Harley Quinn 02×07 “There’s No Place to Go but Down” (Review)

Spoilers Ahead

Everything Comes to Pass in This Fan-Pleasing Episode which Builds Jim Gordon Back Up

Harley and Ivy Under Arrest

So far this season, Harley Quinn and her crew have been taking on the villains of New Gotham. Harley has gone from one conquest to the next taking down everyone standing in her way. Slaughter and chaos ensued. Bane and Two-Face are now the only Injustice League members left standing. The last episode which focused on Harley’s past ended with Harley and Ivy in the hands of Two-Face. In a similar vein to classic comic book stories like Dark Victory, Two-Face has gone back to his old ways as Harvey Dent now enforcing the law as self-proclaimed DA. Unlike Dent, Two-Face is a criminal of Gotham dealing out a perverse sense of justice as he puts his enemies, Harley Quinn, and Poison Ivy on trial in this episode.

The Trial

The show hits a home run in the trial drawing on elements from the DC mythos. Man-Bat features as Harley’s lawyer and Bane presides as judge. Like in The Dark Knight Rises, the villains have set up their own court though this time the writers use it for more comedic purposes without the dramatism. Man-Bat’s protests against the accusations are humorous since no one can understand what he is saying. Bane is once again insecure and unsure about what to do letting himself be guided by Two-Face. The show does so well at mocking basically everyone and reducing established characters to caricature. When handled correctly, the caricatures can be very funny but never moving beyond them can get frustrating. Fortunately, later parts of this episode take pains to move beyond those caricatures and develop Bane’s and Gordon’s characters. 

Bane Becomes a Threat

As teased in a previous episode, Bane’s pit has finally arrived in the show. Bane’s backstory and his escape from the pit have become immortalised in the DC mythos. This episode finds Bane at home in the pit and at his most authoritative and perhaps frightening. Bane is finally a force to be reckoned with in his own right as he runs a pseudo jail in the pit keeping inmates including Harley and Ivy. Bane runs his prison like Big Brother calling Harley out for not preparing her bed correctly and as punishment, he bans her from the talent show.

The episode even sees Bane use his venom to bulk up and try to prevent Harley and Ivy from escaping with force. This is more like the Bane of the comic books although he still has his perfect little oddities here such as bed management and his zeal for activities for the inmates. Bane’s fate looks dire by the end of the episode but over the episodes, he has gradually become one of the best characters of the show and he has developed from the butt of jokes into a force to be reckoned with. 

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Escaping From the Pit

As for Harley and Ivy, escape from the pit seems like an insurmountable task even for them. That is until they find out about the talent show and George Lopez’s chopper. With Harley now banned by Bane, Ivy is forced to stand in her place in the talent show.

Ivy’s characterisation has always been the strength of the show. The writers have continued to give Ivy’s character depth instead of just treating her as a mad eco-terrorist. As seen in last week’s episode, Ivy started out pretty much isolated from everyone else and was in an “emotional pit of her own”. Ivy had no real friends and she acted out at anyone who approached her including Harley when she was a psychiatrist in Arkham Asylum. Harley was the first one to show real compassion towards Ivy, so a friendship developed between the two. The whole series has seen Ivy become more confident and start to really get her life back on track by escaping her “emotional pit”. 

In this episode, Ivy initially starts her stand-up routine by mocking other villains including Killer Croc and Victor Zsasz but then feeling hopeless she starts to talk about her life and how she has grown as a person. Ivy talks about now losing everything she worked so hard for proving just why she is the most relatable character of the show.

The Relationship Between Harley and Ivy

Ivy has come so far as a character, and so has Harley in her relationship with Ivy. Harley has gone from obsessing about the Joker to developing a real friendship with Ivy where they are equals. This episode sees Harley’s arc reaches a crucial point since she is willing to sacrifice herself for Ivy in the trial and in the pit. Harley is willing to fall into the flames to save her friend and give her a good future. Their friendship is so strong that Ivy comes back to save Harley.

The episode teases a potential romance between the two and this is something that fans have wanted for a while. On the other hand, it will be heartbreaking to see the relationship between Ivy and Kite-Man fall apart. Perhaps it would have been better to end that relationship before she cheated on Kite-Man with Harley especially since Ivy has just been talking about missing him. A romantic relationship between Harley and Ivy has certainly been earned but this kiss may not the best way to start it. 

The Redemption of Jim Gordon

During the show, Jim Gordon has been treated as a shadow of his former self and as a butt of jokes. Over the course of Season 2, Gordon has become even worse abandoning all hope and turning to drink. In this episode, however, Jim Gordon gets his triumphant redemption becoming “a damn good cop” once again. At the start though, Gordon is a struggling alcoholic frustrated about being forced to work with Batgirl. He panics when confronted by rats and makes excuses when Batgirl finds his flask. Gordon’s depression may have been played off for jokes in previous episodes but this one rightly treats it seriously. 

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The episode shows us a family dinner between Barbara and Gordon as she pleads with him to stop drinking to no avail. Gordon’s downward spiral is inherently tragic and affects the people closest to him including his daughter. This is no laughing matter. Jim Gordon used to stand for something but now look at what he has become. Although the episode zooms in on the tragedy, the time has come to build Jim Gordon back up again.

Batgirl features prominently in the episode and she serves as the perfect catalyst. As the new vigilante in town, Batgirl has kept the streets safe whilst operating in a different way to Batman – She is a quirky, technologically avid, and passionate youth. Whatever differences they may have had working alongside each other, Gordon, after learning Batgirl’s true identity, is inspired by his daughter’s heroics. The show, fortunately, sidesteps any parental disapproval and finally treats Gordon as a good father proud of who his daughter has become. 

With his hope renewed, Gordon goes out all guns blazing to take back the police station from Two-Face. The result is a triumphant, bloody slaughter. Gordon’s character development may seem slightly rushed but it is about time that the writers moved away from merely treating him as a joke. Gordon’s redemption furthermore makes for some great interactions with Two-Face, his former companion, as Gordon singlehandedly takes him and his men on. Jim Gordon is back on track and is “a damn good cop”.

Conclusion

Overall, “There’s No Place to Go but Down” is a fantastic Harley Quinn episode counting among the best. The episode is a crowd-pleaser. Jim Gordon finally gets his triumphant redemption. Bane develops into a more intimidating character. The relationship between Harley and Ivy reaches a crucial point in a good way. Fan-favourite villains including Man-Bat, Victor Zsasz, Killer Croc, and more feature. What just prevents this episode from being the best yet is its lack of narrative focus compared to “Thawing Hearts”, and the rest of Harley’s crew not even appearing. “Thawing Hearts”, which centered around Mr. Freeze’s tragic story, probably still stands as the best of the season. Nevertheless, this episode does come close and sees everything fans could wish for come to pass. Any regular watcher or DC fan should be delighted with this episode in a show that keeps on delivering.

Pros:

+ The trial

+ Villain appearances

+ Bane and the pit

+ Further depth to Ivy’s character

+ Relationship between Harley and Ivy

+ Jim Gordon redeemed

+ Batgirl

Cons:

– Handling of the relationship between Ivy and Kite-Man

– Rest of Harley’s crew not included

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