It’s been three weeks since the last season’s finale and Gotham (or at least what’s left of it) has been declared no longer part of the United States. As such, it’s every man, woman, any everything in between for themselves, including the police force who have turned on Gordon. Given that, Harley and her crew are actually doing pretty well holding their own turf. But outside, there’s a power vacuum left by the absence of the Justice League, the Legion of Doom, and Joker. Rising to seize control are Penguin, Riddler, Bane, Mr. Freeze, and Two-Face, naming themselves the “Injustice League” and dividing Gotham’s territory amongst them. Harley tries to throw a wrench into this by inspiring their minions to do take charge themselves, so the new league invites her to get a portion of their land too. She refuses, so Mr. Freeze, well, freezes her.
Months later, Harley is used as a conversation piece at one of Penguin’s parties, with her crew pulling a sting to rescue her. They get her conscious, but not out of the ice, leading her right in front of Penguin, so she bites off his nose, gets herself free and kills him with his umbrella. Once she’s back with her team, Ivy explains that it’s been two months since she was frozen and that since then, the Injustice League carved their territory and made a NEW New Gotham, with each section restyled in their respective visual gimmicks. Harley vows to take the rest of them down and take over Gotham.
Elsewhere, Gordon’s wife asks for a divorce and Bruce Wayne is recovered from the rubble of the Joker Tower.
It’s only been about a month and some change since the first season of Harley Quinn ended, but given the drastic change to the state of the world lately it’s probably felt more like a year. Either way, the show is finally back with a new season and a fitting escalation of Harley’s goals. Last season was about establishing herself as a solo villain, getting away from her past with the Joker, and joining the Legion of Doom. Now she’s made her claim to fame, gotten rid of Joker (at least for now), and the Legion is kaput (also at least for now), so her next step is to wrestle control away of this new more hellish Gotham from a few of the former Legion’s biggest players. This plot, if those who watch this show don’t already know, is a loose adaptation of the famous Batman comic storyline “No Man’s Land” where, just like here, an earthquake levels Gotham so much that it is shut off from the rest of the country and goes to hell, leading to some of its villains to take territory for themselves. Incidentally, this was also where Harley made her first comic appearance after being a breakout character on “Batman: The Animated Series”, so it’s kinda fitting to adapt it with her more in focus for her show.
Though while this sets up a pretty cool plot to follow for the remaining twelve episodes, I do wonder if this doesn’t set up the same sort of personal story to follow that the previous season did with Harley’s own journey to find herself as a villain. Now it’s about taking down these five bosses (four now with Penguin gone. I’ll miss Wayne Knight, though I’m glad he got to have some interaction with Sy before going) which sounds fun but not as fulfilling. That’s not to say this isn’t a good line up of antagonists, both for their usual trademark gimmicks and this show’s particular take on them. Riddler has all the know-it-all humor and Jim Rash does an amazing job with him. Bane (who also got to do this sort of plot in Dark Knight Rises eight years ago) has actually been pretty hilarious with his mumble-dialogue done by James Adomian, which is surprising to me because I thought that joke got old half a decade ago. And Mr. Freeze, this time played by Alfred Molina, balances them out as the straight man who is doing this for more than just standard villainy. The weak link among them is probably Andy Daly’s Two-Face, who doesn’t really do much to stand out beyond that character’s usual shtick, but the season is young, so there’s time to build on that.
Which is basically my main point about this premiere. It’s a solid start, definitely carrying the momentum of the last season (likely because this season was made with the initial 26 episode order), and we have a lot of time to build on it to rest whatever worries I might have. It’s just that I REALLY liked that first season, so this will be a high bar to overcome. For now though, it looks like it has just about all the characters I liked, the same writers, the same tone, the same magic. Let’s see where it goes.