Friday, December 13, 2019

REVIEW: 'Harley Quinn' - Harley Struggles to Recruit a Crew Who Will Loyally Follow Her in 'So You Need a Crew?'

DC Universe's Harley Quinn - Episode 1.03 "So You Need a Crew?"

Realizing that she needs a crew to pull off legit heists that will attract the Legion of Doom's attention, Harley attempts to recruit disgraced Wonder Woman villain, Dr. Psycho, and Clayface, Gotham's shapeshifting thespian extraordinaire.

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.

"So You Need a Crew?" was written by Jess Dweck and directed by Cecilia Aranovich Hamilton

What does it mean to be a female supervillain? This episode has an in-depth conversation about feminism and what is acceptable behavior. Crowds of people are willing to cheer on a battle between Wonder Woman and Dr. Psycho. However, the moment that Dr. Psycho refers to her in a demeaning four-letter word that starts with c the crowd turns against him. It's a world the show itself bleeps out to showcase the severity of it. The crowd suddenly views him as a misogynist. That mentality should have been applied a whole lot sooner. In fact, so much villainy in the world has its roots in discrimination and the violent hatred that extends from that. As such, it's thrilling to explore what would propel a woman onto this same path. Harley Quinn may have simple goals. She may strive for her own place within the Legion of Doom. Here though, she just wants a highway named after her. Using a nuclear bomb as leverage is all it takes to achieve that goal as well. She believes that she needs to have a crew in order to be successful in this profession though. She is foiled over and over again by the Joker not because he is more physically capable and smarter than her but because he has henchmen who are willing to do whatever he wants. In fact, it may be easier for men to recruit people to work for them in the world. That is just a sobering fact. People are willing to jump through a mysterious hole that likely plunges them to their deaths instead of following Harley into her criminal endeavors. She may lack the vision to properly motivate people. However, she does come across as a reasonable alternative for people prone to embracing supervillain antics. This episode plays up the aspect that men as supervillains are given opportunities over and over again even if they fail. Meanwhile, women as supervillains have to be perfect right away otherwise the public will turn their focus elsewhere. There are certainly numerous options in Gotham for where the average citizen could be focusing their attention. In fact, it may seem like the entire city has delved into chaos as a result of supervillains. That should create ample opportunities for women to also strike out on their own in chase of the same pursuits. Wonder Woman is certainly lifted up on the same playing field as Batman and Superman. Harley Quinn feels belittled and broken down because no one takes her seriously. The world either sees her as the Joker's girlfriend or a villain without a crew. She must get one of those in order to make additional strives. She is willing to accept anyone even the worst humanity may have to offer. This may be the only work Dr. Psycho can find at the moment. That too highlights how Harley Quinn is willing to give him another chance despite continually proving himself to be a controlling misogynist. That is who he is. No matter how long he plays second fiddle to a woman that may forever be the case. Meanwhile, Clayface believes strongly in his acting talents but is a little too susceptible to suggestion when someone critiques his performances. This is the team Harley can afford at the moment. It's the opportunity given to her. She strikes out on her own and may do enough to buck the narrative against supervillain women in general. She hears the Queen of Fables' story and hopes to take the right lessons from it. She may already have. The Queen of Fables has disdain for the world because she was confined to the tax code when her male counterparts were sent to Arkham Asylym where they could easily break free. Harley Quinn and Poison Ivy were sent to Arkham at the start of the series. They were given the ability to break free of that confinement to start their careers as villains again. That may come across as progress. Or it could highlight issues of white feminism. White woman have an easier time making societal improvements than women of color - which includes the Queen of Fables. It's a fascinating dynamic and one the show is ambitious to explore in the early going. That ambition is commended. The execution moving forward will showcase just how serious the show is in pursuing this societal commentary while advancing a colorful and violent tale of villainy.