DCAU #95: Harley's Holiday

IN THIS ONE... Harley Quinn get a clean bill of mental health, but has a bad day that makes her fall off the wagon

CREDITS: Written by Paul Dini; directed by  Kevin Altieri.

REVIEW: Seems like everybody's going to get a "gone legit" episode, but Harley's is probably the best. It's funny, for one thing, with favorite gags including Harley "armed" with a mannequin's limb, her taking the hyenas for a stroll and them eventually gnawing at Boxy's... uhm... boxers, her recognizing Batman's chin (as Bruce Wayne's, fooled ya), Robin's use of fish-chuks, and that whole sequence with the neon signs harking back to a time when Batman used giant props as battlegrounds a lot.

It's really the comedy version of The Killing Joke's "one bad day" idea, with Harley the victim of people's bias against the (formerly) criminally insane, over-reacting by almost accidentally kidnapping trouble-magnet Veronica Vreeland, and finding herself pursued by all parties, including the mob, the army (Ronnie's dad drives a tank through town), the cops and the Bat (who at least tries to help her). Wait--a tank? I did say it was a comedy. And yet, it's one where Batman admits he was created by one bad day too, and though this is out of a comic I've read, it still put a lump in my throat. Make us laugh before you make us cry.

I do like that Batman has an arc here. In the past, we've seen him be quick to judge his rogues when they were released into genpop, sometimes unreasonably so (Ivy was up to no good, but the Penguin could almost have made it, for example). In this episode, he starts out shaking Harley's hand too hard, the first to show his mistrust at her recovery, but he grows more open-minded when he meets her in his civilian identity, and tries desperately to have her walk back from the edge. So the kiss she gives him is totally earned, and a fun twist on her codependency on the Joker. Love that Robin and Ivy, the two's normal second halves, are standing right there reacting with shock and amusement, too.

IN THE COMICS: Harley and Batman both being the product of "one bad day" is a moment pulled from The Killing Joke (where, obviously, her part was played by the Joker).

SOUNDS LIKE: Frank Cover plays General Vreeland; he was Tom Willis on The Jeffersons.  Suzanne Stone will reappear as Dr. Joan Leland, but was perhaps also known as Cissy on Sanford.

REWATCHABILITY: High - A great deal of fun, but not without a healthy share of pathos as well. Can they do no wrong with Harley Quinn?


Anonymous said...

One of my favorites, and if I had to put together a collection of "best" episodes to show someone, I'd certainly include this just because it shows Batman in an atypical light, but one that is essential to understanding him. A Batman who doesn't have empathy underneath the scary exterior is a Batman who misses the mark.

LiamKav said...

Anon is right. It's why they go to Arkham rather than to prison. Batman doesn't want them to be punished. He wants them to be cured.

Considering Harley must have mentioned them in her sessions, you'd think the doc would have said "oh yeah, don't take the hyena's out shopping with you. They're terrifying and probably illegal." (Who looks after them when Harley and the Joker are locked up, anyway? Or do they just roam free and Harley keeps tracking them down? I'm amazed they never got a name beyond "babies".

I also get that people are quick to judge Harley when she's trying to do good, but the guard was trying to help. He wasn't doing the annoying "hey, calm down" bit where a person doesn't say the vitally important information needed to defuse a situation. He was literally saying "I know you've not done anything wrong. You've just left the security tag on. Let me remove it and you'll be fine." And Harley still freaked out, put on her costume (why was she carrying that around) and then broke half a dozen laws within about 20 minutes. Arkham really should have some sort of "gradual reintroduction to society" program.


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