'Harley Quinn' Season 2 Episode 7 Review: Harley and Ivy are caught between a rock and a hard place
Spoilers for 'Harley Quinn' Season 2 Episode 7 'There's No Place to Go But Down'
Season 2 of 'Harley Quinn' has been pulling out all the stops, taking us all over New New Gotham and introducing a wide variety of classic and not so classic Batvillains and characters. This episode sees Harley Quinn (Kaley Cuoco) and Poison Ivy (Lake Bell) thrown into Bane's (James Adomain) prison pit that is sure to be an Easter Egg hunter's delight. Accompanying them in prison are villains undergoing Bane's strangely well-intentioned rehabilitation. It's a surprisingly better prison system than Arkham Asylum, but then again, that's a bar set low enough for even a hole in the ground to rise above.
James Adomain's Bane truly gets to shine once more this episode. From the judge in Two-Face's court (a brief but highly amusing scene featuring Man-Bat as New New Gotham's worst defensive lawyer ever) to the prison warden of the pit, Bane's childlike earnestness is as endearing as it is hilarious. Parodying Tom Hardy's inexplicable Bane accent should not reasonably work for as long as it has, but Bane continues to be the show's best running gag. That's not to say he's not been fleshed out. It may be warped but Bane has a rock-solid belief in the best of people and prisoners of the pit receive the kind of care to their emotional well-being that might have put Batman out of business years ago.
Where 'Thawing Hearts' let us enjoy some time with Harley and her crew, 'There's No Place To Go But Down' really lets the audience see the dynamic between Harley and Ivy at their best. It's something we haven't really seen all that much of since the pilot and it's a welcome return to the spotlight for two of the series' main characters. We also get to see Ivy forced to face her worst nightmare - public speaking and emotional vulnerability - in a touching scene that's the culmination of her entire arc so far. Last episode, we saw Ivy at her most misanthropic best, allowing us some perspective on just how far she's come.
The Harley-Ivy dynamic has always been a big part of the show but the two characters have had such a natural relationship that it's been easy to take them for granted, even when the two were arguing and nearly parted ways for good. This episode takes them away from their home base, from their allies and from their significant others, boiling it down to its essentials and the result is a clear picture of just how much these two women are there for each other. Each of them sacrifices themselves for the other as soon as they realize that it's the most efficient way to save the other person. Harley's final sacrifice, in particular, over a flaming pit, is a moment of pure beauty that is not undercut in the least by Ivy saving her at the last minute. It's a beautiful moment that's led to the kiss that EVERYONE'S been waiting for and the next episode can't come soon enough.
The B-plot features Batgirl/Barbara Gordon (Briana Cuoco) teaming up with an increasingly off-the-rails Jim Gordon (Chris Meloni). Fans of Gordon were in for a bit of a shock when he was first introduced on 'Harley Quinn'; Batman's most steadfast ally was reduced in this series to an alcoholic cop with a failing marriage, an unhealthy obsession with Batman and complete incompetence as far as his job is concerned. It's his daughter who finally inspires him to get to where he needs to be and it's the most humanizing moment Gordon's gotten since the series began. The Gordons are Gotham's newest dynamic duo and the redemption of Jim Gordon has been a long time coming.
If this episode has one theme, it's crawling out of the pit, inspired by the one you love. Both Ivy and Jim Gordon hit rock bottom this episode but the ones that matter the most for them inspire them to be more than their own flawed visions of themselves. They both reach new heights and even if those heights are just reaching ground level, for now, it's an impressive start. The episode leaves things on a major cliffhanger - where Jim and Barbara have grown closer and Harley and Ivy are in a new, exciting, but ultimately very confusing place. Suddenly the Injustice League doesn't seem all that important.
The next episode of 'Harley Quinn' airs May 21, on DC Universe.