While the first season only wrapped up a little over a month ago, DC Universe's Harley Quinn is back for more, and it couldn't be a better time for it to return. The animated series has stolen fans' hearts with its all-star cast, hilarious approach to the DC canon, and adult-oriented approach to humor and violence. If the Season Two premiere is any indication, the series will absolutely keep up its momentum in the episodes to come, while also evolving things forward in a necessary way. The episode, which is titled "New Gotham," keeps up the series' zany, self-aware saga of self-discovery and found family, while also quickly establishing a new and welcome status quo.
The premiere picks up a few weeks after The Joker's (Alan Tudyk) apocalyptic attack on Gotham City, as Harley Quinn (Kaley Cuoco) navigates the aftermath as only she can. Without getting into spoilers (which, if I'm being honest, would sound ludicrous out of context anyway), the episode gradually expands the rogues that are causing trouble in Gotham — a movement that gives Harley a new vendetta without feeling forced.
Part of what's made modern-day Harley Quinn so effective — from the comics to the recent blockbuster Birds of Prey movie — has been her approach to and subversion of feminist issues. Season One of Harley put that at the forefront, as she tried to prove her worth and agency among the male villains of her life. While there's only one episode to go off of, Season Two seems to tackle that misogyny from a slightly different angle, one that will hopefully be incredibly satisfying to watch unfold.
If you're jumping back into Harley Quinn for its approach to the larger DC universe, this episode hints that you will probably be satisfied. There are two cameos in the opening minutes that die-hard Harley fans will be cheering about, and the sequences involving Batman and Jim Gordon (Chris Meloni, who is still the perfect mix of frenzied and incredibly exasperated) are a standout. There's also a sense that, with this "new normal" that the series has established, there will be an opportunity for the Easter eggs and cameos to get even weirder, as evident by Catwoman and Batgirl being teased in the Season Two trailer.
Of course, one of the standouts of the series is the rapport between Harley and her "crew," something that remains the beating heart of the Season Two premiere. Cuoco is somehow even more energetic as Harley, and there's a sense that she's legitimately comfortable bringing the character to life. Each of the supporting cast members — from Lake Bell's Poison Ivy to Jason Alexander's Sy Borgman — are as great as ever and get their own moments of hilarity within the episode.
The other villains of the series are as pitch-perfect as ever, between James Adomian's scene-stealing Bane and Jim Rash's delightfully-obnoxious take on The Riddler. Spider-Man 2 alum Alfred Molina joins the roster as Mr. Freeze, but manages to weave himself into the ensemble as if he's always been there. Plus, the Season Two premiere rectifies one of the first season's few flaws, which was that there wasn't nearly enough of Andy Daly, who voices Two-Face and a handful of other characters in the episode.
Harley Quinn's sophomore season has all of the makings of a genuine hit — one that could somehow manage to outdo its stellar first batch of episodes. The cast and crew are clearly having fun bringing this new adventure of Harley's to life and it will be fascinating to see how the yarn unspools from here. With things in the real world feeling a little unpredictable, there's something oddly comforting about watching Harley Quinn slip more into anarchy while remaining as irreverent, feminist, and heartfelt as ever.
Rating: 5 out of 5
New episodes of Harley Quinn debut on Fridays exclusively on DC Universe.