NOTE: Full spoilers for this episode of, “Harley Quinn” are present in this review
Harley Quinn hit a small speed bump last week, but as I predicted, the series appears to be back in top form this week. “Trapped” is another episode that establishes several crucial new story elements, including the introduction of a much-overdue new Batman villain personality, managing to provide an excellent core storyline that’s high on laughs and narrative appeal. At the same time, an entertaining, if predictably undercooked subplot also occupies the rest of Harley’s crew at the mall, as their attempt to keep an eye on the newly-captive Riddler naturally doesn’t go as simply as hoped.
Considering that Harley Quinn has been soldiering forward with the infamous Gotham City Sirens only being mostly formed since its first episode, it’s incredibly exciting to finally see Catwoman debut in this show’s animated universe! Voiced by The Cleveland Show/Family Guy alum, Sanaa Lathan, Catwoman’s portrayal fits Harley Quinn’s sensibilities like a glove, being an old partner-in-crime of Ivy’s that Ivy claims to hate, but in actuality, Catwoman is someone that Ivy constantly aspires to impress and emulate. The reason for Catwoman’s overdue introduction fits well with the narrative progression to boot, namely when Harley sets her sights on Mr. Freeze, only to be unable to penetrate the frigid super-villain’s ultra-thick ice wall. Thankfully however, some inept Freeze goons hilariously tip Harley’s crew off to a way through; The plasma flamethrower wielded by the MIA Gotham City super-villain, Firefly.
This sets the stage for yet another exciting heist to be undertaken by Harley and Ivy, with the rest of Harley’s crew strangely sitting out this latest mission. This is likely due to Catwoman’s aversion to working with people she doesn’t know, and unfortunately, Catwoman is required to pilfer Firefly’s flamethrower. You see, the flamethrower happens to be stashed with a bunch of other random super-villain junk from the baddies that supposedly failed to survive the earthquake that ravaged Gotham City at the end of last season, which is all being overseen by hoarding D-list DC villain, Doctor Trap. If you have no idea who Doctor Trap is, you’re not alone, since he’s one of the most obscure DC villains that Harley Quinn has featured to date.
Fortunately, Doctor Trap’s portrayal on Harley Quinn is an immensely entertaining one, ironically being superior to his short stint in the DC Comics Universe. Since Doctor Trap has rigged so many traps around the flamethrower, Catwoman has to get through them, while simultaneously leading to Ivy questioning her increased devotion to her friends since befriending Harley. At the same time, Harley finds herself split into her own funny obstacle, when Kite Man tries to seek out a valuable, plant-themed ring to present to Ivy in a marriage proposal. The final twist of Catwoman stealing the ring, while Harley, Ivy and Kite Man are nearly killed in a trap that Harley can actually easily escape with the flamethrower she just grabbed (easily one of this episode’s funniest moments!), is a superb payoff as well, one that has Ivy confronting her emotional insecurities to great effect, while finding comfort melting some Ace Chemical executives with Harley. It’s the little things with badass lady villains, you know?
As for the subplot at the mall, like I said, it doesn’t keep pace with the core storyline, but it has enough jokes to satisfy. This gets going when Riddler taunts Doctor Psycho about his own increased dependence on being part of Harley’s crew, when Psycho would instead logically want to be in charge. This presents the interesting foreshadowing that Psycho may end up screwing over his friends later in the season, but for now, all it does is serve as a way for Psycho to inadvertently allow Riddler to get free of his confinement, with the help of some cosmetic oils. Psycho, King Shark, Clayface and Sy are then left to try and round up Riddler, which predictably goes poorly… Only for Riddler to return to confinement voluntarily, saying it’s better than wandering the desolate Gotham. This is a little funny, but it’s also kind of a weak payoff to a filler storyline, one that sees Riddler ending up right back where he started for no real reason, while Psycho’s interesting bit of character foreshadowing is currently left to go nowhere.
Still, that’s a pretty minor issue with what’s otherwise a pretty terrific Harley Quinn episode. The use of Doctor Trap, obscure as he is, is awesome, as is the long-awaited introduction of Catwoman to the series. Not only is Harley Quinn’s take on Catwoman a fun and cool character in her own right, but she also provided a great opportunity to move the story forward for the show’s leads, as Ivy must deal with having to let her former, more independent self go, before finally capitulating to Kite Man’s continued marriage proposals. Harley, meanwhile, almost appears to silently give Ivy her blessing, despite the show continuing to flirt with the idea of Harley and Ivy getting together for their own romantic relationship in the near future, a la DC Comics lore. “Trapped” may have had to force an excuse to bench the rest of Harley’s crew this week, but the fantastic core storyline with the main characters makes up for this in spades. Now that Ivy’s ready to take the next step in her love life, while Harley’s ready to take the next step in her plan to seize back Gotham, Harley Quinn has fully restored its comedic and narrative momentum, as I always knew it would. Now, I can enthusiastically look forward to a much more competent villain’s defenses getting put to the test soon!
- Fun, exciting introduction for Catwoman
- Entertaining heist in Doctor Trap's museum lair
- Ivy confronting and overcoming her emotional insecurities
- Riddler escape is ultimately pointless