Harley Quinn (DC Universe/Warner Bros.)

HARLEY QUINN S01E11 “Harley Quinn Highway” review

Harley Quinn debuts new episodes on Fridays via the DC Universe streaming platform in North America. International air dates are yet to be confirmed.

Synopsis

Harley must rescue Ivy from the clutches of Scarecrow (Rahul Kohli), who’s trying to harvest her pheromones to make a super toxin that turns plants into sentient monsters.

Review

Over the past ten weeks Harley Quinn has proven itself able to tell stories which focus on its characters as well as its action and adult humour. At times it has wavered in its attempts to balance all three but it has never failed to be successful in at least two-out-of-three of those areas.

“Harley Quinn Highway” is that kind of rare gem which succeeds in managing the trifecta perfectly. There’s plenty of character as Harley (Kaley Cuoco) and the team rush to rescue Ivy (Lake Bell); there’s the action of a high speed car chase along the titular highway and buckets of humour and political satire.

I’ve talked about this at length across the season but it still genuinely impresses me how much the series has developed its characters over the course of these eleven episodes.

As Harley tries to round-up the gang to help save Ivy they’re all found in diverse and challenging situations of their own. But more importantly as a viewer it was important to me to have them all back in the fold as they have their own individual parts to play in the story.

Clayface (Alan Tudyk) gets the most amusing reintroduction here as we find him accidentally upstaging Riddler (Jim Rash) on live TV. It’d hilarious seeing him instruct Riddler on how to perform his monologue to the masses but equally it shows us just how differently be is being treated in the outside world.

There are similar scenes for Dr. Psycho (Tony Hale) and King Shark (Ron Funches) but neither is memorable to the same level as Clayface.

It’s important not to miss out J.B. Smoove who really is an integral part of the cast. Though Frank the Plant hasn’t been in every episode it’s always a good time when he shows up on screen and finally the writers have found a way (or began not to care about the logistics) of getting him outside of Ivy’s apartment.

Jason Alexander returns as Sky Borgman after skipping a couple of episodes and this is by far his star performance on the series. His dialogue about becoming a Transchanger had me in stitches on both watches and it was good to see him get in on the action some more.

“Harley Quinn Highway” is absolutely one of the more outlandish episodes in the series. The design for the highway itself – chalked up to Harley’s own design work – is absolutely nuts but is a prime example of the writers having a great idea and deciding to run with it despite how it impacts on the more grounded aspects of the episode (if there are any).

It works to much greater effect than when Clayface lost his hand which would go on to become best friends with Jim Gordon. That episode still feels like a weak point in Harley Quinn’s first season for me.

This episode really belongs to Ivy as the crew delves in to her head to explore her darkest fears but also for her emotional development in confronting her issues with Harley. This episode alone makes it all the more understandable as to why the series hasn’t paired these characters up as a couple.

Heading in to the penultimate and final episodes there’s still a lot of relationship building to do if everyone is going to end the season on good terms. As it has been revealed the Legion of Doom was involved with Ivy’s kidnapping it seems we’re building towards a Harley and the crew attacking the Legion and probably failing to succeed.

I had never realised how cleverly a lesson about family could be hidden under a layer of comic book villainy and so much blood!

Verdict

This one’s easy: “Harley Quinn Highway” is a total blast!

9/10

Harley Quinn stars Kaley Cuoco as the voice of Harley, and she’ll be joined by Lake Bell, Alan Tudyk, Ron Funches, JB Smoove, Jason Alexander, Wanda Sykes, Giancarlo Esposito, Natalie Morales, Jim Rash, Diedrich Bader, Tony Hale and Chris Meloni.


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