Sunday, June 16, 2024

Harley Quinn Builds Towards Its Finale

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Spoiler Warning for Harley Quinn S01E11, Trigger Warning for gore.

Well friends, this long roller coaster is nearing its end. There are thirteen episodes in this first season, and we have reached the eleventh. Only two more weeks until we finish up. Will it be a thrilling and worthy conclusion for Gotham’s Clown Princess, or a fumbling disaster? Well, let’s take a look at this latest bit and see what we find!


The episode begins with Ivy waking up after being sedated by Scarecrow at the end of the last episode, killing her way through the laboratory. She manages to make quite an accounting for herself, but she’s caught before she can get outside, with Scarecrow making a joke about the evils of the insurance industry before knocking her out.

Fortunately, Harley’s outside, watching and looking for a way to bust into the laboratory. She wants to charge right in but fortunately Frank is able to talk her out of it, pointing at the sheer number of armed and extremely trigger happy guards. So she’s forced to go and find her crew, bringing them back. At first she tries to sway them by apologizing sincerely, begging for forgiveness for her screw-ups and for failing the crew and forgetting how much she’d relied on them to get into the Legion in the first place. They all rebuff her, but then Frank snaps that Harley forgot to tell them that Ivy had been kidnapped and that gets them to agree, though they all swear to never work with Harley again after they rescue Ivy. This disappoints her, but she can’t really argue with their distaste for her and so she accepts it. And, for the first time, Sy gets to go along with them on a job, acting as their driver.

Using the pretzel-wrapped hot dog van that they have (presumably a relic from when Harley’s hideout was still a mall, but maybe Sy owned it for…reasons) they manage to infiltrate the laboratory, stealing hazmat suits to disguise themselves. While they’re doing this, we learn why Scarecrow kidnapped Ivy. He’s been pumping the pheromones from her blood, and combining them with other chemicals to create some sort of weapon he’ll use to destroy Gotham. He doesn’t tell her what it is, instead showing off the new dose of Fear Toxin he created, a formula designed specifically to hurt her. Presumably not exclusively her though, otherwise he created far too much of the stuff.

Regardless, it definitely works, as Ivy’s screams are what leads Harley and crew to her. Time is running out for them, as the toxin is destroying Ivy’s mind, but fortunately Psycho is on hand to take the crew into her mind to save her, with Sy standing guard over their bodies. They quickly discover that the toxin has turned Ivy’s mind into an unorganized hellscape, as they have to deal with manifestations of Ivy’s fears. It starts with a sentient and mobile wood chipper chasing them down, then moves to a demonic and giant version of Ivy’s emotionally abusive father that tries to eat them. They manage to kill both of these fears, but a Cheshire Cat imitating Frank warns them that Ivy’s worst fear is on its way. Kite Man runs up to them and begins to flee, only to be burnt to ash by a Grim Reaper style figure who throws fire.

Harley’s able to defeat this figure by using Clayface as a bat, but when she pulls aside its hood she discovers that it’s her, freaking her out (and raising concerns in me about the fact that an aspect of Ivy’s fear is Harley doing bad things to Kite Man, but we’ll discuss that later). But, they did manage to defeat the toxin and clear it out of Ivy’s system, and so they’re kicked out of her brain and back to their bodies, where they discover a massacre, the result of Sy having to kill a lot of goons to protect their bodies. Harley is desperate to get Ivy to explain to her why Ivy’s worst fear is her, but Ivy’s not in the mood to talk, both because the crew’s around and because Scarecrow is getting away.

Due to Sy’s bad parking job, the pretzel-wrapped hot dog truck is being towed, meaning that they can’t give chase immediately. However, it turns out that the success of the Transformers line of toys gave the CIA ideas and after an exceptionally bloody scene Sy turns himself into a turret equipped station wagon, and they give chase.

And hey, you remember how in the third episode Harley threatened to nuke Gotham unless they named a highway after her? No? Fair! But it’s come back! It wasn’t a random throwaway gag, it’s what the episode is named for and the setting of the climax of this episode. For it turns out that, since she had a nuke, the city let her design the highway on top of naming it after her and, as such, the thing is a physics-defying nightmare straight out of Mario Kart, complete with jumps, steep drops, a loop, and a Statue of Liberty sized statue of Harley, and it’s all a dark pink to boot.

Thus begins the chase, the bulletproof nature of Scarecrow’s trucks forcing Harley and Ivy to ditch the Sy car in favor of attacking the drivers directly, all the while Harley begs Ivy to explain what she saw in Ivy’s brain. Ivy finally snaps, declaring that it’s because she trusted Harley, let her in, and then Harley let her down and went back to the Joker. Which…okay, I am extremely tolerant of this whole story aspect, for the most part. As a person who has self-destructive tendencies, I am here for media telling people that it’s okay to drop people with said tendencies if those tendencies are jeopardizing your own mental or physical health.

That being said…this feels a bit like victim-blaming. We know from the last episode that Harley stopped talking to her mother after she became Harley Quinn and that when she visited it had been thirty-six months, or three years, since she’d spoken to her mother. Now, the timeline of this series is very fuzzy, so maybe I’m wrong in thinking that it’s only been a few weeks, or at most a few months, since Harley broke up with Joker. Maybe it’s been a full year or more already. Meaning, after allowing for the year in Arkham from the first episode, that Harley has spent as much time away from the Joker as she did with him. Maybe it’s entirely reasonable for Ivy to be expecting Harley to be one hundred percent over him and his abuse and be mentally well again. But…that doesn’t feel right. That’s not the vibe I’m getting from the pacing of the show and the plot. I’m not saying that Ivy has no right to be upset. I’m saying that I’m not certain they’ve established that she should be this upset.

Sorry, just had to get that off my chest. There’s not much left to the episode though to be honest, through Ivy’s powers and Harley’s skills and weaponry they manage to destroy all but one of Scarecrow’s trucks, the one he’s driving being the last one standing. Harley blocks the road, but he instead drives it off the highway and into the Gotham reservoir, where it promptly turns the water green, begins bubbling, and starts animating the trees and turning them into people-eating monsters, much to the crew’s dismay.

Final Thoughts

Once again, a very good episode in my opinion. It resolves the kidnapping of Ivy plot nicely, albeit with some loose ends (namely the implications that the Legion was behind Scarecrow’s plot to some extent) that may be resolved this season or may be the hook for the next. The bit where they entered Ivy’s brain was brief, but quite interesting. And the action was quite good, very fast, easy to follow, and well animated. I was not expecting ‘evil, flesh-eating ents’ to be the reasoning behind Ivy’s abduction (would have guessed Lex trying to replicate her to make his own, loyal, Ivys to be honest) but it works! All in all, a good start to the end of the season and I hope it continues to be this good as we near the conclusion.

Thank you all for reading, see you next week!

Images courtesy of DC Universe

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