Episode 37 to 39 Review
Harley Quinn season 4 premieres on the Max streaming service on July 27, 2023 with a three episode opener of "Gotham's Hottest Hotties", "B.I.T.C.H" and "Icons Only" and gets off – to a quick start. After putting a stop to a zombie apocalypse caused by Bruce Wayne and surviving a horny Valentine's Day, Harley and Ivy are off to work in their new roles, a hero-in-training with the Bat Family and new CEO of the Legion of Doom, respectively. These two formidable women try to bring their unique perspectives to long-standing institutions with mixed results but really entertaining for the audience.
The season premiere opens with Harley and Ivy taking to the new status quo in Gotham. Harley can't even get into the Legion of Doom to drop off Ivy's lunch because she's considered a good guy. Ivy holds up a jewelry store just so she can drop Harley's lunch off to her. Harley's violent, imperious tendencies haven't dampened and makes a bloody mess of the guards. But Ivy's first day at the Hall of Doom isn't met with warm welcomes. Lex Luthor couldn't care less about what Ivy's socially conscious evil plan and if off to the Moon like the other aloof billionaires are doing. The Legion of Doom isn't too happy to learn their new CEO is a woman and they are livid (and sexist). Harley checks out this year's edition of Gotham's Hottest Hotties and encounters Professor Pyg (fans will remember he was a background cameo in Bane's Pit in season two). Then what a shock, Gotham is hit with a string of murders involving beautiful people. Harley is eager to beat up villains but she learns all heroes do are updating databases, fill out paperwork, and stay fit until the computer tells them there's a crime. And she's not vibing with the dudes yet. Similarly, Ivy gets trolled by the men in the Legion so instead of focusing on her evil plan, she tries to manage. Harley is shocked to learn Nightwing is the #2 Hottest Hottie thanks to his booty.
The season premiere also sets up an interesting arc for Alfred Pennyworth. To his surprise, Alfred learns Bruce has a butler at Blackgate Penitentiary named Alvin and he's jealous. Hilariously, prison life for a rich white man doesn't seem so bad. Harley and Ivy agree on boundaries and not helping the other with their job. King Shark also shows up with a new arc: fatherhood. Tabitha is pregnant with nine pups. Ivy tries rubber stamping evil mission requests. Also, the mutilation murders leaves Gotham not so confident in the Bat Family. While talking to Devora, another Hottest Hottie, Harley realizes Pyg is picking off the hotties using their livestreams and has an idea to use Nightwing as bait. Ivy realizes she was played for a chump when Bane blows up an oil rig but gets a much needed pep talk from Nora Freeze, who came to pick up a widow's benefits check, and reminds her she can do whatever she wants and those who don't follow her can leave. Pyg gets the drop on the Family and runs off with an unconscious Nightwing. Ivy throws her weight around. And so does Harley, but she beats Pyg to death to the horror of the Bat Family because of their no kill rule.
Next in "B.I.T.C.H.", Ivy has to figure out how to deal with two things she hates: networking and local politics – namely Mayor Joker so she can get the permits necessary for her evil plan to financially cripple the allergy medicine market and thus Wayne Enterprises' pharmaceutical division by planting female trees and getting rid of males trees that emit lot's of pollen. Harley has to reshape her instincts by being Alfred's assistant. King Shark is working at the Hall of Doom in the IT department and guilt Nora into throwing him a baby shower. Naturally, Harley hates making tea, polishing, and cooking chicken. At a luncheon for evil businesswomen, Ivy meets Talia and they are fast friends. It turns out that Talia is now the head of Wayne Enterprises in Bruce's absence. Using Talia's advice, Ivy manipulates Joker into approving permits so she can continue with her evil plan. Alfred schools Harley on fitting in with his acronym Breathe, Identify the problem, Tea break, Consider your options, and Handle it. However, Alfred tricks Harley into a day out and tries to rob a bank so he can get sent to Blackgate to be with Bruce but... he ends up at Arkham since he's not white collar. Harley's clear decisive choice to stop Alfred manages to impress the Bat Family and gets her Batsuit.
The third episode "Icons Only" takes a break from Gotham to Sin City Las Vegas. Despite Harley being a good guy and she shouldn't staying at the evilest hotel with Ivy, she still does. Clayface's residency happens to be starting up, too. Harley gets frustrated she can't have a fun time without getting in trouble with the Bat Family so her Harleen persona schools her on making a new secret identity so she can ball out like the old Harley. They target the new resident jerk Snowflame for Clayface tickets but he doesn't have any either so the co-opt his plan to go undercover as bellhops but Clayface reveals his trap to reveal Ivy was lying to him about having tickets. A huge fight breaks out then Tabitha gives birth during a magic show. Harley and Ivy end up being King and Tabitha's pups's godparents whom they enjoy making fun of back in their room. Harley reveals she's going to move in with the Bat Family to immerse herself in hero culture until it becomes second nature and Ivy totally supports it.
Contrary to season three's slow meandering pace that doesn't really kick into overdrive until the final three episodes, season four is much more streamlined and kicking on all cylinders right from the start much like season two. The comedy still slaps and season four retains the familiar biting unapologetic commentary like Lex Luthor insisting on a scientific reason for the shape of space shuttles. Or the news stands in Gotham are categorized by good and evil periodicals. Ivy trying to talk sexy to Harley. The cliches of an evil Vegas hotel. Commenting on commercials if you don't have the pro account. Riddler's voice mail message. And you can't talk about how funny this show is without Bane being Bane and Frank being Frank. Naturally, it turns out Harley's instagram knowledge aids the Bat Family with the murder case but Harley's violent ways are played for a laugh in the second episode when she's schooled on being a hero by Alfred to her annoyance but she learns he's got some pearls of wisdom to share. It's also great seeing Ivy connecting with other people like Talia after well the Ivy we know doesn't really connect with very many people and coincidentally earns her respect. And in contrast, the humor of Talia being an absent mother and totally unaware of how hold Damian has become. There's also Mayor Joker who misses being in on evil plans and will sign off on a permit if he gets to learn what the twist will be. My personal favorite was King Shark's quest to make gumbo in episode 3, the magic trick succeeding, shark doulas, and Harley and Ivy having fun making fun of things.
As usual count on a lot of new characters popping in like Volcana, Veronica Cale, and Talia al Ghul, the occasional DC easter eggs like Red Hood being in Harley's contact list or Icicle on a dating app and callbacks like Harley realizing she still had Scarecrow on her phone or Bane having a new mission involving the infamous pasta maker. And this season doesn't wait long before making a Batman: The Animated Series reference, see the photo Talia has when she first meets with the Bat Family. The cameos and references step up a notch in episode 3 with even Doll Man, Ragdoll, Bouncing Boy, and Weasel showing up. The episode is also galore with contemporary references like Sex in the City and Baby Shark.
The only real gripe I had with the premiere and the season is how it splits the original cast up even more than season three did. Harley's old gang is definitely no more in season four. Harley's a good guy with a Batsuit, Ivy's the head of the Legion of Doom, King is a dad with an IT job, Clayface is a Vegas celebrity and diva, and Psycho has a podcast. It was a little confusing why there was such a rift between Clayface and Ivy that I wonder if I forgot something from season three or the special. While the core of the show was always Harley and Ivy and season 4 has foregone the real meat of the show in the backburner: the chemistry of the whole gang week to week. The new chemistry between the stars and the new gangs doesn't quite mesh, still entertaining, but not like in the beginning. While King is a recurring role and Nora's presence is expanded to fill the hole, the same can't be said for Clayface, Frank, Sy Borgman, and Doctor Psycho. Still, on the flip side, season four does present a lot of character development, world building, and has yet to jump the shark.
Harley Quinn season 4 starts running on all cylinders and is a welcome return to form hot off the heels of the wildly entertaining Valentine's Day Special. The main cast goes through new changes and takes on new roles but are still the same hilarious, violent irreverent villains we've come to know and love. The three episode premiere sets up Harley and Ivy trying to gain the respect of their new peers while they try to figure out their new status quo but still remain the same person they've always been. While the gang has gone their separate ways for the most part, they are still connected and this season seems ripe for more plot twists and putting them on a collision course in the season finale.
Rating: 9.3 out of 10