Rachel Skarsten, best known for her roles on Lost Girl and The CW’s Reign as Queen Elizabeth I, has been showing audiences a different (and darker) side to her on Batwoman as the maniacal Alice.
The CW’s Batwoman, starring Orange is the New Black‘s Ruby Rose as the titular hero Batwoman (otherwise known as Kate Kane), has been a pleasant surprise to see evolve on the CW’s long roster of superhero television shows. The series has, as the season has gone along, gotten better and better, and each episode truly grows from the last. So far, it’s one of the strongest first seasons we’ve seen from any Arrow-verse show… and I’d say better than most first seasons, in general.
Batwoman‘s positive growth is much to do with the cast. From Meagan Tandy’s Sophie Moore (love interest to Kate Kane and all-around badass) to Nicole Kang’s Mary Hamilton, there’s no lack of talent and diversity in Gotham. But what has really made the show so fun, interesting, and exciting to watch is Rachel Skarsten’s Alice AKA Beth Kane, Kane’s twin sister.
Rachel Skarsten’s performance
As a warning, there will be spoilers ahead about the events that have unfolded during season 1.
Honestly, Rachel Skarsten outperforms herself on every episode of Batwoman. There have been so many — even after only 16 episodes — big moments for Alice, both as an individual and in her relationship with Kate (and, occasionally, Jacob).
We recently saw Skarsten give an absolutely heartbreaking performance as her character was put under the fear toxin, causing her to live through her greatest fears, which ultimately ended with her almost taking her own life to escape the pain she was feeling. It was incredible, but somehow not as brutal as on Batwoman season 1, episode 16, when Alice is betrayed by Kate in such a terrible way.
That scene is devastating and raw, as Kate makes one of Alice’s greatest fears come true, putting a sword in her back and leaving her for, well, a dreadful death, essentially. Alice’s screams for Kate to save her and change her mind are piercing, and her emotions all come out for her family, and the fans, to see. No one can nail emotional performances like Rachel Skarsten can, I’m telling you that.
Additionally, Skarsten has had quite the opportunity to show what she’s capable of on Batwoman season 1. Not only has she played Alice, the villain of the season, but she’s played Alice at various points in her life before she became the person she is today and a version of Beth Kane from an alternate Earth where she was able to live the happy life she was meant to.
Skarsten’s performance as Beth Kane stretched her acting wings in a different way, as this version of her character actually got the chance to bond with all of the characters — particularly Luke and Mary — and showcase a relationship other than with Kate (which we will discuss later).
This “what if” Beth caused quite her share of emotional strife for Kate, as she was torn between two sisters: The one she had and the one she should have had, if not for August Cartwright. For Mary, it gave her a chance to see why Kate had held on to Alice for so long, even after Alice killed her mother. And Skarsten’s performance as the remorseful, compassionate, yet not guilty Beth made us all cry, repeatedly.
Playing so many versions of one character might have given her a bit of an advantage, but her character could have strictly been a one-dimensional villain, but has instead found herself as part of the foundation of the show. Batwoman without Alice, without Rachel Skarsten, wouldn’t be right. And who else would tear our hearts into pieces with every episode?
Kate and Alice’s tumultuous relationship
Part of Rachel Skarsten’s incredible performance has been due to her chemistry with Ruby Rose and the bond they’ve formed as actors and as fictional twin sisters.
This relationship that they, and the writers, have created is something so compelling, yet disastrous at the same time. It’s interesting, painful, and emotionally scarring to watch it play out week by week, but it’s worth it to see the quality of the performance given by both of the actors.
But the layers that Skarsten has given to Alice are so incredible and difficult to sift through. Alice has been betrayed, in her eyes, by Kate so many times, yet she’s still desperately craving a relationship — a friendship, any sort of bond really — with her sister. She’s still willing to trust Kate, even though Kate has, again in her eyes, let her down so many times.
This relationship is truly one of the most fascinating in the Arrow-verse, and that wouldn’t be the case if Alice wasn’t performed and written as such a well-crafted, intricately put together character.
I mean, the fact that one episode this season focused primarily on Kate’s relationships with two versions of her sister and having to choose which would die, and Skarsten had to give an emotional and draining performance for both — which ranged emotions from happiness to despair within minutes — is enough to prove she’s the one to watch. Who else is doing it like her?
Give Rachel Skarsten (and everyone else on the show) an Emmy
If you watch Batwoman season 1, it’s clear that Rachel Skarsten deserves all of the awards for her many performances, each better than the last. As I said before, she truly outperforms herself with every episode.
I genuinely have not been as excited to see more from a character as I am with Alice. She’s such a dynamic and complicated spirit, and her personality bordering on the edge of madness is incredible and not something we get to see too often on television. Every performance has been worthy of awards, but especially on every episode since “Crisis on Infinite Earths” happened. There’s not even enough praise I can give.
But, as much as I praise Skarsten, all of the Batwoman cast deserves credit. This show is as incredible as it is because of the talent of the collective. The actors, writers, everyone who is responsible for Batwoman getting on our screens every week.
Meagan Tandy is warming and breaking our hearts as Sophie attempts to discover her sexuality, Nicole Kang is also making Mary such a complex and incredible character, and Ruby Rose is obviously giving her all as Kate Kane’s journey is explored. It’s a team effort, but I really just wanted to give some appreciation to Rachel Skarsten for all that she has done and does with Alice. It’s been quite the pleasure to watch, and I’m probably way too excited to see more.
We’ve had the lucky opportunity to interview Batwoman‘s Rachel Skarsten twice this season, which you can find in three of our articles, here, here, and here. She’s incredibly passionate about this role and this show, so they’re worth the read!
No return date for Batwoman yet after production shut down due to COVID-19! Stay tuned for updates!