Episode 14 Review
It's already time for season 2 of Harley Quinn. After that ending in season 1, the next episode showing up on DC Universe so soon is a welcome sight. Fresh from defeating the Joker, Harley is relishing a bit too much and makes a crucial mistake that prolongs her quest to become the queenpin of Gotham's underworld as well as create a new adversarial force to contend with. Luckily, she's got Poison Ivy and her crew to back her up. But will it be enough to take over this new Gotham?
"New Gotham" begins the new season and starts on the day after the finale of "The Final Joke" so not that much of a time skip! However, the President of the United States of America declares Gotham is beyond help and is no longer part of the nation. Chaos reigns supreme and all hell breaks loose, even among civilians. Ivy and the crew are saddened by the news but Harley is totally stoked. Three weeks later (yeah, they pulled a Young Justice on us and there's another time skip after the cold open), Harley returns to her Gotham Mall HQ, now being towed in by pet hyenas Bud n Lou. She reveals she's kidnapped an award winning sushi chef named Takashi to feed them. Ivy takes Harley aside and urges her to make her move and take over the city but surprise-surprise, Harley ignores her and Penguin's goons entire claiming Penguin is claiming the mall as his territory only for Two-Face's goons to arrive soon after and claim the mall for their boss. Instead of doing the right thing, Harley instead stokes total anarchy by inciting a goon rebellion.
The Penguin, Two-Face, Bane, The Riddler, and Mr. Freeze form an alliance to bring order back to the underworld then set their sights on Harley. Robin tries to present himself to Commissioner Gordon as the new Batman, but Gordon has none of it. Ivy isn't happy with Harley's goon rebellion but Harley only tells her she worries too much. An invitation to the inaugural meeting of the Injustice League reaches Harley. Ivy can't resist and rubs it in Harley's face. Harley shows up to the meeting and learns Penguin, Two-Face, Bane, Riddler, and Freeze are the Injustice League. She declines their idea of a New New Gotham: restoring order and dividing up the city among themselves (naturally they stick Harley with a small island). Freeze freezes her solid. To make matters worse, the last vestiges of the Gotham Police City Department abandons Gordon and three ex-cops even ambush Gordon on the road and steal his stuff. Overcome with emotion, Gordon throws his police badge into Gotham Harbor.
The Penguin arrives at his Iceberg Lounge and it appears status quo has been reestablished. He's loving it so much he fails to see Ivy and the crew incognito. They stage a rescue and attempt to flee with the frozen Harley but a bloody pursuit breaks out between them and the many, many goons in the night club. Harley is partially unfrozen and many goons get murdered and crippled as the crew makes their way downstairs to the lobby. Harley winds up separated from the others and Penguin decides to just kill her. Harley has other plans and bites off Penguin's nose then breaks free from her icy prison but breaks her bat at the most crucial moment. Penguin lets loose with his grenade launcher umbrella function. Harley takes advantage of the chaos to mess with Penguin's head, gets behind him, and seemingly deals him a fatal blow to the neck. Harley, Ivy, and the crew are reunited as Penguin drowns in his own blood. The others are stunned but Harley cheerfully suggests coffee. They congregate at Noonan's where Clayface drops the bomb that Harley was frozen for two months. Ivy takes Harley to the roof and shows her New New Gotham. The Injustice League divided up the city like they planned to. Harley gets out her new bat -- a la one seen during the Amanda Connor run of Harley comics – and vows to take them down. Elsewhere, in a medical tent, two attendants check on a comatose victim they pulled from Joker Tower months ago. After some bandages are removed, they realize he is Bruce Wayne.
"New Gotham" is a strong season opener just as long as you don't go into it expecting all your questions to be answered in one episode. And yes, they don't back down on the swearing or violence. They pretty much up the ante. The humor is still on point. Whenever Bane is involved, the comedy just flows in my opinion. The thrust of the premiere is more to set up the new status quo and Harley's new goal in a quick and efficient 22 minutes. And along the way, we get a couple answers. Like Batman's been in a coma all this time. But Joker and the Justice League are still MIA. We learn a couple members of the Legion of Doom survived the destruction of the Hall so far: Penguin, Riddler, Bane, and Two-Face. The crew realized they need Harley's leadership. Ivy is still the unheard voice of reason. Gordon is rock bottom. And Harley is still the victim of her own impulses and now has to take down the Injustice League so she can have Gotham for herself.
On one hand, it was a welcome relief to see Harley, Ivy, and the Crew back to normal before the awfulness of last season's split and their bond seems stronger than ever. But on the other hand, they kinda cheated with the time skips to do a quick and dirty resolution off-screen and they realized they need Harley to be their leader instead of continuing the conflict and bringing in an organic resolution. To some, their acknowledgment that Harley sacrificed herself to free them from the Joker last season was enough. To some, it wasn't. I loved the very simple yet perfect lesson here. Harley won against the Joker, but she was wallowing in it for too long and it came back to bite her. Harley stills has a ways to go and some flaws to work out. She's not yet the perfect, infallible lead character. Not that kinda show. It was also a nice surprise to see the gang grow by a few more with the addition of Bud and Lou at long last and also the introduction of Takashi. Something tells me Bud and Lou and Frank are not going to get along. Heh.
Commissioner Gordon is definitely put through the wringer in this episode. He learns Batman is missing, GCPD headquarters is stolen from him, his officers abandon him then rob him, the Batsignal is destroyed, and his wife wants a divorce. Even though, Gordon's sub-plot was really depressing... I'm still interested to see where they're going with this. Course, it wasn't all depressing. The coconut joke played as did Gordon's first scene with Robin. Taking the focus to a group of Gotham villains and no Joker or Legion of Doom in sight is really exciting and if the Penguin vs. Harley slugfest is any indication, this arc should be a real blast. Throw in the official debut of Mr. Freeze, voiced by Alfred Molina, and more Bane – it's an Italian chef finger kiss. The door bit and Freeze being called out on his research right off the bat is a great start to his introduction after some teases last season. The villains meshed really well with each other, especially at Bane's expense. The coffee maker, the dogsitting, the folding chair. Or when Two-Face and Riddler had to contend with their goons. I loved all of it. I knew these guys would shine once Joker was out of the picture. Hope that lasts...
"New Gotham" quickly shakes things up and resets the chess board proving the series hasn't lost any of its momentum between seasons. More so, it's gone from Harley's personal struggle to strike out on her own to an all out war and the prize is Gotham itself. But when the smoke clears and only the victor is standing, will there be any of Gotham left to claim? We shall see. DC's best new animated series is back and taking no prisoners. Except Takashi. You know what I mean.
Rating: 8 out of 10