Batwoman is about to go down the rabbit hole and into Alice’s past.
In this Sunday’s episode, Kate (Ruby Rose) hits the road with her villainous sister, Alice (Rachel Skarsten), a.k.a. the artist formerly known as Beth, who reveals to Kate exactly what happened to her after the car crash that separated them and killed their mother. Given the woman Alice is in the present, it’s definitely fair to say her backstory dark and creepy.
“[The audience] can expect to be horrified,” Skarsten tells EW. “I know it was a surprise to me as well. [Showrunner] Caroline [Dries] didn’t really go into it much [beforehand]. When I did the pilot and then leading up to that episode, I knew that there had been some extreme trauma that had occurred sort of in between the accident and obviously when we meet Alice in present day. The trauma that occurs is that which even I, who enjoy crime podcasts, could not have imagined.”
Even though Skarsten found Alice’s backstory rather alarming, she relished the opportunity to dig into the material when she read the script for the first time.
“I think I was actually like, ‘Yes!’ which sounds messed up, but I’ll explain,” she says. “One of my favorite parts about Alice was that when she’s doing the evil, it sort of seems like she’s just doing it for fun and she’s having a great time, but there’s this deep motivating factor, which is this incredible trauma that’s occurred in her life, and it makes her redeemable in a sense. I think the worse the trauma, the worse the brokenness, the more empathy the audience is going to have for all the terrible things that she does. So I was actually, as an actor, very happy that Alice had experienced these things, and of course as a human, I was horrified.”
Wanting to reunite with her sister is one of Alice’s more sympathetic characteristics. Obviously, that’s not as easy as it sounds because Kate is, well, Batwoman.
“Alice views Kate’s desire to be a hero and to be this sort of beacon of change and good as the enemy. I think she very much wants to have communion with Kate and for Kate to be a part of her life and her aims, but on the dark side,” Skarsten says. “I don’t think that she actually views Kate herself as an enemy in any regard. She has this deep and unbridled love for Kate. In many ways, I think most of the evil that she does is driven two factors: one, revenge and two, the desire to reunite with her sister, just in a very messed-up way.”
Seeing as how Batwoman was recently picked up for a full season, this is probably just the beginning.
Batwoman airs Sundays at 8 p.m. ET on the CW.