Friday, November 29, 2019

REVIEW: 'Harley Quinn' - Harley Refuses to Turn on The Joker Until Poison Ivy Points Out the Obvious in 'Til Death Do Us Part'

DC Universe's Harley Quinn - Episode 1.01 "Til Death Do Us Part"

Harley Quinn is fed up being the Joker's sidekick and strikes out on her own - determined to become the criminal Queenpin of Gotham City.

In 2018, there were 495 scripted shows airing amongst the linear channels and streaming services. The way people are consuming content now is so different than it used to be. It happens according to one's own schedule. As such, there is less necessity to provide ample coverage of each specific episode in any given season from a show. Moreover, it is simply impossible to watch everything. As such, this site is making the move to shorter episodic reviews in order to cover as many shows as possible. With all of that being said, here are my thoughts on the series premiere of DC Universe's Harley Quinn.

"Til Death Do Us Part" was written by Dean Lorey, Justin Halpern & Patrick Schumacker and directed by Juan Meza-Leon

In Gotham, Harley Quinn is known as The Joker's girlfriend. She isn't an intimidating presence on her own. When she appears though, people expect the Joker to follow shortly. That's simply the pattern that has emerged. She isn't an infamous villain in her own right. She may have lethal aspirations. And yet, she too defines herself mostly by this relationship. This premiere sets out to deconstruct that notion. The Joker is the most nefarious villain Gotham has ever seen. He kills anyone who slights him or if it would simply be amusing to him. It's easy to understand how these two people could be in love with each other. And yet, it's a complete fantasy that Harley has concocted in her own head. She reads into things that simply aren't there. To the Joker, it's simply convenient to have her around because she has proven herself useful in the field. He doesn't really care about her as a person or think she's a funny and worthy criminal partner. She is just a useful distraction so that he and Batman can continue their dance. That's where his true passion lies. This premiere articulates that the Joker is more in love with Batman than Harley Quinn. That is a devastating lesson that she has to learn. She didn't get the message when the Joker let her rot in Arkham Asylum for a year. That institution has a reputation for being easy to break people out of. It's seemingly the only place for the criminals of Gotham to go though because so many of them are defined by these extreme psychological disorders. Harley used to be the doctor diagnosing the traits that led to others struggling in their lives. She has given purpose to so many people. It's harder for her to diagnose herself though. She is too close to the personal emotions. She feels that her love with the Joker is limitless. He will always do right by her. That isn't true at all. He doesn't see her as an equal. She isn't a villain he can actually be a partner with. Nor does he want to be married to her. That may only be the fantasy that Harley wants for herself. It's understandable why she chases that dream and holds onto it despite all the evidence to the contrary. This premiere breaks down why it won't work though. It has to remove that temptation completely. It would make for a rather lackluster series if Harley Quinn was constantly running around hoping to win back the Joker's love and approval. Here, it all ends with her destroying his lair. Sure, the world around her may be manipulating her to produce this inevitable conclusion. Poison Ivy and the Riddler see it as the outcome that needs to occur in order to benefit her life. Poison Ivy is the reason why they have all escaped Arkham. In fact, she is so appreciative of the work Harley did in her former career. She sees a brilliant mind who doesn't need to be confined to an abusive relationship. That's exactly what Harley and the Joker have as well. It isn't functional. That may be the point in Gotham though. It's a city of chaos and destruction. Even the heroes are damaged people. Batman may be a man of mystery but Commission Gordon is a mess. He is spiraling in his vices which may allow these dangerous individuals to continue operating. Harley thinks it's easy to find the secret lairs of the villains in this city. She does so easily. She continues to insert herself in the middle of the action. That's where she demands to be. She is just as lethal and violent as anyone else. That is impressive. She wants the Joker to see her meteoric rise in the criminal underworld. That may be the only reason why she keeps him alive at the end of this. At one point, it would have been a message of love. She wants to be validated in that way. It's just no longer her only interest. It may be painful for her along the way. However, she is on a mission now. That's thrilling to watch while also simply outrageous to see how bloody and violent the show is eager to be along the way. In a world of unstable personalities prone to quick bursts of violence, Harley Quinn may be a captivating center who goes on an epic journey in search of infamy alongside the most notable figures in Gotham.