Harley Quinn: The Horse and the Sparrow

“I’m just saying, think about it: Harley, the Musical!”

The third season of the deranged but enjoyable madness that is the animated Harley Quinn show careens to an end. Credit where it’s due, they make some changes that I expect will affect the future of the show (the series has been renewed and is targeted to debut sometime this year). There’s madness, violence, life changing decisions and an intriguing offer among other things in “The Horse and the Sparrow.”

Opening about where we left off, we see the aftermath of Ivy’s attempt to take over and zombify Gotham City. She’s not happy Harley forced her into stopping, and has some thinking to do. Harley is crushed, torn between the love of her life and drawing the line at mass murder. Harley’s dazed state isn’t helped by an unusual reaction from the people around her, and Batgirl’s friendly offers. Harley takes advantage of Batgirl being distracted by a man she thinks is being sexist to disappear.

Ivy is engaging in retail therapy and talking things out with Frank the Plant as she tries to figure out how she feels about recent events. Her shopping spree is interrupted when a well-known villain takes over every screen in her vicinity to make an impressive offer. Ivy, not trusting or believing this, makes some demands, partially to test the waters and her would-be benefactor agrees. The guest-villain dangles some impressive bait, and they keep a running joke going, turning a fearsome and skilled arch-foe from the comics into little more than a punchline (yes, I really dislike this version of the character).

Out at Wayne Manor, Alfred does some impressive, and grim, clean up, and Bruce ruminates on his recent poor choices and obsessions. Bruce decides to take face some of his inner demons head-on, and Alfred appears worried. Given recent events, I don’t blame him. Clayface prepares for his big red carpet event, and gets thrown off by King Shark’s observation about the situation. Harley and Ivy finally meet up again, take steps to reconcile, and Ivy shares the offer she just got.

Clayface grouses about something he should have realized before now, and there’s an unpleasant, if largely accurate, joke about actors. The team goes to the big movie event together, which makes no sense given one of them sort of having a secret identity at the moment. Bruce is there, and he gets what could be a nice moment with Selina, but the writers really seem intent on making her a borderline sociopath.

Not happy with his seat assignment, Mayor Joker (that still makes my head spin) does some glad-handing before getting kidnapped as part of Ivy’s new deal. As scenes from the movie (including the WB logo) play out on the big screen, Ivy and Joker verbally spar about what happens next, and there’s a new joke introduced about one of Joker’s policies. Harley leaves to take care of something, runs into Bruce, and they have some dialogue that I swear is close to word-for-word with a scene they’ve already had. Joker and Ivy do some unlikely bonding over an unlikely subject, Joker seeming oddly unconcerned about his current predicament.

More of the movie is shown, and Clayface is oddly moved by his own performance. You really have to wonder if all the shapeshifting has done something to his brain. A lot of things start happening in close succession as we get near the end of the episode and season. Clayface proves unable to keep his own secret, and doesn’t get the reaction he wanted for his big reveal. There’s a sort of trivia moment for comic book fans when the credits roll for the movie. Ivy and Harley have an in-depth talk about the changes they’re both going through, and it’s a rare serious moment with some actual emotional content. There’s a really weird development with Bruce that, as far as I can tell, comes out of nowhere. Some changes are coming for Gotham’s protectors, and it seems the city will be defended by Batgirl, Nightwing, Robin, and a surprising addition to the team. Bruce gets one good moment as things are going badly for him. The new status quo for this series is going to be interesting, to say the least.

What I Liked: They managed some actual emotional scenes amid the foolishness. Harley’s struggling with what she’s going to do is a really not-subtle metaphor, but it works, and is an interesting development. The new dynamic between Gotham’s heroes and the major villain organization is going to be an interesting line to walk. I liked the nod to DC’s comics in the movie credits.

What I Didn’t: I suspect some of these scenes are written specifically to annoy fanboys like me, and, if so, it works. I don’t care for the depictions of Bruce Wayne, Bane, or Catwoman on this show. I’m also pretty over the ongoing bit of “the women are good at what they do up to incredibly skilled, and the males are ineffective comic relief.” The team being together on the red carpet made no sense given what one of them is up to, and why would supervillains go to a movie premier anyway? Cops were there, but didn’t do anything until the end of the scene when they were just plot twists?

Yes, I’m probably going to keep harping on some of those themes above as long as they keep doing them. And, that said, it’s still a fun show. I’ll give this episode a 3.5 out of 5, and the same for the season. I’ll hopefully get to the Valentine’s special soon, and will certainly be back for season four “later this year.”

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