Episode 2 Review
"A High Bar" builds on the series premiere and expands on Harley Quinn's goal of proving herself but things don't go as planned when the Legion of Doom party she thinks she crashes is a bar mitzvah for the Penguin's nephew, Joshua Cobblepot. The violence, action, innuendo, and what not escalates from there. The episode also continues the season-long conflict between Harley and Joker as well as introduces more of the recurring cast in Bane, Scarecrow, and Kite Man in particular.
The episode opens on the Hall of Doom, seemingly set up in broad daylight in Gotham City, where several Gotham based villains are getting their morning coffee and meal before heading out. Scarecrow gossips about the big break up between Joker and Harley, much to Bane's annoyance. Then Joker arrives and he tries to play it cool about how word got out she dumped him... so he goes on Good Morning Gotham, slaps a bomb on the host Howie Mandel, played by himself, and tries to twist the break up in his favor. Harley and Ivy happened to be watching the show for a Thanksgiving leftover segment and it doesn't end well. On a short fuse, Harley bashes the TV and logs into Joker's calendar in search of a way to screw him over in retaliation. She zeroes in on a party at the Gotham Mint the next day. Harley and Frank annoys Ivy into coming along.
Harley struts into the party showing off how awesome she's doing, clad in a boa and walking in a tiger on leash. But she soon realizes it's a bar mitzvah. Despite Ivy's suggestion, Harley refuses to leave and wants to make the most of it. Ivy concedes but asks not to be left alone or else a D-lister will hint on her and/or ask her to team up for a heist. Before she can finish her sentence, she's alone and Kite Man is hitting on her. Meanwhile, the Joker is overseeing the reconstruction of his funhouse lair but red tape gets in his way. Bane tips him off about Harley and notes it seems like she's doing pretty well. Harley hits if off with Bane, Scarecrow, and Two-Face but Joker arrives and sours things. She dances to another table which is populated with Joshua's friends. Kite Man doesn't get the hint from Ivy until Harley intervenes and bluntly tells him he's stupid. Harley still refuses to give up and decides to show them up by robbing the impenetrable Gotham Mint. Then to make matters worse, Kite Man gives Ivy's "love potion" to Joshua's friends unaware it will eventually kill them.
Harley goes on with her heist solo but mistakenly attacks an improv troupe masquerading as guards which Penguin set up for the finale of Joshua's bar mitzvah to mark his transition into manhood. Ivy and Kite Man glide to her apartment for the antidote but the latter thought it was just a pretext for sex and waits in her bedroom. Penguin gives Joshua the honor of killing Harley with his umbrella but she plays mind games with Joshua and convinces him he's not ready to be a man yet. On the way back, Kite Man makes a decent apology and Ivy sorta of admits the view of Gotham Central Park looks cool. They intervene on the execution. Joker issues Harley an ultimatum to admit she's nothing without him or she dies. She refuses to admit anything and the villains fight each other with Joker filming it all on his phone. Harley talks some sense into Bane, Two Face, and Scarecrow about Joker being a powerless bully. Bane reveals to everyone Joker didn't even want to come to the "stupid" party. Joker tries to kill Harley but Ivy steps in and he's interrupted by his contractor about a zoning squabble. He uses it to put a pin in the hostilities and promptly leaves.Back at Ivy's apartment, Harley and Ivy enjoy Joshua's cake. Ivy tries to reel it home to Harley that she's so awesome, she doesn't have to prove anything to anyone but Harley still wants to get into the Legion of Doom for the prestige. Frank points out the four boys are still under the effect of Ivy's potion. She administers the antidote by saliva and boys don't object to kissing her. One tries to get a second kiss but is immediately told to beat it.
Hate it or love it, but this interpretation of Bane stole the episode for me. James Adomian's off tilt Tom Hardy impression, threatening to blow up anything that wrongs him, being bullied by Joker, the trivia night cut-away, the realizations about how he sounds, and going all out against D-lister Kite Man - you'll either find it all so hilarious or an affront to the original comic book depiction of Bane. I'm on the fence with the docile New Zealand-esque voice of Scarecrow from Rahul Kohli after decades of creepier takes from the likes of Jeffrey Combs, Dee Bradley Baker and more. Kite Man quickly establishes himself as the doofus of the show but like Bane, he'll probably be hit or miss with the audience. I don't have much to say about Peguin, other than the fact that casting Wayne Knight for the role was another genius choice. Mrs. Cobblepot was also hilarious in her own doting mom kind of way, especially in her two scenes with Harley and Ivy. The Howie Mandel cameo might have seemed out of nowhere but if you've been a fan of a show like "Rick and Morty," a celebrity cameo isn't much of a shocker.
Harley's conviction (or stubbornness depending on how you look at it) gets the best of her yet again but the real meat of the episode, I thought, was once again how formidable Harley is when she uses her mind and escaping certain death. Though it did help that Ivy showed up and used her vines. Another unexpected bit that I wound up enjoying is how the Joker was saddled by bureaucratic red tape for the episode. Granted, it does bring up the white elephant in the room of how these super villains are treated on this show - Joker's construction site, villains coming in and out of the Hall of Doom in broad daylight, the Gotham Mint knowingly renting out their atrium to a supervillain - for now, seems like the audience has to give it the benefit of the doubt for now. Though it does echo the status quo of The Guild of Calamitous Intent from "The Venture Bros." in which super villainy was at a point where it was highly organized, basically a labor union, and essentially legitimized and ubiquitous to the public. Back to Joker, it becomes apparent in this episode that his toxic hold on Harley also extends to the Legion of Doom and it should be interesting how that plays out. More so if Harley becomes a member later on. Ivy continues to entertain from her politically correct explanation of her misnamed love potion to her encounter with Kite Man, her dry wit really balances the show out for the better.
"A High Bar" is an improvement over the premiere with better pacing and better balance of story, humor, TV-MA content, and action. Continuing to populate the world of the show by introducing more recurring villains also helps strengthen things. Revolving around a bar mitzvah gone wrong premise, the episode shows Harley that the bar is still high and if she intends to clear it and become a full fledged and respected supervillain, she can't do it alone or with just her BFF Poison Ivy. "A High Bar" is a 7 out of 10.
Rating: 7 out of 10