DISCLAIMER: This recap of the Harley Quinn season finale episode, “The Horse and the Sparrow,” has spoilers. Proceed at your peril.
Welcome back, Harlivy lovers! I can’t believe we’re already on the season finale of Harley Quinn. “The Horse and the Sparrow” might be light on the action, but it delivers a satisfying conclusion to another solid season, mainly on an emotional level. Harley makes significant strides toward her new goal, and it’s gratifying to watch her come into her own as Ivy does.
Ready to delve into “The Horse and the Sparrow”? Let’s get to it.
Ruining the Plant Plan
We open right where we left off, with Ivy (Lake Bell) screaming into the void in front of the Jazzapajizza stage. Harley (Kaley Cuoco) looks forlorn, feeling guilty for foiling her girlfriend’s terraforming plan. Ivy leaves with Frank (J.B. Smoove) after telling Harley she needs some time alone to think. But not to worry, Harls — she won’t forget the fancy toilet paper on her way home.
Later, Harley’s taken aback by all the Gothamites lavishing praise upon her for saving the city from Ivy and the plant zombies. Batgirl (Briana Cuoco) lends an ear to her new bestie Harls, understanding that Harley going against Ivy might yield some drama for Harlivy.
Meanwhile, Ivy and Frank shop for toilet paper and other necessities at a big box store. Frank notes the glow emanating from Ivy as she struts her stuff through the aisles. Suddenly, Lex Luthor (Giancarlo Esposito) pops up on the TV monitors with an important question for Ivy: Will she lead the Legion of Doom in Gotham? Lex hopes to revive the LoD’s presence in the metropolis. Ivy agrees, but she has some conditions. Firstly, boatloads of money. Secondly, she’s in charge: no overhead orchestration or unseen force pulling the strings. Lastly, Ivy will not babysit Bane.
Thankfully, Lex plans to ship Bane off to their Tempe location. I hope this doesn’t mean we’ll see less of him in Season 4.
Next, Bruce (Diedrich Bader) finds Alfred (Tom Hollander) putting the finishing touches on the Wayne gravesite. Bruce finds himself inundated with flyers, billboards and the like for James Gunn’s A Hard Wayne’s Gonna Fall. The premiere for the flick will take place the following night. Bruce believes attending might help him navigate his trauma. At the very least, it’ll provide a springboard for that healing. Unfortunately, Alfs, you’re staying behind. Someone must tend to the manor!
Clayface IS Billy Bob Thornton
Then, Clayface (Alan Tudyk) struggles to choose the perfect premiere outfit, while King Shark (Ron Funches) reminds him that everyone will acknowledge him as Billy Bob Thornton. Nobody knows ole BBT is gone, and Clayface is masquerading as him.
Later, Ivy drops the Legion of Doom bombshell on her girlfriend. Harley feigns excitement, but she’s uncomfortable with it, given her complicated relationship with villainy. Ivy reveals that Lex wants her to kill Joker during the premiere of A Hard Wayne’s Gonna Fall, and Harley agrees to join her.
Our crew arrives in all their glitz and glamour for the big premiere. Clayface transforms into Billy Bob Thornton while Harley, Ivy, Frank and King Shark trail behind him. We can see Swamp Thing and Nora Freeze among those on the red carpet.
The Bat and the Cat
Meanwhile, Bruce runs into Selina (Sanaa Lathan) inside the theater. Even though they’ve broken up, Selina confesses she still cares about Bruce’s happiness, asking how he feels about being in a highly-triggering environment. After Bruce departs, we see her marveling at Martha Wayne’s dazzling necklace, stored in a glass case. We know our girl loves precious, priceless jewelry.
Joker (also Tudyk) stares incredulously at the seat number on his ticket, unwilling to believe that the mayor of Gotham must sit so far back from the screen. Suddenly, Harley grabs him right as the film starts. Then, we see Harley and Ivy standing above a bound Joker. Mista J knows the drill; he knows Lex wants Ivy to kill him to prove she can run the Legion of Doom. It’s in Lex’s playbook.
Harley departs after realizing she forgot her bat. Joker asks Ivy if she’s noticed the change in Harley. The old Harls wouldn’t have forgotten her trusty bat. Joker notes that everyone’s capable of positive change, even him. Ivy denies this shift in our Harley, but it’s undeniably a significant focal point this season.
Who’s the Villain Now?
Next, Harley encounters Bruce, who’s standing outside the theater. She launches into therapist mode, urging him to remember the exercise she taught him. Bruce remarks on the change in Harley, believing she’s more of a goodie than a baddie. Harley, like Ivy, denies this. Girl, the writing’s on the wall — you’re a, gulp, hero.
Meanwhile, Ivy and Joker trade stories about dating Harley, from her obsession with running out of toilet paper to her inability to break down a cardboard box for recycling. Harley barges into the room; bat raised above her head and ready to kill her ex-boyfriend.
Clayface cries during the premiere, notably when Thomas Wayne dies onscreen. He spouts a monologue about “the horse and the sparrow” (Title of the episode!) before letting out a Clayface croak. Bruce bows his head, understandably uncomfortable watching a reenactment of the worst moment of his life.
Then, Ivy asks Harley if killing the Joker is what she wants. Ivy addresses the changes in our Harls, reassuring her that it’s okay if their paths diverge. That won’t stop Ivy from loving her. They can want different things.
At the end of A Hard Wayne’s Gonna Fall, the crowd raucously cheers, calling out for Billy Bob Thornton to take a bow. Clayface takes center stage, revealing he, Clayface, was BBT the whole time. The audience misunderstands him, claiming he’s a “shapeshifter.”
Next, Joker and his crew arrest Bruce for tax evasion. Part of Joker’s mission as the mayor is to eradicate the one percent and make college free for all. Bruce walks away in handcuffs. Harley locks eyes with Bruce and reassures him that it will be okay. He’ll get through this. Bruce decides to look at incarceration positively — now he can focus on healing from his trauma. Harley vows to assist him as his Zoom therapist if need be.
Barbara Gordon catches Bruce before the police carts him away to jail. Bruce encourages Barbara to step up as the leader of the Bat fam. She can lead Nightwing and Robin while the trio continues protecting Gotham.
Joining the Bat Fam
Later, Harley and Ivy have a serious conversation about Harley’s next move. She’s not sure she’s ready to label herself as a “good guy,” but she knows she’s not a villain anymore. Ivy vows to support her no matter what direction she takes. They’ll always be together. They smooch.
Then, we see Batgirl, Nightwing (Harvey Guillén) and Robin standing on a roof overlooking the city. They’re about to give crime an ass-whooping. Suddenly, Harley joins them, bat in hand. She’s going to join the Bat fam for a while. Welcome to the Bat side, Harley Quinn!
“The Horse and the Sparrow” is undoubtedly a character-driven installment, firmly establishing where these characters lie while setting the stage for Season 4. I love that Harley and Ivy plan to stay together despite their differing paths. I think their diverging journies will make for an intriguing dynamic to explore next season, along with fodder for plenty of humor.
Overall, Season 3 has borne the most significant changes for our lead gal as she constantly grappled with her morality. Harley Quinn has been planting these seeds for a few seasons now, and it’s lovely to watch them bloom. Harley’s transformation is awe-inspiring, and the reconnection to her therapist roots feels natural. I love how she also connected with the Bat fam, finding friendship with Barbara and becoming a guiding light for Bruce.
If anything, this season proves that nobody’s truly good or evil. Change is possible. Joker finds redemption. While Ivy steeps herself further in villainy, she embraces her inherent nature, gaining more self-confidence in her abilities. That’s important, too. Additionally, I adore this show’s version of Batman and the focus on him healing from his trauma this season. It’s such a refreshing take on a tired (let’s be honest) character.
Bring on Bat-Harley and Legion of Doom-ified Ivy. Long live our morally opposing girlfriends! I can’t wait to see what Season 4 has in store for us.
All seasons of Harley Quinn are on HBO Max.
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