Thursday, July 28, 2022

REVIEW: 'Harley Quinn' - Teamwork Proves Difficult When Ivy and Nightwing Take on New Roles in 'There's No Ivy in Team'

HBO Max's Harley Quinn - Episode 3.02 "There's No Ivy in Team"

After a heist gone wrong, Harley takes the crew to an escape room to foster camaraderie and sharpen Ivy's leadership skills.

"There's No Ivy in Team" was written by Adam Stein and directed by Joonki Park

Harley looks for a team-building exercise to help Ivy. It's not because she can't work as part of a team. It's because she doesn't know how to lead a team. The crew stages a heist at the history museum to steal a preserved mosquito from the jurassic era. It's all part of Ivy's elaborate plan to awaken the plants that have long been buried underneath the Earth. She needs to restore Gotham to its former glory. She has the presentation to show what she hopes to achieve one day. The team is excited to help her in this endeavor because it's what Harley is so pumped about. She has naturally been the leader of this crew. Clayface and King Shark basically do whatever she says. They have their own agency as well. However, they work best as the supporting characters for the wildest ambitions of a criminal mastermind. Of course, almost all of Harley's schemes have gone awry somehow. It's actually impressive that Ivy's plan is even more chaotic than usual. That's startling. It has to be noted in the field when the crew is still under fire by the security guards. It's so easy to write off Clayface's elaborate backstories for his characters. And yet, his insight into the human condition resonates with a world where so many lives are seen as non-consequential. That energy still radiates throughout the proceedings. Plenty of characters die in order to establish the severe threats of every scenario. Clayface still has a point in striving for more humanity. Ivy prided herself on thinking of every possibility. And yet, she couldn't account for the human error or the ways in which her team will react. She has worked alongside them for awhile now. She understands their strengths and weaknesses. However, she is still mostly focused on herself and what she can do to achieve her goal. She retrieves the artifact while the rest of the crew is left behind not really doing anything. Moreover, her science doesn't pan out. She made a mistake. She is incredibly defeated and depressed afterwards. She can't achieve world dominance if she can't figure this out. She has to be alone in order to do so. Harley rarely gives her that opportunity. She wants to hype Ivy up all the time. It can be insufferable. It's not the energy that best applies to every situation. Harley behaves that way because she knows what Ivy can do. She deserves to be praised just as much as any other villain. She is brilliant. She will figure all of this out. Harley trusts Ivy in that way. Ivy doesn't have confidence in herself. She's then annoyed when Harley tries to prove her point in an elaborate way. The escape room is lame. However, it inspires so much comedy because of how serious everyone has to take it given the Riddler's enhancements. Even then, a powerful lesson is learned about how failure can often lead to the rousing victories everyone is seemingly counting on.

Harley's crew isn't the only one adjusting to a new team dynamic. Nightwing returns to Gotham to join the Bat family once more. Things have changed since he left to make his own career as a solo vigilante. Alfred is even going out into the field as a masked hero. Nightwing has returned home because he failed. He wants to save himself from embarrassment by proving to the rest of the team his own dominance. They want very little to do with him. He's still welcome and taken out on missions. The escape room is still seen as a way to fix these issues. As such, it's fitting when Ivy and Nightwing get paired together to solve the fateful clue. That's all that has to be done to escape the danger the Riddler has placed these characters in. He doesn't celebrate their victory. He wanted them to die at his hands. Nightwing is even willing to accept that fate. He places so much pressure on himself to be the best. Of course, it's all a projection of what he thinks he has to do in order to prevail in this life. He has to be dark, brooding and serious at all times. That's funny because of how out of place it is in comparison to the rest of the ensemble. He is arrogant and out to prove something. Instead, he falls apart and gives Ivy the inspiration for how to prevail against the puzzle. She has to lose the chess match. That reunites them with their teams. This experience brings them together even though they didn't have to rely on each other's skills in order to escape. It's all about the message. That's the most powerful thing. It's not quite as destructive as the new formula Ivy tests on the plants below the abandoned mall. In fact, the place blows up before Bane has the opportunity to do just that. This episode treats that location as a place the characters have outgrown. They have to evolve to the next level of villainy in Gotham. This location is treated with reckless abandon. Harley crashes through the wall which creates a convenient opening for Bane. And then, Ivy's experiments lead to its explosion. It prevents Bane from achieving the satisfaction he wants. He continues to believe his well-being is connected to the chaos he causes. He is only now starting to wonder if he should look elsewhere for his satisfaction. His recent purchases suggest he's depressed. He might have to explore that possibility instead of taking out his anger on others. That's such a foreign concept that works perfectly in this situation. Bane has always been the ultimate punchline. No one takes him seriously. It's funny to see how much he wants to understand himself and be respected while never quite achieving that dignity. The new teams at least figure out how to work together. They still must face the occasional awkward moment. Not everything is perfect. They can at least trust each other to have their backs no matter what chaos lurks as a result of their actions moving forward.