Gotham, Shopping for Harlequin

Greetings Gotham fans. So, in order to ease the excruciating pain of the three-month layoff I have decided to do a heavily spoilerish writeup on some upcoming developments about the show and discuss why this may or may not be a good idea. It's not a long feature or a literary masterpiece, it's just an opinion piece.

For some time now, the people behind Gotham have been teasing an eventual appearance of Harlequin on Gotham, and among the first things they said was that "you may already have seen her on the show", which of course lent itself to all sorts of speculation.

Molly Mayne, the original Harlequin

Now, first of all, I know that the character's name is "Harley Quinn". I also know that Harlequin is the name of no less than four other DC character none of them being Harleen Quinzel and one of them even marrying the Green Lantern, but I do not care. Harlequin is shorter. Harlequin looks cooler. Harlequin is more thematic and fits the original costume better. "Harlequin and the Joker" looks better than "Harley Quinn and the Joker". Disagree if you want, but I'll just keep being obnoxious. I'll also interchange the names to drive you even more nuts.

Why does Gotham angle to put Harlequin on screen? Well, the answers to that question are rather obvious. Harley Quinn is a very valuable commodity for DC. Some would say she's a bit of a gimmick, and I don't necessarily disagree, but the Suicide Squad movie made her a minor pop icon.

Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn, Suicide Squad (2016)

Second, introducing Harlequin is part of a conscious push to accelerate the development of Gotham's main story arc, that being the development of Bruce Wayne as the most famed masked vigilante who ever lived and the rise of the city's true supervillains. At this point it may be easier on your soul to view Gotham as an alternate universe, especially if what is trickling down the grapevine turns out to be the truth. Gotham hasn't turned out to be the great commercial hit that Warner Brothers hoped for. True, it holds its own for now on the FOX network, but its long-term future - I'm talking over the coming several years, not its certain renewal for the fourth season - remains in doubt.

There are many reasons this is so. Not unlike Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Gotham suffered from an uneven first season and lost a lot of viewers. Also, the concept of a more low-key pre-Batman police procedural set in Gotham starring Jim Gordon, a character the show has never gotten Just Right, has not seemed to fly with the masses.

What does work on Gotham, though, are the name brand villains and the young cast portraying Bruce Wayne and Selina Kyle, and what we see now is the show reaching for its big guns. That's why our return episode is called "How the Riddler got his name", and why the next one is "How the Penguin lost his power" even though the latter title is a hilarious giveaway considering the events of the last episode. Right now, I strongly suspect Warner Brothers wish they could age David Mazouz ten years - not the character, the actor, because the actor is essential. A successful sales package of a show must deliver a rewarding conclusion. Just look at The Borgias.

So, who will it be?

Harley Quinn, Arkham City (2011)

When the initial rumors hit us, a great number of people speculated Harley might be Barbara. Her hysterical, over-the-top laughter in season three certainly seemed to fit. Then later, some fans started to throw out Lee as a possible option. You know, Har-LEE.

In my opinion both are terrible candidates. Leslie Thompkins, a Harlequin fifteen years older than the Joker, in other versions serving as Bruce's godmother?! Barbara Kean, a Harlequin fifteen years older than Bruce? I know sometimes this show takes some misguided flack about the "wrong age of characters", but as a matter of fact more than often they get things right. There's nothing wrong with the ages of Penguin, Selina, the Joker or the Riddler, and these are all strong cards. Neither of the above options would feel believable to me, partially also because of the nature of the Joker/Harlequin romance.

One person who wasn't much considered was Silver St. Cloud - partially because she was no longer on the show, and partially because of her on-screen story with Bruce and her status as a canon Batman love interest. This, despite the fact that she's the only character near the proper age range.

Well, turns out...


"Jerome and Silver take over?" - Natalie Alyn Lind

Now, this proves nothing. Still, let's play with the idea.

The more I think about this, the more I like it. Let's check some Harlequin essential characteristics and the sum total of her character journey - sexualized, a degree in Psychology, submissive and gradually trying to break out of an abusive relationship. There's no reason to sugarcoat it; the Joker/Harlequin romance is an abusive sadomasochistic relationship. Switch "psychologist" for "master manipulator", and you have the making for a pretty viable alternate universe right there. Furthermore the role is actually a good fit and makes sense given Silver's backstory with her abusive uncle.

It is also an interesting twist given Silver's backstory with Bruce and Natalie's personal chemistry with David - these two have known each other since preteen years. It serves to create a link between Bruce and Jerome which could potentially be exploited for some fine stories.

Long story short, while I would probably have preferred a fresh cast, this isn't half bad. For now, it's the most viable option, it's what I put my hopes on for the last episode of season three and I won't scream "Sharks!"

Now, carry on in the long nuclear winter, fellow Gothamites.

4 comments:

millicentcordelia said...

Given Gotham's to dispense misinformation to fans, there's no telling where they're going to go with this. However, this was a fun article and a good read!

Marianna said...

I hope you are right about Silver, if nothing else because I really don't want Barbara or Lee to be Harley.

In case anyone, especially those not familiar with the comics, is confused by the picture and caption above, I thought I would clarify that Molly Mayne is not the Harley Quinn that the Joker's sidekick. She is a completely different character.

Harley Quinn has an interesting history because she was created by Bruce Timm and Paul Dini for Batman: The Animated Series, not for comic books, but later became a comic character because of her popularity in the cartoon.

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tricksterson said...

Never even considered Silver as Harlequin but yeah, I could see her in the role. But I wouldn't rule out Barbara as Harlequin either because there's no point in making judgements according to anything in the standard DC universe. This is Earth G (for either Gotham or Gordon, take your pick) or, as I've also called it, Earth-Whateverthefuck. I would not be surprised if in the final episode it is Gordon who puts on the cape and cowl with Bruce merely being his backer.