Harley Quinn season 3 review: it’s Poison Ivy’s turn to drive

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In its first two seasons, HBO Max’s Harley Quinn set its titular antiheroine freed from the poisonous relationship that’s lengthy since turn out to be a relic of Harley Quinn™’s previous and imagined a Gotham the place villains like Clayface and King Shark aspired to greater than terrorizing the town. Although Harley Quinn’s third season takes its time earlier than totally fixing its give attention to its namesake, it’s an instance of how a present can truly turn out to be a lot, a lot stronger by letting its essential character play the supporting position in tales that aren’t at all times about them.

As a result of it’s frequent for comedian books and the tales based mostly on them to virtually “reset” after main arcs, it’s refreshing how dedicated Harley Quinn’s third season is to constructing on the occasions of its second season finale that noticed Harley (Kaley Cuoco) and Poison Ivy (Lake Bell) declare their love for each other. By ditching Kite Man (Matt Oberg) on the altar for Harley, Poison Ivy gave herself the permission to be sincere and open about her emotions. And thru her pursuit of Ivy, Harley was in a position to higher perceive her need for progress and alter. Although Harley and Ivy’s honeymoon part is already starting to wane as Harley Quinn’s third season opens, the mellowing of their relationship’s one thing the sequence by no means actually frames as an indication of hazard.

It’s not that there’s hassle in paradise or that both of the ladies has second ideas about one another — they’re legitimately in an excellent, if not nice, place. It’s simply that Harley, a psychotic clown, is usually a bit a lot, and Ivy, an acerbic misanthrope, wants a bit of little bit of respiratory room to consider what it’s that she desires out of life along with Harley’s love. It’s as a result of Harley’s love for Ivy is so robust (and since Harley Quinn’s inventive staff isn’t fascinated about breaking the pair up) that the present kicks off by placing Ivy on the middle of a season-long arc about her standing as one in every of DC’s most complex characters.

Just like how Harley Quinn’s toed the road between good and evil through the years throughout completely different media, Poison Ivy’s existed someplace within the house between being a backyard selection Gotham weirdo and an unstoppable elemental powerhouse able to world domination. Harley Quinn’s third season leans extra into the latter spin on Ivy as a manner of exhibiting you simply how a lot of an influence Harley’s love has on her, and the present’s cautious dealing with of their relationship seems like an intentional acknowledgment of early concerns about queerbaiting. Individually dysfunctional although they might be, Harley and Ivy are good to and for each other, and Harley Quinn holds their love up for instance of a messy, emotionally (and sexually) fulfilling relationship.

By conserving its supporting solid comparatively tight this season, Harley Quinn’s in a position to dig equally into the non-public lives of Gotham’s outright heroes like Batman (Diedrich Bader), Batgirl (Briana Cuoco), and Nightwing (Harvey Guillén) as the town prepares for a mayoral race. Together with Harley Quinn’s filthy, extra express jokes meant to shock you, the truth that the present’s nonetheless typically from a villainous perspective that’s unsympathetic to DC’s heroes continues to be one of many funnier issues about it. GCPD commissioner Jim Gordon (Christopher Meloni) working to be mayor may be trigger for the Bat-family to rejoice in some other DC continuity. However as a result of Harley Quinn’s Jim is an irresponsible cop who drinks on the job and drives his family members away, his pivot to politics introduces a surprisingly darkish observe that contrasts properly with Batgirl’s journey to prominence this season.

Harley Quinn’s by no means had issues taking potshots instantly on the franchise it’s part of, and the present makes use of Catwoman (Sanaa Lathan) to ship various its most stinging and insightful observations each about Bruce Wayne and her personal standing inside DC’s numerous properties. Whereas Harley Quinn’s simple plots like Clayface (Alan Tudyk) combating to painting Thomas Wayne in a James Gunn movie and Joker (additionally Tudyk) turning into a PTA dad are humorous, lots of this season’s largest laughs come from its heady meta-narratives.

As contemporary and new as Harley Quinn’s usually felt, this season additionally acknowledges how Harley’s lengthy since turn out to be part of the canon established within the 30 years since she first appeared in Batman: The Animated Sequence. It’s solely pure {that a} character so instantly liked by followers would rework and evolve wildly as completely different inventive groups took ahold of them. However not like so many different Harley-centric tasks that really feel as in the event that they exist in spite of each other, Harley Quinn’s third season embraces the expansiveness of the Harley model and presents it as her being a multifaceted individual. Whereas Harley Quinn’s storytelling’s in uncommon kind this season, visually, it sometimes seems like a little bit of a downgrade in moments when the animation doesn’t fairly match up with the slick and snappy supply of the present’s dialogue. This kind of factor doesn’t maintain this season of Harley Quinn from being good by any stretch of the creativeness, however it’s noticeable when a lot else concerning the sequence is firing on all cylinders (like in its musical episode).

Simply when it looks like this season is shifting gears to give attention to being essentially the most attention-grabbing story about Gotham Metropolis’s politics that Warner Bros. has put out in years, Harley Quinn’s third chapter is already wrapping up, which is extra of a characteristic than a bug. Harley Quinn’s third season could also be concise, however it undoubtedly makes the case for the follow-up this finale leaves open the likelihood for — and for itself as the most effective superhero TV reveals out this yr.

Harley Quinn additionally stars Ron Funches, Tony Hale, Giancarlo Esposito, Tom Hollander, Sam Richardson, and Rachel Dratch. Season 3 hits HBO Max on July twenty eighth.

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