Episode 40 Review
The fourth season of Harley Quinn continues on the Max streaming service with its fourth episode "The First Person to Come Back From a Business Conference Without Chlamydia" focuses on Poison Ivy's trip to the Moon for the Malcon Forum, basically a Comic-Con for evil and instead of following Lex Luthor's script, Ivy does her own thing and steals the spotlight. Back on Earth, the Bat-Family is in dire straights after Talia sells everything in Wayne Manor to save Wayne Enterprises and they need to make money quick. Harley and Ivy deal with their new highs and lows in their own way and come out on top this week but it appears two heavy hitter male villains want to shine, too.
Aside from a ridiculously long title quoting a supporting character in the opening scene, "The First Person to Come Back From a Business Conference Without Chlamydia," there isn't much to down this episode for. Like the previous three, it's a relief this episode continues to steamroll, in a good way, much like season two did. While some might cringe at the not-so-subtle jabs at two specific tech CEOs, the shapes of rockets or super villains using sex surrogates, it is what it is. Things get down to business. Ivy is sidelined by Lex at the convention because he wants to be the center of attention and he's totally emasculated when she ignores his itinerary for her and becomes the convention darling, even impressing the Apokoliptian warlord Steppenwolf whom everyone, including Lex, fanboys over. This is a welcome expansion over the season premiere in which Ivy had to assert dominance over the rank and file's prejudice in the Legion of Doom by wiping the floor with them. Naturally, Lex vents the convention into space after reporters still fawn over Ivy even though he invented the Earth Saver to restore the O-Zone layer (so evil people can keep destroying it over and over). Ultimately, it seems like the episode is setting up an eventual battle over the Legion of Doom between Ivy and Lex. Lex's fragile ego in this episode foreshadows his inability to acknowledge Ivy's success and as soon as that becomes the Legion's success in spades, it won't be long before Lex calls backsies and Ivy refuses. A showdown in the making since season one, the showrunners and the crew are brilliantly reaping what they've sown since the beginning of the series. An all-out slug fest between Ivy and Lex is a long time coming.
On the flip side, Harley and the Bat-Family save Mayor Joker from Two-Face. While it was a surprise, Two-Face's return on the heels of last season was a one-note side story where he got taken out fairly fast, the real surprise is the Bat-Family and Wayne Manor get liquidated by Talia to cover the company's rapid fall thanks to Ivy's socially conscious evil. But so juicy that the tables have turned and Harley is in the top spot having to teach them how to live on scraps again without Batman's patronage, namely all his cutting edge gear. Certainly easy to scoff at that development as a contrived plot device made to ascend the lead star at the expense of our traditional heroes. The Bat-Family are trained by Batman to be at the top of their game, they shouldn't be such pushovers without batons or a batarang! But hold up. I get that a pair of drugged up Swedes looting Wayne Manor isn't as in-your-face as Bane crippling Batman in his hi-tech Batsuit to get the lesson across but looking back on the season premiere, the bureaucratic jab at the nature of the Bat-Family updating files and exercising constantly while they wait for the computer to tell them about a crime was a clever hint that they were skimping on real training this whole time. If you think about it, they haven't really been with their backs on the wall trying to survive day to day like Harley has been in this whole series. Whenever we saw Robin for the majority of the series, his face was planted to his video game. Even in his debut appearance, he was busy putting on an act on TV. Only Barbara really had to bootstrap when he was starting but I guess once Batman made her official, she got soft, too. Another curious aside, that was again seeded in the season premiere, is that Joker really misses being evil. Since this new season is about putting the majority of the leads and recurring into new roles, makes sense Joker's new role as mayor would come into the forefront. His focus was his family and becoming mayor was to help his family but now that that's done, he's missing the old life and has to make due with small dalliances. If you call blowing up the city yard guy for his boring meeting a dalliance. Perhaps we'll see Joker regress further and further this season if there's enough room. While it was interesting to see Harley going from the probie to the agent in charge, still... it got away from her season arc of learning how to be a hero that seemed to be picking up steam until Alfred got locked up.
"The First Person to Come Back From a Business Conference Without Chlamydia" is another perfect episode for Harley Quinn and Poison Ivy. Not even the sky's the limit to Ivy's success but Lex sees that for himself and not like he'll cave to petty jealousy... the stage definitely seems set for a reckoning in the villain community. On the Harley Quinn show? Shocker. Harley however is witness to the Bat-Family hitting rock bottom thanks to Talia's cutthroat business tactics but she's now firmly in a place to school Batgirl, Nightwing, and Robin and finally vibe and bond like she set out to in the premiere. However, while Harley's got newfound excitement in her life, the Joker is saddled with boredom as Gotham's mayor so things like to be heating up for not only Lex but Joker to get radical again. Despite with all that, the big question still looms if this back and forth dual format will hold the fans' attention effectively for the season and pay off in an effective and satisfying conclusion.
Rating: 9.5 out of 10