Harley Quinn is a show about growth. It’s the story of Harley’s transformation from the Joker’s gun moll into something of her own creation. It’s Harley’s new origin story. As much as this show is about hijinks (and so high are those jinks!), it never forgets that Harley needs to be slowly growing and changing. This week, incredibly, it’s none other than the Joker that helps her grow. Spoilers follow for Harley Quinn Season 2, Episode 10, “Dye Hard.”
Where last week was split between Ivy and Kite Man’s pre-nuptial celebrations, this week is pretty focused. There are a few different storylines, but they all feed into the same endpoint.
At the center of the story is, as usual, Harley. She’s hot off Ivy’s pained rejection and looking to have fun. When she finds out that King Shark and Clayface both have plans, she ends up in the bar at the top of Wayne Tower by herself, where who but the amnesiac Joker should be the bartender. Harley is reticent to talk to this person who seems to be entirely reformed, but her plans are interrupted when a group of balaclava-clad hoods shows up to take the place hostage. The two end up hand-cuffed to each other.
They end up crawling through the vents and fighting the terroris–oh, DYE HARD like the movie, I get it.
Bitter little man
Meanwhile, Dr. Psycho is moving his stuff out of Harley’s mall base. The little dude is pissed off that Harley didn’t give him more power and credit. Commissioner Gordon gets a present from Batman and ends up sitting in the co-pilot seat of the unmanned Batwing so that he can press the “Deploy Net” button when the plane auto-targets the para-demons still flying around Gotham. Oh right, they didn’t suddenly go away when Harley snapped the staff she got from Granny Goodness.
The three storylines convene when Dr. Psycho confronts Harley on the roof of Wayne Tower. Gordon lands the Batwing, and Clayface and King Shark show up to briefly fight for her. There’s actually some really cool action with Clayface fighting enemies here that you’d normally never get to see from the character in other media. Before long, though, Dr. Psycho takes control of Harley’s friends, minus Cy Borgman, who has a metal plate in his head (I mean, he’s a cyborg.). It’s also worth noting that an extremely jacked Riddler is fighting alongside Dr. Psycho by this point, too. Harley, Commissioner Gordon, and Cy defeat Psycho long enough to get away, but it’s clear that he’s more than she can handle.
He’s a good listener
Throughout the episode, the Joker–who I’m calling Mr. NiceJ–has been having “episodes” where he laughs harder than he can handle, seeming like he’s on the edge of breaking. He mentions having dreams that are, in reality, Joker’s memories. In between these, this genuinely nice and extremely boring Joker acts as a sounding board for Harley, showing real interest in her concerns.
Harley pours her heart out to him, explaining that the fact that Ivy can’t trust her is keeping Ivy from admitting she loves her; the potential for hurt is just too great. And for this Harley, that means that she has to prove that she can be trusted. That means doing the right thing and cleaning up her own messes. When Mr. NiceJ happens to mention a weird dream about the Justice League being trapped in a magical book, Harley sighs in resignation and asks Gordon, now piloting the Batwing himself, to drop them off somewhere. They end up at Ace Chemicals, which for some reason just keeps vats of the chemical that can transform anyone into a bleached maniac open to the air. I feel like Gotham could stand to regulate its industrial areas a little more heavily.
No more Mr. NiceJ
Harley ends up pushing Joker into the vat. His memories could help her save the city and clean up her mess, and it’s pretty obvious that he was going to be a danger to his girlfriend and her kids when, in self-defense, he stabs a guy in the eye and doesn’t remember it. Harley is consciously doing the right thing in this case, and, in fact, throughout the episode. Even Commissioner Gordon has to admit she’s contributing to the greater good right now and smartly redirects his focus on the real threat.
Harley has transformed in the comics from a sidekick to a villain to the true embodiment of Chaotic Neutral, and the show is doing a great job of condensing that into watchable episodes with a believable arc for the character. Harley isn’t a good guy or a bad guy–she likes doing what she wants. And right now, she wants to try to fix things.
The writing for Harley has been so good throughout this show. When she kicks the poor doomed man into the chemical vat and says “See you soon, Mista J,” it hits like a ton of bricks.