Batman: The Animated Series – Season 1, Episode 56 – Harley and Ivy – Power to Women

Harley and Ivy

 

“Harley and Ivy,” is one of the more poignant episodes in “Batman: The Animated Series,” though it’s execution isn’t the best. The premise is Joker is being his usual abusive self to Harley Quinn. He kicks her out and she begins to go on a stealing spree to impress him that changes into a stealing spree for herself when Poison Ivy takes her under her wing and the two team up to be quite a crime duo. From here the story unfolds.

Here is the assessment of the episode:

Pros: The Joker – The Joker’s abusive sociopathicness is captured really well in this episode. You see how he never recognizes how much Harley helps and how Harley is his punching bag and that he sees Harley Quinn as property. If you already didn’t have reason to hate the Joker, this one is it. In this episode he represents every abusive partner or spouse. You see how much he depends on her to keep his life running since his fort goes to hell in regards to how the Hyenas’ view him and how disorganized it is once she is gone.

Batman – Batman is just kind of there, but it is great to see him fall to Harley and Ivy when teamed up but beat the Joker. He is also the one to find out where Ivy’s hideout is through detective work verses the Joker tracking the call.

Renee – Is meant to be the counter to Harley and Ivy since she is the woman who takes them both down after they’ve taken down Batman. She does it in a Batmanesque way too by booby trapping the street to stop their car.

Harley Quinn – Is the co-dependent partner and “Spouse” of the Joker. After every abuse she comes back and keeps thinking they can work it out. It is powerful how she is a character that was inspired by a real person and that real people like her exist who can’t get out of those types of situations. When she’s going through empowerment via the tutorship if Poison Ivy she is on top of her game…stealing, overturning Old Boys Clubs and even managing to nearly destroy Batman. It is a shame that she never comes out from under the Joker’s shadow until much later in life in the cannon.

Poison Ivy – Is the mentor to Harley. She misses that women can be bad too but nails the abusiveness prevalent among men as represented by the Joker. She is always presenting the alternative view and doing all she can to help Harley move on. Sadly she doesn’t succeed, but it isn’t from lack of trying.

The Friendship and Romance – It is played up in the comic of the same name but Harley and Poison Ivy are implied to be Bisexual. This is the first time we really see this too. Though in this episode Harley does play as more of a friendship because of her obsession with the Joker. There are romantic moments and tension though, which is great! It is a shame it isn’t more common in comics. These two are a great paring due to how well they compliment each other like Batman and Robin.

The Message – The message has a great intent. Don’t put up with abuse and embrace freedom of the self. The main issue I’d say is it being through the eyes of villains which may hurt the argument…The theme of the empowerment of women is pulled off pretty well in this episode though.

Okay: Show Don’t Tell – Poison Ivy’s quips end up taking away from the message of the episode. We see them being powerful and doing acts to upset the patriarchy. It doesn’t really need to be announced every time, it would have been more powerful without that actually. This is the one reason I can’t give it full points. Showing not telling is the best way to tell any story.

I definitly recommend this episode. The message is great even if the execution of it could be better and Harley and Ivy are great characters who I wish could have teamed up more.

Final score the episode is 9.5 / 10. It is a favorite.

 

 

Batman: The Animated Series – Season 1, Episode 51 – The Man Who Killed Batman – A World Without Batman

The_Man_Who_Killed_Batman-Title_Card

“The Man Who Killed Batman,” is a fantastic episode. The premise is what would happen if a nobody killed Batman. How would Gotham react? What would be the fallout? In the super hero world these premises are always fascinating and usually handled well since the folks writing know how serious taking out a major character is, even if it is only for an episode or movie.

The premise of this episode is Syndey (Syd the Squid) wants to get in on a drug ring and over the course of the operation he manages to have Batman accidentally fall into an explosion. From here everyone thinks he killed Batman since he is holding his cowl…even though it was Batman who saved his life. From here the story unfolds.

Pros: The music – Captures the feel of intense mourning and bleakness. Batman is such a major part of Gotham city that the question of how would the city feel without Batman is answered pretty quick. A lot of folks would be lost who are both good and bad.

The Underworld – Things start out good and the thugs celebrate him, until a large thug tries to kill him so he’ll be the toughest guy in town. This is the first time Syd realizes he is in over his head.

Gotham Police – We see Bullock and Rene mourning the death of Batman and here how cut up Commissioner Gordon is after what happened. Their hatred becomes directed at Syd once they hear he is the one who did it. The scene is great because we see how much Bullock admires Batman.

The Joker and Harley Quinn – It is in this episode we see how abusive the Joker can be and that he has no love for Harley at all. She is a means to an end, a person to stroke his ego and cheer for his victories…even though she is the one still smart. She wants to steal the jewels but the Joker doesn’t care because his punch line of Batman is gone.

Batman’s Funeral – The Joker throws a funeral for Batman that expresses how incomplete he feels without him and how much he hates Syd for stealing his kill. It ends with Syd being burning alive in a vat of acid only being saved by Batman’s intervention.

Rupert Thorne – The man who set all the wheels in motion again. It was he who had the drug operation that lead to the “death” of Batman and who is so ruled by fear he is not able to believe that Syd did it all by accident and tries to kill Syd. He is once again established as the most dangerous crime boss who isn’t a rogue.

Batman – Batman is great in this episode in that he uses being undercover to finally take out Rupert Thorne…who had been putting the drugs on the street in the first place. He also gives Syd what he wants by playing dead after Thorne is taken in so that Syd will be respected in prison.

Syd – Syd is great as a Woody Allen type of guy. He’s a nervous wreck who manages to be lucky and unlucky to the extreme. Like a Woody Allen character he also wins in the end…getting the respect and recognition he craved. He is a funny and interesting character. He actually manages to carry the episode.

This episode was perfect and deals with the question of “What would Gotham be without Batman?” in this animated universe really well. I kind of wish it was longer so we could see more reactions from other rogues and actually see Gordon…but from the limited point of view we get through Syd’s perspective it is brilliant and a must see.

10 / 10.

 

 

Batman: The Animated Series – Season 1, Episode 46 – Almost Got ‘Im – A Meeting of the Rogues or So Close to Victory

Almost Got Im

“Almost Got ‘Im,” is one of the best exploration of Batman’s rogues gallery. We get to see their moments of near triumph and see that they have a working relationships and a near comradery that almost borders on friendship…all because of Batman. It begins with them all meeting and playing cards as they share their stories…from their the story unfolds.

Here is my assessment of the episode:

Pros: The Dynamic –  The Dynamic between the villains is extremely well done. Past history is referenced (Poison Ivy saying that her and Harvey Dent were in a relationship…which they were). There is a playfulness, especially in how Killer Croc is ignored as the dolt and Joker owns the arena.

Poison Ivy – Her plan was actually pretty cool. Poisoned pumpkins on Halloween that explode when Batman arrives. She nearly wins except the Batmobile attacks her and gets Batman his mask. This story reveals why Poison Ivy is one of the greatest of the rogues. She shuts down Two-Face pretty thoroughly too. She is captured though at the end of her story.

Two-Face – Two-Face manages to capture Batman with the Two Ton Gang and luckily has his coin end on death which leads to Batman being flipped on a giant coin that he only manages to escape from by using Two-Face’s coin against him to cut the ropes. He is captured by Batman in the end though and is given back his coin.

Killer Croc – Killer Croc throws a rock at Batman and the silence he receives from the other rogues is perfect. He is ignored after that and becomes sad. He is the thug of Batman’s rogues and only really functions as muscle not planner in relation to the others in the room (which becomes a good ploy later for this episode).

Penguin – Penguin manages to be better than all before him in that he poisons Batman, injures Batman and even escapes. His plan is elaborate with poison tipped hummingbirds and a Cassowary (one of my favorite birds). He is the intellectual of the group and Joker asks him to use smaller words. Penguin is also the most polite and respectful.

Joker – Joker’s plan is the best. In his him and Harley Quinn hijack Gotham Live and have Batman trapped in a laugh machine that sends electric currents through his body the more the audience laughs. He nearly succeeds except for the arrival of Catwoman who Harley Quinn manages to capture in the end for Joker to use against Batman in the final plot. He is the best of them all in regards to how close he gets to killing Batman and is by far the greatest threat of the group.

Harley Quinn – Captures Catwoman and saves Joker. This episode is great at establishing her as more than Joker’s flunky. She is threat to be reckoned with by anyone she sets her sight on…especially in regards to the Joker.

Catwoman – She saves Batman and even dreams of a normal life for her and Batman and is saved by Batman in turn. The equal exchange between them rescuing each other was part of what the characters so interesting in the first place. She ends the episode with it’s name saying she, “Almost Got ‘Im.”

Batman – Batman was playing as Killer Croc the entire time. He went undercover to capture the group and find out where Catwoman was. The group gets captured by him and Gordon and after he manages to stop Harley from killing Catwoman.

This is a fantastic story that has a unique narrative style and a great exploration of every character who gets to speak. I highly recommend it. It is one of my favorites and part of the reason the rogues from this show are so memorable and unforgettable.

10 / 10 The perfect episode.

Batman: The Animated Series – Season 1, Episode 34 – The Laughing Fish – Joker the Survivor

The Laughing Fish

“The Laughing Fish,” is a Joker centric episode that focuses around his scheme to get fish that he has poisoned with the Joker Venom sold in stores. He begins by targeting copyright folks which in turns lures out Batman and the Police who were the point of his scheme in the first place. Harley Quinn also appears in this episode again as his assistant.

Here is the assessment:

The Pros: The Joker – This episode is good at showing just how psychotic and uncaring he is about anyone but himself. Where before his minions were robots but meant nothing, here they are people who mean nothing…even Harley Quinn who loves him. In this episode we see how creative (In a James Bond villain with a Shark Tank kind of way – Yes he has a Shark Tank in this episode) can be. He would have killed all his targets too if not for Batman having the Joker venom antidote. We also see his a survivor given everything he goes through before being attacked by his shark and presumed dead (He’s obviously not).

Harley Quinn – Is fantastic as Joker’s second in command. She promotes his plan throughout the episode and leads in her own way in regards to the schemes. We also see her demented unhealthy relationship with the Joker revealed in full when Bullock points out he’s a psychotic abusive and she says that is why she misses him.

Bullock – Is fantastic in this episode. He actually manages to find Joker first when he realizes the second fish that is used in the poisoning isn’t native to the region leading him to the Aquarium.

Batman – He fights a shark and wins as well as proves to Bullock he can be counted on. This is a great episode to see Batman as protector and detective.

The Animation – Once again is amazing, more so than the usual amazing. I like the large flowing drawings.

Okay: The story – The Laughing Fish is a very Joker story but not the best one. His intentions aren’t really clear (Which I guess is part of the point), but because of it the episode doesn’t seem to know what tone it wants.

The Music – Not all that memorable. Like the episode it didn’t know what tone it wanted.

This was a solid episode that I would diffidently recommend. Seeing the Joker and Harley in action is usually always a good thing since the schemes are always interesting and Joker is the anti-thesis to the Batman.

My score for this episode is 8.5 / 10.

Batman: The Animated Series – Season 1, Episode 22 – Joker’s Favor – The Deal with the Devil

Joker's Favor

“Joker’s Favor,” is one of my favorite episodes. It is one of the best of the Joker episodes and also introduces us to Harley Quinn (though this isn’t her origin episode). The premise is Charlie is having a bad day and ends up accidentally cussing out the Joker. Joker spares his life if he does him a favor, which 2 years he calls upon in order to get back at Commissioner Gordon.

Here is the assessment:

The Pros: Harley Quinn – Her voice and crazy style. In this episode she is very much doing her own thing and it lines up with the Joker…we don’t see the abuse in the relationship until later episodes and her origin. She is an awesome character and she pulls off the trap really well too with her reading her “Tribute” to Gordon before Joker and his thugs arrive and the party gets gassed (Which paralyzes them).

The Joker – Is frightening in this one. There is an heir of threat around him from the moment he arrives on the scene and scares Charlie into submission. He is the devil in this episode and is winning throughout most of the episode until the end.

Commissioner Gordon – You see why his marriage fell apart in this one. He lives for his job and it is only after pressure from Batman that he even goes to the event honoring his service.

Batman – Does alright, he is good at what he does and saves the day. The episode isn’t about him though. This is about Charlie, not Batman.

Charlie Collins – You get his anger at having a horrible day and why he erupts at the Joker and how he develops a spine over the course of the episode. The ending of him almost being “The man who kills the Joker,” is brilliant. He scares the Joker since he acts so much like him. His point about Joker being killed as the only way to stop him is right too. It’s a shame Batman didn’t listen, he would have saved a lot of lives.

The script – Is solid as are the locations. It is an eventful episode.

Okay: The music – It is alright. It is strange when it could have been threatening.

I give this episode a 10 / 10. A perfect Joker episode.