Episode 3 Review
"So You Need A Crew" marks an important milestone in Harley's solo venture as an up and coming supervillain: she starts to gather up a crew and their first evil scheme. The cast grows with the addition of Dr. Psycho and Clayface as well as the world of villains in Queen of Fables, Lex Luthor and others in the Legion of the Doom, and the rest of the Trinity of the Justice League. The pieces start to connect as Harley takes an important step in going legit.
The episode opens with attempting to steal a warhead from KGBeast aboard a speeding train amid a snow storm. Harley has an easy enough time dispatching him but she soon learns things like security protocols are best handled by a crew of henchmen. She is unable to unlock the room to the warhead with the three keys. Something Joker is easily able to do then orders them to toss Harley. She returns to Ivy's apartment convinced she needs a crew. Naturally, she asks Ivy first. However, Ivy declines and touts her solo status to which Frank quickly combats with sarcasm since she uses plants to do all her work. Ivy contends solo supervillains can be successful and sees a live fight between Dr. Psycho and Wonder Woman. It escalates into a PR nightmare when Psycho utters the C-word. Harley is dead set on getting a crew so she can do things like blackmail the Mayor with a warhead to get a highway named after her. Ivy doesn't get it.
Harley tries her luck at a henchman agency called Underworld Talent Inc. but they drop her once they realize she's never went back to the Joker and is still solo. She opts for the layman approach and heads into Noonan's, one of Gotham's seedy bars, to recruit henchmen. She promises no hench will be abused on her watch and luckily has an example right there in the bar, Felix Faust sending his crew to their deaths through a hell portal. All the patrons make up excuses. She sits at the bar dejected then Dr. Psycho, who happens to be sitting next to her, declines before she asks him. The Southern cowboy bartender messily reveals he is actually Clayface. To Harley's dismay, Kite Man arrives and recruits everyone with no plan and a made up on the spot speech.
Harley vents back at Ivy's, ignoring her odd interest in if Kite Man mentioned her, and wonders what she's missing in her approach to crew up. Harley takes Ivy along to a self-help seminar headlined by Maxie Zeus. However, he broadly repeats what Harley already did. Ivy sees through the facade rather quickly but Harley is inspired. She tried to get more advice with him after the show but he just turns out to be just another male chauvinist pig trying to get laid. To her horror, Zeus mocks her about getting laughed out of the Underworld Talent agency and declares no bad guys will ever work for a woman. Harley tries Ivy again but she is chided by Frank to elaborate on the glass ceiling for female supervillains and tells her about the tragic tale of the Queen of Fables. Back in the 80s, she was powerful sorceress fed up with being a foot note to male supervillains and amassed an army from storybooks but she was put down by the Justice League.
Ivy sends her off to a Taxes 4 Free to meet Fables and learns she was imprisoned in a tax guide book by Zatanna. They quickly get on the same page about the bias against female supervillains. Ivy admits she just wanted to Harley to know upfront what she was going up against because she cares. The scene is enough to reduce Frank to tears. Harley is undaunted and reveals her plan is to recruit scumbags who no one believes in rather than look for scumbags who believe in her. They see an episode of Tawny Young's talk show where Dr. Psycho is trying to save face. Things go from bad to apocalypse when he starts talking for his wife, Giganta, until she declares she's leaving him over the years of him mind controlling her into thinking she loved him. She marches away with their teen son Herman. Psycho loses it and once again uses the C-word, officially becoming the least employable person on the planet. Harley returns to Noonan's and makes an offer to Psycho. Still in denial, he declines until he sees a Legion of Doom press conference banning him from the group. He joins her crew. Harley assures him she believes in him and he has a part to play. Clayface keys in to "part" and joins the crew, too. They toast. Psycho inquires what their first scheme will be.
Harley and new crew find themselves outside Maxie Zeus's estate looking at a statue of himself and Psycho is disturbed by the anatomy. Harley tells Clayface to pretend to be a mailman while she and Psycho sneak in the back but Clayface keeps overthinking it and stuffing the role with backstory. To their annoyance, Clayface takes on the form of a mailman but tells Zeus he's his long lost son. Further, Psycho learns his role is to sneak in the crawl space and open the door rather than use his telepathy. They find the stolen 1996 Olympic gold medals but Clayface backs himself into a corner with every adjustment he makes to his appearance. Zeus, enraged by the lies, attacks Clayface and demands to know who his boss is. Psycho saves Clayface at the last second but Zeus is less than impressed with Harley's "crew." Harley gives him one chance to admit to the world that she's not someone to screw with but he declines. Psycho beats his head with one of his own statues until he capitulates then Harley bats him outside. He comes to and tells Tawny Young Harley's crew is no one to mess with. Harley's PR gets a huge boost and Tawny declares her a solo villain and potentially Joker's biggest competitor. Queen of Fables sees the report, too, and is impressed. The Joker isn't. Ivy is ecstatic and congratulates her even though it wasn't a warhead. Harley reveals she swapped the medals for a warhead and did what she said she would. Tawny reports about a high speed chase on the abruptly renamed "Harley Quinn Parkway." Ivy finally gets it.
There's a fair amount of references and easter eggs littered in this episode. Yes, a whole bunch of name drops by characters but they're like the least interesting. If you pay attention to the news ticker during the start of the Wonder Woman and Dr. Psycho battler there's a mention of Lex Luthor trolling Superman on Twitter and a funny jab at the Court of Owls. Or the UTI douches mentioning Mr. Freeze. You'll want to pause on Cronk, Professor, and Blaze's profiles. Lot of funny stuff like the muscle head Cronk knows basic Flash, Word, and HTML. Or the very specific reference planted in Blaze's profile about Aggro Crag from "Guts!" on Nickelodeon. How about the strange coincidence and timing of Maxie Zeus mentioning the 1996 Olympics in light of Clint Eastwood's movie out in theaters? The fact that there are affiliate Legion of Dooms is funny in itself but the Junior Doomers of America just had to be a nod to the Junior Birdmen of America. The Forrest Gump reference. That was an amusing one. The head scratcher was Queen of Fables. While it makes sense she was active in the 80s, a nod to her debut in the comics... but the implications. Like is this show on Peanuts time, not set in the present or are guys like Batman in their 50s?
With the formation of a crew, "Harley Quinn" finally takes a much needed turn into becoming a true underdog story as Harley seeks out others like her who are in similar predicaments. Misfits. Outcasts. Scum who no one believes in. Except her. It's quite easy to get behind a ragtag band who by all means should fail at everything they try. It's all the more fitting that the first official caper is essentially a bat to the face of the male dominated world of villainy. Maxie Zeus more than exemplifies all the worst aspects of that world who at every turn plagues women trying to get their own castle in the sky. In this episode alone, we observe Joker reaping the benefits of her hard work in the cold open, Harley being rejected at the talent agency, being rejected at a seedy bar, disgruntled predecessors, and public idols who turn out to be egotistical coke head perverts.
The recurring cast. The contrast of Ivy coming to Harley's rescue last episode with this week's turn of her declining not once but twice an offer to join Harley's crew as well as being on the sideline for the most part. But probably more important than being the muscle, Ivy teaches Harley an important lesson that while Harley doesn't except, does give her the impetus to complete her goal of assembling a crew at last. And yes, if you were patient about Harley's odd desire about having a highway named after her, the pay off finally comes in this episode. Fittingly, it's the coup de grace of this week's win. JB Smoove continues to get laughs from me at every turn and he continues to prove that having that character to puts everyone else in their place (and annoy Ivy despite her plant controlling powers) was the right move. Joker gets in a passing grade for the gag about him proving Harley's accusation by immediately ordering his henchman to do what he says. But to me, the bigger moment was at the end when Harley gets all her accolades on live TV and Joker sees it all.
Now while this episode had a lot of new faces and that might have overstuffed the episode, it's more important to introduce them now since they all have roles coming up this season and they do serve this week's plot well enough. Wanda Sykes and her brand of dry biting humor is a perfect fit for this unusual take on the Queen of Fables. She's not going to sugar coat the difficulties of the glass ceiling but she still roots for Harley a little. There's also the series' roving reporter and talk show host Tawny Young who is voiced by Tisha Campbell Martin. Except her to show up often and sort of be the chronicler of Harley's career. Giganta and Herman, while had a small role, do show up again this season. And between the lines, Giganta is there to make Dr. Psycho look even worse because he used his telepathic powers in one of the most horrendous ways possible against a woman. And in grand tradition, the same person who voices Wonder Woman also voices Giganta: Vanessa Marshall. A welcome reprisal. It's definitely a pleasant and welcome surprise that Batman isn't the only super hero we'll see on this show. And there's also a soft introduction to this show's Lex Luthor, voiced by Giancarlo Esposito, doing what else but a press conference. Continuing that through line about the Legion of Doom operating in public, the implication seems to be Luthor's business acumen is probably what took the outfit from outlaw supervillain team to tolerated evil labor union.
Lastly, this episode introduces two more pillars to the main cast of this show: Dr. Psycho and Clayface. Alan Tudyk, the voice of the Joker, is also Clayface here. Of the two, I think he'll be more welcomed by the audience. He doesn't have the crass adult edge that the other characters do and you can pretty much transplant him into any other show and he'd fit. They really took the failed actor back story of Clayface and made him into a more loveable rogue who's kind of in his own world and get over intellectual about any and everything. Tony Hale, likewise, performs brilliantly as Dr. Psycho. But it's not exactly a character you'd root for even those he's on Harley's team. You know, because he's a woman hater. And I mean, had a child with Giganta while she was mind controlled by him...
"So You Need A Crew" is the turning point for the series as Harley begins to solidify her allies and public profile with the success of her first official caper. More importantly, the world of Harley Quinn is populated with more important recurring cast members and two lynchpins of the main cast: Clayface and Dr. Psycho. While the show is still about Harley, her underdog story is only enhanced by the addition of rogues who are in the same boat as her.
Rating: 7.5 out of 10