Friday, December 6, 2019

REVIEW: 'Harley Quinn' - Harley Quinn and Poison Ivy Crash an Unexpected Party to Impress the Legion of Doom in 'A High Bar'

DC Universe's Harley Quinn - Episode 1.02 "A High Bar"

Determined to become one of the vaunted Legion of Doom, Harley attempts to make a big splash by crashing one of their criminal enterprises with the help of her BFF, Poison Ivy. Will she succeed, or be humiliated in the process?

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 next episode of DC Universe's Harley Quinn.

"A High Bar" was written by Jane Becker and directed by Matt Garofalo, Ben Jones II & Frank Marino

Harley Quinn aspires to be a revered and feared villain in her own right. She is tired of being seen only as the Joker's girlfriend. In the aftermath of their breakup, he has formed the public narrative around him breaking things off and still terrorizing the city. He kills Howie Mandel! Harley feels the sting of all of this. She has such a strong friendship with Poison Ivy. However, she also wants more. The Legion of Doom may not be an enviable group to join. But Harley also sees it as her being taken seriously as a legitimate villain. As such, she constantly feels the pull into impressing them. They too may live in fear of the Joker because he is a near constant bully. The show certainly has a lot of fun with its depictions of Bane, Two-Face, Scarecrow and Penguin. It's so unusual to set all of this during Penguin's nephew's bar mitzvah. It's an unexpected setting. It's not what Harley and Poison Ivy thought a typical Legion of Doom meeting would look like. But it's mostly just a cordial invitation that showcases the solidarity of those in the villainous organization. The Joker doesn't want to be bothered by the whole thing. He is more interested in building his new lair even though he is already running into issues with building permits. He wants things to return to normal very quickly but his construction crew actually seem interested in doing things the right and responsible way. That shows how there are still good citizens in Gotham. They don't all want to cut corners in pursuit of getting rich. That may just be the impulse for some of the most dastardly villains. But again, those are the focal characters of this piece. Harley wants this attention. The Joker seems to be doing everything in reaction to her. He kills Howie because it will hurt her. He shows up at the bar mitzvah knowing that she is there trying to make an impression on the other villains. He has to remain in control. That's his sick superiority complex. He bullies people into submission. He isn't nice to his fellow villains. None of them truly respect what he is doing. They simply see him as the most dangerous threat to the city. His presence allows all of them to continue operating with their same devious intentions. They may not all be smart. Harley makes a crucial mistake here. Poison Ivy does as well even though that's less her fault. But that shows the growing pains of villainy. Harley is quick to act. She needs spectacle in order to impress the people she desperately wants to approve of her standing as a villain. She believes that breaking into the seemingly impenetrable bank vault will prove that she has what it takes to be a member of the Legion of Doom. It's a task she embarks on even though it presents as too easy. There is a reason for that. It's just a staged obstacle. It's a gift the Penguin has concocted for his nephew. Again, that showcases Harley's limitations. She is good at punching people. She makes an impression wherever she goes. She can even get into a young boy's head to make him doubt his ability to shoot her. She can manipulate a situation to her benefit. When the Legion of Doom teams up to attack her and Poison Ivy, she figures that she can earn their support simply by presenting as a better alternative to the Joker. That may not be a bad tactic at all. The conclusion of this fight is a little lackluster because the Joker just grows tired of it after the latest construction issue on the lair comes up. He would rather be there than continue propping up Harley's delusional claims on greatness. Harley has a goal now. She will set out to achieve it. Poison Ivy hopes all of this proves that she doesn't need the support of others. She can be just as powerful and strong as any of them. She doesn't need backup from the people who have already made their names as villains in Gotham. However, Harley views that as the easier way to acceptance. It may be a despicable boys club that diminishes any contributions women may have. Even the D-list villains and teenage boys are disgusting little monsters. That's what these women have to go up against on a daily basis. They constantly have to prove their abilities. Harley Quinn and Poison Ivy are quite skilled. They are allowed to make mistakes though. It's refreshing that they are given that opportunity in this show even though this episode is just a vague outline of what should be the thrust of the narrative moving forward.