HARLEY QUINN 2×10 “Dye Hard” 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

Fresh off Ivy rebuffing her and now alone on Christmas Eve, Harley reconnects with a now-sane Joker. With Ivy out of the picture, Harley needs a new best friend and sane Joker seems like the perfect confidant. Harley heads with sane Joker to his favorite hang out spot… Wayne Tower. Their dinner at Wayne Tower gets hijacked by an escaped Riddler as Joker’s old memories start to be triggered. Meanwhile Gordon deals with the rising ParaDemon infestation, only to end up drawn into the chaos at Wayne Tower as the pests find themselves with a mysterious new master…

Review

I’ve spoken in the past about my admiration for the writers on Harley Quinn given their bold choices in moving narrative around the universe of the show. This week is about beautiful sidestep which is no doubt to anger some fans within the Harley-Ivy ship movement.

Following on from last week’s escalation (reviewed here) in the romance between the pair, Harley (Kaley Cuoco) now finds herself on the rebound. Let’s get something straight here right away, this episode belongs to Harley and Ivy (Lake Bell) is entirely absent bar one very fleeting glimpse in a flashback/recap scene.

What “Dye Hard” does is circle the series back to its original premise. Whilst the relationship between Harley and Ivy has been at the centre of the show from the outset, it’s Harley’s name in the title alone. Not that it needed to be re-stated but this is the Harley Quinn show not the Harley AND Ivy show. It feels right, at this stage to make sure that the character is still able to stand on her own.

Again, whilst I have the utmost respect for their relationship and feel it’s an important story to tell, it’s great to see Harley striking out on her own here. I’ve spoken in previous reviews about Ivy’s own journey to accepting her feelings and this remains incredibly important to the show’s idea of representation, but Harley’s journey is the one we’re here to focus on.

Part of that journey includes her long history with Joker (Alan Tudyk). It’s that past relationship which is at the centre of “Dye Hard.” But before the audience collectively groans, this episode down a stand up job in further solidifying Harley’s character development.

Once again the writers upend the status quo of the cast by separating Harley from her companions. Though its a plot device to lead her in to striking out alone it doesn’t feel too contrived amongst the wider narrative. There’s enough humour in the opening scenes to keep the premise feeling fresh and original.

Side note: loved how the brought over the recurring joke with the pigeons from last week’s episode and transitioned it to the ParaDemons this week.

As the title of the episode allude, “Dye Hard” takes cues from the plot of the 1988 movie. Harley, alone at the bar in Wayne Tower’s restaurant, finds herself caught up in a hilarious hostage situation and paired with the now human Joker.

Much to her chagrin the pair are handcuffed together and spend much of the rest of the episode in each other’s company. This version of Joker proves to be a huge comedic foil for Harley, it’s not the exact mirror opposite of their previous relationship thought. Instead this is something new, his childish innocence does serve to frustrate Harley as she used to frustrate Joker but she uses her new found sense of self in order to manage the situation as only Harley could.

The plot intricately works in Joker’s resurfacing memories, teasing the viewer throughout. But the real surprise here is the true meaning behind it all, one which I think will come to shock plenty of viewers.

It’s quite a dastardly move on behalf of the writers to make Joker the man that Harley needs in order to put things right in Gotham. But also it’s utterly genius. What the season one finale failed to give the character of Harley was a moment to truly rule over Joker. Yes, she ultimately played a part in his demise but she wasn’t left with the satisfaction of showing him that she had truly moved on from their toxic relationship.

Given her now strong feelings for Ivy, having Joker back in the cast afford the Harley the chance to truly close the door on their time together and for the show to explore exactly how a jilted Joker might react.

Elsewhere, “Dye Hard” tugs at the emotional heartstrings with the character of Sy. He’s been very much in the background but here comes to Harley’s aid brilliantly. His final moments were incredibly said but also a huge step forward for his characterisation. It’s certainly bound to leave some viewers upset.

Riddler takes the crown for biggest laugh this week. Resurfacing just as viewers were wondering what had happened to him. His new appearance was laugh-out-loud funny, particularly when he wants to show off his muscles. But buried underneath this is a sad betrayal for Harley. It will be interesting to see how Dr. Psycho fits in the story moving forwards.

Verdict

“Dye Hard” marks a huge gear shift as Harley Quinn motors towards its second season finale.

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