Episode 23 Review
Harley Quinn just wants to go on an overnight bender but she is forced to face several messes she left in the rear view mirror and take responsibility for once. However, the man who was Joker, the Crew, Commissioner Gordon, tons of Parademons, and the unholy but totally business alliance between a former comrade and prisoner make things the usual amount of complicated.
Back at Gotham Mall, King Shark talks to Clayface about the semantics of Batman's name when they reunite with Harley. King informs her he got married and saved the Oceanic Trade Federation. Harley lies the bachelorette party was a great time. She asks who wants to go get wasted with her but King had to spend Sunday with Tabitha's wife and Clayface is going home to watch the Tony Awards. Sy Borgman senses Harley's sadness and offers his shoulder. Harley is sad everyone has someone except her but Sy states a lover isn't a requirement to being happy and she should focus on the things that make her happy because life is about filling your soul. She elects to ignore that advice and look for a one night stand. Harley gets glammed up and heads to the Top of Wayne Tower bar at the Wayne Tech building but the maitre'd rains on her parade and directs to the bar without incident since she has no reservation. Harley isn't impressed with the selection of men and decides to leave but the bartender cheers her up with a joke. However, she realizes he is the man who was Joker and can't believe her luck, or lack of.
GCPD Headquarters is lively with police officers once again. Commissioner Gordon assigns units throughout the city to deal with the Parademons left in the city after Harley relinquished control by destroying Granny Goodness' scepter. He's surprised to receive a present but it contains a note from Batman to meet him on the roof. He's thrilled to see the Batplane waiting for him. Batman, on the monitor, instructs him to get in. Back at Gotham Mall, Sy is stirred awake by a noise. It's just Dr. Psycho come to get his stuff. Sy is livid Psycho is just abandoning Harley after all she did for him. Psycho tries to explain they now have different goals in life. Riddler tries to tell a riddle but Psycho harshly shuts him down then tells Sy what Riddler's schedule of feeding and shocking is. Harley readies a text to Ivy and the bartender recognizes her from Noonan's. He tries to keep her at the bar with a Wayne Fashioned drink but she reads him the riot act. He warns her Top of Wayne Tower is the only bar in town safe from Parademons because of its bulletproof glass. Several fatally crash into the glass proving his point but a band of men in ski masks takes everyone hostage. And the leader is Scarecrow's former goon, Gus. Harley opts to sneak out so she can return her dress but gets pistol whipped. She wakes up face to face and cuffed to the bartender. To Gus' surprise, the patrons are capable and overly willing to give in to his demands, except for a pair of game worn Air Jordan 2 Ogs. To Harley's horror, the bartender is having dreams that are really Joker's old memories. She eyes a vent and uses him as weapon to kill a goon. As they crawl through the ventilation system, he's insistent on helping Harley with whatever is bothering her. She finally caves and tells him about her issues with Poison Ivy.
Gordon is utterly disappointed Batman only needed him to push the button the fire a net on Parademons once they are remotely locked on. He just wanted to fly the Batplane or fire a missile. Batman, piloting from the Batcave, reminds him he gets to push the button and it takes years of training to expertly pilot the plane. Jim reverts to a petulant child. Batman vents to Alfred but he reminds him he can't fight crime until he is fully healed. Batman is upset his drink is too hot. Alfred suggests waiting then after silence, picks it up and starts blowing on it. Gordon notices gunfire at Wayne Tower and convinces to Batman to check it out. Harley tells the bartender about her problems with being too impulsive and causing messes she never cleans up. They happen to run into the Riddler who got super buff from running the hamster wheel. He admits to escaping and orchestrating the hostage situation as a classic misdirect just so he could steal a hi-tech helmet. Riddler realizes the bartender is the Joker. He can't believe it and starts to break out in familiar laughter. Harley covers his mouth and insists he is just a bartender who gives great non-judgmental advice. Riddler doesn't care and fires his cane at them. Two goons guarding the weapons room have a smoke break. Carl talks about his fears his children don't want to see him after he abandoned them seven years ago. Kev tells him to stop blaming himself for the past. Harley and bartender run into the room and hide. Luckily, a bullet pierces a red laser in the room and splits. Harley uses it to destroy the hand cuffs then grabs a ray gun and returns fire. It appears nothing happens to Carl. Kev realizes Harley shot Carl with a cancer ray. Carl freaks out and runs off to be with his children. Harley wonders why the hell Wayne Tech made a cancer ray. She's hit with a taser disc and Kev tries to choke the bartender. The bartender grabs a pencil and jams it through his right eye. He starts laughing like the Joker again so Harley slaps him. He's aghast by the violent scene. Harley opts to go up to the heliport and steal a helicopter. But the Batplane happens to land. Even Gordon sees that that bartender is Joker and tackles him. He recognizes "Gordo" but Jim tosses him into the Batplane. Jim assumes Harley and Joker hooked up again.
Suddenly, Sy helicopters in with King Shark and Clayface. They claim Harley texted them to come. Riddler and Dr. Psycho emerge from the stairwell. It was Psycho who texted everyone to come and reveals his new alliance but has to deny it's sexual. Harley has no idea what he means she belittled him. He elaborates she never recognized his talent or let him shine. Harley adds he always hated working for a woman. He admits to it then reveals the helmet will supercharge his powers and give him the ability to mind control every Parademon. Harley realizes he's just taking over her old plan to team up with Darkseid to take over. A fight breaks out but Psycho raises a mental dome around the tower and takes over the minds of King Shark and Clayface. Jim begrudging asks Harley's help with taking down the dome and he'll promise to get them out with the Batplane. Sy volunteers to do it even though it's a suicide move. Sy considers it a gift and nothing would make him feel more fulfilled than helping defeat Psycho. Harley tears up and tells him he was the best landlord she ever had despite all the times the oven broke or all the tampons she clogged the toilet with. He gives her his cybernetic eye and promises she'll always have a friend. Sy tells Psycho about the story of the Maccabees and the miracle of the oil that lasted eight days, sets himself to detonate, and flies up into the dome. The explosion causes the dome to drop. Jim flies Harley and bartender out but emphasizes they need to take down Psycho but she notes they'd probably need the entire Justice League to stop him. It reminds bartender of a dream he had of them trapped in a book of fables. Harley is surprised he knew about the Queen of Fables. He remembers holding the book but can't remember the rest. Harley knows what she has to do and asks Jim to drop them off somewhere. Bartender suggests hiding out in Central City with his girlfriend's family. Harley declines and owns up to her ability to keep on making messes and she can't run away from them anymore. The clean up starts with freeing the Justice League. She asks him one more time if he remembers where the book is. He doesn't. With some hesitance, she shoves him down into a vat of acid.
"Dye Hard" comes off the heels of Harley being rejected by Ivy and the trials and tribulation she endures to overcome it and make a real step towards taking control of her life. The episode spotlights three individuals frustrated with their relationships and trying to actualize their desire to move forward. The Wayne Tower hostage crisis sticks Harley with the former Joker and she vents about her problems only to come to the realization she has stop running from her messes and clean them all up. Jim Gordon wants more out his partnership with Batman and no longer wants to be just the sidekick. He claims victory in nabbing the Joker and piloting the Batplane on his own. Dr. Psycho wants to be a bonafide super villain bent on world domination so he teams up with the Riddler to steal a Wayne Tech helmet designed to boost his powers so he can command Darkseid's army of Parademons that Harley abandoned. Although compared to Harley, the other two came upon their current states by taking shortcuts. Jim hotwires the Batplane so that Batman loses control and Psycho steals equipment to give him a power boost. While Harley talks out her issues and conflicts and organically comes to the conclusion that she needs to stop running. And Sy's heroic sacrifice is the final catalyst Harley really needed to make the hard call. Harley seems to be on a real role from realizing her real feelings for Ivy to taking responsibility for her own actions. A self-actualized Harley could really be on the horizon after all. Except she's doing so by reviving the Joker?! Hoo boy...
The episode was also rich with a lot of satisfying callbacks to season one and two. Aside from the many references to the events of last week's "Bachelorette," there's also a wide gambit of past episodes coming up, all the more fitting with Harley confronting her past. When she bumps into the bartender, she remembers a wave of memories like Joker lighting up a cigar in the goon fight, leaving Harley with a bomb, pushing Harley to Batman on the banker's yacht, and Harley falling into the fake acid bath in "Till Death Do Us Part," Harleen jumping in the acid in "Being Harley Quinn," Ivy being murdered in "Devil's Snare," Joker giving Harley her old costume and the big fight in "The Final Joke", and Harleen walking into Joker's room from "All The Best Inmates Have Daddy Issues". Or Psycho capitalizing on Harley's failed Parademon invasion in "Inner (Para) Demons" and Alfred vowing not to let Batman return to crime fighting prematurely like in "Batman's Back, Man". And it just so happens to really infested parts of the city are Gotham Park and Gotham Harbor, which are usual hot spots of criminal activity in past episodes anyway. And bartender remembers meeting Harley and thinking meeting her set something off, when we know it had to have been Dr. Psycho's telepathy in the rest room. But of course, the juiciest bits are in the end when one of the lingering mysteries from season 1 is finally brought up – finding the Queen of Fables' book and liberating the Justice League! Hat tip to the Central City shout out as well. All in all, it was truly satisfying to see the series dig deep into its history and fit so much without it clogging up the pacing.
Pop culture and history references are also riff in this episode in a totally entertaining way. The episode title, high rise hostage crisis, and the star crawling in a vent leave no question of the staff giving some love to Die Hard. What did the writers decide would be the worst thing to talk about with a single lady at the bar? John Mayer. Yep. And Jim Gordon is a fan of Dave Barry's book it turns out. And like past episodes, Wayne Enterprises' comical appropriation of everything comes up with bartender recommending a rebranded Old Fashioned or Harley making a crack at the sweat shops that make Wayne Boxes. Even those weapons Gus demanded are totally real world weapons, the W 76-2 tactical warhead and the UGM-133 Trident II. Oh, and of course, any sneakerhead knows those Air Jordan 2s that Gus wants to own so bad! Naturally, we can count on Clayface to make a theater reference: in this episode it's to two nominated by the Tony Awards for Best Lighting, Howell Binkley and Japhy Weideman. Loved Harley's Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles wisecrack to Riddler! The most heartwarming and charged reference goes to Sy in his speech to Psycho about the Jewish band of rebels known as the Maccabees and the Hanukkah story, the Miracle of the Cruse of Oil in which a one day supply of oil lasted for eight days after prayers were answered for aid.
Now I'll make a rare observation about the show's timeline since it's not as intensely detailed as another DC animated series like Young Justice but things definitely have come up in this episode worth analyzing. Previously, we saw on Not-Joker's phone at the end of "All The Best Inmates Have Daddy Issues" there was a clear timestamp of "Monday, December 11" then on "Bachelorette," which took place over the course of 3 days on a weekend, Eris told the possessed Hippolyta it was "the 16th" on the second day of the bachelorette weekend. So it's clear the girls return to Gotham City on Sunday, the 17th. If you were to compare this to our real world calendar, then the show takes place in 2017 or 2023. Given the show was in production since around 2016, 2017 seems like the better choice. Now the title of this week's episode is "Dye Hard" and the mention of "Christmas Eve" in the logline are obvious nods to the cult classic Bruce Willis movie "Die Hard". Check. King Shark tells Harley he has to spend his Sunday night with Tabitha's family and they catch up on what happened at each other's parties, indicating it is still December 17. So the "Christmas Eve" in the logline isn't canon, just a nod or something changed during production and an edit was missed. Okay. Then Clayface mentions he was watching and DVR'd the Tony Awards. The 2017 and all Tony Awards traditional take place in June. The 2017 one was on June 11. So a weird chronology error. But Clayface later mentions atop the tower that he was predicting Howard Binkley would win and was enraged Japhy Weideman didn't get to shine. These two were actual people nominated in the 2017 Tony Awards and they lost out to Bradley King for his work on "Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet". And this further solidifies 2017 so maybe Clayface missed the broadcast cuz crime or whatever and was taking in a rare rerun. Shrug. Also of note, Commissioner Gordon mentioned ordering a new Dave Barry book. It just so happens one came out in 2017, "For This We Left Egypt?" so the evidence all points to "Dye Hard" taking place on the night of December 17, 2017!
"Dye Hard" expertly tackles the wall people can hit in their lives and all the ways people succeed and fail at trying to over come them. Harley makes a true breakthrough and surprisingly takes responsibility for the bad and impulsive choices she's made and wants to make things right even! Sy's gift to her is all she needs to put her on the path. Psycho not-so-inspiringly teams up with Riddler and steals a high-tech helmet to boost his powers to steal one of Harley's old plans in the wake of quitting the Crew so he can become a feared super villain again. Jim wants more from Batman but has to resort to hit wiring the Batplane to get the rush he wants to feel. Harley's new goal is to help Jim stop Dr. Psycho and Riddler with the Justice League's help but only a restored Joker can locate them. Buckle up, it's about to hit the fan as the season finale draws even closer.
Rating: 8.2 out of 10