Harley, on the rebound, is forced to turn to the one man she has spent all this time trying to escape from as a betrayal might lead to Gotham’s destruction.
This recap of Harley Quinn season 2, episode 10, “Dye Hard”, contains spoilers. You can check out our thoughts on the previous episode by clicking these words.
Continuing an excellent run of episodes, “Dye Hard” finds Harley Quinn at her lowest – after confessing her love for Poison Ivy at a bachelorette party she organized herself, she’s now back in Gotham, away from the sun-bleached and comically commercialized climes of Themyscira. Her best friend doesn’t want to be her girlfriend. Her other friends are preoccupied. It only makes sense that she ends up coming full-circle, returning to the man that the show was originally a story about her escaping from.
Luckily, and smartly, Harley Quinn season 2, episode 10 provides narrative justification for Harley’s return to the Joker, which doesn’t undermine her character by having her fall back into the arms of her long-time abuser. It’s actually all wrapped up in a redemptive arc as Harley once again decides to put the greater good above her own self-interest, perhaps in the clearest terms yet, as the decision amounts to reviving her old nemesis or allowing Gotham and perhaps the world to be destroyed by Darkseid’s Parademons.
You’ll recall that the Joker isn’t the Joker anymore – he’s an amnesiac mixologist tending bar in Wayne Tower, where Harley goes looking for a suitable man to help her forget Ivy’s rejection. But her getting over Ivy becomes secondary to preventing Gotham’s downfall, especially since she helped to cause it in the first place during her mad crusade for criminal dominance. “Dye Hard” also sees the sudden heel-turn of Dr. Psycho, a man too misogynistic even for Darkseid’s tastes, who is controlling the Parademons with his powers and manages to brainwash King Shark and Clayface into helping him. This positions Harley’s usual crew against Harley, who has to team up with Gordon and Sy – the idea that Harley is gradually becoming a hero in this season has never been more explicit.
The fact that Harley has to turn to the Joker is presented as something of a cliffhanger, and it works because the Joker, his abuse of Harley and his theft of her agency, have long defined Harley as a character. By returning this new version of the Clown Prince of Crime to the nefarious old one by submerging him again in the acid bath that gave them both their bleached identities, Ivy is performing the ultimate act of selflessness. Only Joker knows where the Book of Fables is, and that book contains the Justice League, who Harley needs to help fight back Dr. Psycho and his Parademons. To save the day, she has to sacrifice everything she has gained in being untethered from the Joker.
It’s a great ending both because of its thematic resonance and the fact it sets up a pretty major conflict between Harley and Dr. Psycho/Darkseid’s forces, with a reborn Joker playing the wildcard role. It also was all clearly planned from the beginning, proving once again that this show’s writers know what they’re doing. Harley Quinn season 2, episode 10 tees all this up while also providing plenty of room for returning characters – like the teased Gotham City Sirens team-up – and the furthering of Harley’s relationship with Ivy. “Dye Hard” leaves everything to play for in another stellar episode.