'Harley Quinn': Uneasy terror of Poison Ivy's captivity has nothing to do with Scarecrow

'Harley Quinn': Uneasy terror of Poison Ivy's captivity has nothing to do with Scarecrow
Poison Ivy (DC Universe)

​Spoiler alert for 'Harley Quinn' Episode 10

It's easy to let moral values fall by the wayside when there's a system in place that lets you do it, especially if it's the kind of system that keeps you empowered — or, at least, comfortable. Giving up that position of relative comfort becomes hard to do, even when someone who's being completely screwed over by that system is right in front of you.

Poison Ivy (Lake Bell) becomes just that person, strapped to a table to be "harvested" for reasons unknown. Her only hope of salvation lies in Gus (Rory Scovel), a man with the power to set her free — just so long as it doesn't hurt his Goon Review rating.

Poison Ivy is a powerful, independent woman in ways that go beyond just her powerset. She is confident, knows what she wants out of life, and doesn't depend on anyone to help her get it. The latest episode of 'Harley Quinn,' however, sees her stripped of that power, and strapped to a table.

With no plant life around her, she's forced to make nice with Gus, a kindergarten teacher who works as a henchman-for-hire to get by. He appears to be a completely average man, but he's one that had tremendous power over Poison Ivy, and the scenes between the two have a surreal nightmare quality to them that the Scarecrow (Rahul Kohli) would be hard-pressed to match.


Gus is someone that Ivy's comic book counterpart would have no problem with. A few natural pheromones here, a seductive suggestion there, one poison-lipped kiss and Gus is plant food. Lake Bell's Ivy, however, has never played big into her seductiveness. She's more a misanthrope who enjoys being around as few people as possible. Being forced to be sociable around someone has got to be a personal nightmare for her, but more than that, it's humiliating. Poison Ivy is forced to care about Gus, forced to be nice to him, forced to try and make some kind of bond with him because of the power he holds over her.

Gus denies Ivy basic liberty with all the assurance of a middle-class man that's assured if he was doing something wrong, he'd be told. Not content to just supervise a captive Ivy, he makes judgments about her life and her friendships. He invades her privacy and makes decisions about Ivy's life that she is helpless to stop, sending Harley (Kaley Cuoco) an insulting text. 


The evil of the Legion of Doom is easy to understand and make light of, but it's their everyday pettiness that makes them so easy to despise. The Joker (Alan Tudyk) is a prime example of this — he may be a genocidal maniac, but it's his everyday misogyny that makes him so despicable. Gus is a completely average guy, trying to make a living, and probably sure that he's doing good for the world overall as a kindergarten teacher.

When he has a chance to actually help someone who needs him in a dire way, however, he doesn't even consider it. Outright villainy would have been easier to swallow, which is why it's almost a relief when the Scarecrow shows up. Ivy in mortal danger from a good, old-fashioned supervillain plot is somehow far less disturbing than the thought of her spending any more time around Gus. 

The next episode of 'Harley Quinn' airs on February 7 on DC Universe.


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