Harley Quinn (Season 2): Riddle U Review
*This review contain spoilers for Episode 2 of Season 2*
On this week’s episode of DC Universe’s Harley Quinn, Riddle U, Harley (voiced by Kaley Cucuo) and her crew set their sights on taking down The Riddler (voiced by Jim Rash) by invading his new university and end up finding more than just The Riddler.
After taking out the Penguin (voiced by Wayne Knight), Harley and her crew have a new struggle in their hideout having no power or clean water. Only being able to rely on Dr. Psycho (voiced by Tony Hale) to make masks and candles out of the runaway zoo animals they find, they decide its time to pay a visit to the only place in “New New Gotham” that’s has a steady stream of power – Riddler University. It’s no surprise that the brainiac of the Injustice League, it’s no surprise to see The Riddler utilize his territory for more “educational” purposes. While anyone accepted into Riddler University could get a decent education and find themselves at some pretty wild parties, no asks questions but The Riddler. Even being accepted at all is quite tough as even the people looking to enter outside the main gate are gunned down.
So, with all of this in mind, Harley, a less than excited Ivy (voiced by Lake Bell), and an overly excited Clayface (voiced by Alan Tudyk) get ready to enroll in RU and get to his power source. In some ways, Harley and Ivy heading to a college campus run by The Riddler sounds like it would be a totally wild time, but it ends up being kind of underwhelming for the most part. Aside from Harley kicking the crap out the campus mascot thinking it was The Riddler and how Riddler is generating his power, there’s nothing too distinct or overly crazy about their experience at RU. It’s so rare to see the villains run wild and be in such control like this that I can’t help but feel disappointed that things aren’t as crazy or fun as I would expect them to be. Being at RU is just like being at any other college campus and with no one really around to stop him, it’s surprising to see that he wouldn’t go all out in creating his own university.
What makes Harley and Ivy’s journey to RU a little less dull, other than a great, yet small, appearance from Kite-Man (voiced by Matt Oberg) still flirting it up with his girl Ivy, is Clayface as he’s truly the comedic MVP. Taking on a new role of Stephanie, a bookish but fun transfer student out of Chico State, Clayface quickly becomes the funniest part of the entire episode. Clayface brings this great spunk to the entire experience at RU and I love how the animation reflect his fluid body movement and commitment to bringing out Stephanie’s more outgoing qualities. It’s even funnier how Harley and Ivy don’t even want him there, but he ends up gaining better connections than him by making friends, getting a VIP pass in Riddler’s frat house, and even starting a possible relationship with a boy named Chad. Clayface is honestly so committed here that there’re possible moments that his real-life personality slips into Stephanie and by the end, there’re actually moments where you question how he thinks about his gender and sexuality – which is kind of cool. It’s certainly adds more hidden depth to the character the rest of the series could unearth, and he certainly proves his comedic worth in this episode.
The crew’s trip to RU also reveals what’s likely going to be a big part of this second season with the introduction to Barbara Gordon (voiced by Briana Cucuo) aka Batgirl. While she seems like just an ordinary tour guide at first, the Batman obsessed daughter of everyone’s favorite drunk member of the GCPD Jim Gordon (voiced by Christopher Meloni) is trying to figure out what Riddler’s up to and put a stop to it. With no Batman (voiced by Diedrich Bader) around and her father just crashing at her place and stealing beers out of her fridge, we get to see her spring into action with her saving Harley and taking the Riddler down. She definitely gives off rookie and dreamer vibes with how she acts now, but her first appearance is a true bad ass in the making that I can’t wait to see more of in the future. Not to mention, I love her costumed design shown at the end of the episode because of how simple it is without losing any of the iconicness of the character.
The episode also wraps up in a great way with Riddler not biting the dust like Penguin did. Frankly, I was worried that every interaction between Harley and the Injustice League would just end in death, but Riddler’s end is much more comforting. Rather than just kill him, they stick him in the hamster wheel trap he was using to power the university, a true Riddler idea, to power their hideout. It makes it more comforting to know that the eventual run-in with Bane (voiced by James Adomian) possibly won’t end with him dying because he’s just so damn incredible.
There’s also a side-plot involving Psycho and King Shark (voiced by Ron Funches) stealing a water filter and ending up fighting a variety of goons. It’s fine for what it is with the two having plenty of great comedic chemistry and gruesomely taking down Two-Face’s (voiced by Andrew Daly) goons with a modified car they create. Overall, it’s nothing too special and just offers some solid comedic moments – including making their entire journey perfectly meaningless by the end.
Aside from some underwhelming aspects to Riddler creating his own university, Harley and her crew’s entanglements with him lead to some great moments for Clayface and an excellent introduction to Batgirl taking charge in “New New Gotham.” There’s certainly more that this episode could’ve offered in terms of an exciting and wild look at villains taking over Gotham with no one stop them, but it brings enough batshit hilarity to make it another great addition to Harley’s takeover.
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