DISCLAIMER: This recap and review of Harley Quinn episode “A Very Problematic Valentine’s Day Special” contains spoilers. Proceed at your peril.
Welcome back, Harlivy lovers! It’s finally here, and folks, it is a very problematic Valentine’s Day … but in the best way possible. Harley Quinn‘s Valentine’s Day Special is spectacular across the board. It’s undeniably sweet, bitingly, irreverently funny and clever as hell. It encapsulates the spirit of this show to a tee. “A Very Problematic Valentine’s Day Special” is packed to the gills with pop culture references and stellar vocal performances. Talk about this all-star guest cast!
This episode made me fall in love with Bane, even when he’s feverishly humping skyscrapers. There’s an inherent sweetness to him. I also love how we dig deeper into Harlivy’s touching (physically and emotionally) dynamic. The Arkham story would bring a tear to anyone’s eye. There’s so much depth to these characters. The Clayface/Clayface 2 storyline is also hysterical with the “forbidden love” angle. Just let Clayface love his ass! It takes self-love to a new level. Only this show can pull off plotlines like this that are the most outlandish on paper.
Ready to delve into “A Very Problematic Valentine’s Day Special’? Let’s get to it.
We open with Superman (James Wolk) and Lois Lane (Natalie Morales) talking about how they met. Naturally, Supes gets every detail wrong while Lois gently corrects him. Then, after three years of working together at The Daily Planet, Metallo sends a train with Lois on it airborne. Thankfully, the Man of Steel saved the day. It was love at first sight.
Then, Harley (Kaley Cuoco) narrates a montage featuring Gotham’s most lovey-dovey displays. King Shark and his lady recreate that scene from Ghost while molding Clayface. Riddler proposes to Clock King. Catwoman sends Bruce Wayne bat-shaped chocolates while he’s in prison. Joker and Beth canoodle on the couch in front of a TV. Kite Man and Golden Glider soar through the sky, creating a heart shape in their wake.
Harley gushes about her love of Valentine’s Day. On the other hand, Ivy (Lake Bell) isn’t a fan of the holiday. She feels it’s wasteful and a bona fide rose genocide. Ivy is content with binge-watching jazz documentaries in her binge sweats, but Harley wants to give her GF the best Valentine’s Day ever. Thus, she suggests they hit up Mama Macaroni, where the breadstick basket is bottomless, like Harls’ love for Ivy. Ivy accepts, so long as Harley keeps everything “low key.” That word doesn’t exist in Harley Quinn’s vernacular.
Meanwhile, Clayface (Alan Tudyk) might be getting catfished by a man who looks like Jason Mamoa in Hoboken. Bane (James Adomian) laments to Riddler (Jim Rash) about his lack of love and asks the latter if there’s room for a third wheel re: Valentine’s Day celebrations. Naturally, Riddler turns him down. Poor Bane.
Next, Harley and Ivy have a romantic dinner at Mama Macaroni. Everything’s running smoothly. A waiter brings out vegan la-zeat-balls. Ivy compares the taste to watching Under the Tuscan Sun. Of course, Harley had the chef prepare these for her love. Suddenly, a group of mobsters bursts into the restaurant and kills the waiter in front of Harlivy. They demand the recipe for the vegan la-zeat-balls for their boss. The chef hands it over, and the group flees.
Harley and Ivy give chase to the mobsters, hijacking a horse and carriage to pursue their vehicle. Ivy utilizes her vines to subdue the assailants and recipe stealers. The men beg Ivy for their lives, claiming they’re middlemen hired by the CEO of Luxor Oil. The CEO of Luxor Oil flies in on a helicopter, but before he can get the recipe, Ivy unleashes her vines to secure the aircraft, and the blades obliterate him. But guess what? It’s all staged! Harley orchestrated the recipe theft as a Valentine’s Day surprise. The waiter and the Luxor Oil CEO? Collateral damage in the name of love.
Etrigan the Demon (John Stamos) presents a series of fireworks for our lovebirds, including a glorious message that says, “Harlivy Forever,” which is emblazoned across the sky. Harley and Ivy share a kiss beneath the flashing lights. Qué romántico!
Then, we see Hawkman (Tyler James Williams) and Hawkgirl (Quinta Brunson) talk to the camera about how they met in 2500 BC. Hawkman was known as Prince Khufu, and he spotted Princess Chay-Ara, Hawkgirl, in the market while having beer with a bud. They were married for 40 years until they were murdered. However, they were reincarnated, and they found each other again. How sweet.
Later, Clayface, dressed to the nines, wanders into Crime Alley to meet with Jerry from Hoboken. Unfortunately, Jerry from Hoboken, a.k.a. Captain Boomerang (Josh Helman), tries to rob him, but all he finds in Clayface’s wallet are two tickets to Brett Goldstein’s show in Gotham. When Clayface attempts to flee, Captain Boomerang throws a boomerang, slicing Clayface in half. Boomerang leaves Clayface in the alley.
Meanwhile, Ivy insists she had a great Valentine’s Day; however, Harley looks unsure about that. Bane wanders through a lovestruck Gotham, looking the picture of forlorn. He meets Betty (Casey Wilson), a dominatrix, who mistakes him for a dominatrix. She claims they’re late for a session with a client. Bane goes along with it. Harley dresses as an Amazon and tricks Wonder Woman (Vanessa Marshall) into making a beeline for Themyscira after showing the latter a video from Queen Hippolyta (Rachel Dratch). Well, it’s actually a clip from her Cameo. Harley steals Diana’s Lasso of Truth while she’s on her way out.
Killer Croc (Matt Oberg) and Enchantress (Leila Birch) describe how they met at the dermatologist’s office. Enchantress claims she looked awful because she’d literally “been to hell and back” while “summoning a succubus.” While lying in the alley, Clayface’s lower half starts talking to him. Yes, his butt grows eyes, while his crack serves as the mouth. I won’t get too descriptive with that. Sparks fly. Is Clayface falling in love with himself?
Later, Harley and lassos Ivy with Wonder Woman’s Lasso of Truth and asks her what she really thinks about their Valentine’s Day celebration. Ivy claims it’s in her top three, but it’s not the best. Uh-oh. Harley pretends to use the bathroom and leaps out the window. What’s she up to now? Meanwhile, Bane and Betty do their dominatrix thing. Bane becomes self-conscious of his member when Betty criticizes her client’s cucumber (as he desired, of course). Betty invites Bane over for Valentine’s Day, hence the insecurity. After the session, he asks Betty to text him her address because he must carbo-load before their lovemaking.
Then, Harley wanders into Etrigan’s Oceans of Potions and Lotions (great handle). She asks Etrigan for a potion to give Ivy the best orgasm she’s ever had. Harley recites the spell, rhymes and all, to make her dream a reality. Beyoncé’s thighs, Clooney’s stubble, the ass of Meloni and the eye of Zendaya — this will be my daily prayer. Now that Harley has activated the spell, all Ivy needs to do is kiss her. After Ivy kisses her, she becomes incredibly horny. The lovebirds have explosive, steamy sex and Ivy orgasms. It’s electrifying. Ivy states, without hesitation, that it’s the best orgasm she’s had.
Ivy’s “o” moment suddenly sets Gotham ablaze, putting everyone in the city under the horny spell. Everyone outside Harlivy’s apartment, from humans to superhumans and animals, gets a hankering for some sexy times. They’re all getting it on. Meanwhile, Aquaman (Chris Diamantopoulos) and Mera (Janet Varney) regale the camera with the tale of how they met. Mera talks about how she was raised in the underwater kingdom of Xebel as an assassin. She met Aquaman to hunt him down. Of course, her mission failed, and she fell in love with him.
Next, Clayface and Clayface 2 rid separate carriages together in the park. Tudyk’s vocalizing always cracks me up, and he cranks it to an 11 in this special. Clayface and his lower half realize they cannot be together physically, but they can still love each other from afar. As they say in the critically lauded, award-winning indie arthouse drama Twilight, “Forbidden fruit tastes the sweetest.”
Then, Bane chats it up with Etrigan and asks the latter for a penis-enlarging potion. After purchasing it, Bane recites the spell only to discover, too little too late, that you’re not supposed to use said potion if you take HGH (human growth hormone). Nevertheless, the spell turns his twig into a redwood trunk, but the rest of him morphs into the size of a skyscraper. Oh, and his libido is through the roof, no thanks to Harley’s horny spell. I love some of the visual gags regarding Bane’s giant size, like when he stands in front of a billboard for “Ding Dong Dogs” and crashes through a banner for Gotham’s Sausage Festival.
Harley admits she enacted a spell to elevate their sexcapades. Harley reasons Ivy can’t be too mad for her getting the engine revving, if ya catch my drift. Meanwhile, Darkseid (Michael Ironside) sits with Suli, an Apokoliptian scientist and sorceress. Darkseid delves into how they met. He first laid eyes on her when he delivered the keynote address at the Republican National Convention. That tracks. He forced her to rule by his side, or he would destroy her. And they never looked back!
Later, Clayface and Clayface 2 sit beside each other in separate bubbles, lamenting how they can never consummate their love. Clayface 2 breaks things off with his upper half, tearfully leaving Clayface in the dust. Unfortunately, he won’t attend Brett Goldstein’s show with him.
Then, Harley and Ivy brainstorm how to transform Bane into his normal size. Meanwhile, Bane humps buildings because, well, that’s what you do when you’re the size of Godzilla and horny as all get-out. Ivy believes if she removes Bane’s mask and kisses him, giving him her lack of horniness, he’ll revert to human size. However, when our lovebirds entrap Bane, he spots a billboard featuring an ad voiced by Brett Goldstein as he talks about his upcoming show. In said show, he’ll be reading poems by Lord Byron and polishing his Emmy award while shirtless. Bane becomes smitten. He even yells out, “Have mercy!” (John Stamos voices Etrigan in this episode, so it feels appropriate)
Harley and Ivy try to contain Bane, but he’s making a beeline toward the Gotham Amphitheater. Harlivy argues over Harley’s decision to make Valentine’s too chaotic after Bane destroys Mama Macaroni. Ivy emphatically states that she listens when Harley wants to do something, whereas Harley struggles in the listening arena. Outside Brett Goldstein’s show, Clayface tries to sell his extra ticket for $80. Clayface 2 reunites with his love and the Clayfaces reenact the Romeo and Juliet balcony scene.
Brett Goldstein starts his show, but it’s cut short when Bane crashes the party. Bane also steps on Clayface and Clayface 2, merging both parties into one cohesive body. Clayface cries out in grief. Harley and Ivy find him curled up on the ground. They ask him to transform into a giant version of Brett Goldstein and rattle off Bane’s turn-offs on his dating profile. That’ll kill his libido. Clayface believes it’ll be his greatest role yet, notwithstanding that he played Billy Bob Thornton playing Thomas Wayne in Season 3.
Giant Brett Goldstein/Clayface appears to flirt with Bane. He even utters the brilliant line, “What is horny, if not love persevering?” Nice WandaVision nod. I also love Bane’s line about how Brett deserves to be with someone who makes him feel like he’s been “f*cked by lightning.” Nice twist on a Ted Lasso line. Anyway, Clayface says “anyways,” which is one of Bane’s massive pet peeves. While ranting about grammatical blunders, Bane starts to shrink slowly. Huzzah!
After taking in the destruction and all those demolished buildings he humped, Bane feels remorseful and embarrassed. He thanks Harlivy for saving him. Betty arrives and reveals she still wants to sleep with him. Bane and Betty ride off into the sunset together. Harlivy stands among the burning rubble and debris, and Ivy discloses her best Valentine’s Day experience. It occurred when Ivy was in Arkham. She felt like nobody cared about her. Then, a blonde psychiatrist brought her milk from the cafeteria, sat with her and recapped the plot of Shrek 2. As you can guess, it was Harley Quinn. Don’t mind me; I’ve got dust in my eye.
Now, our lovebirds sit in front of the camera to discuss how they met. They moved from enemies to friends to lovers. A gradual, lovely evolution. Then, they wonder how to end this episode. Harley enthusiastically suggests she recap Shrek 3. Harley’s love for Shrek feels inexplicably in character. I love it.
I hope this show never ends. Long live Harley Quinn. It’s an instant serotonin boost.
All seasons of Harley Quinn are on HBO Max.