NOTE: Full spoilers for this episode of, “Harley Quinn” are present in this review
Harley Quinn brought back a few previously established story elements in its seventh episode, one that’s in turn positioned to test Harley’s resolve as a truly ‘bad’ person. “The Line” is spread across a primary and secondary storyline, with the main plot centering on Harley, and the subplot on Ivy, along with a foil for each of them that ends up making their day pretty complicated. The humour felt like it took more of a back seat this time, despite a few good jokes still being spaced out here and there, and that’s a bit of a shame, considering how gut-bustingly hilarious the previous episode of Harley Quinn was. Still, the narrative development for Harley and Ivy alike is nonetheless worth the journey here, with both becoming better characters, if not better people.
The episode’s events properly get going after the Queen of Fables wins a ruling to be freed from the tax code book, making her fully flesh-and-blood again for the first time in thirty years. After the judge claims that Fables must nonetheless serve out the rest of her sentence in Arkham Asylum however, Harley takes it upon herself to break her friend out of a prison transport, while in turn enlisting Fables to help steal a weather device from Kord Industries. Apparently, even several of the Legion of Doom’s finest super-villains haven’t managed to steal this weather machine, and Harley decides to bring Fables along on her own attempt at the heist, despite Ivy’s protests, which Harley initially dismisses.
Obviously though, Ivy was bang on the money about not trusting Fables. After someone at a family reunion accidentally notices and rats out the villains, Harley and her crew go on ahead into S.T.A.R. Labs to steal a laser-deflecting personal force field device, only to return and see that Fables has butchered everyone in the family! This finally has Harley seeing the truth about Fables, and subsequently attempting to dismiss Fables from her crew. Even this proves to be difficult to do however, when a surviving member of the family, Jason Praxis, breaks into Harley’s lair, now having become an electricity-wielding metahuman after a botched suicide attempt, which has motivated him to seek revenge on Fables. Yes, avid DC fans will likely recall that Praxis is a telepath in DC Comics lore, and doesn’t possess electrokinetic abilities in the printed panels, but for the sake of this storyline, the change in Praxis’ powers works well enough.
This idea of Harley being in trouble on account of Fables’ extreme measures is an interesting one, though it would have worked better if Fables’ presence in this episode’s heists didn’t feel so inconsequential. What was Fables’ ultimate purpose on the crew in this episode, beyond causing trouble? Had Harley never tried to recruit Fables, the result of her heist would be the exact same, and Praxis never would have been mutated, nor lost his family. Despite a plot that’s supposed to revolve heavily around Harley examining her own code of ethics as a villain, the premise of this storyline doesn’t totally work in this case, since Fables never feels like a truly essential part of Harley’s crew. That being said, Harley saving Fables after appearing to betray her to Praxis is a good final result, especially when it leads to one of the best jokes of the episode, wherein Fables suddenly kills Praxis after appearing to walk away, casually saying that she almost forgot to end the bloodline. It’s a pretty dark ending to an already dark core storyline, but it is a weirdly clever conclusion to Harley’s main arc in this episode.
Ivy, meanwhile, finally gets another worthy chance to keep developing her budding romantic relationship with Kite Man, which has apparently been occurring off-screen through secret motel meets. After Kite Man wants to show Ivy off to the public however, Ivy tries to hide her identity, with Kite Man eventually deducing that Ivy is embarrassed to be seen with him. This is actually a pretty clever subplot, especially when Kite Man ends up shouldering the bulk of the humour in this darker episode. Ivy having to come to grips with embracing her relationship with Kite Man is thus very satisfying, plus Ivy remarking that Kite Man’s ridiculous confidence is inspiring to her makes for a nice moment that’s equally gratifying and amusing. The Ivy/Kite Man subplot was definitely overshadowed by the core Harley/Fables storyline, but the surprisingly insightful and hilariously unlikely relationship between these two DC villains in the Harley Quinn universe remains a delight to watch.
Another of the best jokes in this episode was saved for the final seconds to boot, as Harley’s crew celebrates successfully stealing the weather machine that thwarted even the Legion of Doom’s best, only to realize it needs a password, which ends up destroying the device after too many failed attempts. Like I said, the humour isn’t completely absent in, “The Line”, but it’s still pretty clear that the narrative came first here, especially when it attempts to explore some noticeably darker storytelling with Harley’s character, and her friendship with the Queen of Fables. Fortunately, the sillier humour with Kite Man helped to compensate for the violent, twisted storytelling in the core Harley/Fables storyline, especially when it ended with some healthy further development for Ivy and Kite Man as a couple. Even if the storytelling often came before the humour in this case, this episode of Harley Quinn remains pretty well-rounded and satisfying nonetheless, even as it once again ends with Harley falling just shy of perfection as a proudly declared scourge of Gotham City.
- The Queen of Fables testing Harley's villain code
- Ivy learning to see the best in Kite Man
- Hilariously unrewarding final result of Harley's heist
- Queen of Fables doesn't serve any actual purpose on the heists
- Darker storytelling leads to more spoardic jokes