Harley Quinn, by her own admission, is a hellion but she sparks by the beat of her own drum. As the 2nd season of the animated show enters with the first episode “New Gotham”, the beauty of this kind of cartoon becomes clear. It is an adult cartoon and embraces it, none more than Kaley Cuoco, who brings a degree of flagrancy in Quinn embracing that inner party girl that we always knew was within Penny. The introduction of the 2nd season shows a lawlessness in play. In many ways, the set up is inspired by “Escape From New York”. Considering in another life, Snake Plisken would have been Quinn’s surrogate father, the comparison definitely plays to the texture. Like “Birds Of Prey”, the aspect has Quinn out on her own but with a band of misfits. Poison Ivy, like any good roommate on a dark “Clueless” adventure, understands the impulse that Quinn deals with her decisions but not the logic.
As the episode progresses, the idea that permeates is that there has to be some order within anarchy (i.e. “Escape From New York”). The episode (and the series) does not back off from the language and the gore which is refreshing while the comedy (especially the sushi irony with a shark wanting a human roll per se) is decidedly dark on purpose. That said, the comedy is fairly freewheeling and more in the context of what psychotics might talk about. Ultimately, all kidding aside, the overall motivation is power. But Quinn, in her best traits, knows how to subvert power. Her interlude inside a bar to all the underlings of other crime lords is inspired in many ways. Harley wants to have her own little world because oddly enough that is where her peace lies. In “Birds Of Prey” it was her apartment until it was demolished. In this episode, it is an abandoned mall where she has her own sled pulled by her hyenas and she kidnaps sushi chefs. Happiness is a state of being and with this episode, chaos is Quinn’s favorite as long as it has the simply pleasures.
By Tim Wassberg