Reviews | Written by Matt Taylor 19/07/2021

HARLEY QUINN Season 2, Episode 5, BATMAN’S BACK, MAN

Fandoms are a nightmare – especially in the modern day. Certain sections of certain fandoms feel the need to constantly react negatively to anything that’s a little bit different to what they’re used to (read: any main characters who aren’t straight, white, cisgender, and male). It’s an obvious problem and it’s past time that franchises started dealing with it. Now, you can either take the Rise of Skywalker approach to this, which is to pander to them anyway and end up making a bad movie, or the Harley Quinn approach, which is to basically give those fans the middle finger and tell them to get used to it. I know which approach I prefer…

After a prologue that takes the piss out of the aforementioned whiney fanboys, this week’s episode is a Harley-free affair, instead focusing on Diedrich Bader’s Batman, who’s itching to get back in the fight after being in a coma for months while Gotham’s gone to shit. As we noted last week, one of the great strengths of this show is its understanding of the DC characters, and rarely is that evidenced more than in ‘Batman’s Back, Man.’

This week we’re treated to a series of fantastic character interpretations and conversations, as well as some big laughs and enough bone-breaking action to put The Dark Knight Rises to shame. A highlight is easily Tom Hollander’s version of Alfred, who here is basically Bruce Wayne’s nanny, taking away his toys and telling him to go to bed. Bruce understandably isn’t too pleased, and Bader and Hollander’s chemistry is just about perfect.

We also get Briana Cuoco in full-on Batgirl mode after being introduced to her the other week, and she’s an absolute gem. Energetic, funny, and full of beans, she’s the perfect counterbalance to Batman’s stoic and broody, if slightly self-aware, nature. More of her going forward please, gang!

Bane also gets a lot of play this week, and he’s as much fun as ever. James Adomian is clearly having a total ball under the mask, and although it’s Bane who gets the biggest laughs in this episode, he also gets the biggest winces. Despite Batman’s kickass new suit (halfway between the armours of The Dark Knight Returnsand Batman Vs Predator … yes it’s a real comic, promise), he doesn’t stand a chance against Bane when he goes full venomtank on the bat. It’s a great fight, with high stakes and solid choreography, and plenty of blood and gore – Batman getting ragdolled around before his kneecaps are shattered against a brick pillar, anyone? Yikes.

HARLEY QUINN continues on E4 on Mondays and is available via ALL4, Amazon, and Apple thereafter.