If you lived in the world of Dark Knight Rises, Bane would be a terrifying person. He’s a genius terrorist who does what Ra’s Al Ghul couldn’t and even defeats Batman. But he’s remembered more for the strange filter put on his voice by his breathing mask. An intimidating, dangerous man became a meme thanks to his strained, chortling voice speaking over-the-top lines about being molded by the darkness and such. Rather than shying away from that, Harley Quinn dives into it headfirst. Spoilers follow for DC Universe’s Harley Quinn Season 2, Episode 6, “There’s No Place to Go But Down.”
“There’s No Place to Go But Down”
The Bane of the comics is one of Batman’s most fearsome villains. The Bane of Harley Quinn is really just a nice guy who wants everyone to get along, as long as they get along his way. He’s a silly character prone to bursts of terrifying violence, such as when he made Batman’s legs point the wrong way a couple of weeks ago, but this bane doesn’t seem to take pleasure in that.
When we meet him this week, he’s presiding over Harley’s trial. Harley Quinn seems to be pulling what it likes from various parts of Batman lore, and the Christopher Nolan movies seem to be a favorite this season. The same way that Dr. Jonathan Crane presided over a kangaroo court in post-Bane Gotham in The Dark Knight Rises, Bane presides over one in a post-Joker Gotham.
Because this is a full-fat Batman world, though, we’re not limited to the few characters Nolan had time to introduce, and Man-Bat is assigned as Harley’s defense lawyer. Ivy stands by Harley instead of throwing her under the metaphorical bus despite Harley’s protestations. the two end up not in Arkham, but in Bane’s prison, the giant pit that Two-Face gave him at the end of the previous episode.
Once they hit the padded bottom, they find a prison much different from the pit that Bruce Wayne convalesced in during DKR. Bane is a firm believer in rehabilitation over punishment. “While I was born into the darkness, here at Peñadoro North, we bring people into the light!”
Killer Croc paints; Victor Zsasz talks about his feelings in therapy. In other words, Bane has almost effortlessly done what neither Arkham nor Blackgate could do. I love the way the show paints these characters in such silly ways and then lets out little hints that the characters are brilliant, terrifically strong, skilled, etc.
Harley and Ivy plan an escape that hinges on Harley starting a riot with offensive jokes. Things go equal parts sideways and according to plan when Ivy has to stand in for her and ends up telling a heartfelt story that does the same thing.
Batgirl & Police Dad
While all this is going on, Batgirl is working with a very drunk Commissioner Gordon, who has no idea that Batgirl is his daughter. After a botched mission, Barbara confronts Jim while he squirts mayo into his whiskey. Eventually, circumstances force Barbara to reveal to her father that she and Batgirl at one and the same, and that ultimately he inspired her to fight for justice. Jim gets the gumption to sober up and what results is a bloody shootout at Gotham PD that leaves the Two-Face gang dead and Two-Face himself in jail.
Harley and Ivy escape the pit and, in the final moments of the episode, land just outside its rim, where they share a kiss. And then look at each other like, “what the heck just happened?”
That was fast.
All told, this is a fairly simple episode, but there are still a couple of things that stand out about it. Both Bane’s prison and Jim’s journey are about rehabilitation. I dig the mix of this silly version of Bane and his serious, dark origins, which combine to make a character believably interested in helping his fellow criminals become their best selves. The other thing is that kiss. I’m not sure how I feel about it.
Ivy and Harley are endgame, there’s no question about that, but the show has so far done the work of not just pairing Ivy with Kite Man (Hell Yeah), but having her go through an emotional journey to let herself be happy. Right now, I don’t believe that this Harley and this Ivy are ready to go to smoochtown. I have no doubt that the show can get them there, but this is a surprising place to start from. And with all the work the show has done to turn Kite Man into an actual character instead of a catchphrase, I’m actually kind of sad for him.