The intention of the second season of “Harley Quinn” was trying to reveal the true colors of many of the characters. As much as the series is a fun romp, the existential progression of what these people are going through reflects the adult themes that track in the messiness of life. While the idea of what Poison Ivy is going through is understandable in terms of expectation, the truth of Harley’s better nature is what fuels the episode and the season. The aspect of who is good and who is bad is obviously circumspect. The villains are villains more often than not when it serves the needs of the story so the whole archetypal aspect is slightly a kilter in terms of motivation. The adjusted “Thelma & Louise” structure and motif actually plays out quite well and the ending of the episode, without giving anything away, is undeniably cinematic and inventive using different angles and technology not seen in most of the season.
Unlike the big battle sequences which sometimes can be vague, the conclusion here uses exactly what is being seen to push the story and, as a result, gives the ending a much more emotional push. Granted many of the textures are soapy to a point. Clayman’s integration into it is quite telling and funny but it too plays to a trope of what it is. Truth and consequence is a paradoxical progression in this series and especially within this final episode: “The Runaway Bridesmaid” because Harley always leaps before she looks which is something that Ivy has to embrace but is reluctant to do so. Many of the other characters are trying to find their center. Jim Gordon begins a path to more of the dark side but again the stories sometimes shift so much that besides Ivy and Harley and maybe Joker in the last few episodes, the texture of the endgame is unclear. This, of course, doesn’t make the characterizations any less entertaining in their necessity and layers. It is just with understanding where the story needs to end, it is has to have plot connectivity. The season does, for the most part end, strongly but there are jagged spots in an overall view. A bit of control permeates the chaos.
By Tim Wassberg
The evolving path of Harley Quinn requires a little bit of understanding in her ability to commit. Once she does no one can stop her. What is interesting in the evolution of the character throughout Season 2 is her ability to actually be seen as somewhat of a caring individual. It is hard to say if that is cohesive with other elements in the DC canon but this series like some before it (like “Batman Beyond”) color outside the lines in a very specific way in an attempt to access some greater truth, whether it be fanboy driven or not. With Episode 12: “Lovers Quarrel”, the progression is based off of Poison Ivy targeting Harley Quinn at the request of Darkseid through Mr. Psycho. it sounds complicated in a small way but it is really not in the better perception of the path being followed. Again Kite Man gets the shaft no matter what.
What is interesting is a throwback homage to Max Headroom in a way which points to a necessary MacGuffin to make the ending of the story work. It is a pretty weak connection and ploy but again having the Justice League stuck in a book for a while seems sort of out there as well. The issue, like with the Darkseid side story, is that when they (the real superheroes) come into play, the series tends to revert back to old tropes in certain ways. The big diversion though is the sardonic banter between the Superfriends is even more out there (because the censorship angle is not as much of a problem on streaming). One particular interlude between Batman and Wonder Woman is definitely interesting and speaks back to Justice League (the movie) in many ways. Harley again is at the center of this melee but there is a sense of brokenness in her.
What is great is that everyone seems to have an opinion. Watching Joker try to order dinner for his girlfriend while understanding Harley’s duality is interesting. It culminates in the final scene, which is both soapy, funny, almost too much fan service but also groundbreaking in certain ways. Again the normal progression is that the series is more meta than it has a right to be. With only one episode left in the season, the path has been forged both for an idea of something new but also a more intimate setting in a bigger world. Now if the creatives can find the balance between the two…though, in all reality, it is that off kilter approach that keeps each of the episodes interesting.
By Tim Wassberg
IR TV Review: HARLEY QUINN – EPISODE 11 (“A Fight Worth Fighting For”) [Warner Brothers Animation-S2]
Going against her better nature always seems to get Harley Quinn into trouble but the nature of why she does things ultimately reflects back to why she doesn’t do them. Or maybe she is taking the easy way out in her dealings with life choices. In Episode 11 of Season 2: “The Fight Worth Fighting For”, the creators continue to dive into and perhaps deconstruct a lot of what Harley is while covering it up in a sense of frivolity. Quinn brings back Joker throwing him into a vat of acid at the end of the last episode, which felt more diabolical than it actually ends up being (again it is a cartoon). The id and personality breakdown of the Joker is an trigger movement which is a crucial way to look at it. What also works is the bookends of the show which gives it even more genre pinnings as it is done by a man eating plant. The simple irony of this with Ivy is simply awesome. Granted the idea of friends against friends is a trope of the superhero genre. Now the plot focus of this episode does involve a book but its actual relevance being the movement of one aspect of plot is circumspect as far as its importance.
What is fun to watch is Joker arguing against his own basic nature. What is seemingly lacking is the attraction that Harley previously had to him. it is simply gone. Some part of her is likely still fascinated by him yet Ivy blinds her in a certain way. Kite Man is just a dunce and too nice of a guys so he will be crushed eventually. Unlike earlier in the season, there is a bunch of unchecked emotions flying around these characters that would normally be more black and white in their tendencies instead of terminally gray. What is even more ironic is a realization of Joker that is completely antithetical to what he is thinking. And also one shot alone in the episode with some banter in a plane is too good to spoil because it would only happen in the animated world. As usual, the question becomes: where does the story go from here?
By Tim Wassberg