Harley Quinn: It’s a Swamp Thing

As much time as they spend talking about sex on this show, and they didn’t go for a tentacle joke?

The weirdness that is Harley Quinn keeps on going. Poison Ivy’s friend Frank the Plant is missing, and Ivy (if no one else) is desperate to find him. There are a lot of weird twists and turns in this episode. We see unexpected couples counseling, two different surprise guest stars, and one very obvious one from the title. After all, if you need help with plant matters in the DC Universe, there aren’t a huge number of choices, and when you call the episode “It’s A Swamp Thing…”

The episode opens with more of the odd couple dynamic between Harley and Ivy. Ivy is trying to contact “the green,” the mystic force in DC Comics that links all plant life together, and Harley is being her ADD, child-like self and not really helping. Ivy manages enough of a contact to realize Frank’s in trouble, but doesn’t get any useful information from the fleeting vision. Harley tries to be supportive, but the couple falls prey to something that a lot of people might relate to: forgotten plans. Nora Freeze (as she’s billed in the credits, although properly it should be Nora Fries) drops by. Their odd relationship with her has been a running thing throughout much of the series, and it’s an interesting spin on a character who is usually more plot device than actual functional being. Out at Wayne Manor, the Bruce/Selina relationship is going badly, and I really have to say, I loathe this version of Bruce. I’m probably a bit slow, but I finally figured out some of what they do on this series. Female characters are built up, strengthened, and given depth they didn’t necessarily have before, while male characters are made into jokes or shadows of their usual selves. Bruce and Selina’s love is usually a deep, powerful, two-way thing, for example, and not an aloof woman and a clingy man.

While Nora does college party tricks, Ivy frets about Frank. Harley seems to be sort of wandering back and forth between thinking partying with Nora is a good idea, and wanting to help Ivy find Frank. Finally, Ivy admits she needs help, and brings up Swamp Thing. She explains who and what he is badly, but mentions where he lives, and suddenly Nora and Harley are all about helping… or at least a trip to New Orleans. Beignets get brought up, and become a running joke throughout the episode. King Shark and Clayface both have excuses not to go, so it’s a girls’ trip, with Nora acting out in stereotypical fashion as soon as they get to the airport.

Selina goes home, kicks out King Shark, and tries to relax, but gets a visit she doesn’t want from someone she doesn’t want to see bearing a gift she won’t accept. The scene fits with the theme of the series I mentioned above. Ivy and company end up in a bar that, credit to the artists, does look a bit like I place I’ve actually been to in New Orleans. Nora whines for a while as Ivy tries to figure out what to do next. Their next clue comes in the form of John Constantine, voiced by Matt Ryan, who has played the character on many different shows for years now. He suggests an unlikely contest, and Ivy eventually, reluctantly, agrees.

The morning after, most of the crew are a wreck, although Nora’s partying ways have paid off and she’s ahead of the others. Nora’s wake up call (literally) to the other two gets cut off abruptly, and Ivy and Harley race (stagger) off to the rescue, with Ivy blaming herself the whole way for not planning better or various other things. Ivy starts to have a revelatory moment, gets interrupted, and, after some build up, they finally find Swamp Thing… who is also a joke. Bruce continues to descend into… I don’t even know what to call it, while a worried Alfred looks on. Alfred makes a call and, in an interesting choice, arranges to have them both kidnapped. I’m aware this is a very much “turn your brain off” show, but the ease with which the world’s best cat burglar and the one who Superman has called “The most dangerous man on Earth” get captured is disappointing at best and mostly off screen for convenience of plot.

Team New Orleans has a discussion that includes jokes about Nora’s enthusiastic sex life and Ivy’s hair reacting to Louisiana’s humidity. Given how much of her is supposed to be plant, I’m not sure that makes sense, but it gives the show another running joke to play with, which seems to make the writers very happy. Bruce and Selina have been abducted for… couples’ counseling? Interesting choice, Alfred. The kidnapper/therapist is a version of a character that has definitely taken on a life of his own: The Music Meister. Originally pretty much a joke character on the Brave and Bold cartoon, Meister later made the jump to live action on Supergirl, and now a very different version of the man (in appearance, race, musical choice, wardrobe, and MO) is apparently going to use his powers to force Bruce and Selina to be honest about their feelings. Naturally, he also makes them sing, because that’s been about the only consistent thing about the character in all his appearances, aside from him being male.

Harley, Ivy, Nora, and Swamp Thing are in line for some kind of food truck that features coffee and beignets (running joke 1, go!) but Ivy manages to irritate Swamp Thing, and then Nora sends him over the edge. Cue rampaging vines and mass destruction. Credit where it’s due, the writers manage to name check a rather obscure character from Swamp Thing’s past, although the plant man’s real name doesn’t get used. Bruce and Selina sing an involuntary duet that shows they both want very different things, and likely signals the end of that relationship.

Swamp Thing rages, and the reason for his anger isn’t something anyone saw coming. Ivy is surprised, and then makes some emotional confessions of her own. Finally, the two connect and all calms, with Swamp Thing agreeing they need to find Frank. Nora muses about what she’s learned this episode, we get another go at both the beignet and Ivy’s hair jokes, and Swamp Thing helps Ivy manage to do something she’s been struggling with. The final scene reveals the surprising captor of Frank, and sets up for an interesting conversation.

What I Liked: I will support any appearance of Matt Ryan as John Constantine, and am still annoyed about how DC pulled the character from Legends of Tomorrow. They do a great job of showing the strength of the bond between Harley and Ivy, which is nice to see. I can’t exactly call it a healthy relationship between the two, given who they are, but it’s a functional and supportive one. Nora as the party girl making up for lost time is an interesting spin, and it works. I was amused by yet another appearance of the Music Meister. That guy gets around.

What I Didn’t: I flat out don’t believe this version of Bruce Wayne manages to be Batman, unless he has really, serious, multiple personality/Disassociate Identity Disorder. Nora’s scene at the New Orleans airport was a little over the top, even for her.

There were parts of this I liked and others I really didn’t care for. I’ll give this a low 3 out of 5, and that might be a bit generous, and also possibly influenced by Matt Ryan.