Harley Quinn’s first and second seasons never missed an opportunity to introduce new villains who, in addition to murdering people, all wielded their filthy, camp-ridden senses of humor like dangerous weapons. But beneath the gimmicks, costumes, and less-than-well-thought-out plans for global (and other scales of) domination, all of Harley Quinn’s villains have been growing.
In contrast to season one, which put Harley on a path of self-discovery by way of her breakup with the Joker and transformation into her own crime boss, season two’s largely focused on Harley learning that the key to tapping into her full potential was learning to be a bit more emotionally intelligent and thinking big picture. Incorrectly assuming that killing the Joker was all Harley needed to take complete control over Gotham was what led to the Injustice League making it their business to carve the city up—further plunging it into unnecessary chaos—while also doing everything in their power to kill Harley.
There were multiple points during this season (fighting Granny Goodness on Apokolips, dismantling the Injustice League, you get the drift) when the clown would have definitely met her end, were it not for the love that Poison Ivy and the rest of Harley’s crew have for her. That general kind of love that exists between friends is what’s kept her safe, but it’s the more romantic sort of love that she’s always been somewhat obsessed with (see: her past with the Joker), and the season two finale finally gave the charmingly disgraced therapist more or less what she’s always wanted.
The events of “The Runaway Bridesmaid” are best understood when you bear in mind what went down in the penultimate episode, “Lovers’ Quarrel.” That story focused on Dr. Psycho using his powers to control the minds of others and turn Ivy into a living weapon to capture Harley. Dr. Psycho taking marching orders from Darkseid isn’t all that surprising considering the psionic man’s storied history of needing to cling to more powerful people in order to feel as if he has a purpose and value.
Similarly, it came as no shock that Harley was certain she could break through Psycho’s thrall by kissing Ivy and making it clear that she was in love with her longtime friend. Even if Harley and Ivy hadn’t gotten drunk and had sex with one another on the night of Ivy’s bachelorette party, the bond between the two of them has always read as more than platonic because it has been. Regardless of the other people the pair of villains have been entangled with over the course of Harley Quinn, Ivy and Harley have always been one another’s people in the sense that they’re essentially the only person that either has ever felt truly comfortable opening up to about their insecurities and vulnerabilities.
Mind you, Harley’s kiss didn’t outright kick Psycho out of Ivy’s mind, but it did break his focus just long enough for her to slip Ivy a device capable of blocking out the psychic influence, giving them a chance to team up and deal with him properly. In the moment when Darkseid admits to having underestimated Harley’s prowess as a warrior and offers her access to his army once again, what he’s actually doing is recognizing that at this point in the series, Harley’s become a fundamentally different kind of person as a result of her working through her feelings for Ivy. Excellent a fighter as she is, it’s her desire to protect Ivy from harm that gave her the upper hand in the final fight against Psycho.
That same feeling is what compelled Harley to come clean to Ivy and tell her point blank that she wanted to be in a relationship with her. The moment was ruined, of course, once Kite Man (who’d been knocked out) came to, but at the very least Harley had a chance to say her piece in a way that Ivy couldn’t possibly misinterpret. But unlike Harley and most of the series’ other characters, Dr. Psycho’s barely done any work to become a more emotionally complex, mature person. He’s still an angry misogynist with a Napoleon complex, which is precisely why he struck his final blow against Harley and Ivy by being intensely petty and revealing to all of Gotham—but Kite Man especially—that Harley and Ivy hooked up.
Throughout all of their relationship’s ups and downs, Kite Man’s been resolute in his desire to marry Ivy despite the fact that she’s consistently made it obvious that her heart isn’t wholly in it. She genuinely has love for him, which she tries to demonstrate all throughout the finale while using her engagement as a way to ignore contemplating what Harley (who’s back in Arkham) said to her when they last saw each other.
Even though Kite Man quite literally saw a telepathic projection of his fiancée getting down with her best friend, he goes along with Ivy’s cavalier sprint to the altar in large part because his feelings for her run deep enough that he can force himself to ignore the obvious truth about the chances of the two of them working out long term. This truth comes into focus for Kite Man gradually, but only after he hits his absolute rock bottom and it’s absolutely gutting.
While Ivy’s doing everything in her power—like murdering the Condiment King—to convince Kite Man that, hell yeah, they’re gonna get hitched, Harley finds a sort of twisted comfort being back in Arkham because it’s a place where she doesn’t constantly have to be thinking about how to keep an entire unit of miscreants (who, to be fair, are her chosen family) safe and secure. Being pseudo-rejected by Ivy leaves Harley wanting to withdraw into herself and block the rest of the world out, and she almost certainly would have... were it not for Two-Face’s meddling. Before making his own trip into Arkham, Two-Face made a point of seeking out Jim Gordon and playing on his insecurities about not being recognized as the only cop not to turn when Gotham plunged into anarchy.
The recognition Jim wants, Two-Face reasons, is something he could easily get by crashing Ivy and Kite Man’s wedding and arresting all of the criminal attendees. Two-Face, being a two-faced person, quickly comes to Harley knowing that if he tells her about Gordon’s plan, Harley’ll agree to help him break out of Arkham, something he almost certainly couldn’t do without her. “Runaway Bridesmaid” again really hammers home the idea that honesty is what leads to a person’s happiness in ways both big and small. Complicated as her feelings for Harley are, Ivy does want her at the wedding as one of her bridesmaids along with Catwoman, Nora Fries, and Ivy’s friend Jennifer. And on her end, Harley does want to make sure that the wedding goes off without any issues because she wants Ivy to be happy, even if that means being with Kite Man of all people.
For his part, Gordon definitely wants to turn the wedding into the biggest supervillain sting in Gotham PD history, and he gets damned close to making that happen because of the way Ivy repeatedly refuses to believe Harley when she warns her that the police are closing in on them. In that way, the finale also makes the important point that trust is just as important as honesty when it comes to maintaining strong bonds with people that you love. That doesn’t really click into place for Ivy until she realizes that Harley was quite right about the ambush.
There are few moments quite as satisfying in Harley Quinn as the scene in which Harley, wearing a gas mask, charges her way through a cloud of knockout fumes to kick Jim Gordon in the face, clear the room of the gas, and set off an all-out battle between basically all of Gotham’s villains and the police, who’d been posing as event staff working. It’s a ridiculous return to the series’ early days when it would have been alarming to see King Shark and his date eating a human as Catwoman and her date, Tim Burton, slunk away from the chaos. But it works wonderfully.
After Harley drags Ivy and Kite Man away from their wedding venue as the police and villains wage all-out war, she explains to the pair that as messed up as things are, she can still marry them because she’s an ordained minister. Nothing about Harley’s offer feels in the least bit driven by some ulterior motive, and for a brief moment, it feels as if she might actually be ready to be the bigger person and let Ivy be happy with someone else. For Kite Man, though, it just doesn’t make sense to keep ignoring all of the obvious signs that he and Ivy were doomed from the jump. Dense as he’s been portrayed throughout the series, “Runaway Bridesmaid” gives him a moment of true clarity in which he asserts that he, too, deserves to be happy, and so, Kite Man flies away. Presumably to have a long, long cry.
With Kite Man properly out of the way and Gotham PD shooting at them, Harley and Ivy finally have no reason in the world to stop denying what they both know to be true. Nothing in DC’s other depictions of these characters comes close to hitting the nail on the head when it comes to makes their dynamic so... fun doesn’t even begin to describe it. We’ve seen Harley and Ivy speeding around in cars doing crimes before, sure, but there’s something that feels ridiculously right about the pair of them doing that in a “just married” car as they drive through the flaming ruins of Ivy’s botched wedding to Kite Man.
Harley and Ivy deserve to drive off into the sunset together on their way to do all manner of ridiculous crimes, which is why that’s precisely how this season closes out—all the Thelma & Louise goodness albeit without as much of the ambiguity as to whether they ended up dying after the credits started to roll. Harley Quinn’s yet to be officially renewed for a third season, and considering how seasons one and two were written back to back, one wonders if a third chapter would take on an entirely different narrative tone to push these characters into new directions. But even if Harley Quinn were to come back literally as Harley and Ivy were just turning a corner in that same car to get away from the cops, it’d be a welcome return to one of the best animated series Warner Bros. has ever put out.
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