‘Harley Quinn’ Recap: ‘A High Bar‘

Now that Harley has broken free from the Joker can she make it as a villain? Or is she doomed to remain a sidekick forever?

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Harley Quinn
CR: DC/Warner Bros

Harley Quinn surprised many last week with its hilarious R-rated humor. I think the truth is that not many people expected the show to be as hilarious as it is and going into the second episode this week, it had a lot to live up to. I mean, we’re talking about a show where the premise is that Harley breaks up with the Joker and wants to become a better villain than him. Lots of blood, lots of swearing and a lot of laughs. It’s kind of crazy how the show manages to get consistent laughs while dealing with subjects like toxic relationships and abuse. The first episode really left you rooting for Harley in a way I think a lot of people didn’t think it would.

A High Bar literally opens up to Scarecrow and Bane gossiping about Harley and Joker’s breakup, which leaves Joker fuming. This pushes Joker to go after a television celebrity who implies that they’d broken up, and claims Harley wants nothing but to disappear into complete anonymity. This prompts Harley to log into Joker’s calendar and crash a party that the legion of doom is attending. Her and Frank peer pressure Ivy into coming along. Once they get there though… it turns out that the party is for Joshua Cobblepot’s Bat Mitzvah, leaving Ivy, Harley and their tiger (yes a tiger) stunned.

That’s all in the first five minutes of the episode. Have I mentioned that Bane is voiced using a similar voice to the Dark Knight Returns?

After Bane informs Joker of Harley’s party crashing, the Joker can’t help but show up to undermine her. Laughed away from the “Legion of Doom table” Harley, literally, flosses away and winds up at a table with a bunch of teenagers. Ivy on her end is fending off the advances of Kite-Man. Poison Ivy refuses to do a heist with him, Harley shows up just in time to make fun of him and the two girls saunter off after leaving poor Kite-Man feeling terrible!

Harley and her friend get berated by Mrs. Cobblepot because although they’re all evil this is a family event and such salty language won’t be tolerated. Harley has the brilliant idea to rob the Gotham mint, to show the Legion how cool she is, though Ivy’s not on board. Kite-Man slips Ivy’s love potion to some teens, which means they’ll die, but Harley’s already gone.

What follows is a short, brutal, bloody action scene in which Harley takes out some guards. Just like last week, it’s all so over the top. Bones break and protrude skin, teeth are broken and Harley shows off some pretty incredible acrobatic skills. Meanwhile, at the party, Ivy and Kite-Man decide to try and save the poisoned teens while Joker steals Bane’s dinner like the bully he is.

This is where we find out that the heist Harley is on is one that was planned for Cobblepot’s kid. He hired an acting troupe, the “guards” that Harley took out, and instead of cash in the vault, it was fake cash referred to as Joshua bucks. When Penguin tears the curtain away, Harley is revealed to have ruined the event. Joker finds it hilarious but Penguin, on the other hand, isn’t too impressed. They knock Harley out, we make fun of Bane some more and then we’re back with Ivy and Kite-Man.

They fly (yes, fly) to Ivy’s apartment and while Ivy grabs the antidote’s, Kite-Man, who thought the whole thing was a date, decides to, uh… disrobe and wait for Ivy in her bed. Hey, it’s not all bad, it’s not like he’s completely naked. He left his mask on! Ivy clears things up though and we pick up at the party, where Harley’s been tied to a chair and is being walked around the room on it.

Penguin’s kid is put in charge of killing Harley and, in what is probably my favorite scene of the episode, Harley psychs him out by making fun of him. She calls him out for lying about a sexual milestone in front of all of his friends, family and the Legion of Doom.

Ivy and Kite-man, while flying back to the party, have a talk about how what he did was inappropriate and creepy. He tries to fix it with a weird apology and he and Ivy share a tender-ish moment as they soar above the park. It’s thanks to being up in the air that Ivy can see that Harley needs some help. She drops in, Harley frees herself and Joker taunts her, claiming she’s still a sidekick and nothing more.

The trio, because of course, Kite-Man joins them, ends up having to fight several of Gotham’s biggest villains to escape alive. The fight is pure joy to watch, Harley and Ivy teaming up to fight Scarecrow and Two-Face isn’t something I ever thought I’d see in an animated series. What saves Ivy and Harley in the end though is Harley questioning why everyone lets Joker bully and undermine them.

The episode ends with Harley reaffirming she wants to get into the Legion and with Ivy having to kiss all the teenagers to turn them back from half-tree people.

All-in-all this was another fantastic outing from one of my favorite new DC shows. It’s genuinely funny, has some really excellent voice work and the way they portray all the Gotham villains is nothing short of hilarious. It’s strange that this episode mixes what seems to be a Saturday morning cartoon lesson with its crude R-rated humor. I also love the way they seem to be slowly taking Joker’s power away by revealing him to be the emotionally abusive guy he really is.

I mean, what does it tell you when a show that’s literally about supervillains still portrays the abusive boyfriend as truly evil? Not to mention they call him out on his big, bad bully behavior. This show has some strong messages and I love the subtle, effective way they’re handling it.

Harley and Ivy’s relationship is a joy to watch develop too. So far there haven’t been many hints that a romance is on its way. I think that’s probably the way to go, for now. The entire message of Harley breaking off from the Joker to find herself would be undermined by throwing her directly into a new relationship. Then again, I’d really love to see these two together. That’s just one guy’s opinion though.

A High Bar sets a, well, high bar and if each episode is going to be this fun then I think DC has another great original show on their hands.

Harley Quinn
CR: DC/Warner Bros

What about you guys though? Did you enjoy the episode as much as me or is Harley Quinn just not doing it for ya? Would you rather the show rush Ivy and Harley’s relationship or are you content with the slow burn they seem to be going for? Also, how weird is it hearing Penny from the Big Bang Theory drop F-bombs and stuff?

You can catch Harley Quinn every Friday on the DC Universe service, or, if you’re in Canada you can catch the Harley Quinn premiere on Sunday, December 8th on Adult Swim.

Do you want more DC content? Check out the latest trailer for the upcoming season of ‘Legends Of Tomorrow’ here.

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