When we talk about Batman and the Joker, one thing people love to bring up is that both of them are strictly human. And yet, we treat them almost like avatars of justice and chaos at the same time. That’s especially the case with the Joker. We see Batman during his downtime in the Batcave or pretending to be Bruce Wayne, but we never see the Joker when he’s not being the Joker. He’s less his own character than he is a mirror to hold up to Batman. Does Joker ever just go for a walk to clear his head? Does he have a favorite food? It almost seems like the Joker himself is aware of this in this week’s episode. Spoilers follow for Harley Quinn Season 2, Episode 11, “A Fight Worth Fighting For.”
“A Fight Worth Fighting For”
Everything is weird in Gotham. Dr. Psycho is in charge of a swarm of Parademons. The Riddler is his sidekick. Harley’s a hero and Poison Ivy is trying on wedding dresses. Oh, and Harley is willingly pulling the Joker out of his amnesiac nice guy shell.
Joker remembers everything–his previous life as a criminal and his six-month stint as a milquetoast barback come flashing back to him. Harley, meanwhile, isn’t taking any of his crap, and smacks him when he starts up his maniacal laughter. Harley and Mista J are unquestionably no more. This would normally be the moment when Joker betrays Harley, but she’s smart and she’s no longer the naive person she once was. Without worrying too much about how she got it in there, Harley has implanted a bomb in the base of Joker’s skull. In other words, she just Suicide Squaded her ex-boyfriend.
Batman, meanwhile, is back on his feet. He spots Harley and the Joker and gets the wrong idea, but not before making a few choice cracks about Batman coming back.
What is Love?
Joker’s first run at getting the book back goes poorly, and it ends up in the hands of a passing Parademon, forcing them to head into the belly of the beast where, weirdly, the two exes have a pretty good conversation about relationships. It seems like not only is Joker done pursuing Harley, but Joker talks fondly of Bethany, making Harley flash back to her times with Ivy. The two end up fighting a bunch of Parademons, and it’s pretty badass. It makes you wonder what the two could’ve been like without the twisted, abusive romance that two shared.
Afterward, Batman quickly captures the two. Harley lays out the narrative for him, and they end up back at Bethany’s home once Joker realized she brought them the wrong book. This time, Joker actually apologizes to Bethany, and you can almost start to imagine Joker having downtime and being an actual person. He even tells her that he loves her. It seems genuine. And then, against all odds the Joker and Harley Quinn manage to free the Justice League. Joker, of all people, encourages Harley to go after Ivy.
It’s so inverse to my expectations of the character, but for this version of him, it works. There’s no delusion that this Joker is going to settle down, per se, but it does seem like his love is genuine, and that he wants Harley to be happy thanks to his time as a normie, which gave him the chance to taste a normal life.
No, seriously, what is love?
While all this is happening, Ivy is prepping for her wedding as she tries to deny her growing feelings for Harley. She has her ears plugged and her eyes closed as she tries to ignore the insanity outside while she preps for her wedding. The real world invades over and over as parademons literally crash her fondue tasting and ruin a $15,000 dress, finally forcing her to confront Dr. Psycho… who easily takes control of her mind.
The tables have turned this week, with Harley being the person who is on the ball and taking control of her life while Ivy runs like crazy and has it backfire.
The flip in characters is fun here because the show has been working up to it. Harley acknowledged that she needed to take charge of her life and then worked toward it, while Ivy began to settle for Kite Man. Then, when they were stuck in Bane’s prison pit, Ivy opened up emotionally and got a shock when she kissed Harley. The shock scared her, but it lit Harley on fire. Harley planned–not her strong suit–a killer bachelorette party for her friend, and then wrangled the Joker to save the city.
Now, Harley will have to be the one to save Ivy, and I have a feeling that’s going to shake Ivy hard.