"You're always taking shots from folks who just don't get the joke!"
Harley Quinn and the Joker have always made for one seriously complicated couple, and this episode actually delves into some pretty dark territory as it explores the depths of their fundamentally abusive relationship. Throughout this twisted tale we see how the Joker masterfully manipulated her from being a level-headed psychiatrist to a submissive sidekick and patsy, one that dedicated her life to a maniac who's only too happy to discard her at a moment's notice. I never fully got how deep this episode is until recently, I could never have truly appreciated it as a kid, but after seeing the Harley Quinn character in movies and more mature interpretations and general media and just how much they've expanded on her in the years since this episode, I see that it's probably one of the most brilliantly written episodes of the series. The story sees the Joker in an especially sour mood after once again failing to kill Batman in a plan that was concocted by his 'partner' in crime Harley, and when she can't get around him and cheer him up, she gets all sad and starts reminiscing about how she first met and became infatuated with and then attracted to the Joker, and became a dangerous criminal herself. She decides to prove that she's better than the Joker gives her credit for...only for her idea to backfire when the Joker, furious with her undercutting him and successfully capturing Batman, violently shoves her out of a high window, which she barely survives. And as she lies in garbage she actually blames herself for the Joker hurting her, and that alone adds an element of tragedy to Harley in that she just doesn't seem or is unwilling to understand that she's in no way special to the Joker and has always been expendable. The cruel joke is quite on her... And I sure never noticed before how kind of sad and disturbing it is at the end as she lies recovering, just how she's easily won over by him again by a simple cheap gesture of goodwill which is doubtlessly just another means of manipulation. Harley might be cool and fun, but she's also a walking punchline to the Joker's cruelty and warped sense of humor... His true love - is Batman! So I strongly dislike the drab colourless look and stupid Mickey Mouse black dots for eyes that the Joker had because of his unnecessary redesign, but Mark Hammil's phenomenal intensity and his always beyond excellent voice performance just shined through and I think the Joker is extra unnerving to watch and even a little darker in this episode, I think one of his greatest ever moments period is the gripping scene told in flashback, where he truly bewitches the already obsessed Harleen Quinzel by causing her to laugh herself to tears and then tells her a sob story that could be truth, or he could just be lying through his grin, we never find out. I love how Batman quite skillfully works on his foes in a psychological way in the story, first in the scene where he openly mocks and even laughs at Harley's blind devotion to the Joker, which causes her to question herself for a moment, and when he later causes the Joker to become enraged by reminding him just how closer Harley came to actually killing him than the Joker ever has. It uses all three characters so well at different times that I consider this to be a great Harley, Joker, and Batman episode, it runs a real fine gamut of tones and touches upon some dark themes in a tasteful and to me surprisingly intelligent way, and I definitely consider it a top episode and one of the best things to come out of the final season.
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