This is sorcery, really. You shouldn’t be able to do all these things at once. You shouldn’t be able to take valuable intellectual property and stuff it into a silly cartoon that is equal parts fun and stupid and sweet and raunchy. You shouldn’t be able to make me giggle and say “Awww” when I think about a character whose most famous previous iteration tried to poison a city and kill Batman. And yet, somehow, piled up against all of that, we have the Harley Quinn cartoon series still out here thriving. Again, sorcery.
And it gets better. The show just released a 45-minute Valentine’s Day special. Think about that one. Really ponder it for a bit. The show about a slew of supervillains went ahead and made a little one-off treat about the most romantic day of the year. And it’s delightful. Bane takes some hormones because he’s sensitive about the size of his manhood and ends up 100 feet tall and so uncontrollably horny that he starts trying to have intercourse with skyscrapers and also a 100-foot-tall version of Ted Lasso star Brett Goldstein. Clayface — a sentient blob of mud, basically — gets sliced in half and his top and bottom parts fall in love. Harley Quinn and Poison Ivy are a couple and they are out for revenge because someone destroyed their favorite Italian restaurant. Do you get it now?
Do you see what I mean?
Maybe the trailer will help.
I’m realizing now that I spoiled some things in that second paragraph. Whatever. I stand by it. The episode has been out for a few days now and the show has been so good for three seasons that you had plenty of chances. Even if you didn’t watch it yet, I promise you that the actual depiction of the things I mentioned is much better than my descriptions of them. Get in there.
And when you do, be prepared to be charmed. The episode is kind of structured like a Love, Actually-style romantic comedy, with a bunch of storylines about a bunch of couples all smashing together — literally — at the end. Harley spends the whole episode trying to give Ivy the best Valentine’s Day ever (Harley has some… issues from her time with Joker), going bigger and bigger and bigger as the runtime ticks on, with things exploding and goons dying and really just a shocking amount of violence and destruction in the name of love, only for the reveal at the end to be the damn cutest little twist you’ve ever seen. This happens shortly after a duet between a man and his own butt. I feel like that’s important to note.
But more importantly, Bane. I gave you the basic gist of his arc here, but there’s so much more going on. There are dominatrix shenanigans and magic potions and really just a lot, all tied to the thing where he’s a little sensitive about the size of his junk in relation to his massive body. As co-showrunner Justin Halpern explained to Variety in a breakdown of the whole thing…
The first three seasons, I felt like we got to say a lot of the things that we wanted to say. So it was like, every dumb joke that we had hadn’t figured out a way to fit into the first three seasons. If you’ve seen the first three seasons, there’s a lot of dumb jokes in there, so you might be thinking, what was left? Specifically, the scene where Bane is working with a dominatrix. We just threw in everything we could — if you’re gonna do a special, you gotta make it special!
I think that that storyline was — I’m gonna try to speak carefully about this, because my kids are in the car with me right now — but we just thought it would be really funny if the dominatrix was insulting the size of the guy’s penis.
Which, again, delightful, especially, again, when you think about the thing where most people think of Bane as the humorless hulk played by Tom Hardy in Christopher Nolan’s bleak take on the Batman story. That is not this Bane. This Bane is kind of a goof. He has poor self-esteem and is always getting railroaded into things and kind of just shuffled around the Legion of Doom headquarters a lot. And his whole arc loops into the others in a way that made me gasp a little and then laugh a lot. This is where I post the GIF of him humping Gotham highrises. Yes, I posted it in a column on Friday. Yes, I’ve tweeted it a few times, too. But still, I think… Actually, no. I don’t need to justify sharing something this beautiful and pure. Look at my sweet massive boy.
This is where a conclusion would usually go. Something like “for this and many other reasons, the Harley Quinn Valentine’s episode is a worthwhile watch, even for people who don’t love comic book movies, especially on a romantic Tuesday night in February.” But I’m not going to do that. It would just be a waste of energy, of my time and yours. If I hadn’t already sold you with “a sweet and crass and funny cartoon where Bane crumbles the Gotham skyline with hip thrusts,” I mean… I don’t know, man. Maybe you and I just aren’t on the same page here. Because, to me, that’s just a lovely episode of television.