HARLEY QUINN 2×04 “Thawing Hearts” review

Harley Quinn (DC Universe)

Harley Quinn airs new episodes Friday’s via DC Universe, the series will air in the UK on E4.

Synopsis

Harley and crew try to infiltrate Mr. Freeze’s lair only to become human lab rats for his experiments to find a cure for his cryogenically frozen wife, Nora. Meanwhile, Kite Man (MATT OBERG) and Ivy try to impress the manager of Kite Man’s ideal wedding venue.

Review

Over the course of its lifetime (okay 17 episodes) we’ve complemented Harley Quinn on a number of occasions for its ability to balance adult humour with genuine character development. The writers have shown a deep rooted sense of understanding of how DC approaches its legacy characters and have been able to mould that approach on to their own brand of crass, gruesome (and awesome I might add!) humour.

But with “Thawing Hearts” the series takes those emotional undertones and turns the dial up to an eleven. What starts out as another caper in the New New Gotham arc ends up becoming something else entirely.

The setup is perfectly in line with what we have come to expect from the level of storytelling in season 2. Harley (Kaley Cuoco) and the crew, using the gun stolen from the museum last week (reviewed here) are using it to break in to the territory run by Mr. Freeze (Alfred Molina). Before they break in there’s time for typically poor taste joke about Harley crafting an ice vagina just because she can.

The setup leads to an inventive fight sequence on ice as Harley, King Shark (Ron Funches), Clayface (Alan Tudyk) and Doctor Psycho (Tony Hale) take on Freeze’s goons. But the entire sequence, no matter how bloody it gets (and it gets real bloody) is actually governed by the dialogue between the characters.

As the team discuss the impending wedding of Poison Ivy (Lake Bell) and Kite Man (Matt Oberg) it brings to the fore something which Harley has never confronted before, her own feelings about love. Given that the series has rooted itself in strong, bloody action scenes it’s a genius move to have one of the most inventive of these scenes focus away from the violence.

It certainly seems that Harley Quinn is laying the ground work for a more romantic relationship between it’s two female leads. But, for now at least, it seems Harley will be the one to arrive at that conclusion first. But once again I have to commend the writers for not forcing the subject early or simply pivoting the characters in to this new position. It’s a slow and steady race which, at least to this reviewer, feels more rewarding as an audience member.

From here the episode takes on a more traditional approach to its narrative. There’s the A-story with Harley vs. Freeze and the B-story which focussed on Ivy and Kite Man squaring up to Condiment King (surprise, surprise he’s voiced by Alan Tudyk) over a wedding venue. After 17 episodes it’s funny to think that Kite Man, though still fairly chauvinist and set in his ways, has become such a compelling character.

He is, of course, played for laughs as he takes on the more traditionally female role in planning the wedding. We learn of his plans for his dream wedding and his dream venue. But by the close of the episode it brings the couple of a joyful realisation about their own feelings towards each other and their impending nuptials.

Of course as things progress the two narratives collide when Harley needs Ivy’s help to get her out of yet another sticky (or is that icy?) situation.

Harley Quinn sticks with the more traditional representation of Mr. Freeze which will be incredibly familiar to fans of Batman the Animated Series. He’s the devoted husband desperately searching for a cure to his wife’s blood disorder.

What is genuinely shocking about “Thawing Hearts” is the twist that the story takes in its third act. No major spoilers here as this is something fans absolutely need to explore for themselves but Harley Quinn pulls off what is easily it’s most emotionally resonant and poignant scenes to-date.

The conclusion of the Freeze storyline forces Harley to take a very hard look at herself and brings about some huge realisations and changes in her emotional and mental state.

In terms of this version of the character, “Thawing Hearts” will forever be a defining moment in her journey to self-acceptance and will no doubt impact her moral centre for at least… the next couple of episodes?

Verdict

“Thawing Hearts” is, simply put, a career defining moment in the history of both the character and the series.

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