Aside from a few relatively quick scenes in the present, the majority of this episode of Harley Quinn is an extended flashback. Mostly set in Arkham, we see the early days of Joker and Dr. Quinzel, before she descends into the madness of Harley. It’s a new and different take on the start of their story, and some early glimpses of some other characters. They borrow a lot of elements from “The Dark Knight” in Harley’s “All the Best Inmates Have Daddy Issues.”
In Noonan’s, their bar hangout, Harley and Ivy play a few rounds of Fuck, Marry, Kill, although Harley is really bad at choosing options. Looking up, Harley leaps to a conclusion about the new bartender. Ivy is dubious as Harley quotes conspiracy theories from “WayneTube,” but gets convinced after the crazy clown woman uses an app on her phone to prove a point. The pair try and sneak out, do a horrible job of it, and have a very unexpected exchange with the man who has captured their attention. It ends up confusing the two a lot. This ends with Harley and Ivy debating whether or not people can change.
With a somewhat generic “Years Earlier” caption, we go back to Dr. Harleen Quinzel’s start at the infamous Asylum. We see early glimpses of Harvey Dent, Jim Gordon, and notable inmates including Riddler, Man-Bat, and Scarecrow. There’s also the first meeting between Harley and Ivy, who seems to be going through some kind of angry Goth phase. Ivy is subdued and Dent talks about a weird version of inmate rights. Topics of interest include the upcoming election for Dent and Joker having hidden a bomb somewhere in Gotham. Harley asks for a chance to interview the Joker, and things go about like you’d expect, although the arch-villain is surprised by some of her skills. There’s a joke about “puddin’”and a nickname bestowed.
Gordon plays his usual out of touch parody of himself while Dr. Quinzel says Joker was just testing her. Batman does one of his patented stealth entrances, scaring everyone, and then proceeds to a very… vigorous… questioning of the Joker. The clown doesn’t help himself any by bringing up the late Jason Todd. Batman tells Dent something he doesn’t want to hear, Dent obsesses about the polls, and Gordon keeps being a joke. Harley stops by Ivy’s cell to chat and then goes to see Joker again. Harley plays Joker very well, and gets a story out of him about his childhood, which is phenomenally rare. Joker, in return, has a demand about what he wants in order to tell them where his bomb is. It does seem like a harmless request, and Harley, of course, supports him. Batman and Gordon race off to find the bomb before it’s too late, while Harley visits Ivy again. To no great surprise, Joker lied, or at least misled and manipulated. All this culminates in an escape attempt where nothing goes as expected. A new friendship is formed, another nickname is bestowed, and young Harleen is very proud of herself. Someone even gets a present.
Back in the modern day, Harley and Ivy go back to their debate about people changing, and Harley finds out yet another way she was lied to. Doing something smart, the pair send for an expert, since they don’t have to rely on someone’s word about who they are. They find out what they wanted to, before leaving the bar and walking in to a lot more trouble. Inside, the bartender gets a text that sets off something familiar before getting himself under control again.
What I liked: I appreciate that the “early Harleen” always looks like the version from Batman: The Animated Series. It’s appropriate since she got her start there. It was interesting to see so many first meetings as they happened in this world. Harley and Ivy were smart at the end of the episode in who they called in.
What I didn’t: I’m going to keep saying I hate this version of Gordon probably every time he shows up. The episode pulled a lot from the movie “The Dark Knight” and I don’t know that they needed to do that.
I’ll give this a 3 out of 5. Next episode has the potential to be very interesting.