Harley Quinn Season 2 Episode 1 Review: New Gotham

The Harley Quinn season 2 premiere takes us to a Gotham City that evokes the Batman "No Man's Land" story.

Harley Quinn Season 2 Episode 1: New Gotham
Photo: DC Universe

This Harley Quinn review contains spoilers.

Harley Quinn Season 2 Episode 1

And… she’s back! Just two months since the season one finale premiered the world of Harley Quinn has changed in an innumerable amount of ways. When the showrunners were planning this second entry into the season it’s highly unlikely that they could have imagined the United States would be living under the shadow of a dangerous pandemic that has changed the way that we eat, sleep, work, and live. But in what is some wild cosmic coincidence the Harley Quinn season 2 premiere almost feels like a response to our new status quo. 

A week has passed in Gotham-time since the fall of the Joker and the President of the United States has announced that after a devastating earthquake Gotham is no longer considered part of the country as it is “past saving.” We find Harley Quinn loving her new life as the chaos queen of Gotham. While the city burns, the Clown Princess of Crime is taking control and living her best life. Well, as good a life as anyone can in a city with no electricity, refrigeration, and raving axe-wielding gangs roaming free. As always, the circus themed chaos demon that is Harley has an angel on her shoulder in the form of Ivy who isn’t too pleased with the lawless new Gotham that her friend is letting slip through her fingertips. 

Of course without Batman, Joker, or James Gordon, there are a whole bunch of other criminalss who think it’s their time to shine, and as Harley rides her custom Joker sleigh around town, Penguin, Two-Face, and The Riddler are all planning power grabs. Looks like Ivy was right again! Basically, it’s all out chaos in the Dark Knight’s city, most likely because that very Dark Knight is missing. It’s a really interesting and fun setup that leans into the chaotic nature of Harley Quinn and her ragtag crew. Although the latter episodes of the first season felt like they slipped in quality, this season premiere feels filled with promise just like the original pilot

Ad – content continues below

There’s an understanding of Harley’s character here that is actually pretty deep, as it would have been really easy for the creative team to just put Harley in charge of Gotham immediately and use that as the new status quo. Instead, we see the character’s own inclination for chaos and having fun leaves the city open to the machinations of the city’s other villains. Harley Quinn’s use of the massive and impressive DC rogues gallery has been one of its highlights, but after the events of last season’s finale we’re down to a smaller contingent. With Harley not taking the city for herself, the Penguin, Mr. Freeze, Bane, Two-Face, and the Riddler have teamed up to become… the Injustice League!

This is the first time we’ve heard that phrase on screen since the end of Zack Snyder’s Joss Whedon’s Justice League, and for fans of DC Comics it’s an instantly evocative one. With the Legion of Doom discontinued after the events of last season, it makes sense that their sometime comic book counterparts would make an appearance. What’s really exciting about this, though, is it opens up the doors for even more weird villains to pop up as the series goes on. Could we see Agamemno? Or maybe Felix Faust? Possibly even Chronos or Mister Element? This reviewer is very excited for the possibilities. However, one villain we definitely won’t be seeing is the Penguin, as we saw Harley bloodily dispatch him after his plan to contain her failed. 

I have to give a shout out to the creative team here for doing one of the funniest, silliest, and most subtle time jumps I’ve seen in awhile. After Harley’s crew saves her from the Injustice League–who have attempted to trap her in ice… Mr. Freeze, duh–it’s revealed that she’s been on the ice for two months. It’s a smart and simple way to quickly establish an almost entirely new status quo for the next episode because, whilst Harley was frozen in her block, the members of the Injustice League have recruited henchmen and crafted extensive and completely over-the-top new lairs. New New Gotham, as it’s now known, has been segmented into sections, each one owned and run by the villains who make up the nefarious group. 

The other big reveal here is that the long-thought dead or at least missing Bruce Wayne has been found! Not only that, but his naughty son Damian Wayne has been rocking his dad’s overly big batsuit in order to find dear old daddy. With Batman back on the scene we wouldn’t be surprised to see Harley and the Dark Knight team up to take down the Injustice League, but the real question is what side will Harley land on when the chips are down. Ivy has definitely been leaning closer to chaotic good here, and if the series does deliver on the Harley/Ivy romance that many fans have been hoping for, this could be a good way of setting up a Gotham City Sirens arc later on this season… 

Whatever happens we’ll be tuning in each Friday on DC Universe to keep an eye on Harley, her gang, and New New Gotham! 


4 out of 5