This Harley Quinn review contains spoilers.
Harley Quinn Episode 4
What does every supervillain need after they get a crew together? A nemesis, of course! That classic comic book dynamic comes into play in this week’s episode of Harley Quinn as the titular terror continues her quest to become Gotham’s biggest bad. After putting her crew together in the last chapter, Harley (Kaley Cucuo), Dr. Psycho (Tony Hale), Clayface (Alan Tudyk in one of many roles), and new addition King Shark (Ron Funches) end up with a rather embarrassing entry into Bat-canon as their foe. It’s a solid episode that introduces another key player from Bat-lore as well as offering up a big Joker (Tudyk) / Harley / Batman (Deidrich Bader) showdown that might just have a huge impact on the rest of the series going forward.
With her new friends assembled and a series of successful heists under her belt, Harley feels that she’s finally climbing up the ladder to supervillain success but as usual her nefarious ex, the Joker, and his on again off again love interest / foe, Batman, are taking up all the screen time. Like many of the most interesting and humorous moments of Harley Quinn this episode excels when it leans into commentary about the state of the comics that inspired that. Batman and the Joker’s obsessive relationship has long been a source of conversation in the comics world and the discussion about whether one could survive without the other still rages on today. As is her wont, Harley learns the absolute worst lessons that she can from the pair, dedicating herself to finding a true nemesis who deserves her ire and ever-escalating violence.
Who that hero turns out to be is where “Finding Mr. Right” really comes into its own, because as much as Harley might want an enemy like Batman she ends up with a very different member of the Bat-family who honestly is a pretty good match. Damian Wayne has long been a fan favorite character, with Batman’s moody son taking on the mantle of Robin and quickly becoming a huge part of the Dark Knight lore. Here that petulant attitude and tiny stature is played for heavy laughs as the pre-teen attempts to take down Harley on his hoverboard. Oscar nominee Jacob Tremblay plays Damian as a Charlie Brown-esque pest who won’t stop, claiming to be Harley’s nemesis much to the chagrin of the hardworking anti-heroine.
The Bat-family and the Robins are one of the funnest parts of Bat-lore so this is an exceedingly enjoyable thread, especially as Harley and Damian are a match made in petty hell. The Boy Wonder can’t stop trolling his new target on live television and Harley can’t get her head around the fact that she might be better off trying to be herself rather than following the Joker’s path. It helps that having a Robin actually voiced by a child is hilarious and Trembley does a brilliant job of making Damian the angsty little monster that he’s always meant to be. Of course, crafting a story with a Robin means that we get a whole lot more Batman this episode with some really solid and funny moments from the Caped Crusader. We also get our first glimpse at DC’s other A-lister–the big blue boyscout, Superman–who pops in for a darling cameo alongside Damian.
Aside from the World’s Finest we also get properly introduced to a Harley comic book favorite as the one-armed landlord Sy Borgman turns up to evict Harley, Ivy, and their new crew from Ivy’s apartment. It’s rare to find a comic book TV show that actively takes so much from the source material and manages to do it in an interesting, funny, and original way without losing the charm of what made the original characters and stories so good in the first place.
Just before the credits roll we get another solid action sequence as Batman and Harley face down over the fate of Damian Wayne, and the Joker isn’t happy that his nemesis might have found a new villain to play with. It’s a fun nod to the fact that since her introduction Harley has often been just as much of a player in the Batman / Joker relationship whilst also moving the anti-hero one step closer to true emancipation from her evil ex who has defined much of her existence both on and off page.
As we edge further into the first series of DC Universe’s adult animation, it’s becoming clear that the creative team haven’t fully managed to harness the punchy, manic, original, and hilarious energy of the pilot. Saying that, though, Harley Quinn is still a very funny watch and manages to keep us engaged each week with its unreserved silliness and beautiful animation. Just four episodes in, the show has settled into the perfect sort of relaxed background watch that you can put on with your friends whilst not worrying too much about the details. What that means for the future of the series after its debut season is unclear but for now we’re just enjoying the ride.