Spoiler Warnings for Harley Quinn S02E04, Trigger Warnings for blood and death
Welcome again friends, as we once more go into the wild and wacky world of DC Universe’s animated Harley Quinn show! In this episode, Harley will tackle the lair of the third member of the Injustice League, Mister Freeze, determined for revenge after he trapped her in a block of ice for several months. And after a whole episode last week just about a side-quest to get the thing Harley would need to break in, it’s time for the payoff!
We open with Harley using Firefly’s flamethrower to melt her way through the ice wall that surrounds Mister Freeze’s territory, though her overly elaborate entrance results in her using up all the fuel in the thing. As they climb through the passage Harley made, they start getting alerts on their phone. They read them to reveal that Ivy did, in fact, accept Kite-Man’s proposal at the end of the previous episode, which is where Ivy will be spending most of her time this episode. And hey, this time the side plot actually ties into the main plot! Little more work in recapping for me, but more thorough for y’all!
Regardless, the crew begins to fight their way through Freeze’s guards while talking about the eventual wedding. It turns out that King Shark is betrothed, though he very much does not sound happy about it, and will likely bring her to the wedding. Clayface plans on just disguising himself as a woman, Psycho’s plans aren’t made clear, and Harley is adamant that she won’t be bringing anyone. As we’ll see throughout the episode, the Joker has left her thoroughly jaded towards all relationships…except for Ivy and Kite-Man’s. We’ll chalk that up to him and Harley bonding in the previous episode.
Eventually, they kill all of Freeze’s guards, but Freeze himself manages to capture them. We cut from that to Ivy and Kite-Man getting ready to go try and secure a wedding venue. Kite-Man is all dressed up in a suit, while Ivy…very much isn’t, amusingly enough. We learn a few things here, namely that Kite-Man has a long-standing rivalry with Condiment King (…shockingly not a deep cut, thanks to memes and jokes these days) and that he has always dreamed of getting married in the old Gotham corn factory after seeing it being used as a wedding venue in a magazine when he was young. Which…is sad, but in character for him. Both things. Ivy tries to reassure him that the venue doesn’t matter, but he’s unconvinced.
Back with Harley and the crew, Freeze thaws them out and explains his plight. Namely that his wife is dying of a rare blood disease and he’s dedicated to finding a cure. And he thinks he’s found one, but he needs a human test subject, having decided that the problem with his current formula is that he’s using rats, not humans. And here’s Harley, both human and female, the best match he can hope for. Before he can inject her though, Harley makes a proposal. Ivy is, after all, an extremely smart and talented biochemist, and more than likely capable of making a cure. She wouldn’t help Freeze, but she would help Harley. Freeze agrees to this, and frees Harley, putting her back in the cell with the others before deciding to leave to go prepare lunch for them. It’s at this point that Harley reveals her actual plan, which is to get away, find Freeze’s wife, take her hostage, get him to give them the gun, and freeze him. It’s…not the worst plan, but Freeze isn’t stupid and freezes them to the chairs.
However, in a stroke of what could be considered luck, Freeze brings Nora to them, thinking it’ll be a good chance for her to get to be a host to guests. It’s…rather more horrifying than Nora’s situation is portrayed as being, with her having a scared expression, the block being roughly hewn, and a tube in her mouth for Freeze to feed her. The meal is awkward, with Freeze being unable to eat warm foods and thus staring at the crew as they eat. But it opens up as Freeze talks about how he met Nora which is…honestly a genuinely cute story, albeit one right from a Meg Ryan movie, which they point out in the episode. I’m just saying, I’d read that fanfic. Harley’s not buying it though. She views what she had with the Joker as being true love still, and as such isn’t convinced that there’s really any good relationships (…except for Ivy and Kite-Man, we’ll chalk that up to her seeing them firsthand though).
Freeze leaves them alone to go get spinach puffs out of the oven, at which point Clayface reveals that, due to being made of liquid, he can just get out of the ice holding him at any time. He gets Harley the gun, after some prompting because he’s an idiot, and Harley uses it to free herself and then declares her belief that Nora isn’t sick but that she tried to leave her and so Freeze froze her. It…is an understandable result of her trauma admittedly, but I’ll admit the over two decades of Nora’s condition being the status quo makes it difficult to set aside the urge to scream at her.
And of course, it’s quickly revealed that no, this isn’t a dark twist, Nora is very much still dying, and Harley has to panickedly summon Ivy. The venue tour…has not been going well, the man who runs it is extremely pretentious and dedicated to corn, and Condiment King, being food-centric, is better able to play the man. Ivy needing to run off doesn’t help matters, and Kite-Man bolting after to get Ivy the flower she needs to complete her cure helps even less.
The good news is that Ivy is, in fact, able to come up with a cure for Nora…the bad news is that the process of doing so requires someone to die. Freeze readily accepts this, declaring that his wife is worth it. And, in a wonderful twist on the usual dark comedy of the series, much like Ivy’s death in the previous season this is played entirely straight, for all the pathos and tragedy they can wring out of it. There’s no revelation that Nora hated Freeze, no jokes, no lightheartedness. It’s all played straight and tragic, and it’s honestly genuinely moving.
It is a comedy show though, and so we wind up with a joke to close out the episode, as it’s revealed that Condiment King got the venue and he is not gracious about his victory.
…so, that was the most genuinely emotional, warm, and well-crafted episode of the season thus far. After so many attempts to make Freeze darker, more villainous, somehow ‘improve’ upon the version the Animated Series crafted this was genuinely refreshing to see him portrayed as the loving and devoted husband that he is. That it was never subverted or twisted, that the comedy came from his work and condition making him socially awkward, was all the better. And on top of that, the exploration of how Harley’s trauma impacted her beliefs about love, and the ramifications of that, were quite nice. And while Ivy and Kite-Man’s venue tour was probably the least interesting of the side plots thus far, it certainly wasn’t bad. This might very well be my favorite episode thus far.
That being said…I have no idea what’s going on with this pacing. We’re four episodes into a thirteen-episode season and two of the five members of the Injustice League are dead and Riddler is technically trapped, leaving only two unconfronted. I’ll be very curious to see who steps up to the plate as the new villains/antagonists of the season.
Thanks for reading, see you next week!