One of the biggest gripes people have with the Star Wars prequels is Anakin’s unconvincing turn to the dark side of the Force. The subsequent animated series’ helped flesh it out, but the movies on their own make the turn look sudden and childish. Today, we’re talking about a different Darkseid and a much more convincing turn. Spoilers follow for Harley Quinn Season 2, Episode 12, “Lovers’ Quarrel.”
Last week gave us one of the strangest and most compelling takes on the Joker I can remember ever seeing in a Batman-adjacent story, and ended with the Clown Prince and his one-time girlfriend letting the Justice League out of the Book of Fables. Things start popping off quickly and we get a truly action-packed episode.
Ivy attacks under Dr. Psycho’s control and Kite Man swoops in, literally, to rescue Harley and explain the situation. While they talk, the Justice League jumps into action, and it’s basically perfect. Superman is corny and massively powerful. Batman is a silent acrobat, Wonder Woman is badass. Until she assumes Superman can speak Parademon just because he’s an alien. Yikes.
At the same time, Dr. Psycho is mentally torturing King Shark and Clayface when Darkseid shows up to check in on his new protege. Michael Ironside is voicing Darkseid, as he has many times before, though this week his voice comes through particularly well, and it’s impossible to miss his voice once you know it. Similarly, Jim Rash (Dean Pelton on Community) comes through as Riddler this week, too.
When Dr. Psycho sends King Shark and Clayface after the Justice League, things get really good. Clayface and Poison Ivy get particularly good attention this week as the show goes out of the way to show off their powers. Clayface tries to absorb Wonder Woman at one point. He did this in the comics, too, and it worked for a while because Wonder Woman herself is a clay construct, though the show doesn’t have time for that. I still think that moment feels like a reference, though. Once the League corners Ivy, she users her love potion on them, and things nearly get This Ain’t Justice League XXX for a moment before Ivy absconds with Harley for a final showdown.
Harley and Ivy fight it out, and I’m impressed once again with how the show portrays Harley as competent and skilled. She dodges Ivy proficiently and they fight on equal terms–something I’d expect of best friends. Harley lays an intense kiss on Ivy in a moment of desperation and it works, but not how she planned. The two get the upper hand on Dr. Psycho and he responds by broadcasting to the whole of Gotham one of the memories he pulled from Ivy’s head–her tryst with Harley.
Not a villain, not yet a hero
This episode marks a true turning point for Harley. She admits aloud that she’s not only not a villain anymore, but that she might not even qualify as a bad guy. She freed superheroes to save her true love. Each episode has been a step in this direction and when she says these things aloud, it feels like the right time. Darkseid might not be the person I’d tell all this to, but Harley’s not one to let common sense stop her in most circumstances. The show maintains it’s fun, silly atmosphere–Batman tries to use Shark Repellent on King Shark, for example–while still giving us genuine takes on these characters and growing them in meaningful ways.
There’s one episode left of the season, but this one feels action-packed enough to work as a finale on its own. But Harley is character-driven enough that focusing on the fallout of Dr. Psycho’s desperate revenge is going to make for compelling TV, and I can’t wait to see it.