“New Gotham” establishes a promising second season setup, with more villains to take down and a whole new city for Harley to wrest control of.
This recap of Harley Quinn Season 2, Episode 1, “New Gotham”, contains spoilers. You can check out our thoughts on the previous season by clicking these words.
It has only been a couple of months since the first season of DC Universe’s Harley Quinn concluded, and yet here we are, back in Gotham City, only an in-universe week after the finale, but faced with the prospect of a new Gotham – or a new new Gotham, depending on who you ask. The President of the United States declares right up front in this second season premiere that the city is past saving, and is no longer a part of the U.S., leaving the lawless remains to be fought over by newly-crowned Clown Princess of Crime Harley Quinn (Kaley Cuoco) and other standouts from Batman’s rogue’s gallery.
This, needless to say, is a fine setup for a second season. Harley’s crew remains intact, including her voice of reason Poison Ivy (Lake Bell), along with Sy (Jason Alexander), King Shark (Ron Funches), Dr. Psycho (Tony Hale), and continuing stand-out Clayface (Alan Tudyk). In the absence of the Joker and the missing, presumed-dead Batman, James Gordon (Chris Meloni) is going a bit nuts, while Penguin (Wayne Knight), Two-Face (also Tudyk), Riddler (Jim Rash) and Bane (James Adomian) are all vying for open territory around Gotham as the Injustice League. With all this, Harley Quinn Season 2 continues to put the full range of Batman’s most iconic villains to work while also giving Harley a logical new objective of wresting control of the city back, starting in “New Gotham” with Penguin, whom she dispatches in vicious fashion after he tries to contain her as an ice sculpture.
Ivy’s temporary incarceration leads to a subtle time-skip allowing the new status quo to establish itself and the thoroughly gamey setup of new New Gotham being divided up into themed territories complete with henchman and elaborate supervillain lairs. That gives subsequent episodes a pretty clear direction going forwards, with one assumes a new Big Bad everyone episode or two and Harley gradually taking back a part of the city at a time.
Along with this Harley Quinn Season 2, Episode 1 also teases that not only is Batman still alive but has been discovered as Bruce Wayne – how this news affects things remains to be seen, but a potential team-up with the Dark Knight is definitely on the cards, and at the very least it’ll stop Robin (Jacob Tremblay) from swanning around in daddy’s oversized outfit. The matter of what Jim Gordon does as his life continues to fall apart is another intriguing thread for later episodes to tug on.
While Harley Quinn divided fans with its tone and lackluster episodes in the first season’s back half, this sophomore outing suggests a lot more potential; the overall setup works, the Harley and Ivy romance is still on the cards, and the characters are all in a much more interesting place than they were previously. Keeping the Joker absent – at least for now – helps Harley to establish an identity outside of him since the first season was so devoted to her essentially getting over a bad breakup in an extremely elaborate way, and the excellent voice cast, which the show doesn’t get enough credit for, continues to impress. The tone, potty-mouth, and uber-violence are all still intact, so anyone put off by those things originally won’t find Harley Quinn Season 2 any more amenable, but existing fans should find lots to be excited about here.
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Jonathon is the Co-Founder of Ready Steady Cut and has been Senior Editor and Chief Critic of the outlet since 2017.