Spoiler Warnings for Harley Quinn S01E03. Trigger Warnings for misogyny and violence.
Welp, the third episode of Harley Quinn has dropped and this one rather firmly isn’t filler! I don’t have much more to say about it before I explain the plot, so let’s just get into that.
The episode begins with Harley attempting to steal a nuclear warhead from a Russian train, getting in a fight with KGBeast and revealing that she knows a little Russian (only how to ask if there’s gluten in something and ‘so long sucka!’ though). She defeats him quite handily, but her lack of a crew means that she has difficulty accessing the three locks that need to be turned simultaneously to access the weapon. This, in turn, allows Joker to show up with some henchmen and take the warhead himself, throwing her off the train as well.
Harley returns to Ivy’s apartment, disgruntled and declaring her need for a crew. Ivy attempts to dissuade her, showing her some footage of the diminutive villain Dr. Psycho using his telekinesis to fight Wonder Woman by himself. The…well, I’d say ‘good doctor’ except he’s anything but even by DC villain standards, does well for himself, until Wonder Woman manages to blast him back, at which point he promptly calls her the C-word (for those unfamiliar, look up the TV Tropes page ‘Country Matters’, that’s all I’m going to say), leading to an amusing gag at just how unacceptable that word is, at least in the United States, with even the planet stopping in shock. Harley responds that if he’d had a crew one of them would have told him to use a different word, and heads off to go recruiting.
Her first stop is at a Henchmen talent agency, but upon learning that she’s not back together with the Joker and is working by herself the two men who run it promptly kick her out. She then goes to a bar, but once again fails to get anyone to help her, while Kite Man shows up and immediately gets a crew together out of the dregs present. While there she meets Dr. Psycho and Clayface, the latter of whom is a bartender, though using his shapeshifting skills to look the part of a muscular young man from the country. Disgruntled at the lack of respect, Harley returns home, venting to Ivy. After an odd moment of what I can only call ship teasing regarding Ivy and Kite Man, Harley drags Ivy off to a seminar about getting a crew and becoming a supervillain being given by Maxie Zeus of all characters.
Inspired by his speech, Harley goes to meet him backstage, only for things to go bad when he sexually harasses her and tells her no bad guy would ever work for a woman. Incensed, Harley goes home once more, where Ivy finally has a talk with her about the villainous glass ceiling, that women are allowed to get big, but only so big. To illustrate her point, she begins to tell Harley about a female villain who rose to prominence thirty years ago, the Queen of Fables.
She only tells Harley a bit though, sending her off to meet the Queen herself for the rest of the story. It turns out that the Queen now runs a tax services business, having become a living, chain-smoking, book of Tax Code. You see, the Queen draws power from imagination and creativity, and so when she attempted to take over Gotham, the Justice League put her in said book, the one place free of such things. The Queen views this as a sexist punishment, declaring that male supervillains get locked up in Arkham, a slap on the wrist compared to what happened to her. Whether or not that’s actually the case is up for debate of course, but I’m not remotely wise enough to have this conversation by myself, so let’s move on.
The Queen relates to Harley that she couldn’t find a crew to believe in her, so she had to find a crew she could believe in instead. Harley takes this to heart, and declares her intentions to build a crew of people nobody else believes in. To illustrate her point, she pulls up Dr. Psycho’s attempt at rehabilitation, in which he and his ‘wife’ Giganta are at a talk show. His misogyny is pretty apparent, and Giganta eventually snaps at him, taking their son and storming out, leading to him using the C-word again. When Ivy points out that he’s just become unemployable (though the TV makes a rather pointed and good comment of ‘famous man makes second mistake, will likely be given a third chance’) Harley excitedly agrees, and heads off to find him.
She finds him at the same bar, and while he attempts to insist that he doesn’t need her, he’s quickly forced to recant when the TV shows Lex Luthor kicking him out of the Legion of Doom and its affiliates for his behavior, as it’s a bit much even for them. He’s not subtle about the fact that he views working with a woman as a way to rehabilitate his image and nothing more, but Harley doesn’t much care. Clayface also is quite happy to be included, and the three unite, setting off to go rob Maxie Zeus in an act of petty revenge.
The robbery is rather successful, though not without a hitch as Clayface gets in over his head when attempting to distract Zeus. This is turned into a win as well though, with Psycho and Harley beating up Zeus so that, when found by reporters the morning, he declares that Harley Quinn’s crew isn’t to be messed with, infuriating the Joker and exciting Harley and Ivy.
This was a very good episode. It was funny when it needed to be funny, and handled its serious aspects in a way befitting the topic of sexism and misogyny without slipping into the excessive tone you’d find in the infamous ‘Very Special Episodes’ of old. The dialogue continues to be fun, snappy, and believable, and all in all, I’d say it was a very good episode. The addition of Psycho and Clayface is interesting, and while both were rather one-note in this particular episode I’m willing to give them the benefit of a few more episodes to see what happens.
I’d also like to give a quick shout out of appreciation to the sheer deep dives this episode took into DC villains. Kite Man is, admittedly, a pretty obscure villain, but he’s gained himself a memetic status recently. But Maxie Zeus and the Queen of Fables? Those are some deep cuts, and I’m very impressed.
Seriously though, good episode, with good humor, good action, and a good handling of systemic sexism. Can’t wait to see what happens next!