This Harley Quinn review contains spoilers.
Harley Quinn Episode 3
If you’ve always longed to know how the criminal underworld of Gotham has worked then the third episode of DC Universe’s hilarious Harley Quinn will likely make you very, very happy. After crashing a Bar Mitzvah last episode, Harley has returned with a plan to become a true supervillain–which in her mind means getting a solid selection of henchies to back her up. The silliness of Harley Quinn shines here as we get into what the show does best as it gets into mundane nature of just how the baddies of Batman actually function on a day to day basis.
It’s this kind of stuff that really delights as Harley Quinn gets to dig into the weird world of Gotham and those who inhabit it. Whereas much of Bat-lore has centered on the seriousness and severity of the dark world of Gotham and its protector, here we get to lavish in how utterly ridiculous it all is. From a supervillain agency who hire out an eclectic selection of henchmen to an evil inspirational speaker who makes piles of money from teaching lowlifes how to craft a successful life of crime “So You Need a Crew?” does a great job at breaking down the (imagined) realities of being a low level bad guy. It’s easily the show’s biggest strength and with 80 years of over the top canon to work with could be the secret to its potential longevity.
Another highlight of the show has been getting to spend time with some of the radical rogues who often don’t get a look in otherwise and this week we get to meet Doctor Psycho (Tony Hale) when he has an unfortunate public slip up whilst caught calling Wonder Woman a very severe swear. While the show could have slid into a boring meditation on cancel culture instead it uses the viral video to introduce the aforementioned ad agency who have successfully reinvented heroes like Mr. Freeze “after he exposed himself at the waterpark.” Psycho’s bad fortune ends up working in Harley’s favor as she convinces the down on luck villain to join her burgeoning crew. It’s a fun little diversion which seems like it’ll play into the larger arc of the show especially once she gets her hands on Clayface and the trio take down creepy celeb baddie Maxie Zeus.
DC has long been known for its trailblazing animation, but Harley Quinn still manages to surprise and delight. It’s a technicolor joy to behold that’s slick, stylish, and filled with character designs that are fresh and fun but still feel like they might become iconic given time. If you’re an animation fan who isn’t watching this series you’re missing out, even if the edgy tone and crass jokes aren’t your style you’ll likely love seeing the animators flex their skills. This episode has some particularly pretty moments and as always the show excels when it lets Harley lose her sh*t and get into a bit of the old ultra violence.
Though there’s a lot to love about this episode, Harley’s quest for new cohorts leaves Lake Bell’s Poison Ivy sidelined, which is a big mistake. The sarcastic, cynical, and smart Ivy is easily the best thing about Harley Quinn after well… Harley Quinn, so not having her front and center left this reviewer wanting.
Speaking of Ivy the writers also start to cement a thread here that will be a massive disappointment if they actually follow through. In episode two Ivy came across Kite Man, who is a total idiot and relatively interesting foil for Ivy and Harley. Sadly it looked like the writers were setting him up as a love interest for Ivy which seems to have been confirmed this episode.
It’s a disappointing turn of events as Harley and Ivy are one of DC comics few canonically queer couples and fans were hoping to see that play out in the context of the show. It makes a lot of sense as the pair are roommates and seem to truly care about each other but for now they seem to be “playing it safe” setting up Ivy with a useless man of her own. Who knows maybe as the series goes on Harley will have to repay the favor that Ivy did for her in the pilot and help her escape the foolish Kite Man, we’ll have to wait to find out though.
Bigger picture wise we do get some cool narrative movement as Harley manages to best Maxie Zeus and forces him to state that her crew “ain’t nothing to f*ck with” on the local news. Suddenly “the Joker’s ex” seems like she might just achieve her goal of besting her bad boyfriend and becoming the ultimate supervillain in Gotham. If that’s the case we hope we get to see more of the wider world that was hinted at in the hilarious pilot, particularly loose cannon Jim Gordan and grumpy old Batman. Harley is best when she’s wreaking havoc on the normies of the world and as much fun as it is to see her letting loose with her villainous friends, we can’t help but hope that we’ll get to see her ruining some heroes days very, very soon.