‘Harley Quinn’ Season 4 overview: Harlivy is again, however not higher than ever

Harley Quinn is again and followers of the foul-mouthed firecracker have purpose to rejoice.

Whereas Warner Bros. fumbles the DC bag one messy film after one other, after one other, the Max department (née HBO Max) has been taking large, daring swings with exhibits like Doom Patrol and Harley Quinn. The latter has introduced the titular Batman baddie out of the sidekick function and into the highlight. Season 1 confirmed Harley recognizing her relationship with Joker was poisonous. Season 2 had her rising out of his shadow, due to the help of her loyal, no-bullshit greatestie Poison Ivy. Season 3 introduced these two villainesses collectively in a sapphic and joyful string of misadventures. Season 4 was poised to push them each into tough new terrain, as Harley turns into much less anti-hero and extra outright hero.

Whereas it’s been thrilling to see Warner Bros. take dangers with its TV exhibits, this season of Harley Quinn will get caught in up in DC drudgery and a few drained clichés. Certain, it’s briefly amusing to see this vividly coloured cartoon sequence go Zack Snyder grey for a bit. However one thing essential is misplaced amid the present’s many spinning plates.

What to recollect earlier than watching Harley Quinn Season 4

Credit score: Max

Season 3 introduced some main adjustments to Gotham which have an enduring affect on this new season. At first, Joker was elected Mayor of Gotham. That pitched the always-on-the-verge-of-meltdown Commissioner Gordon into compelled retirement. Plus, Joker had Bruce Wayne arrested for tax evasion. 

This implies Batman is MIA as Season 4 begins, as a brand new serial killer stalks the hotties of Gotham — together with the good-bootied Nightwing. Issues solely get tougher for the Batfam, as BatGirl, Robin, and Nightwing battle to regulate to their new teammate: Harley Quinn.


Did ‘Harley Quinn’ simply redeem the Joker? 

Impulsive and violent, with terrible evening imaginative and prescient, Harley’s removed from a pure match with this group of broody, twilight do-gooders. She tries desperately to attach, utilizing friendship bracelets and grand gestures to reveal her loyalty. Nevertheless, Nightwing specifically is suspicious of her, you already know, since Harley’s girlfriend, Poison Ivy is the brand new CEO of Lex Luthor’s evil company. 

Harley Quinn Season 4 leans in, even when it shouldn’t. 

Now engaged on opposites sides, Harley and Ivy attempt to create boundaries to separate their skilled and private lives. So, relatively than having the ability to help one another’s distinctive visions for a greater Gotham, each are pushed to poisonous secrecy that threatens to explode their bond. Thus, their adventures take conflicting paths for a lot of the 9 episodes given to critics for overview. 

For Harley, her want for validation is reignited in making an attempt to win the Batfam’s approval, resulting in an Alfred-centric episode that throws Batman’s stoic butler into an intriguing arc. For Ivy, it means not solely battling towards the Boys Membership vibe of Lex’s bro-y staff but additionally combating towards the tiresome girlboss cliches these round her will fortunately shove her into. By no means a lot of a group participant, Ivy struggles to handle an unruly boardroom of villains, mentor an elemental-based trio of protégés, and cater to each the relentless calls for of an unnerving PR group and her haughty villainess friends.

Whereas these plotlines enable Harley Quinn to poke enjoyable on the battle of the sexes clichés, the present doesn’t have something new or all that difficult to say concerning the patriarchy, third-wave feminism, or the unimaginable requirements placed on ladies in any place of energy. Extra irritating although is how Harley’s newest journey pulls her again into changing into her personal worst enemy. And whereas one twist ensures that battle will get promisingly bizarre for a number of episodes, her general arc feels vexingly half-baked. 

Harley Quinn suffers with its band damaged up. 

King Shark and Clayface from Season 3,  episode 10

Credit score: Max

Whereas Harley is now obsessive about being a “good man,” her former gang is forged to the fringes of Season 4. Popping as much as disclose some plot factors, Psycho is now a podcaster within the vein of tedious males’s rights activists. Clayface will get an appearing gig that makes for one enjoyable ep idea, however he’s sidelined for a lot of the season. Frank the Plant is essentially forgotten, showing mainly to drop exposition traces. Joker’s mayor plot is a thread so skinny it would snap, and King Shark is kicked to facet quests that — whereas gleefully violent — lack the affect of his Harley team-ups. 

Harley with the Batfam lacks the chemistry of her previous chaos crew. Reasonably than a goofy group haphazardly dedicated to at least one objective, these are a trio of why-so-serious brats who scold Harley far more usually than providing any form of punchline. Certain, final season Nightwing’s brooding made for a humorous distinction to the remainder of the present’s wacky characters. However this time round, his irritable temper has contaminated the entire manor, making the Batfam woefully one-note and borderline boring. 

Likewise, Ivy battling with ego-maniacal Lex isn’t as satisfying as when she and Harley have been dealing with off towards Joker. This isn’t private; it’s enterprise. And albeit, mocking the clichés of Working Woman feminism isn’t almost as outrageous as this present’s previous lampoons. Even The Different Two Season 3 had extra toothsome satirizations of billionaires obsessive about energy and by extension area journey. So, when Lex throws a tantrum on the moon, it feels form of been there achieved that, received the area helmet. 

Can Harley Quinn Season 4 get again on observe? 

Harley and Ivy argue in Season 3, episode 8.

Credit score: Max

Storytelling-wise, it is smart that the present’s makers pulled Ivy and Harley in numerous instructions. The central battle of the season is whether or not they could make their relationship work whereas taking part in on opposing sides of the heroes/villains sport. (Batman and Catwoman present no steerage, as each are mainly written out of this season, so far as I’ve seen.) Nevertheless, Ivy and Harley have all the time been the recipe for the present’s success. 

Separated on their very own missions for a lot of the primary half of Season 4, Harley and Ivy’s parallel paths see the present dropping its grip on what made it nice to start with. The unstable group dynamics of Harley’s previous crew are additionally missed, because the Batfam and unhealthy boys of Lex’s firm simply aren’t as enjoyable to look at struggle as Joker and Batman. Even Bane, so good for absurd interjections and petty vengeances, is generally forged apart. Fortunately although, this does result in a deranged detour that’s positive to thrill followers of the whiny ‘splosions-obsessed foe.

Nonetheless, whereas Season 4 doesn’t begin off as robust as Season 3’s “Eat Bang Kill Tour,” the later episodes trace at a return to type that might make all of the distinction. Usually the ultimate two episodes of Harley Quinn are exploding with motion, wild plot twists, and comedy that’s as outrageous as its eponymous anti-heroine. So, right here’s hoping Ivy and Harley’s paths will collide spectacularly to complete the season robust. 

Harley Quinn Season 4 debuts on MAX July 27 with new episodes every Thursday.