While Marvel has gone to great lengths to make unified stories that all fit into the Marvel Cinematic Universe, DC has taken an opposite approach. They have lots of different unrelated projects all over the place that aren’t connected to anything else. One of the shows that’s definitely off by itself is the animated Harley Quinn series on HBOMax. The third season of the very odd show begins with “HarlIvy,” the “couple name” of Harley Quinn and Poison Ivy, who have admitted their love for each other and run off together.
After a comedic recap of the major events of season two, we join the two lovebirds who are watching a porn parody of their relationship, and being amused about the production value. They’re hiding out someplace they shouldn’t, and end up attracting attention from the powers that be. There’s even a joke about HBOMax as they flee to continue their “Eat Bang Kill” tour. The wander the world, ending up in a lot of different places, and with a very famous “guest star.” There’s also a passing reference to one of the many actors who have played their nemesis Batman in the movies.
Things have taken a turn back in Gotham, where Gordon is apparently running for mayor. In the comics, that might be a great choice, but the version on this show? I can’t imagine anyone voting for him. There’s a debate, with Gordon against the current mayor, who never gets a name. Gordon makes a few decent points, but does a fine job of showing why he probably shouldn’t be holding any position of power at all. The Commissioner does have a very interesting choice for his campaign manager. I’d say it was out of character, but, as I’ve said before, this is no Jim Gordon I’m familiar with. Trying to do something nice for her girl, Harley brings Ivy to revisit a place from the former scientist’s past, which stirs up a lot of emotions in Ivy. There are a few fissures showing in the perfect couple as Ivy gets wrapped up in something new, but they get interrupted by a call for help from King Shark and Clayface. The lovebirds take off to rescue their friends, making plans as they go.
Clayface continues his fixation with his acting career, such as it is, and we hear about the current project he’s going for, while King Shark offers some sardonic commentary on a strange event. All of this, of course, is one of those “It’s a trap, but we know it’s a trap,” sort of deals, and Harley and Ivy’s counter-plan is weird but smart, and offers a callback to something from earlier in the episode. That bit gets even weirder, as is common for this series, and the rescue goes fairly well, but they cross paths with someone DC fans should recognize. The shark and the clay get dropped off at the old headquarters, while Harley and Ivy go back to Ivy’s new project. Ivy even offers Harley a chance to do something more in tune with her own tastes, but Harley is determined to go be a supportive girlfriend.
Back in Gotham, the Mayor dresses down Gordon over some particularly poor police performance. There’s betrayal, surreal background events, and more of the bloody and violent death we’ve come to expect on the series. Ivy is doing her own version of being a sweet and supportive partner, which of course involves a few major felonies. Harley’s chaos has a lot of unintended consequences, and we get a sort of crossover with one of DC’s movies, but not really. The writers do manage a deep dive for a guest-antagonist, and get their backstory and some of their group history more or less right, so kudos there. Naturally, things spin out of control, Harley (and probably Ivy) make a new and really dangerous enemy, and the destruction is impressive and wide-spread. While Clayface meets with some odd success with another of the actual celebrities to show up on this series, Ivy considers giving up on her new ideas. Harley gives her own version of a twisted peptalk, and I believe that’s going to set the major plot in motion for the season.
What I Liked: The weirdness is back, and they’re certainly not shying away from the bi nature of both Harley and Ivy. I was impressed with some of the characters that dropped by, and the actual celebrity cameo. The recap was pretty entertaining.
What I Didn’t: Yeah, I’m repeating myself, but I hate this version of Gordon. I’m really not sure how either Harley or Ivy are still alive and not in prison.
I will say the show is entertaining silliness. It’s certainly not my favorite take on any of these characters, but the performances and sheer absurdity make it work. I’ll give this one a 3 out of 5, and see how the rest of the season unfolds.