'Harley Quinn' Episode 13 Review: Harley's face-off with Joker brings season full circle and Gotham to its knees

'Harley Quinn' Episode 13 Review: Harley's face-off with Joker brings season full circle and Gotham to its knees
Harley Quinn (DC Universe)

Spoiler alert for Episode 13 of 'Harley Quinn': 'The Final Joke'.

When Harley Quinn (Kaley Cuoco) first confronted the Joker (Alan Tudyk), their fight literally brought the house down. Now that the Joker's murdered Poison Ivy (Lake Bell), the person who Harley cared the most about in the entire world, can Gotham City itself survive the confrontation that's coming?

For all its intelligent, nuanced writing, 'Harley Quinn' is not a show that's meant to be taken too seriously. When it strays from the path of constant gags and gratuitous violence, the effect is surreal. We saw it when Harley visited her parents in Episode 10, and we see it again now. The episode is unconventional and can feel a little bit like a drawn-out nightmare sequence that's somehow lasted an entire episode, but it does have some strong scenes that serve as great cap-off moments for Season 1.

Highlighting the fact that 'Harley Quinn' is not your typical superhero show, the team-up between Batman (Diedrich Bader) and Harley Quinn not only fails spectacularly but sees the Joker remain in power as the King of Gotham for about a month. The stolen crown is definitely beginning to chafe, as the Joker is a chaotic character who grows restless when things go his way for too long.


'Harley Quinn' may be the definitive take on the toxicity of the Joker-Harley relationship. We see that even after having gotten control of Gotham, even with Batman captured and at his mercy, the Joker is still obsessed with Harley Quinn. It's very different from the way Harley was obsessed with him — where Harley sought the Joker's admiration, and respect, the Joker sees Harley as a weakness. He was happy enough to have her under his thumb, but her independence has driven him even more than Batman ever did. The Joker's need to prove his power over Harley may be the ugliest side of him that's ever been seen. 

Harley's having none of it, though. Her journey through the season has taught her that the most important thing is the people who truly love, and care for her, which is why she sacrifices herself for her crew. She's turned her grief over Ivy's death into rage, and rage is a feeling that Harley wears well. She's a character who excels in joyful celebrations of a chaotic life, but when her rage comes to the fore, it's effective as it is powerful. Appropriately enough, it's not hatred, but the healing power of friendship that saves the day, with the return of Poison Ivy (Lake Bell) with an entrance that is nothing short of glorious. 


This episode packs almost as much story in as the pilot episode, but Ivy is definitely a big part of it. From her death, replayed in black and white, to a heartfelt funeral, to her savage, gothic post-resurrection look as she saves the day, Ivy gets some of the show's best moments.

While the show started with Harley's break-up with the Joker, it was immediately apparent that she wasn't over him. The show gave her independence, but kept her ties to the Joker. It's all been building to this episode, and it's clear that it's a relationship of mutual hatred that dwarfs even the Batman-Joker enmity. It's a hatred that has burned Gotham down, and with the world's major heroes either missing or trapped in a magic book, seeing a Harley who has truly moved past the Joker thrive in a chaos-ruled Gotham is going to be a thrill to see. The season finale is surreal, dark, and savage. It's a blockbuster ending for a supervillain series where the day isn't saved, but the characters we care most about are at least, safe and mostly in one piece.


The setup for Season 2 isn't intrusive, as many season finales are, but it does tease some exciting things in store. For now, though, Harley is safe with her friends, the Joker's threat neutralized, and beautifully burning city in front of her that's ripe for the picking. It's weird, but it's hard to imagine a happier ending for Harley. 

All 13 episodes of 'Harley Quinn' are now available to stream on DC Universe.

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