Spoiler Warnings for Harley Quinn S01E09, Trigger Warnings for Violence, Emotional Manipulation, and Abuse
Oh boy. I said that last episode felt like something big was happening, that it was an important episode, and the show’s not slowing down on that front because whoo boy. Some questions from the last one still remain of course, but by and large, this feels like a proper continuation of the previous. We’ve got a good amount to talk about, and a fair amount to explore, so let’s dive in!
The episode begins with a loving recreation of a cheap and cheesy VHS orientation tape from the late 80’s to mid 90’s, as Lex Luthor welcomes new members into the Legion. I…appreciate the artistry and the effort that went into this, I won’t lie, and it’s rather amusing, but at the same time, I have to wonder why Lex Luthor, PR savvy, tech enthusiast, narcissist that he is, would allow this to still be the introduction in what’s clearly 2019, 2020, but I’m probably thinking too hard about it. Point is, they’re welcomed into the Legion with open arms, complete with confetti, a banner, and Lex telling her ‘welcome home’. It would be very sweet and touching if I wasn’t relatively certain Lex hasn’t actually come around on Harley and is just planning something. Oh well, hopefully at least some of the villains are legitimately nice and well-meaning…by their standards anyway.
One who most certainly isn’t though is Joker, who gets up on the podium to congratulate Harley on her talents and skills as a villain. Harley is…trying not to buy it, but trauma and conditioning dies hard, and so even as the crew tells her not to listen she can’t help but wonder about his sincerity. But then we cut away to Harley and Ivy, reconciling in a coffee shop after their fight in the previous episode (a rather…abrupt conclusion to that plot thread, I won’t lie) and Ivy revealing a rather hilariously over the top commercial for a paving company in Gotham, and getting Harley to agree to help her take them down as part of a sign of their commitment to their friendship and to demonstrate that her being part of the Legion doesn’t mean that she’s not still Ivy’s friend.
Moving back to the Legion, Lex presents Harley with her own office, complete with a glass case full of special kinds of bats (which have replaced giant mallets as her signature piece in this series). When it’s pointed out that there’s only one chair, Lex assures the crew that they have a separate place to go, and an intern takes the three men…down to the basement, where it’s revealed that they’re considered basic henchmen, even Psycho, and that anyone can hire them. Like Bane, for instance, who wants their help to kill a young man who consistently calls him ‘Bang’ at his favorite smoothie shop. The crew are not happy with this, to say the least, with Psycho in particular very insistent that they work for Harley, but the paperwork has been filed.
As for Harley, she’s up in the board room for main Legion members, where the group votes to determine if Legion funds will be applied to a scheme or not. Joker unveils a plan of his own, to build a giant skyscraper with his face and a giant TV on it, and while most of the Legion agrees to approve it, Harley refrains, pointing out that it’s excessive and has no actual substance to it, only flash. Lex agrees, telling Joker to put more work on his plan and to come back later. And, again, I’m having a hard time deciding if this is Lex pulling some sort of long con or actually agreeing with Harley. This show so rarely plays it close to the chest that it’s hard to say, and Lex’s own contradictory flaws don’t help.
Surprisingly, Joker thanks Harley for calling him out, for giving him someone that would challenge his ideas and make him actually work. He extends an offer for them to go out and get drinks, just as work friends, to hang out and try and be colleagues, offering to help her navigate and work the system within the Legion. She refuses at first, but after a visit from the crew and realizing that the system isn’t helping them, she agrees. The two go to a wing place and, surprisingly, things go rather well. Joker reveals a small crime he’s pulling off that he’s proud of (he’s been paying the guy at the smoothie joint to get Bane’s name wrong), and promises to talk to Lex and get Harley’s crew out of helping Bane. Then, unfortunately, he also manages to talk her out of meeting up with Harley, and instead going someplace nicer.
Said place nicer is a yacht, which was already set up for a romantic dinner by a rich, snobby couple who, surprisingly, they do not kill but instead simply set adrift. The Joker noticeably never apologizes for his past behavior but does still praise Harley for her skill in her solo work, saying that she has become a master approaching his own level. Batman shows up, but Joker throws out a smoke bomb and summons a helicopter. He grabs onto the ladder and echoes his words from the very first episode, when he allowed her to be dragged off to Arkham so he could escape, but amends them, helping her get up on the helicopter with him. The pair make out but then the Joker shoves her out of the helicopter. What follows is a very poignant, very well done scene, as Harley flashes through scenes from the pilot to now, set to quiet piano music and her own heartbeat, before she curls up and attempts to let herself die. Batman saves her though, his voice softening as he sadly tells her that some things never change before letting her get away.
Back with the rest of our cast, Bane’s plan does not go well. He gets impatient and detonates the bomb he sent King Shark in with without confirming that the bomb has been set, and it turns out that his target wasn’t working that day either. King Shark doesn’t fare well, losing his dorsal fin (though it gets surgically reattached) and needing to go to the hospital. Ivy shows up to see them, and it’s there that the see the news reporting on Harley and Joker’s kiss. Ivy pauses the TV before we can find out if they were going to report on Joker then proceeding to attempt to kill her, but it’s unlikely this would have helped much. The crew is understandably upset when Harley shows up and attempts to act like everything is fine, and even when she breaks down they still split with her. Even Ivy, who declares that she can’t keep believing in someone who doesn’t believe in herself and leaves.
Things go from bad to worse as we cut from Harley, alone and abandoned, to Ivy breaking into the paving plant and promptly being gassed into unconsciousness, as two figures in hazmat suits report to their boss that ‘we got her’ before the credits roll.
This was a doozy of an episode folks, and not remotely what I expected. It’s…a bit disappointing to see Harley backslide like that, but it’s realistic, and thus excusable. The crew and Ivy’s abandonment of Harley is sad, but also understandable. Sometimes your friends decide that your mental health problems are putting their mental and/or physical health at risk, and it’s not selfish of them to abandon you. It’s a lesson I’ve had to learn the hard way, and it’s one that’s good to see reflected here, as the episode takes care to not vilify the crew, Ivy, or Harley.
I look forward to seeing where this goes, and I can only hope that it continues to do well. Thank y’all for reading, and see you next week!
Images Courtesy of DC Universe