HARLEY QUINN S01E13 “The Final Joke” review

Harley Quinn (DC Universe/Warner Bros.)

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

In the season finale, Harley has her final showdown with the Joker, when [spoilers] [spoil] [spoilers]. Will they [spoiler]? Maybe. But you can bet they [spoiler]!

Review

We’ll that’s it Super Friends, we’ve reached the finale of Harley Quinn season 1. Thirteen weeks of storytelling has all led up to this moment as Harley (Kaley Cuoco) faces down Joker (Alan Tudyk) one more time.

The stakes have never been higher for Harley as the long-running storyline which started back in episode 9 finds her out for revenge following the death of Ivy (Lake Bell) in the previous episode.

“The Final Joke” is some of the finest writing we’ve seen to-date on the series. It continues to pull together the plot threads of the season and confront Harley and the audience with everything we’ve learned so far.

As much as there’s a storyline to work through, with Harley teaming up with Batman (Diedrich Bader) to take down Joker, once again Harley Quinn‘s writers set aside the story for a bucketload of character development.

The episode really hinges on that final moment of acceptance for Harley as she truly steps out from under the (literal) shadow of The Joker. The whole motif is brilliantly represented by Joker forcing Harley to wear her signature costume.

Her resistence to wear the classic costume is a brilliant storytelling device for the series. It challenges viewers acceptence of this newly empowered version of the character. It reflects her comic book development much more than any version we’ve seen in animation or live-action, ahead of Birds of Prey that is.

As the episode hits the pause button on everything not Harley and Joker it really takes the time it needs to observe where these two are at in their story. Creative choices are all very much in keeping with the overall trjectory of the series and it all feels natural.

It was obvious that Ivy would be resurrected at some point, even after the poignant funeral held at the beginning. But despite being a predictable story decision it still feels well earned when it happens. The moment harkens back to when the crew were inside Harley’s head earlier in the season and allows Ivy a moment to be there for her friend when she was unable to before.

The closing moments of “The Final Joke” circle back around to the core idea of family but also pushes the plot forwards in a way which should make season 2 a very interesting watch. Whether the writers meant to or not we appear to have entered No Man’s Land territory and that is incredibly exciting!

If I have one major takeaway from the first season of Harley Quinn it’s that adult comedy really can be self-aware, intelligent and serialised without harming its appeal to the target audience. I expected a fun season of bat-shit-craziness and I got all of that in a series which turned out to also be groundbreaking.

Verdict

Harley Quinn finishes its first season on a huge high note and Harley finally puts the full stop on her relationship with Joker.

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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By Neil Vagg

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