsons episode — “Homer Defined” — where Homer becomes inducted into Webster’s Dictionary as an illustration for the term “Homer”. The primary use of the word is in the phrase “Pull a Homer”, meaning “to succeed despite idiocy”.
By that logic, Kate is more than deserving of being the perfect personification of “Hot Mess”. Because she just broke our very own Kate Kane Fail Counter (patent pending) by constantly fucking up in the wrong direction this entire time. She’s so flawed, guilt-ridden and denial-drowned that she can’t even make mistakes that follow the right narrative thread! And that is probably the funniest, and most human, thing about Kate I’ve ever seen.
Batwoman #13 is filled to the brim with twists, PTSD-hallucinations, turns, and Kate basically upgrading from whatever denial-based beverage she’s been chugging all the way to some sort of intravenous delivery system with at least double the potency. The biggest twist, however, may not be the one that you think it is. Yes, Beth becoming a villain again is surprising. As is the revelation that Tahani has been the true Mother of War this entire time while using Beth (the person sporting that nickname) as a puppet. Which makes a lot of sense ,considering her alluded training with the League of Shadows.
Before you start debating that it’s not entirely clear, c’mon. Really? A hard cut to Tahani when Safiyah asks “Who is the Mother of War?”. The part in Batwoman #4 where Tahani basically rants about colonization, arms dealers, the war economy, and how she’s using the Kali Corporation to take revenge on Kate for destroying her life? And, upon re-reading, legitimately looks like an explicit confession?
The best thing, however, is that while Kate was completely convinced that Safiyah had been behind this whole thing the entire time, just to get revenge because she broke her heart many years ago…the reality was infinitely more mundane. And not personal in the way she believed. Safiyah had nothing to do with any of this, but Tahani knew that Kate would leap to the conclusion that she was. All she needed was a tiny little push in the right direction.
Kate’s self-centered delusion about all of this relating back to Safiyah, and their bad breakup, her lost year, is so human it’s hilarious. None of it was real. Safiyah is a victim here, too. Tahani got so far into Kate’s head that she didn’t stop to question if this actually made sense or not, which Julia calls her out for in the beginning of Batwoman #13. All of this mostly self-imposed mind-fuckery is part of Tahani’s goal, a la the trials. To systematically destroy Kate physically, mentally, and psychologically. Also emotionally. If you recall, she had a twisted version of Kate’s upbringing, and blames her for destroying her home and stealing the love of her life. Which, yeah, okay, kind of her fault.
But also, there’s no rules in Love and War. Eh? See? It all loops back together!
I’m sure there have been discussions on whether or not Safiyah is lying to Kate when they finally meet face-to-face-and-when-one-of-them-isn’t-high-as-balls, but I would argue that it’s quite clear that she isn’t. First, why would she? Think about what she’s saying in the old Brussels townhouse: she’s there because she knew Kate would be compelled by guilt over anything else, which Tahani knows too.
Kate’s true home is Gotham. That’s—she has a house there? It’s a pretty badass treehouse that Killer Croc (when he was the Kraken) destroyed awhile back, but then inexplicably continued to exist because who cares it’s awesome and also deep-cut kabbalistic symbolism. Also her family estate is there. You know, the one on the land that the Kanes have historically owned since, at the latest, the mid 17th century, when Gotham itself was founded? Seriously, this isn’t a hard thing to understand for anyone except Kate, because Kate is so up her own butt about how it can’t be Gotham because cryptic messages are always more dramatic and trauma-riffic.
Safiyah is in Brussels on the very likely chance that Kate comes to the conclusion that she does for the sole purpose of shoving her back to Gotham to save her sister. The bait that Safiyah refers to isn’t Safiyah herself; it’s everything else. All of the Metal Gear Solid-esque (specifically Snake Eater, because they only have one name instead of two like Revolver Ocelot or Decoy Octopus) terrorist-assassins that Kate has been hunting down all over the world was just to keep her occupied for as long as possible.
Remember, her mission was originally about Monster Venom and arms dealing. It still kinda is, but even Kate admits that she doesn’t entirely remember what mission she’s supposed to be on anymore! She got so engrossed with closing the book on her “Lost Year”, and Safiyah by extension, that she became blinded to everything else. Even when the clues to the whole “Safiyah moved on, dude” thing are comically blatant.
Let’s also not forget that Safiyah didn’t immediately leave Coryana after Kate did. That was a pretty recent occurrence, according to the warlords. Almost like she, you know, moved on. A long, long time ago. Maybe she’s still up to some shady shit, but it’d kind of go against the narrative itself if she was involved with the Many Arms of Death. So even if Kate finished her job faster than anticipated, which she did if Fatima’s reaction to her defeat of Scarecrow is any indication, then she wouldn’t have found out about Tahani kidnapping Beth and doing something to Gotham until it was already too late.
Yes, there’s an entire Bat-Family to protect that city as well, but wow do they have a bad track record when it comes to plagues (which we know is the plan, thanks to solicitations) and bio-weapons in general. Go look up Batman: Contagion if you want more information on that one.
Anyway, back to Safiyah being not really that involved in this at all: what about that bit where she just shows up at the end of Batwoman #10 and leaves that note for Kate that leads to this exact encounter in Brussels? Well, in Kylie’s terms:
“This is exactly like seeing your ex years later looking like SHIT in the grocery store and buying herself ‘Lonely Gal Margarita Mix for One’.”
But Safiyah is there for Fatima, remember?
Which means one of two things, though one is far less interesting than the other. The lame-ish one is that Fatima is Safiyah’s wife, which means she knows about all of this insanity via a healthy relationship with her partner. You know, by means of conversation.
The better and far more emotionally resonant and thematically apt scenario is that Fatima is her sister. See where I’m going with this?
No matter what Beth did, no matter how much shit or nonsense or darkness that she got herself into, Kate would always pull her out. We know that. Even after all of the murder and cult-leading and all of that other crap, Beth is still her sister. They’re still family. Same as her refusal to ever actually cut ties with Jacob in a way that’s anything resembling permanent. It took half of a conversation with him, face to face, after what happened with Tim for them to start reconnecting. Hell, even after everything that happened with Beth, all she did was lock the doors and go solo until Maggie shoved them into the same room for more than two minutes.
Beth is the person who Kate loves more than Safiyah, because of course she is. So, it stands to reason that Fatima would be the person that Safiyah loves more than Kate. A sister who got into some bad stuff with some bad dudes who needed help getting pulled out of the fire. Sure, Fatima calls for Tahani when Kate starts raging while coming down from her high, but Safiyah was already there long before she made an actual distress call. Probably because she’d figured out what Tahani was doing and wanted to warn Kate, and also because she isn’t stupid enough to believe that fear toxin would keep Kate down for that long so keeping her sister safe is a high priority.
This would also likely mean that the “heir” the twins mentioned was in fact Fatima, who sold the bar to the Twins.
So, uh, in summation: Kate is a wonderfully relatable dumbass and this is the absolute best she’s ever been written. Period. Full stop. Which probably means it’s going to get cancelled, so let’s enjoy this while it lasts. Sales are still dropping, folks. Possibly because some people won’t buy books with queer characters unless there’s an explicit romance in it.