So this took me by surprise. When I marathoned and reviewed the 2019 Harley Quinn series the other day, I had no idea season two was so close. Given how recently I wrote about season one I’ll just go over my broad thoughts here: I loved it. The writing was excellent, it was funny, the characterisation was great, particularly for people like Clayface, Ivy and Harley herself, and I’m a big fan of stories where Harley gets away from her abusive, piece of shit ex-boyfriend and goes her own way. So let’s get into season 2.
Episode 1: New Gotham
So season 1 ended with the Joker being turned back into his normal, pre-one-bad-day self, Batman seemingly being trapped under the Clown Prince of Crime’s collapsed tower, the Justice League out of action and Gotham in flames, with Harley poised to rule. The U.S President declares that Gotham is no longer part of the United States, and three weeks later it’s a lawless, burning wasteland with a power vacuum that Ivy insists Harley fill. Harley has other ideas however; seeing the anarchy as a chance for a fresh start where everyone carves out a piece for themselves, and Gotham’s various themed goons leave their bosses’ sides and strike out on their own. In reprisal the newly formed “Injustice League” consisting of Penguin, Riddler, Bane, Mr Freeze and Two-Face intend to offer Harley the dregs left over after they’ve divided the city, but after she turns them down they instead trap her in a block of ice and put her on display in Penguin’s Iceberg Lounge. Meanwhile; Robin has unconvincingly attempted to take Batman’s place, complete with a Batsuit that’s too big and a crap Batman voice. Gordon’s men (and Cheryl) abandon him, with some of them becoming goons, which leads to Gordon throwing his badge into the sea (classic) and falling into despair. Harley’s crew rescue her from the Iceberg Lounge and after a brief fight Harley bites off Penguin’s nose and brutally murders him by stabbing the broken handle of her bat up through his chin. Turns out she was frozen for two months and the Injustice League have split the city as they intended. The episode ends with the reveal that Bruce Wayne was pulled from the ruins of Joker’s tower and is now in a coma.
I for one didn’t expect the new season to kick into gear so quickly. Harley’s adversaries are established and then five minutes later she’s straight up murdered one of them in bloody, bloody fashion. I like that though; after she bit his nose off I was hoping she’d do him in and I’m glad it went that way. Good episode overall: the early parts with the goons supposedly going their own way but just becoming knock-offs of their bosses (“It’s pretty rough out there, okay? I had to fight five new question-based villains.”) was great, Harley has Bud and Lou now and I’m always pleased to see them pop up, and the jokes are still funny. The episode packed a lot into its run time, and it did feel like it was in a hurry sometimes but I appreciate how eager it is to get things going, and as I said I’m glad she killed Penguin after the fight had started. Good start, looking forward to seeing where this season goes.
Episode 2: Riddle U
Next up: The Riddler. Harley’s Mall hideout has no power; Dr Psycho’s been making zoo animals into candles (and hats) to compensate, but it’s only a temporary solution and the water is brown and filled with mice who make noises from Persona. The only person in New New Gotham with power is The Riddler, who’s hoarding it all at Gotham University; re-branded as “Riddle U”. Fortunately Harley has a plan: she and Ivy will go undercover as students, track the Riddler down and do him in, a plan Clayface gets in on much to their annoyance. Psycho and King Shark set off to solve the other problem by stealing a water filter. Surprisingly, Clayface ingratiates himself into campus society swiftly and easily, and Harley and Ivy, who are both in makeup to make themselves have a Caucasian skin tone, which looks weird on both of them, stumble upon Barbara Gordon living in the dorms with her father, who’s crashing with her. They track the Riddler to a frat party used to kidnap students and have them run in giant hamster wheels, and manage to knock out and capture him with help from Barbara, who’s a fledgling vigilante in her own right. Psycho and Shark are set upon by Two-Face’s old timey, wise guy goons but escape by making an A-Team-style war vehicle complete with minigun and giant spike. Unfortunately they run afoul of goons in Baneton, but manage to beat them off-screen. Harley and Ivy force the Riddler to run in a giant hamster wheel for them, and Quinn considers him dealt with; crossing him off her revenge board. The episode ends with Gordon lamenting the lack of Batman to protect Gotham and passing out, as Barbara hears a commotion outside and leaps out the window to intervene in her proto-Batgirl gear.
Overall this episode had its moments, but was largely just okay. I feel like the campus infiltration had more room for shenanigans but on that front was limited to Clayface being embroiled in a “Will-they-won’t-they” with an off screen popular boy. Psycho and Shark’s side story was fun, largely due to the old timey Two-Face goons (“You got moxie but we got guns. You’re surrounded, see?”), and it had some nice moments like when Barbara puts on music to mask her conversation with Harley and Ivy, who can’t help but dance to said music while maintaining a serious face. The whole thing just felt like a bit of a damp squib compared to everything that’s come previously, but it wasn’t a bad episode. The best thing about it was easily Barbara Gordon: her introduction was really well done, she fits into this universe nicely and having her take up the Bat-mantle suits this show’s focus on female DC characters and viewing the universe through their eyes.
Episode 3: Trapped
Next on the list: Mr Freeze. Unfortunately his gimmick, namely impenetrable walls of ice, prevents Harley’s crew from getting to him, but two dopey henchmen accidentally reveal that Firefly’s flamethrower could do the job, and it’s currently being held by Dr Trap in the history museum. A museum heist calls for a professional burglar, and who better than Catwoman: here a woman of colour (good stuff), and unflappable but completely aloof super-burglar who turns Ivy into a awe-struck fangirl hanging on her every word. Meanwhile; Dr Psycho has been put in charge of watching the Riddler, and immediately cocks up by rising to the villain’s provocations and throwing a bunch of skincare products at him, which he then uses to slip out of his restraint. The night of the heist, Kiteman drops off Harley and Ivy and then confides in the latter that he’s coming along too, despite his fear of traps, to steal a leaf-shaped diamond ring with which to propose to Ivy. Harley is against this idea, thinking that Ivy can do better, but takes him along anyway and eventually agrees with it, having warmed up to him. Catwoman effortlessly moves through the museum, deactivating every trap while throwing out tidbits of conversation that Ivy latches onto like she’s desperately trying to impress her. Eventually they reach the flamethrower and Catwoman buggers off, but not before revealing that she stole Kiteman’s ring. He proposes anyway, but Ivy isn’t sure she even wants to get married, and if she does this definitely isn’t the right time. Harley rescues the three of them out of being crushed by a glass box by melting their way out with the flamethrower and clobbering Dr Trap. Ivy winds down by “Getting back to her roots” and brutally dissolving each member of ACE Chemical’s board of directors with toxic waste, in retaliation for them dumping waste in the river. Back at the mall it turns out that the Riddler only broke out to torment Psycho, and that he’s actually content with his current situation and will escape when he’s good and ready. The episode ends with Ivy visiting Kiteman and getting him to propose again, insisting she’s ready this time.
This episode was as good as last week’s: not the heights this show is capable of, but still good. Catwoman being a person of colour was nice, and I like her as a sort of flawless super burglar effortlessly flowing through the museum; she’s like a character that would show up for one episode of Archer to make him look bad. My only issue is that her character seemed tailored to this one specific encounter; to deal with Ivy’s infatuation with her and her way of living, which is squashed by the end of the episode when she demonstrates that she’s actually a bit shit and not worth emulating. Time will tell I suppose; it’s not like she couldn’t come back, it just feels like it didn’t leave things open for her to be a recurring character. Elsewhere, I liked the look at Ivy, a character whose deep seated misanthropy has left her with exactly one friend and one romantic partner, being manipulated by someone cool she wants attention from, that was an interesting angle. The B plot with Psycho losing the Riddler didn’t really add anything beyond the set up that Riddler will eventually escape, but it was fine. I’m a big fan of Ivy melting dodgy executives with toxic waste, and the hand-holding her and Harley do afterwards, because I’m rooting for their romantic relationship from the comic. That’s it really. Good episode, I’d say the weakest so far this season but this show’s weakest is by no means bad.
Episode 4: Thawing Hearts
Having acquired Firefly’s super powerful flamethrower, Harley melts her way into Mr Freeze’s compound by way of a giant ice vagina. Herself, Psycho, Clayface and King Shark discuss who they’ll be taking to Ivy’s upcoming wedding with Kiteman (in Harley’s case, no one) while effortlessly slaughtering a bunch of hockey stick-wielding Freeze goons, only for the main man himself to appear, freeze them and trap them in a cell. He regales them with his iconic circumstances: his wife Nora has a rare disease and he froze her while he’s looking for a cure. He’s been testing a potential solution on snow rats, who apparently share 98% of their DNA with humans, but it’s only resulted in a small mountain of rat corpses (the reveal of which causes two rats to exclaim “Cheese and crackers!”). Fortunately for Freeze, he now has the ideal test subject: a human woman. Not wanting to be a part of Victor’s clearly subpar biological testing skills, Harley instead offers to rope Ivy in to work on a potential cure, which he accepts. It’s merely a bluff however, as Harley doesn’t buy the story about Nora’s illness and instead believes that Freeze, much like the Joker, is a monstrous, controlling arsehole who froze Nora in order to have control over her. Unfortunately she didn’t anticipate that in this case at least, it’s a traditional Gotham story, and upon unfreezing her learns that Nora is indeed dying. Incensed, Freeze declares that if Ivy cannot find a cure, he will blow up the building and kill everyone in it. While this has all been happening, Ivy and Kiteman are touring a wedding venue the latter has been dreaming of for years. Throwing a spanner in the works is the arrival of Kiteman’s nemesis Condiment King (because of course he is), who is also touring the venue and winning over the guide. Ivy and Kiteman have to leave to work on the cure and fetch a flower sample respectively. Ivy manages it, but the process requires someone to change their blood type to Nora’s rare one and give her a transfusion, which will kill them. Mr Freeze gladly accepts, and gives his life to save Nora. The episode ends with Condiment King taunting Kiteman about his acquisition of the wedding venue, and Ivy declaring that she thinks he’s also her nemesis now, too.
This episode was a lot more consistently enjoyable than the previous two. The only real weakness was the b plot with Ivy and Kiteman touring the venue, but it was brief and harmless. Freeze is an interesting one, because despite technically being a villain he is well-intentioned and benevolent compared to the rest of Batman’s rogues gallery. He points out that the rest of the Injustice League wanted to kill Harley but he convinced them to let him freeze her instead, relying on them being cis, straight white men desiring power over a woman. He’s funny, too; asking Psycho to describe the mouthfeel of the lunch he provides the crew to make up for the fact that Freeze can’t eat hot food, and his backstory involving Nora working for a “Mom n Pop cryogenics lab”. His actions in the episode cause Harley to re-evaluate her stance on “True love” and realise that it doesn’t have to be like the awful, abusive relationship she had with The Joker. Having her believe, based on her experiences, that Freeze is actually holding Nora captive makes sense, and leads to some good character development, and a way to have Freeze bow out at the end of the episode without just being killed. Good episode.
Episode 5: Batman’s Back, Man
This week’s episode starts with a framing device taking the piss out of the kind of people on the internet who cry “SJW WOKE VIRTUE SIGNALLING!” whenever a woman, person of colour or queer person appears in a work of fiction, and I’m all for that kind of thing. Bonus points for simultaneously showing exactly what DC thinks of the people who won’t shut up about the “Snyder Cut” of Justice League. The episode proper starts with Bruce Wayne waking up from the coma he’s been in since the end of season 1 and being greeted with a serene, undamaged Gotham landscape…which turns out to be a big screen which almost immediately falls over, revealing Gotham’s true state. Bruce and Alfred meet with Jim Gordan, who wants funding for police officers and a codpiece that fires a tiny missile, which doesn’t exist “…yet.” Gordon also informs Bruce of two vigilantes holding things down in Batman’s absence; Batgirl, and a foppish dandy called “The Macaroni”. Worrying that Batgirl dying while wearing the Bat symbol would throw the city even further into the depths of despair, he meets up with her in an attempt to talk her down. It backfires spectacularly when Batgirl shows off Batman on a livestream, resulting in the public and media celebrating the apparent return of The Bat. His hand forced, Bruce has Lucius Fox build him what is basically a Batman-themed Mark 43 Iron Man suit, to aid with the physical issues keeping Bruce from returning to action. Worried about Batman’s apparent return, Two-Face offers Bane a 50-50 partnership, though is clearly given advantage of him given that their branding is a just a picture of Two-Face with their team name; “Two-Faces” written next to him. Batman agrees that Harvey is the one really in charge, which makes a furious Bane pump himself full of more and more venom, beating the shit out of Bats even with the suit and brutally breaking both his legs. Two-Face’s goons are about to finish him off when The Macaroni, who’s revealed to be Alfred, and Batgirl, arrive to rescue Bruce. Two-Face manages to talk Bane down, and takes him to a giant hole in the ground in the desert, which Bane is genuinely thankful for. The episode ends with Batman, in a chair no less, meeting with Gordon on the GCPD roof and informing him that Batgirl will be acting as Jim’s new partner while Bats recovers.
At the start of this episode I was a little worried. The description of it in the framing device states that Harley and Ivy don’t appear in it, which they don’t, and as the episode went on I was worried Batman was going to make an actual return and just sort everything out. I should have realised, being several episodes into season 2 of this show, that it wasn’t going to go that way. Harley and Ivy don’t appear, and the episode doesn’t have the character development of this season’s previous instalments, but it layered the comedy on thick, and had a grand old time at Bruce Wayne’s expense. He’s so hurt he can’t put his own socks on, something Alfred uses to hammer in that he can’t go back to being Batman yet, thinks throwing a sheet over the massive, robotic Batman suit will be enough to stop Alfred from discovering it, and after his legs have been shattered and he’s lying in a pool of blood he laments “Why didn’t you wake up and stop me, Alfred?” It’s nice to have Jim Gordon back to, albeit briefly, I particularly enjoyed his list of what’s needed to bring back order to Gotham (the aforementioned cops and missile codpiece, which Lucius’ robot suit has), and the exchange “What, have you been in a coma all this time?”
“No! I’ve been…doing stuff.”
“Ha! You playboys, always doing stuff. Must be nice.”
Most importantly though, I’m glad they decided to keep Bruce out of action to make way for Batgirl. Her introduction was the best part of episode 2, and fits this show’s approach to the DCU with a female viewpoint, and this is the best way to thrust her into the limelight. This episode started as a funny interlude explaining what Batman’s up to and ended as another important piece of the on-going plot, and I loved it. I am looking forward to having Harley and Ivy back next week though.
Episode 6: All the Best Inmates Have Daddy Issues
While out drinking, Harley and Ivy discover the now normal Joker working behind the bar, though he clearly doesn’t remember who they are. Ivy insists on killing him because no one change deep down, which causes Harley to argue that point by way of an episode-long flashback to when they first met. On Dr Harleen Quinzel’s first day at Arkham Asylum she meets District Attorney Harvey Dent, who’s obsessed with re-election at all costs, and a younger, clean-cut Jim Gordon, both of whom reveal that they didn’t hand pick her based on her study of The Joker, but because there’s no one left for the job and they need the location of a bomb. Harleen also befriends an angry, misanthropic Poison Ivy by sneaking her a plant cutting, which pays off later. Anyway, Dr Quinzel tries the direct approach of entering Joker’s cell and talking to him directly, countering his numerous attempts to hold her hostage and kill her with a pen by putting him on his arse with her gymnastic and hand-to-hand skills. But this is clearly going nowhere, so Batman re-creates the interrogation scene from The Dark Knight and beats Joker to a pulp, incensed by the Clown Prince bringing up his murder of Jason Todd. When this fails to work Harley, inspired by Ivy’s time in group in therapy with Joker, tries one last tactic: trick Joker into opening up about his family. He does so, with an elaborate story about his Father making his pet ferret disappear and beating him in response to little Joker catching his Father having an affair with their maid. In exchange for being able to eat a meal in the cafeteria Joker gives up the location of the bomb: “The Heart of Little Italy”. Batman and the police race off to disarm it (with Gordon carpooling; crammed in behind the Batmobile’s front seats), as back at the asylum Joker reveals its actual location: inside the heart of Luigi, Arkham’s Chef known by the nickname Little Italy. The explosion blows a hole in the wall, through which Joker escapes with Harley over his shoulders in a fireman’s carry to block any potential shots a sniper may have. Unfortunately, Harvey Dent orders the sniper to shoot anyway, fearing his re-election being hampered by Joker escaping, but Ivy pops up and blocks the shot with plant life. Joker declares that he always knew Ivy had a soft spot for him but Ivy shuts him up: she’s here for Harleen, and expresses a desire to be treated by her. As the Joker and Ivy are returned to the asylum, Dent tries to smooth things over with Harleen, but in return she spits in his face, gives him the finger and creates his famous future moniker: “Fuck off, Two-Face”. Back in the present, Harley puts the full stop on her point: she changed Ivy from a misanthrope unwilling to trust anyone to the woman she is now. Ivy points out that hadn’t been that way all her life; just once her Father made her first plant disappear and beat her; the real life story Joker stole and made his own to fool Harleen. The episode ends with Dr Psycho reading Joker’s mind and stating he’s completely forgotten his past self, something that is possibly undone as seen when he receives a text from his girlfriend’s children and laughs maniacally. After leaving the bar, Ivy and Harley are kidnapped by Two-Face and his goons.
This was a good episode; I loved that what initially appears to be the origin story of Harley and Joker’s relationship is actually the story of how Harley and Ivy became friends. Joker’s involvement is due to him being so involved in the affairs of Gotham City, and represents how the present Joker kept stringing Harley along while Ivy exasperatedly tried to pull them apart back in season 1. This is a show about Harley carving her own path through life in general and Gotham’s underworld in particular as well as her friendship with Ivy, and The Joker will always force his way into that story because of the damage he’s done to Harley. That’s why it’s so good that the show paints The Joker as the abusive monster he is, and spends so much time on Harley’s relationship with Ivy and the people who care about her. Elsewhere it was nice to see this universe’s version of the Long Halloween Batman/Dent/Gordon team up, Dent’s obsession with winning over voters, and Jim’s attempts to be friends with Batman:
“So, got any plans for tonight, Batman?”
“Uh, stop Joker from blowing up Gotham.”
“Yeah! Of course. I meant like after that.”
Episode 7: There’s No Place to Go But Down
This episode had a decidedly season finale feel to it for me, even though it isn’t. Two-Face forces Harley and Ivy into a kangaroo court show trial with Bane as the unbiased (much to Dent’s chagrin) judge and Man-Bat as their lawyer, who’s trying his best but no one can understand him. Harley pleads with Ivy to pin it all on her, but the latter refuses and admits to their teaming up to take out the Injustice League. They’re sentenced to life in prison in the huge hole from the end of episode 5, which turns out to be A) Pena Duro; Bane’s birthplace from the comics and B) actually surprisingly structured and focused on inmate rehabilitation despite being a giant pit in the middle of nowhere. Bane seems to be doing a good job, having made great strides with Victor Zsasz and Killer Croc, but Harley and Ivy want out, planning to do so when George Lopez helicopters in for an upcoming talent show. Meanwhile Jim Gordon and Batgirl go after Ratcatcher, who’s dealing weapons from the sewers, but the plan goes awry when a drunken Gordon alerts to the villain to their presence. During dinner at their home, Barbara tries to get her Dad to stop drinking but he doesn’t see it as an issue, and their conversation is interrupted by Two-Face. Realising the pain he’s caused his daughter and lamenting his fall from grace, Jim throws his empty gun down and attempts to go out looking Harvey in the eye, but Batgirl saves him and reveals her true identity, to her Father’s proud realisation that she’s the one who’s been protecting Gotham in Batman’s absence. After lampshading the process, Jim and Barbara pour all the former’s booze away and comb his hair, which is enough to make him fully get over his alcoholism, and he dons his old beat uniform with a plan to take the GCPD back from Two-Face. Back in Pena Duro the Lopez helicopter plan falls through when Ivy’s intended riot-staring stand up doesn’t work, so she instead launches into a heartfelt speech about how life is just a never-ending series of pits from which their is no long-term escape. This does cause a riot, and the assorted inmates begin piling rubble up the wall to escape. Jim returns to the GCPD pistols akimbo and messily blows away all of Harvey’s goons, then has a short but brutal fight with the man himself before handcuffing him and locking him in a cell. You’re a damn good cop, Jim Gordon. Finally Harley and Ivy are about to escape on a vine when Bane venoms up and grabs them, Harley’s solution being to let go of Ivy and sacrifice herself to save her friend; swan diving peacefully into the inferno below. Of course Ivy’s having none of that and bungies back in on the aforementioned vine, pulling them both out of the hole. The episode ends with Harley and Ivy kissing, then staring at each other in shock.
This was another great episode; possibly the best this season. At first I was worried that things were moving too quickly when the courtroom scene was over so soon, but I think the episode actually used its running time really well. The reveal of the exact nature of Bane’s big hole in the ground was great and added an extra layer to his character; he’s genuinely benevolent and helpful when he wants to be, it’s just that most people see him as a goofy screw-up. It was also nice to see some cameos from other Batman villains; Zsasz and Croc I mentioned, but I also noticed Professor Pyg in the stand-up crowd and there were probably more besides. The stuff with Jim and Barbara Gordon, while brushing over certain elements of the drama for comedic effect did have a real emotional punch to it, and I’m glad Jim managed to shift back towards his old self whilst still carrying the distinct flavour of this series. Finally, Harley and Ivy’s relationship goes from strength to strength, and I’m so glad they’ve moved into their romantic relationship from the comics. Time will tell as to where exactly it goes, given Ivy’s engaged to Kiteman and all, but I love where it’s going and I’m looking forward to next episode.
Episode 8: Inner (Para)Demons
With the In-Justice League dealt with, Gordon calls up the President to get Gotham re-instated into the United States. The POTUS states that before that can happen, Gordon needs to deal with the city’s biggest threat: Harley Quinn. Ivy insists that the kiss was just a spur-of-the-moment adrenaline rush and nothing more, something that Harley agrees with in an exaggerated, manic fashion to hide how upset she is, citing it as part of her character because she’s impulsive and just kisses people sometimes (this becomes a running gag as she kisses Psycho, Batgirl and King Shark). Hearing from Batgirl that Gordon has amassed an army of Gothamites to take her down Harley, with help from an enthusiastic Psycho, steals a Mother Box from Mr Miracle and Boom Tubes to Apokolips to ask Darkseid (voiced by Michael Ironside) for an army of Parademons. Darkseid senses Harley’s internal pain over “A want that was not met” but relents when she insists everything’s fine, and he offers her an army under the condition that she defeat Granny Goodness in combat. Harley can’t do it by herself because the old lady she was expecting is actually a New God same as Darkseid. Clayface, King Shark and Psycho are forbidden from fighting alongside their boss, but Psycho gets around this by taking control of her and having her smash a huge rock over Goodness’ head, winning the fight. Harley is given her sceptre, making her the new commander of the Parademons. While this is happening, Ivy and Kiteman are having brunch with his awful dickhead parents, who take to Pamela immediately upon realising she has legit superpowers like them, and isn’t lame pretender like their disappointing son. Ivy understandably takes offence to this, and in no uncertain terms chews them out and tells them to fuck off. Harley’s Parademons and Gordon’s rag-tag group meet in combat, with the former effortlessly slaughtering the latter. Ivy intervenes, asking Harley if this is really what she wants, causing her to snap the sceptre and dejectedly hand control of the city back to Gordon. This causes Psycho to quit the crew in disgust, having been pushing the world domination angle pretty hard. Harley’s all ready to confess her feelings to Ivy when Kiteman interrupts and Ivy kisses him and muses on how much she loves him. The episode ends with Harley saying that actually she wanted to talk about Ivy’s bachelorette party, her face contorting in a pained, fake smile.
This was a great episode; funny to be sure but primarily focused on drama and character. To that end; poor, poor Harley. She’s spent this whole time trying to take over Gotham, and just as it’s within her grasp she throws it away for a terminated love confession, as the woman who means the most to her in the world flaunts how much she loves her fiance. Admittedly she herself realised the exact method of taking over the city wasn’t ideal, but she was still so close to what she wanted. It makes sense though, I wasn’t expecting Ivy to just drop Kiteman to be with Harley, but it doesn’t make it sting any less. I’m a fan of Harley Quinn in general but in particular I’m very fond of this version, so it sucks to see things just go up in flames for her. Good episode, looking forward to the next one.
Episode 9: Bachelorette
Harley, Ivy, Mrs Freeze, Ivy’s friend Jennifer and Catwoman all head to Themyscira for a bachelorette party in an invisible plane, because apparently that’s a facet of Amazon life not limited to Wonder Woman. Much to Ivy’s surprise the island is oddly corporate and commercialised, lead by a woman named Eris. Meanwhile, Kiteman’s having a bachelor party on a boat out at sea. It’s got everything: a jigsaw, the soundtrack to Big Momma’s House 2, Clayface saying “Heavens to Betsy”, but it’s interrupted by a Jamaican lobster named Samson who insists that “Nanaue” (King Shark) return to the ocean to fulfil his arranged marriage to a hammerhead shark woman called Tabitha, to unite two clans and prevent a war. Also because in the sea you can shit all you want and no one minds. King Shark stands up to his Father and declares that neither he nor Tabitha want to get married. Meanwhile Harley and Ivy get drunk and have sex, which despite them both enjoying, Ivy insists is a mistake and locks herself in her room. Harley coaxes her out and reveals stage two of the bachelorette party: Eris has hypnotised queen Hippolyta in order to sign a merger with Lex Luthor to further commercialise Themyscira, and they’re going to kill her to break the spell. They manage to do so easily, with surprising skill on the part of Nora and Jennifer, and in return Hippolyta throws “A fucking rager” to celebrate, resulting in Harley and Ivy once again getting drunk and having sex. Harley makes the case to Ivy that they could be together, travelling the world saving the environment, helping out other women and getting free stuff, and that she loves her. King Shark returns to the boat and reveals that despite telling off his Father, he still got married. Only publicly though, to stop the conflict: he and Tabitha will both pursue other relationships, and he seeks a soul mate. Finally Ivy’s party returns to the mainland, and she tells Harley that she’s thought about her offer but rejects it on the grounds that she trusts her with her life, but not her heart. She flies off with Kiteman as Harley breaks down and cries on the steps of the invisible plane.
Christ, this one was rough. In a good way though. Harley’s pained grin just before the credits hit last episode was bad, having her sob over the start of the credits this episode was worse. It had some good laughs and action though; Ivy pulling up her sleeve to reveal the “Cobb Squad” tattoo she drunkenly had done and the reveal that no one else, not even Harley, got one was great. Harley finally wore the “Head Bitch in Charge” hat from the key art seen above, and her corralling the other party guests into getting smashed and the subsequent fight was good. Apparently in the comics Harley and Ivy are polyamorous but it makes sense to not take that route here for the purposes of drama, and I’m not sure where things will go from here. Presumably they will get together at some point but I have a feeling Harley’s in for a lot more pain on the way there. Good episode.
Episode 10: Dye Hard
After all that emotional trauma last week, Harley needs a drink. Unfortunately, the only bar that’s not swarming with Parademons is at the top of Wayne Tower, where the bartender is the amnesiac Joker. Harley goes to leave only to be met with a gang of hostage takers who knock her out and handcuff her to the Not-Joker. They escape into a vent and come across the Riddler, who’s broken out of the mall to steal a mind control helmet, and it’s revealed he did so on behalf of his partner Dr Psycho, who plans to take control of every Parademon in Gotham and rule the city, as Harley was planning to do before. Fortunately, Gordon arrives in the Batwing, as well as Sy, King Shark and Clayface, though the latter two are possessed by Psycho, who also places a huge energy dome over the tower. Seeing no other way out, Sy gives his eye to Harley as a memento, plugs a key into his belly button and charges at the dome, brimming with energy, and explodes, destroying it. Harley and Gordon escape and not-Joker, who earlier in the episode talked about a dream he had about the opening scene of season 1, recalls a dream he had about the Justice League being trapped in a book, though he can’t remember where the book ended up. Resigned to her only option, Harley takes him to ACE chemicals and throws him into a vat.
This episode made me laugh out loud several times, which I really needed after last week. In particular I found the fight scene in Wayne’s experimental R&D division particularly funny, where Harley shoots a goon with what turns out to be a cancer ray (“Why would they even make this?!”), as well as Jim’s one contribution to the parademon fight at the end being to fire his handgun at them, to no avail, and Batman having Alfred blow on his hot drink rather than waiting for it to cool down. I do so enjoy this show’s characterisation of Batman. Psycho is poised as the villain of this mini arc, one so dangerous Harley is willing to bring back the Joker to help deal with him, an event that seems all so grimly inevitable because life just won’t give Harley a fucking break. I liked Joker flitting back and forth between his old self and remembering his past in the form of dreams, that was all well done, and having Sy make a heroic sacrifice was a nice send off for him. Good episode.
Episode 11: A Fight Worth Fighting For
So The Joker’s back, and after slapping the shit out of him, Harley informs him there’s a bomb in his brain and he needs to help her get the book of fairy tales back. It’s at the house of not-Joker’s girlfriend Bethany, who it turns out is a nurse who pulled Joker from the rubble. Unfortunately, Joker’s rudeness and insistence that their relationship didn’t mean anything makes Bethany angrily throw the book, which winds up in the hands of a passing Parademon. Meanwhile, Dr Psycho makes a new deal with Darkseid; he will be granted the Earth on behalf of the dictator in exchange for delivering Harley’s head to him. To aid in this, Psycho brainwashes Ivy, who’s out to kill him for ruining her wedding prep. Harley and Joker manage to secure the book inside a giant Parademon nest and are seemingly trapped, only to be rescued (captured) by Batman, who’s finally recovered enough to return to action. Realising that what they have is just an ordinary book of fairy tales, Joker explains their situation to Bats, who returns them to Bethany’s house where Joker reconciles with her and resumes their relationship. Zatanna frees the Justice League. The episode ends with Ivy arriving at the house, Harley excitedly preparing to fully lay out her wish for them to be together, and Ivy declaring that she’s here to kill Harley.
This episode felt a bit busy, like they were trying to cram a lot in to set up the next one. Of particular note was Joker’s mini-arc and ending up back with Bethany, which happened very quickly. Darkseid is aggrieved at Harley for betraying him, but doesn’t seem to mind Psycho wresting control of his Parademons, despite having failed to earn them in the past. I am intrigued by this turn the Joker’s taken though. It’d be boring to just have him return to his old self after everything that’s happened. Not to mention a bit of a cop out after him being turned into a normal person. Not a bad episode, but it felt transitional. Oh also, I’ve only just noticed that the Parademons sound like the Cleric Beast from Bloodborne. So that’s neat.
Episode 12: Lovers’ Quarrel
Okay, this was a step up. Lots of dramatic reveals in this episode: Wonder Woman’s a huge racist, King Shark’s most embarrassing memory is of when he snapped at the scent of blood and tore apart his younger brother, Clayface can actually be useful in combat, and Ivy can use her powers to become a plant-based Doctor Octopus. Kiteman saves Harley from the brainwashed Harley and they retreat to his apartment, where Sy’s eye tells them through morse code to plug it into the television. From there, Sy informs them of how to make an anti-mind control device, though only Kiteman takes him up on it, with Harley leaving via kite to save Ivy from the Justice League, fearing that the’ll kill her. It’s only the holy trinity though; Green Lantern and The Flash have presumably returned to space and the city the Flash protects. I dunno, I’m not a Flash fan. Psycho puts said holy trinity out of action by having Ivy use her love pheromone on them, and then take Harley back to the Mall, where Darkseid has arrived to await her head. Kiteman’s plan is to kiss Ivy and undo the brainwashing with the power of true love, which of course doesn’t work. Harley fights her briefly and ends up being strangled, so she tries the same plan, which apparently works, but is actually due to the sight of two women kissing distracting Psycho. Harley uses the anti-mind control devices Kitman brought on herself and Ivy, and the two easily subdue Psycho, as he isn’t the top villain he believes himself to be. Impressed at her fortitude, Darkseid offers control of a conquered Earth to Harley, though she declines, having completed her Face turn. Darkseid is angered by this and promises to return one day and terraform Earth into a junkyard, but for now he’s leaving. Harley tells Ivy that she’s in love with her, and although it may damage their friendship she can’t give up on that feeling, and implores Ivy to take a chance with her. Kiteman awakens having been knocked out by Ivy earlier, and didn’t hear them talking, but is filled in by Psycho, who out of spite uses his powers to broadcast a video in the sky of Harley and Ivy having sex for all of Gotham to see. Kiteman is, understandably, surprised.
This was a really good episode. After the last one set the dominoes up, this one had a great time knocking them all down. Ivy, King Shark and Clayface vs the Justice League was good, I loved Ivy’s Doc Ock powers, they had some fun with Darkseid not understanding mundane Earth terms but didn’t overdo it, and it wrapped up this whole arc really well. I’m also glad Harley fully opened up to Ivy, and I hope it pays off for her. Sorry, Kiteman.
By James Lambert