A Very Problematic Valentine's Day Special Review

Synopsis: As Harley goes to obsessive lengths to ensure that her first Valentine's Day with Ivy is the best ever, Bane's efforts to impress an unexpected date go horribly awry. Meanwhile, after an unfortunate online dating encounter, Clayface engages in some self-love.

"A Very Problematic Valentine's Day Special" is a stand alone holiday special that centers on some classic Harley Quinn shenanigans that have the usual nasty ramifications for Gotham City. However, when her impetuousness gets wrapped up in another villain's, things get real nasty and it's up to Harley and Ivy to... save the day? The special is a very hilarious and entertaining 45 minute romp. If you've you're already a fan, you'll find this special "great," maybe even "splendid." As always, definitely don't bring the kids. And totally not safe for work.

In keeping this review spoiler-free, on Valentine's Day, Ivy just wants to stay in and have a low key evening but Harley being Harley wants to top her past Valentine's Days, go out on a date, and do some impressive displays of love. Ivy goes along with it but Harley isn't quite satisfied and turns the dial up a couple notches. Unfortunately, there are some unforeseen effects that spread across Gotham. Meanwhile, Clayface and Bane each deal with spending Valentine's Day alone but a spark of hope finds both of them which leads to some hilarious antics as well. Harley's fiasco eventually crosses into their stories and to stop Gotham from well let's say being crushed to death, only Harley and Ivy are left uninhibited enough to come up with a plan quick.

The special is also sprinkled with vignettes throughout featuring various DC power couples talking to an interviewer about how they met. Some are characters that have appeared before on Harley Quinn, some speak for the first time, and some are brand new debut characters. Keep an eye out for a few eyebrow raising. Overall, there are a lot of cameos of characters from past seasons but don't expect everyone to show up. Some will be absent. If you're an avid watcher of the series, all the current pop culture references and in-jokes about them will be part and parcel to you. If not, hey, Google exists.

A real strength of the special is it is very stand alone. The only real piece of canon you need to know is this is set between season 3 and the upcoming season 4 and Harley and Ivy are still a item. And thankfully, it also doesn't look like you need to have to watch this before season 4 for fear of being totally clueless when the season premiere streams. So there's no strings attached. You can watch this and enjoy it for what it is. The viewer isn't forced to have to remember what's going on, you just have to plop down for 45 minutes and laugh your butt off. Conversely if you've watched all three seasons recently or just weirdly have every detail memorized, this special could in a way serve as a true season 3 finale. "The Horse and The Sparrow" was a logical season finale and ending but ended in a real comic book movie way with Harley and the Bat-Family. "A Very Problematic Valentine's Day Special" makes for an appropriate 2 part TV show epilogue with a very touching ending that cements Harlivy is real and true and not going away anytime soon, very much in the vein of the season 2 finale.

The "A Very Problematic Valentine's Day Special Review" is a welcome addition to the phenomenal Harley Quinn series and a fine appetizer for those patiently jonesing for season 4 to premiere hopefully later this year. It is a very accessible story that doesn't rely on you remembering the continuity and things take off from the get-go with non-stop laughs, violence, and plenty of unexpected romance. While some of the more adult content isn't for the faint of heart, if you've been watching Harley Quinn for this long you can deal. "A Very Problematic Valentine's Day Special Review" streams on HBO Max starting on February 9, 2023.

Rating: 9 out of 10