Without constant balancing influence from each other, it seems that Harley and Ivy are losing themselves. Harley is working overtime to impress the unimpressable Nightwing, and Ivy is trending on social media–and it’s taking a toll on both of them. Spoilers follow for Harley Quinn Season 4, Episode 5, ‘Don’t Wait Up, Getting Ice Dick.’
“Don’t Wait Up, Getting Ice Dick”
Seasonal arcs of stories can often be fun and give meaning to individual episodes in an otherwise scattered season. Depending on the themes they’re trying to investigate, the arcs can drag an otherwise good show down. The Arrowverse ran into this over and over across its shows, and after 3 really good seasons of Harley Quinn, Harley and Ivy are finding this out as well.
The theme of this season seems to be that Harley and Ivy are better together than they are separate, offering balancing energy for each other. Harley gets to do enough villainy to keep her chaotic nature in check, and the ferociously independent Harley keeps Ivy from getting swept up in her own ego or lackthereof.
The problem is that, because they’re better together, keeping them separated kinda sucks.
After her remarkable showing at the moon-based villain convention, Ivy is riding high. Lex offers her his public relations team, the Four Jons, to help her capitalize on this. She’s working with three young villains doing hands-on mentoring work when the Jons begin pulling her away to do distinctly un-Ivy things–posing for photos, unveiling a statue, and signing autographs on a ghost-written book, to name a few.
Ivy has a way of getting swept up in things that prey on her ego. She went full villain on the moon to prove herself to Lex. She almost lost herself completely when she entered the Green last season. Heck, she almost married Kite Man (Hell Yeah.), a nice enough guy but a horrible match for her.
Meanwhile, Harley is working hard to not only earn the approval of the Bat Fam, but also quite literally changing herself to be a better hero. After realizing she has terrible night vision, Ivy gets surgery at Supergirl’s Lasik office so that she can see better–which Nightwing dismisses as cosmetic surgery because he’s already decided that Harley has nothing of value to offer the team. When Babs doesn’t show up at the office or answer her calls, Harley goes looking for her and ends up on an adventure with Babs’ roommate, Alysia. After Harley wakes up trying to grab Alysia’s steering wheel, Alysia tells her that she, too, sleepwalked before she realized she needed to transition. In other words, she’s saying that Harley–who she thought was much cooler when she was a villain–is repressing a crucial part of herself, and that’s causing her subconscious to act out.
While all of that is going on, Jim Gordon, forcibly retired when Mayor Joker abolished the police force, is at a winter cabin about to make love to his wife, when Nora Fries calls to offer him a job as security guard at Legion of Doom HQ. Jim, who takes all of his value from work (and his friendship with Batman), ditches his wife to accept the job immediately. Like in the middle of the night.
Harley and Jim’s stories come together when Harley finds Batgirl Barbara in the woods where all the cold-based villains are having a guys’ weekend away from Gotham. Jim’s wife Barbara has decided to spend her time with the cold boys, leading to the episode’s title above.
Ivy’s story seems more cohesive, but also quite predictable. Harley’s story has more movement and action, and I’m finding myself wanting them to spend much more time on her story than on Ivy’s. But without Ivy, Harley isn’t quite as fun. These stories work for their characters narratively, but they’re just not as fun separate as they are together.
Let’s bring that all back together. The writers on Harley Quinn are exploring valid ideas that make sense for the respective characters, and there are tons of great moments in these stories. But to make the point they want to make, the writers have broken up the dynamic that made the show so much fun to start with. We’re halfway through the season, and it seems like Harley and Ivy will have to come to blows soon–and get back together. They’re not separated, but they are separate, and it’s wearing on the show.