Harley’s cartoon has been an odd critter since day one. Season two has, in my opinion, been significantly stranger that the first. Now that Harley’s worked her way through a good bit of her hit list, the villains that remain are getting worried. In a really big departure, Harley and her best friend Ivy are completely absent from this episode as we focus mostly on Batman, and a bit on the hapless Commissioner Gordon, as well as Batgirl and another new hero. A big part of the episode is spelled out in the title, as well as a nod to a huge Batman story from the past, as we see in “Batman’s Back, Man.”
The oddness is set up from the very first scene, as two guys who embody just about every negative stereotype of male fans sit on a couch in geek t-shirts and debate… the Harley Quinn cartoon. How very meta. After a recap of what’s been going on, we move on to the episode itself, with the set up that it focuses on Batman to the exclusion of the crazed clown and the plant princess. In the episode proper, the Bat-signal lights the sky. Bruce Wayne wakes up in bed, and is showing the extent of his injuries from Joker’s tower collapsing on him at the end of last season. He and Alfred fighting over his going out to fight crime is nothing new. Bruce being in this bad shape and acting like a petulant child is new, but in keeping with this show’s take on most heroes, or pretty much anyone that isn’t Harley. To be fair, Harley screws up a good bit, too.
What follows is the clownish Gordon and the spoiled Bruce having a very odd meeting about what Gordon needs to bring Gotham back under control. Bruce is a bit nonplussed by Gordon’s ranting demands, and less pleased still by the revelation that Batman’s absence has spawned two new heroes: Batgirl and a very odd, Revolutionary War-era dressed vigilante called the Macaroni, which is at least somewhat historically accurate. The ever-shrinking Injustice League has a meeting about Harley’s rampage, with Two-Face being ridiculously overconfident and Bane being mocked incessantly. From his recovery bed, Bruce studies the footage of Batgirl, which is very modern and social-media aware and somewhat in keeping with the “Batgirl of Burnside” soft reboot of the character a few years back. His scheming mind comes up with an odd approach to take, and the two sort of team up. But not quite.
While Two-Face deals with the problems caused by the rumors of Batman’s return, and viewers are left to wonder who in the world is going to the bank in a city that’s fallen to gangster control and abandoned by the government, Bruce once again acts remarkably child-like with Alfred. Getting no help from his usual squire, the Dark Knight calls Lucius Fox instead. Two-Face and Bane meet up again, with more general stupidity, and a new alliance, or a new manipulation at least. I feel sort of compelled to point out at this point that, back when he first appeared, Bane took out Batman not by brute force but with months of careful planning and research. That aspect of Bane gets overlooked a lot, especially on this show. There have been a lot of comparisons between Batman and Iron Man, at least since the Marvel Cinematic Universe started, and this next scene really blurs the line between the two. It’s followed by a really dumb scene with Alfred, and then Batman 2.0 (I guess) hits the streets. This goes well until Bane seriously cranks up the Venom, becoming more like the Hulk than Bane, and Batman is beaten again, once more childishly blaming Alfred as he goes down. Have I mentioned I don’t like this show’s takes on some characters?
Beaten and broken by Bane, Batman becomes the subject of a video by some of Two-Face’s gang. I guess they’ve been following Batgirl’s posts. At the last minute, he’s saved by Batgirl and the Macaroni, who turns out to be someone fairly obvious. Bane storms back to Injustice League headquarters and gets Jedi-mind tricked by Two-Face again. Even this Bruce can learn when reality smacks him in the face hard enough, and Batman has a much-needed meeting with Gordon, making an important introduction. The show ends with the fanboys from the opening debating the show and mocking the DC Universe platform for its delivery.
What I liked: At least Batman finally shows up again and his long absence is accounted for. Hopefully he’ll put some energy into getting the Justice League back. I give them points for doing an entire episode with the main, and all the regular secondary, characters being completely off screen. I’m glad Batgirl’s getting some attention.
What I didn’t: I just can’t get behind this show’s take on Gordon. Batman was ok until now, but this was… odd. I don’t see how they didn’t get sued, or at least complaints, from Marvel over some of these scenes.
I enjoy a lot of this show almost in spite of myself, most of the time. This time, not as much. I’m giving this a 2 out of 5. At times, I think I’m too much of both a Bat-fan and a classic comic book reader for this show.