Harley Quinn 02×11 “A Fight Worth Fighting For” (Review)

Spoilers Ahead

Harley Quinn and the Joker Team Up in a Fantastic Episode Where Everything Comes Full Circle

For the whole of this season, Gotham City has been in a dire state and literally up in flames. Ever since Harley brought the parademon hoard to Gotham, things have managed to get even worst. Last week’s episode was a return to form seeing Dr. Psycho, now separated from Harley’s crew, team up with the Riddler. After seizing a helmet which amplified his mind control powers, Psycho did what Harley Quinn could not: take control of the parademons in order to take over the city.

Psycho’s attack had dreadful ramifications. Sy sacrificed himself in a heartfelt moment to allow Harley to escape. However, that was not all. Even worse, left with no other option, Harley Quinn was forced to bring back the Joker.

The Joker Lends a Helping Hand

After the events of Season 1, Joker was left in a comatose state. This season saw him eventually recover to become sane. In the last episode, the sane Joker worked as a bartender and was the only person there to offer advice to Harley. Even with the parademons causing chaos, there was no Justice League on hand to help. Due to events in the previous season, the Justice League ended up trapped in The Book of Fables. The only person who knows the location of the book is the Joker. In a poetic reversal of her own origin story, Harley brought the Joker, the insane version, back by pushing him into the acid bath.

This episode picks up right where we left off with a reinvigorated Joker now emerging from the bath. However, the latest episode casts the Joker in a slightly different light. While Joker was living a normal life, he formed attachments including a girlfriend and family of his own. Even now, as a murderous psychopath, the Joker still cares about those people. The show continues to surprise viewers by offering different takes on characters like Jim Gordon with his depression. Furthermore, it is great to see a different side to the Joker which is not just played for laughs but actually makes the character more interesting beyond merely being an agent of chaos. A more emotional side to the Joker does not feel forced at all since his fierce hearted girlfriend seems like a perfect match. In contrast to other characters, Joker’s character is not just exaggerated but is instead taken in a different direction while the show still retains his core characteristics.

The task at hand is finding The Book of Fables. Harley and the Joker teaming up makes for some humorous interactions as they reflect on all sorts of things. Their past relationship, Joker’s new girlfriend, Ivy’s rejection of Harley are all up for discussion. While the episode casts the Joker in a slightly different light, it is wise not to forget the events of last season. Them teaming up does not mean that everything is in the past. Joker’s abuse and him murdering Ivy should not be forgotten. This is why it was clearly a painful decision for Harley to bring the Joker back. Not everything is smiles and laughter as they still bicker over their past experiences. United by a common goal to save Gotham City from the parademons, Harley and the Joker struggle through in their quest to find The Book of Fables.

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The Search for The Book of Fables

The search for The Book of Fables and the inevitable rescue of the Justice League is where everything comes full circle. The whole Justice League plot ties back to Season 1 just showing how carefully weaved together this story is. The writers have clearly taken pains to connect everything together in order to achieve a cohesive, encompassing narrative. Cameos from Justice League members in this episode including Superman and the Flash are just the cherries of top and are sure to delight DC fans. This episode even brings Batman back into action. Batman has been out of action for most of the season instead trusting Gordon and Batgirl to police the city. The sighting of Joker and Harley Quinn calls him back to the front line. Once again, everything feels so methodically constructed as Joker’s reappearance has opened all sorts of doors in these final few episodes.

One disappointing thing to come out of all this is Batgirl or rather her absence. Batgirl was earlier touted as Gotham’s new protector yet she has been absent in the last few episodes with Gordon and now Batman doing most of the hard work. Since the show took pains to set up her character, it is a real shame that it has not delivered in showcasing her talents and vigilante role. As far as we know, Batgirl has done nothing to combat the parademon threat and it really feels like a letdown. That is probably what comes of having a show with so many characters; it is inevitable that one will be ignored to service the overall plot. A similar criticism could be levied at previous episodes of the show which largely ignored the characters in the crew in favour of focusing on Harley and Ivy.

Dr. Psycho’s Plans Continued

While the parademon storyline from last episode felt worn out, this episode has enough variety to keep fans hooked. Dr. Psycho truly becomes the boss of the whole operation as he commands the parademon forces from Harley’s lair. Darkseid even makes another fantastic appearance in this episode as he agrees to a deal with Psycho. Harley’s head is on the line as Darkseid wants revenge for her betrayal. Even action sequences involving the parademons manage to keep the viewer’s attention. Things do not get out of hand but instead, the scenes pack a punch due to the interactions between Harley and the Joker. There is not just bland action like in previous episodes. The plot keeps moving along never indulging too much in action sequences involving the parademons. With Psycho in charge, Harley is in terrible danger. Even worse, Psycho has one last card to play. That is Ivy.

What’s Up With Ivy?

Ever since the bachelorette party, Ivy has been pretty much estranged from Harley. Even after the pair hooked up, a romantic relationship was not on the table as Ivy rejected Harley instead choosing Kite Man. The show certainly has a dilemma as it surely has to choose between a relationship with Kite Man, which has been set up really well throughout the show, and a relationship with Harley which has comic book precedent and which many fans are asking for. The show will likely choose the latter relationship and it is thus necessary that the writers handle the breakup well. For now, however, Ivy seems firmly committed to Kite Man as she attempts to rush the wedding along. This is probably to make sure that she does not change her mind since she desperately wants to be married to Kite Man but she cannot control her inner desires concerning Harley for too long. Whatever the reason for Ivy’s actions, the wedding planning is an excellent touch in this episode as the show continues to excel in regard to the little things.

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The Harley Quinn show always nails focusing on ordinary situations with a twist. The twist here is the parademons causing chaos and thus disrupting the planning. This is a nice tie in to the current events. It makes for some humorous interactions between the couple and their wedding planner who at one point gets snatched by a parademon. This disruption connects Ivy to the ongoing situation causing her to go to Psycho. She asks him to restrain parademons for the sake of her wedding with Kite Man. Of course, Psycho is not willing to oblige and, fitting with his character, he views Ivy as a potential tool to use against Harley. Unfortunately, mind-controlling is once again another worn-out plot device that feels weak and is merely an excuse to bring Ivy back into the fold. It does set up the remaining two episodes and more interactions between Harley and Ivy but it would have been better to have done it in a less forced way which did not involve taking Ivy’s agency away.

Conclusion

While not without its flaws, this latest episode is a fantastic one that sees everything come full circle as the show prepares for the last two episodes of the season. There is plenty here to delight fans including a reinvigorated insane Joker, Batman back in action, cameo appearances, and much more. The story and set up for the next episode are perhaps too formulaic at times; however, that is also a pro since the show picks up plot threads from last season to form a perfectly cohesive narrative. The episode does not deliver on everything especially Batgirl yet not a single moment is wasted. For now, the Harley Quinn show is going full speed ahead instead to wrap up the season in the next two episodes.

Pros:

  • Joker
  • Batman is back
  • Justice League cameo appearances
  • Everything comes full circle
  • Dr. Psycho negotiates with Darkseid
  • Wedding planning

Cons:

  • No Batgirl
  • Ivy is brought into the chaos by mind control
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