Harley Quinn: Dye Hard

After a long string of not managing to take responsibility for things she’s done (arguably running headlong from it), Harley is finally getting some self-awareness after the chaos of the “Bachelorette.” We see her making a stab at facing up to her own messes, an unexpected return, chaos spinning out of previous events, and the completely unasked for rebirth of a deadly foe. All this and a take on one of the best Christmas movies of all time in “Dye Hard.”

The episode starts back at the Abandoned Mall of Villany, as King Shark goes on an entertaining rant about Batman’s codename. Harley arrives, back from the party, and is self-absorbed (as usual) enough that she utterly misses King Shark’s recounting of the other gathering. Apparently, it’s Christmas Eve, despite the lack of snow and the Tony awards supposedly being on that same night, and everyone has plans. Harley, left alone by her crew, gets some decent advice from Sy, and, of course, ignores it. She makes a flashy entrance at a restaurant and bar, and gets put in her place by the snooty maitre’d. I do wonder where she got the evening gown in her color scheme.

Her evening doesn’t go great, as she listens to some guy babble about John Mayer, and is clearly bored to tears. She finally hears something funny, but it turns out to be the bartender she met before, who we’re all pretty damn sure is the Joker, somehow both amnesiac and restored to normal human coloring. Over at GCPD, Gordon is enjoying his return to power, and somehow or other suddenly has a police force again (where have they been all this time?). He gets a mysterious package, works in a Dave Barry reference, and finds something he’s dreamed of on the roof: the Bat-plane with a note saying get in! At the mall, Sy is awakened from a nap by Dr. Psycho, returning to claim his stuff after quitting the team during the Parademon invasion. He leaves some notes about the care and feeding of Riddler, still running in the giant hamster wheel to power the base.

The bar Harley is in is, of course, owned by Bruce Wayne, because what isn’t in Gotham? It’s also the only place not overrun by the Parademons, because the place is built with various Wayne-Tech defenses, keeping the monsters at bay. He keeps chatting, and she’s ready to leave when, of course, a group of hostage takers burst in, although they’re oddly polite. Not in the mood for any of this, Harley tries to sneak out, blows it, and gets KO’d. Waking up, her evening has gotten worse, as she’s handcuffed to the bartender. The head of the gang gets some very unexpected responses to his demands, and is clearly caught off guard. Harley makes a break for it, dragging along the bartender, who is relating some odd dreams, which we recognize as events from season one. His earnest attempts to get Harley to share her troubles has her babbling about some of what’s going on with her and Ivy, and the messes Harley keeps making. This heart to heart takes place while crawling through some air vents. Gee, that looks familiar. She gets in some cutting remarks about her abusive ex, but it doesn’t seem to ring any bells with Mr. Bartender.

Gordon’s night in the Bat-plane doesn’t go as he’d hoped, with him relegated to pushing a few buttons as Batman pilots via remote control. The Commissioner isn’t happy about this, and it really makes me wonder (again) where Robin is. In the Cave, Batman grouses about not getting to go out himself, while Alfred plays the voice of reason to the Sulking Knight. Gordon notices the gunfire at the top of Wayne Tower in another familiar scene, and Batman reluctantly lands the plane to let Gordon see what’s going on. The bartender finally cajoles some more emotions out of Harley, but she’s not happy about it. They end up leaving the vents to find themselves in a large, vault-like space, where they discover the familiar face behind the chaos above. This villain, too, thinks the bartender is Joker, and tries to kill them both. Running, Harley and bar-man end up interrupting two more of the bad guys talking about their personal lives. Grabbing something from Wayne R&D, Harley blasts one of the bad guys with a really bizarre device, and even she wonders why anyone would build it. Fighting for his life, the bartender ends up getting desperate and pulling a familiar move with a truly evil expression on his face, although he seems not to remember it moments later. This leads to a debate between them about violence on television, and I suspect the barkeep is playing the part of some critics, with Harley’s answers being from the creative staff of the show.

Things come to a head on the roof, where Harley, the bartender, and Gordon end up having a confusing encounter before being joined by King Shark and Clayface, who are responding to a text Harley says she never sent. This leads to the reveal of who is truly behind even the villain we saw before, and then Sy shows up just to make things more confusing. There’s a huge fight where things are looking bad for pretty much everyone who isn’t a flat-out capital E evil villain. The fight rages on, with some surprising reversals and hints of things to come. Finally, Harley flees as one character apparently sacrifices themself, more are captured, and all of this ties nicely into some things that happened a few episodes ago. Points for continuity, writers. Grasping at straws, Harley does something truly desperate to try and undo something that happened quite some time ago, recreating a very familiar origin story.

What I liked: They do a good job of maintaining at least pieces of their very odd continuity. Harley is actually showing some personal growth, and it only took the near-destruction of her home city to do it. Harley’s last line of the episode was great and done with a wonderful delivery. The nods to Die Hard were entertaining.

What I didn’t: My usual dislike of how Batman and Gordon are portrayed. Where’s Robin and, for that matter, Batgirl? I really hope what it looked like isn’t what happened at the end.

It was entertaining, and I’m curious to see where all this goes. I’ll give this a 3.5 out of 5.