BIRDS OF PREY (2002) S01E13 “Devil’s Eyes” review

Birds of Prey (Warner Bros.)

Birds of Prey is available now on DVD and digital. The series can be streaming on DC Universe in North America.

Synopsis

Harley Queen hypnotizes Helena, who reveals the trio’s secrets. Kirk Baltz and Ian Reed Kesler guest star.

Review

And now the ends is near and so we face… the destruction of Gotham?!

Finally, after twelve episodes of build up we get the pay-off which we have all been waiting for. Harley Quinn (Mia Sara) emerges and Birds of Prey obliterates all its shackles to show us exactly what it was capable of.

Watching back “Devil’s Eyes” is a constant sore reminder of just how this should could have been had it been able to break free from all of the network conventions of the era.

Firstly, given the fact they knew that the series had been cancelled, Rachel Skarsten’s Dinah finds herself much more in control of her abilities and is a fully functioning member of the team. She’s more mature, she able to interact with more than just Alfred (Ian Abercombie), Helena (Ashley Scott) and Barbara (Dina Meyer) as she is given scenes – outside the clocktower no less! – alongside Detective Reese (Shemar Moore).

Likewise Moore is also able to join the action more as Birds of Prey finally moves on from the sexual tension between Reese and Huntress. Following the kiss at the end of the previous episode their relationship feels more balanced and more functional moving through this episode.

Alfred is even given a moment to get in on the fight as the clocktower is besieged by the unhinged Dr Quinzel.

There’s an aspect of the writers throwing absolutely everything at the screen because this was the last episode and because they loved their cast so much. The family aspect of production is never more evident than in seeing the entire cast, Rob Benedict included, in a scene together.

Something which Birds of Prey lacked when it came to its overarching plotline was more motivation for Harley. We knew she wanted her Mister J back and revenge for him being locked up. But her plans were really only one-and-done episodic stories. It lacked the finesse of an ongoing plan which built towards her actions in this episode.

I thoroughly enjoy her sudden use of a New Gotham scientist to steal a metahuman power to hypnotise and then using that power to take over the city. In fact I’d call it bloody genius for this series and easily the best idea they had outside of the pilot’s flashback scenes. But the downside is that once again it’s wrapped in some very dated storytelling tropes.

This scientist, whom we have never met, has a device which is able to transfer metahuman powers. The device itself looks like a throwback to Adam West’s Batman series which I hope was on purpose. At the throw of a giant switch you could almost imagine their brains being swapped. Of course this being “adult” television the poor metahuman has his eyes burned out and dies, leaving Harley with some trippy VFX where here eyes used to be.

It leads to some eleventh hour development for all three of the Birds as Huntress finds herself under Harley’s spell. Barbara is forced to get back up out of her chair and gets a couple more opportunities to kick some ass whilst Dinah steps up to become the field agent leader of the team whilst Barbara works on her spinal chord device.

There are speed bumps along the way. Harley takes control of Alfred which is maddening to watch and this leads to Wade (Shawn Christian) being killed off in an effort to make Harley and Barbara mortal enemies. Poor Gibson is brainwashed in to losing his mind which leads to him thinking he’s King Kong. It’s all quite hokey but if you have stuck with the show this far then honestly you will be eating it up.

It all culminates in a third act battle for the clocktower as Birds of Prey destroys its sets in what feels like a genuinely apocalyptic battle on a very small TV budget. The original version of the fight was soundtracked by the brilliant “All The Things She Said” by Tatu which has been replaced on home video due to licensing issues. The original is still available on YouTube if you want to see the scene how it was originally conceived.

The series absolutely leaves nothing on the table as everything gets involved in the tussle which see’s Barbara almost use lethal force on Harley.

As the series draws to a close there’s a feeling that none of these characters quite lived up to their comic book counterparts but all of them because lovable in their own ways. Made real by some great performances and brought together in a series which really stands as an early attempt to create a cinematic spectacle on a TV budget.

Verdict

Birds of Prey closes out its one and only season with an episode which aims big and, for the most part, achieves to be the series it should have been all along. It’s a sad reminder of what could (and should) have been.

8/10

Birds of Prey stars Ashley Scott as Helena Kyle/Huntress, Dina Meyer are Barbara Gordon/Oracle, Rachel Skarsten as Dinah Redmond, Shemar Moore as Detective Jessie Reese, Mia Sara as Dr Harleen Quinzel/Harley Quinn and Ian Abercombie as Alfred Pennyworth.


Follow us on Facebook, on Twitter @GetYourComicOn, or on Instagram at GetYourComicOn. If you have a story suggestion email feedback@getyourcomicon.co.uk.

About Neil Vagg 4569 Articles
Neil is the GYCO Editorial Chief. He has a BA in Film & Tv and an MA in Scriptwriting; he currently works 9-5 as an office manager and 5-9 as a reviewer/web designer. He has been subscribing to comics for around nine years but has been reading them as long as he can remember. Favourite comics: Batman; Nightwing, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and All New X-Men Favourite films: Batman (any apart from & Robin); Star Trek Generations, Underworld, Beetlejuice Favourite TV shows: Fringe; Buffy, Arrow, TBBT, Being Human UK and Star Trek TNG