‘Harley Quinn’ Season 3 review: DC’s irreverent cartoon series is not so serious

Harley Quinn Season 3 begins with a spang — or, well, banging to be more accurate. Picking up where Season 2 left off, runaway bride Poison Ivy ( a smirking Lake Bell ) and her “ gf bff ” Harley Quinn ( an ever-spunky Kaley Cuoco ) are on the run from the law ( in a stolen invisible jet ! ), relishing in the honeymoon phase of romance on their own personal “ Eat Bang Kill Tour. ” Fans who ‘ve been shipping Harlivy since Season 1 will be thrilled to learn that — like Our Flag Means Death — this HBO Max volunteer is n’t closeting its fagot woo. Season 3 is centered squarely on how these supervillainesses are growing in their love for each other. But could emerging love projects pull them apart ?

Harley Quinn Season 3 brings Harlivy to the center ring.

Poison Ivy plots a terraforming scheme in "Harley Quinn."

Credit: HBO Max

While Season 1 focused on Harley ‘s hardwon realization that she and the Joker were in a deeply toxic relationship, Season 2 had her falling hard for her best friend, while that bestie was preparing to marry a doof whose catchphrase is “ Hell yea. ” Harley and Ivy have survived rival villains, a spectacularly ruined Jazz Fest, a painfully hip marriage, and tied death, but taking a risk on a veridical romanticist relationship with each other was the Season 2 finale ‘s most heart-racing moment. so nowadays what ? Their honeymoon phase makes for a frantic and fun first sequence, involving eldritch cameos of DC characters and real-life celebs ( a swerve that continues throughout the season ). From there, Harley encourages Ivy to revisit her ambition undertaking to terraform Gotham into a plant-coated paradise. But as big a cheerleader as Harley is for her girl, their radically different styles clash. Loner Ivy struggles not only to bring Harley ‘s dwindle crew into her plans, but besides to be direct about her needs when Harley ‘s department of energy ( and general woo-girl vibration ) is at war with her motivation to concentrate on her skill experiments. meanwhile, Harley is unintentionally stumbling farther and farther from villain terrain, growing closer to Batgirl ( Briana Cuoco ) and evening the big man himself .

The Bat-family rises with the addition of Nightwing. 

Batman, Robin, Batgirl and Nightwing in "Harley Quinn."

Credit: HBO Max

As teased in casting announcements, Season 3 brings Nightwing ( and his iconically rigorous butt ) into the wings of Harley Quinn ‘s Bat-family. Voiced by What We Do in The Shadows ‘ Harvey Guillén, Nightwing has a chip on his shoulder that makes him a astute parody of the DCEU ‘s thus unplayful note, which even this universe ‘s Batman ( a faithfully versatile Diedrich Bader ) has to gently mock. Like Ivy, Nightwing is a feather pin trying to fit in a round hole. And the wickedly smart writing this season shows both loners how their inflexibility is hurting them and their respective teams by throwing the Queen of Green and the Bat Brat into an escape room together ! Without spoilers, I can safely tease that the Bat-family and Harley ‘s crowd will grow flush closer as the struggle for Gotham takes on crazy newfangled turns, from haunted crosswalks to — well — the penult episode brings the kind of slaughter you might expect from a finale. For immediately, let ‘s be active on .

A Harley Quinn orgy takes this cartoon to a new level. 

Clayface and James Gunn in "Harley Quinn."

Credit: HBO Max

In Episode 4, Harley and Ivy infiltrate a secret company that of path is very about rich people Gothamites swinging while wearing elaborate masks. There are batch of begrimed ocular gag, a handful involving fan front-runner Bane ( James Adomian ), but the in truth jaw-dropping component of this episode is how ruthlessly witty it is. All plot lines lead to this orgy, bringing together cops and crooks for two separate search missions, both of which are impacted by a furtive camera snapping dirty pics by chance. It ‘s honestly incredible — and fabulously fun — to see how little elements, like a break pair of eyeglasses, a mole on a butt cheek, or an allegedly steal pasta godhead, set up big moments in this bizarre express .
Season 3 is a sensational ride that pulls from its comic inspirations but doesn’t feel tied down by them.

Yes, Season 3 besides boasts splashy action sequences, but the humor here works best when the stakes are humble and the pursuit of goals is however DC-level acute. For case, when Clayface ( Alan Tudyk ) zealously pursues his “ big break ” via a new James Gunn movie ( yes, T he Suicide Squad helmer is now a character in Harley Quinn ), he ‘s auditioning not for the lead, but for Thug # 3. When the Joker ( besides Tudyk, constantly crushing it ) has a nightmare of being chased in the night, it ‘s not the Dark Knight that haunts him. now the devoted stepdad ‘s greatest foe is a PTA ma with rend ( voiced to prickly preciseness by Amy Sedaris ). The contrast between boastfully emotions and such minor events in what is still a superhero series makes Harley Quinn season 3 an absolutely bonkers and bright exploration of ego by letting go of its brand ‘s self-seriousness. And that self-mockery cuts deep as the Bat-fam goes H.A.M .Harley Quinn and Batgirl catch up in "Harley Quinn."

Credit: HBO Max

full disclosure : I ‘ve already watched this season doubly the whole way through, and it ‘s taking all the self-control I have to not excitedly blurt out balmy cameo, shocking twists, and absolutely exorbitant one-liners coming your way. I ‘m a little covetous that you still have all the playfulness of these discoveries ahead of you. Trust me, you ‘ll want to come back workweek after week.

Harley Quinn Season 3 is a sensational drive that pulls from its comedian inspirations but does n’t feel tied down by them. Without the coerce of an enormous budget that necessitates a massive audience, this DC cartoon series explores new sides to both the characters we ‘ve seen over and over, and the ones who ‘ve been shunted to the sidelines. It gleefully makes Gotham a sandbox for clowns, lovers, villains, and fools, who fight, frolic, and fuck knowing that tomorrow is delicate as a strand of pearl. And we are the lucky bastards who get to enjoy all the havoc from a safe distance. The merely downside is the weekly rollout mannequin means you ‘ll have to wait to see all the wonders this outstanding season has in shop. Harley Quinn ( opens in a new pill ) Season 3 kicks off with three episodes on HBO Max on July 28. New episodes will air each Thursday through September 15. ( opens in a fresh check )

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