Episode 18 Review
Taking a break from your regularly scheduled programming, this episode of Harley Quinn is all about Batman and what he's been up to in New New Gotham. Meanwhile, Two Face and Bane try to figure out their next step with Harley on their doorsteps and Batman supposedly back to give hope to the citizens of Gotham. Will any of them accept help or doom themselves to certain death?
Two men in basement named Ian and Brian in some other dimension or whatever try to decide on what to watch after one is sick of a classic Lord of the Rings debate but he claims to have never watched Harley Quinn, just another heavy handed female empowerment story yet he seems to have a decent knowledge of what's happened in season one and season two. The latest episode claims Harley and Ivy aren't in the episode at all and focuses on Batman waking up from his coma and vowing to take back Gotham City. He capitulates to watching but threatens they will watch Family Guy if it sucks.
Bruce Wayne wakes up, long haired and beardy. He strains to get out of bed and is relieved to see Gotham City, as it once was. It's just a poster and Gotham is still in ruins. He yells out for Alfred, who enters with honey tea and pigs in a blanket. Bruce just wants to fight crime but Alfred is insistent he will once he's made a full physical recovery. Alfred suggests binging the 312 new series that have released since he was in a coma. Bruce demands Jim Gordon. Alfred assures him Jim is making sure law and order is restored to the city. Jim pays a visit to Wayne Manor with a laundry list of things he needs like police officers and a cod piece that opens up and shoots a tiny missile. Bruce is sure that doesn't exist. Alfred informs Jim that Bruce isn't paying him anything. Jim emphasizes he is the only person who can save Gotham other than Batman. Bruce is surprised there are no more heroes in Gotham. Jim concedes there are some amateurs running around like the Macaroni and Batgirl. Bruce thinks Macaroni's wig is a walking kick-me sign and is shocked someone is wearing his symbol.
Two Face holds a meeting with Bane at his courthouse base. He mentions he heard Harley killed Mr. Freeze then yells at Bane for trying to sit in his chair. Bane begrudgingly sits on his folding chair. Bane makes his pitch to Two Face: they consolidate power and join forces to protect themselves. Two Face is amused and isn't worried about Harley. Meanwhile, Bruce watches Batgirl's livestream and isn't pleased with her crimefighting exploits. Alfred is skeptical he is only upset there is someone running around with unsanctioned use of his logo. Bruce explains it is a symbol meant to strike fear in the heart of criminals and if Batgirl is killed, it would crush all hope in the city. Alfred points out there is nothing he can do about it and he can't even make a solid bowel movement. Batgirl chases down a crook on a roof and encounters Batman. Batman hiding his cane, tries to tell Batgirl she is out of her depth but she is sure she can handle herself and livestreams with him to her 1.3 million followers. Two Face tries to rob Gotham City Bank but the workers and people stand up to him. He's concerned upon hearing Batman is back. Tawny Young spreads the news. Alfred isn't pleased Batman let Batgirl spread false hope but Bruce won't admit fault. Alfred gives him a simple task of putting on his socks. Bruce can't. Alfred warns him his ego is writing checks his body can't cash. Bruce doesn't listen and puts out a call for Lucius Fox.
Two Face has another meeting with Bane but is demeanor is completely different. He goes out his way to butter Bane up. His own chair. Sparkling water. Two Face tries to play off the day before as good natured ribbing. Bane thought it felt very personal and mean spirited.. Two Face promises equal partnership and lies it was nothing to do with Batman's return. They talk branding next. Two Face presents him with "Two Faces." Bane is livid his name and face isn't even on it. Two Face points to his shadow and assures him that's him and the plural "Faces" implies the both of them. Bane is concerned it is too much of a thinker. Lucius presents an armored Batsuit to Bruce in the Batcave fitted with strength compensation and an A.I. support system named M.O.N.I.C.A. but Alfred is disappointed Bruce went behind his back. Alfred forbids him to put the suit on and strains to wheel it up the stairs to his room for safekeeping. Bruce sneaks into Alfred's room while he is asleep and voice activates the Batsuit. Bruce suits up and takes out some goons at the docks but runs into Bane. Batman makes the mistake of enraging Bane by noting Two Face is clearly the one in charge and points out if he was, it would have been "Three Faces." Bane activates his Venom system and more than a match for Batman. He increases his intake and gets even stronger and feral. Batman is laid out and is forced to use his cod piece missile. Bane swings Batman into a pillar and breaks his legs in horrible, bloody fashion. Bane admonishes himself for being so gullible and storms off. Two Face's goons find Batman and string him up for a livestreamed execution. The Macaroni and Batgirl save him. Batman realizes Macaroni is Alfred and tells him to say he told him so. Alfred is above that and calls Batgirl to help him up but she's grossed out by his legs.
Bane punches his way into the courthouse still very upset. Two Face talks him down. Bane reverts himself to normal and airs his grievance. Two Face brushes off Batman's words and tells him they should automatically kill Batman next time but congratulates him. Two Face suggests the real issue is Bane needs space to spread out and explore his mind. Bane realizes he needs to define what sparks his joy. Two Face has some real estate in mind and takes him to a barren desert with a giant crater. Bane is surprisingly overjoyed. Jim Gordon checks on the new Batsignal projector and finds Batman sitting on a stool. Jim is eager to take back GCPD headquarters but Batman admits he can't physically work with him yet and presents Batgirl as his temporary partner in the meantime. Batman tells him the people need to believe Batman is still out there. Jim begrudgingly accepts. Batgirl quickly makes an announcement to her followers. Batman shakes his head. Ian and Brian are annoyed to see Harley Quinn releases one episode on a weekly basis.
"Batman's Back, Man" may seem like an abrupt diversion from the main cast but on the flip side, it could be an inspired attempt to quickly nip the end tag in the season 2 premiere in the bud while doing some stealth shuffling on the chessboard with characters that couldn't be otherwise done in a "normal" episode of Harley Quinn. Batman being in a coma and buried under rubble not enough – mangled and hoisted on his own petard then! Batgirl is now a social media sensation and is fast tracked by Batman to keep hope alive. Jim is over his rock bottom spiral and has to partner with Batgirl to take back the city. Bane is sidelined to work on his own passion project while Two Face quietly takes absolute control over the criminal underworld of Gotham.
However, it's not to say this episode is padding or just middling housekeeping. Like any other episode of Harley Quinn, there's an important lesson permeating through both stories in "Batman's Back, Man" that revolves around the theme of accepting help. Batman resists Alfred's wise words about about focusing on fully recuperating and just wants to get back on the saddle and fight crime. After a harrowing beating from Bane, he's saved by the very amateur heroes he denounced and realizes the symbol matters, not him. Meanwhile, Two Face doesn't accept Bane's proposition of a merger and instead sidelines him to take all the power for himself – seemingly too arrogant and in denial to see that Harley's bat is closing in on him and there's no hulkish behemoth in a Mexican wrestling mask to take the hit for him. For a guy with two faces, he can't see that coming? And there's also Jim Gordon, who comes to Wayne Manor for funding his one man war but he ends up with help he's forced to take.
Now, those out-of-universe start and end tags... safe to say they will be polarizing among viewers to say the least. Taken at face value, it's meta and funny enough tear into fanboys. You laugh and die a little then move on. Or shove past the Lord of the Rings critique, sexism, and shout outs to Young Justice, Gotham, Star Wars, Justice League, and Family Guy and froth at the mouth about the show taking up arms abruptly. It's very pointed vignettes aimed at the complaints of how Batman's been used so far on the show in ironically an episode that stars him. Or otherwise, is it too soon? Was it too much of the crew having their cake and eating it, too, venting about stereotypical detractors of the show who shouldn't been given the time the day to begin with? Should they really have peppered in that jab to their DC Universe overlords at the end? Shrug. Take it or leave it.
"Batman's Back, Man" goes off the beaten path and shifts the focus on Batman for an episode, and like Harley, is so often, dealt a lesson in the importance of help from a strong support system while the last standing members of the Injustice League fail to strike an equal partnership that may well could have secured their survival from Harley's vengeance. And hope is on the rebound in Gotham as Batman forges a new alliance between Commissioner Gordon and Batgirl to start taking back the city. On the surface, it's a Batman episode we're not really against watching and kinda messing with the pacing of the season but at its core is an important step forward setting up new alliances and power structures that will no doubt become obstacles in Harley Quinn's quest to take over Gothan in no time flat. As if she needs more of that but she's a magnet for it. Oh yeah, and wasn't that Hellbat-Iron Man Batsuit really rad?
Rating: 7.8 out of 10