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Recap / Batman: The Animated Series E56 "Harley and Ivy"

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"This could be the beginning of a beautiful friendship!"
Poison Ivy

After the Joker kicks Harley out, she meets Poison Ivy and they form an unlikely friendship.

Tropes in this episode include:

  • Accidental Misnaming: At Harley and Ivy's first meeting:
    Harley: Hey, aren't you that plant lady, Poison Oaky?
    Ivy: Ivy! Poison Ivy!
  • An Aesop: Victims of abuse are better than they think they are, they don't deserve mistreatment, and it's often very difficult to get them away from their abuser.
  • Aesop Amnesia: Played for laughs. When it's all over, Harley is still certain she can work it out with the Joker. An annoyed Ivy throws mud in Harley's face.
  • Afraid of Needles: Harley hates to get shots, whining about it when Ivy gives her a vaccine to protect her from the toxic nature of the land around her house. Harley even hangs a lampshade, saying, "You'd think after workin' for Mistuh Jay I'd be used to a little pain."
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  • Animation Bump: Dong Yang did the animation, but TMS Entertainment did the layouts, and it shows.
  • Ascended Extra: While she hardly seems like one now, this is the first episode where Harley has a major role.
  • Bilingual Bonus: At one point when Harley and Ivy get away, Montoya swears in Spanish, "¡Que mala suerte!" (What bad luck!)
  • Bookends: The episode starts with Harley driving and a crash (the Batmobile), and before the ending Harley's driving again but crashes. And Ivy and Harley’s team-up starts with them besting over Renee Montoya, and it ends with Montoya being the one who captures them.
  • Brilliant, but Lazy: The episode highlights that Harley can actually be a very effective criminal without the Joker.
  • Call-Back: Ivy and Harley rob the Gotham Peregrinators' Club, previously seen in "Joker's Favor," which happens to be Harley's first episode. Her knowledge of the layout probably comes in handy here.
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  • Creator Cameo: Two of the cat-calling frat boys in the convertible are modeled after series developers Bruce Timm and Eric Radomski, with their hairstyles and colors swapped.
  • Did They or Didn't They?: Poison Ivy and Harley Quinn work together when Harley is thrown out by The Joker. The first time this happened it cuts from them driving away to them wearing only their shirts and maybe panties talking about how much they hate men. Whenever they are seen hiding together, they only ever seem to have one bed.
  • Disposable Vehicle Section: After the Joker's car gets snagged by a grapple line, Harley ejects the rear section, allowing the car to escape while the discarded piece slams into the Batmobile and nearly sends it off a bridge.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: Three obnoxious frat-boy types (drawn to resemble Bruce Timm, Ted Blackman and Eric Radomski) rudely leer and catcall Harley and Ivy at a traffic light. Harley pulls out a grenade launcher and blows up their car as they run for their lives.
  • Domestic Abuse: Though they've appeared together a few times before, this is the first episode where the dynamic of the Joker and Harley's relationship is called into question.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Harley begs Joker not to use his laughing gas on Ivy and is horrified when it looks like Ivy's succumbing. Thankfully, Ivy was safe because of her immunity to all poison.
  • Exact Words: Ivy loudly proclaims that "no man can take us prisoner." Enter, stage right: Renee Montoya.
    Montoya: All right, ladies... raise 'em!
  • Exploding Barrels: The Joker blows up a barrel of toxic waste with his Tommy gun, against Batman's warning, setting "Toxic Acres" ablaze.
    Batman: Stop shooting, you lunatic! We're sitting on a powder keg!
    Joker: Whoops. Dopey me.
  • Extreme Doormat: Ivy accuses Harley of being one in regards to putting up with the Joker's abuse.
    Poison Ivy: If you had a middle name, it'd be "Welcome."
  • Fanservice: To the point that this episode single-handedly launched the Harley and Ivy ship, which is still going today, stronger than ever. Ironically, network executives thought their target demographic of young boys wouldn't find the episode interesting. Paul Dini felt they didn't understand young boys very well.
  • Freeze-Frame Bonus: On Ivy's fridge door, alongside news reports of her and Harley's crimes, there's a crude stick-figure drawing of an antropomorphic cat with the legend "Catwoman HA HA." In the same camera pan, we see that one of the notices has an announcement of a $10,000 reward for the pair's capture. She crossed out the "$10,000" and wrote "zillions."
  • Groin Attack: Poison Ivy kicks The Joker in the balls after his attempt to poison her fails - and she kicked him hard enough to knock him onto his back. He gives out a high-pitched remark before collapsing again. He does recover rather quickly.
    Joker: [pained falsetto] Get 'em...
  • Heist Clash: Harley Quinn and Poison Ivy meet when they simultaneously rob the Gotham Museum of Natural History. Instead of fighting, they team up to escape the police (It helps that they are there to steal different things). They become partners in crime for the rest of the episode and remain good friends or possibly more for the rest of the series.
  • Homage: Batman meets Thelma & Louise.
  • It's Personal: Renee Montoya seems determined to personally apprehend Harley and Ivy after they escape her in the museum, incapacitating her with toxic gas in the process, and subsequently go on a high-profile crime spree.
  • Kinky Spanking: Invoked in the scene with the leering guys—after Ivy chides them for their rudeness, one of them slaps his butt and asks, "What're ya gonna do... spank us?" Harley proceeds to spank their car with the grenade launcher.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: While fleeing from Rene Montoya, Ivy shoots an arrow at her tire, forcing the squad car to stop dead in it's tracks, Pam mockingly waving so long to a very infuriated Montoya as her and Harley drive off. Come the episode's climax Rene returns the favor by shooting the tire of Ivy's pink convertible, cutting the girls escape short this time.
  • Laser Hallway: Harley Quinn simply jumps around the beams when she goes to steal a diamond. Works fine, but then Ivy activates the alarm during her own robbery from another wing of the facility.
  • Let's See YOU Do Better!: In-Universe, Joker says this to Harley Quinn. And for once, Harley does just that with Poison Ivy.
    Joker: Maybe I should let YOU run the gang! Maybe YOU are a better crook than the rest of us put together!
    Harley: Maybe! [Joker glares] ... not.
  • Made of Explodium: Ivy's entire neighborhood, by virtue of being built on top of a toxic waste dump full of flammable chemicals.
  • Men Can't Keep House: After Harley has been gone for a few days, we see the Joker at his hideout stumbling around in boxer shorts and a sleeveless shirt, complaining that he can't find his socks and nobody's fed the hyenas.
    Joker: This place is going to blinking blue blazes!
  • Mugging the Monster: A trio of obnoxious catcallers find out the hard way that the women they're hitting on are a couple of supervillains.
  • Never My Fault:
    • As one might expect, the Joker blames everything that went wrong in the botched robbery at the beginning on Harley, even though a lot of it happened because of his own mistakes. (And she succeeded at helping them both evade capture.)
    • He does it again at the very end of the episode, ranting that his next gang won't allow women (implying that he blames Harley and Ivy for his capture).
  • Noodle Incident: Abiding by Joker, this isn't the first incident he kicked out Harley, and he was fully expectant she'd be back serving him like normal the morning after.
  • No-Sell: The Joker tries to use his laughing gas on Poison Ivy after she and Harley upstage him. She lets out a brief Joker-esque laugh before revealing that she's laughing at Joker because his poison doesn't work on her, at which point she kicks him right where it counts.
  • Police Are Useless: No, they're not. Montoya is the true hero of the episode, as she ends Harley and Ivy's crime spree when even Batman couldn't.
  • Pop the Tires: Ivy shoots out a tire of Montoya's police car at one point. Near the end of the episode, Montoya returns the favor.
  • Rule of Three: Montoya is shown ending up being right in Harley and Ivy's paths three times, getting hit by two strikes from them on the first throws, then hits a home run on the third.
  • Shout-Out:
    • Poison Ivy's personalized license plate reads "ROSE BUD."
    • Contrary to popular belief, Word of God says this episode isn't based on Thelma & Louise in any way. Paul Dini watched the film during the episode's production, and was surprised at the parallels.
    • Ivy quotes Humphrey Bogart's final line in Casablanca.
    • The title is a pun of a rather obscure Christmas song, "The Holly and the Ivy."
    • The tune that Harley hums while laying the table is the old minstrel tune "Mammy's Little Baby", otherwise known as "Short'n'in' Bread".
    • The woman jerking her dog's leash to avoid the Joker's car, a reference to a scene in National Lampoon's Vacation.
  • Skyward Scream: The Joker lets loose a very funny one when he sees a newspaper article revealing that Harley and Ivy are stealing his thunder. The broken theater sign outside his hideout breaks further in reaction.
  • So Much for Stealth: Harley slips into the museum, gracefully evades the laser grid, and starts carefully cutting into a diamond display case. Then the alarm gets set off by Ivy's intrusion elsewhere in the museum, so Harley just smashes, grabs, and runs.
    Harley: Nice work, butterfingers! Why didn't you just turn on the Bat Signal while you were at it?
  • Spinning Paper: Used to show the progression of Harley and Ivy's crime spree, culminating in the headline New Queens of Crime!
  • Spoof Aesop: Invoked. The "lesson" the Joker takes from this episode is to not have any women in his next gang.
  • Stay in the Kitchen: Briefly touched upon when Harley Quinn and Poison Ivy team up, and grumble about the lack of respect they get from males. They rob the Peregrinators' Club specifically because it does not admit women. At one point they briefly get the upper hand on Batman and ask him if he is bothered by being beaten by "mere girls."
    Batman: Man or woman, a sick mind is capable of anything.
    Poison Ivy: A very enlightened statement, Batman. We'll carve it on your headstone.
  • Surprisingly Realistic Outcome: Despite some time away from Joker and all their fun escapades, Harley still misses Joker and yearns for a sign he misses her. And even despite Ivy's badgering to forget Joker and have herself some "self-esteem lessons", Harley can't resist at least calling Joker. Victims of abuse often have a difficult time leaving their abusers, and calling them out on it will only push them further.
  • Tempting Fate: At the end Harley and Ivy have escaped both the Joker's gang and the Batman by leaving the latter to deal with the former, and Ivy gloats that "No man can take us prisoner!" Cue officer Renee Montoya (a woman) shooting out their getaway car's tires.
  • There Is Only One Bed: Only noticeable in the background, but this is just the first of several examples of Harley and Ivy hiding out together in a place with only one bed. Though this is generally justified, as it demonstrates that they had absolutely no start-up capital and could barely afford this empty room with a bed. And given the amount of Les Yay in that partnership (more than you could ever expect from a children's show in the '90s), very deliberate.
  • Too Dumb to Live: Even the Joker's two mooks realize quickly that it's too dangerous to even be in the landfill, and that opening fire on a heap of chemicals is a bad idea, something that doesn't sink in as fast for their boss.
    • They still ate stuff in the fridge. At the landfill. A landfill so toxic that Ivy had to give Harley special shots to protect her so she won't die in a few hours from just breathing the toxins in. Their stupidity is lampshaded by Poison Ivy.
  • Villain Episode: The focus is on Harley, Ivy, and the Joker. Batman appears in a brief chase scene at the very beginning, and then isn't onscreen again until well past the halfway point.
  • Villain Has a Point: Harley and Ivy aren't entirely wrong to chafe at obnoxious louts rudely cat-calling them, sexist institutions denying them equal access and opportunity, and men generally patronising and belittling them. Their responses to this, however, cannot in any way be considered socially constructive or helpful.
  • Villains Out Shopping: After he throws out Harley, we next see the Joker stumbling around his hideout in polka-dot boxers, forgetting to feed the hyenas and unable to find his socks. The commentary jokes that there's a good reason we rarely see him in his underwear...
  • Villain Team-Up: Our titular ladies, of course. (And this is the first time; not even close to the last.)
  • What Does She See in Him?: Ivy repeatedly chides Harley over her infatuation with the Joker, who is at best indifferent and at worst abusive to her. The Les Yay subtext between the villainesses adds an overtone of What's He Got That I Ain't Got?! to the criticisms.
  • Would Hit a Girl: Batman is pragmatic enough not to hold back on Harley and Ivy in a fight.
    • And of course, this episode features a lot of early warning signs of the Joker's abusive treatment of Harley. ("You'd think living with Mr. J I'd be used to pain...")