Harley Quinn S1E1 Review: A Vat of Freedom Sauce

Til Death Do Us Part

I knew this was going to be R-rated, but Harley Quinn makes it very clear from the very first scene. Harley Quinn breaks someone’s ankle with a sledge hammer. The Joker pulls off someone’s face and then uses the mouth from the skin to puppeteer a joke. Another guy starts vomiting. Someone gets melted by a grenade of acid. Bodily fluids are everywhere, and I couldn’t be happier.

No one takes Harley Quinn seriously, played by the great Kaley Cuoco. That’s the theme of the first episode of the new DC Universe original series Harley Quinn. “You’re the appetizer, I’m the entree,” says Joker when speaking to Harley Quinn. Harley is fed up with her current title and requests to be Joker’s partner rather than sidekick. Joker flees, and Harley goes to jail.

He’s no good for you, Harley…

A significant part of this episode revolves around Harley Quinn accepting the fact that Joker is no good for her. Poison Ivy , played by Lake Bell, does her best to convince Harley, who blindly awaits Joker’s arrival to visit her in prison. The first episode features a significant amount of Batman’s rogues gallery of villains. Calendar Man, Killer Croc, The Riddler, Man-Bat, and Deadshot all make appearances here.

This show has a very original premise, revolving around Harley Quinn coming to grips with Joker’s intentions and her own mental illness. It’s a stroke of genius. In the beginning of the episode, Harley continues to wait for Joker to bust her out of jail, but to no avail. Poison Ivy eventually drugs Harley and rescues her from prison.

Harley’s reality check about Joker eventually comes from a conversation with a photograph (and yes, a photograph of herself as Dr. Harleen Frances Quinzel from the past). When Harley tells Joker that she is breaking up with him, he, in classic joker form, twists his intentions and convinces Harley to stay.

Another stroke of genius? The Riddler kidnaps Batman and Harley, places them above boiling acid and forces Joker to pick which one lives and which one dies. How could Joker allow The Riddler to obtain the title of the one who killed Batman? Harley enters the acid pit and finally discovers that her entire image of her and Joker’s wedding was a lie. It was never about her. Joker has always been in love with Batman, not Harley Quinn.

150 gallons of boiling margarita mix…

We later learn that this entire kidnapping was staged by Poison Ivy in an attempt to convince Harley that Joker is no good for her. There was no acid. It was actually 150 gallons of margarita mix. Harley finally comes to the realization that it’s time to move on and she can become anything she wants to be.

One of the funniest scenes included Harley and Joker talking about date night. Joker is in full tantrum mode over the media stating that The Riddler is funnier than he is. Harley makes matters worse when she tells him she rented a Reese Witherspoon movie. “Well I do love my Reese” says Joker. However, it’s not Legally Blond as he had initially hoped. Joker storms out when he finds out the movie turns out to be Sweet Home Alabama. Hilarious.

One of my favorite moments came from Commissioner James Gordon. Christopher Meloni’s portrayal as James Gordon was both fresh and hilarious. This is not the Gordon you’re used to seeing on the big and small screen. Gordon is a high strung insomniac drinking a cup of coffee on roof top and playing too much with the bat signal.  He even requests Batman to come over for a barbecue.

My Grade – 9/10

Watching Harley Quinn’s rise to fame in Gotham never felt so good. It’s only been one episode, but this is a show that truly understands its characters as well as the toxic relationship between Joker and Harley Quinn. This is something that will be heavily explored when Birds of Prey (and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn) hits theaters on February 7th, 2020. As a huge DC Comics fan, I’m just glad we don’t have to wait until then. I fully recommend this show.