DISCLAIMER: This recap of the Harley Quinn episode “Joker: The Killing Vote” has spoilers. Prepare to witness the birth of a socialist Gotham and proceed at your peril.
Welcome, Jo-bros and queenpins of Gotham! This week’s Harley Quinn episode shifts the focus to none other than Mista J in a title that parodies Batman: The Killing Joke. Alan Tudyk is pitch perfect in this outing, showing us a softer, gentler side to Joker while retaining the (former) Clown Prince of Crime’s serrated-edge humor and zaniness. You can never go wrong with Amy Sedaris in a voiceover role. Her voice is so distinctive and colorful.
Ready to delve into “Joker: The Killing Vote”? Let’s get to it.
The Debbie of It All
We open with Joker (Tudyk) walking through the streets of Gotham while carrying a bag of groceries. Suddenly, Batman swoops in like a, uh, bat in the night. He corners Joker in a darkened alley. Joker insists he’s not a baddie anymore. I mean, look at that burgundy cardigan! That’s all the evidence you need that Mista J’s a reformed man.
However, when he removes his cowl, we see it’s Debbie (Sedaris), Joker’s new archnemesis at Benicio and Sophia’s elementary school.
Suddenly, Joker wakes in bed next to Bethany (Krizia Bajos), who asks her beau if he had that nightmare about Debbie again. Suddenly, the episode launches into the opening credits of a sitcom, wherein Joker leads the charge as a former supervillain turned domesticated family man. When Joker drops off Benicio (James Corleto) and Sophia (Sammi Corona-Lampa) at school, he pays a visit to the secretary in the principal’s office.
We see she’s watching a video on YouTube with a laugh track, which aligns perfectly with the dialogue in the episode. She closes out the vid because who needs laugh tracks? I don’t want anyone telling me when to laugh!
Joker asks the secretary if he can peek at the student list for the school’s Spanish dual immersion program. The secretary obliges. Unfortunately, Sophia and Benecio didn’t make the cut. However, Debbie’s kids did, for some inexplicable reason. Oh, wait — she holds immense sway over the school board.
Vote for Jim — Get a PEZ Dispenser!
Meanwhile, Barbara (Briana Cuoco) persuades her father, Jim Gordon (Christopher Meloni), to run for mayor on an actual platform. He doesn’t need to sell merch and an overabundance of PEZ dispensers to win the masses. Two-Face (Andy Daly) begs to differ, though.
Next, Benicio and Sophia watch Gotham’s mayor die in his hospital bed on live TV, leaving Gordon as the only person in the mayoral race. Joker and Bethany chat with their kids at the dinner table regarding their interests. Benicio wishes to go by “Ben” at school because kids bully him for his name. Aw, that’s heartbreaking.
Fueled by rage at the injustice against his children, Joker gifts Debbie with Arroz con pollo (I’ve got food envy over here), hoping to sweet talk her into persuading the school to allow Benicio and Sophia to join the immersion program. He notices her prime parking spot as the school’s “VIP.” Debbie claims Joker will have to take it up with the city council for some strange reason.
Then, Gordon and Two-Face celebrate the former’s victory as the incumbent candidate, well, died. Barbara urges her father to slow his roll. He still needs a platform to show he truly cares about the city.
The Killing Vote
Meanwhile, we see Joker and his squad overtake the Gotham City Courthouse. The media dubs this as “Old Joker Is Back!” but we learn Mista J merely wishes to run against Gordon for mayor. His methods are a bit elaborate (and scary); however, his heart’s in the right place.
Joker plans to implement education reform, free tuition and universal healthcare, with the rich upper crust paying for it all (sorry, Bruce Wayne). Admittedly, this sounds fantastic to me. He proceeds to rob a bank and hand out money to Gotham’s citizens.
Next, Gordon and Two-Face can’t figure out why Joker’s crushing it in the polls. Barbara comes out as a staunch supporter of Joker, a member of the Insane Clown Posse, if you will (not a Jo-bro). Hey, he’s got great policies. Barbara comments on Two-Face’s hold over her dad, so she gives Gordon an ultimatum: her or Two-Face. Gordon claims he can choose Two-Face first, then her. It’s all good! Barbara storms out.
Obviously, She Was Talking About David Boreanaz
Meanwhile, Joker basks in the praise of his supporters for his mayoral run. Bethany shuts off the TV before one woman compares his hotness to a celebrity named “David.” Spade? Blaine? Harbour? Hyde Pierce? Will we ever find out which David?
The kids are disappointed to learn that Joker’s funneling all his energies into his campaign, claiming his run takes precedence over them. Uh-oh. That’s a daddy no-no.
Later, amid Joker’s big campaign event, Two-Face calls him to reveal he’s kidnapped Benicio. If Joker wishes to see his son again, he must meet with TF at an abandoned amusement park. Two-Face lures Gordon to said park under pretenses, only to inform him about the ultimatum he plans to present Joker. Either Joker drops out of the mayoral race, or Two-Face sends Benicio flying off a broken rollercoaster into the waters below. Gordon washes his hands of this, asserting he’s not about child murder.
[Insert Sum 41 Lyrics]
Joker arrives, hot on Gordon’s heels. Once he learns of Two-Face’s nefarious plan, he instantly opts to save his son. However, as Joker frees poor Benicio, Two-Face locks them both in the coaster and sends the pair off toward a horrifying demise.
Thankfully, Gordon hops in the next car and pursues them, hellbent on saving Joker and Benicio. He grabs them right before their coaster flies into the water, and the trio manages to escape. My favorite moment from this scene is when Benicio mistakes Gordon for Superman and Joker tells him it’s only the commissioner, so they can go back to screaming.
After the trio emerges from the ride, Gordon prepares to kill Two-Face. Joker stops him, reminding him that shooting TF won’t improve the situation. Gordon, flabbergasted by Joker’s complete 180, withdraws from the race, making Joker the official mayor of Gotham. Gordon expresses his excitement at working for him. Unfortunately, the commissioner is now unemployed since Joker plans to abolish the police.
Oh, and Benicio calls Joker “dad” like four times! Music to Mista J’s ears, to be sure.
Suddenly, Bethany arrives, furiously crashing her soccer mom van into Two-Face. She’s ready to raise hell to save Benicio, even though Joker got there first. Gordon calls Barbara and apologizes for his behavior.
Later, we see a commercial for Joker’s new position play out. Everyone dons clown makeup, and all is right with the world.
Hi The Mayor, I’m Dad
Amid a celebration for the new mayor of Gotham, we see Harley (Kaley Cuoco) and Ivy (Lake Bell) arrive home after their trip to New Orleans. The women are gobsmacked to see Joker running the show, with the new mayor standing on a platform with his family as they wave cheerfully at the crowd.
Next, Joker steals Debbie’s parking spot, dubbing it the official place for the mayor. Take that, Debbie!
“Joker: The Killing Vote” is a breath of fresh air. As much as I adore Harley, it’s an excellent palette cleanser to focus on a different aspect of this universe temporarily. It broadens the show’s scope and deepens our bond with the supporting cast. Harley Quinn puts a fresh spin on a sometimes tired, bloated character. Admittedly, I get Joker fatigue from the countless adaptations of him. However, Harley Quinn reminds me that Joker doesn’t need to be the “same old, same old.” We can inject him with new blood.
A domesticated Joker who loves cooking and dad jokes and whose biggest nemesis is someone on the PTA will always be hilarious to me. Give me more, please. On a similar note, we need Mark Hamill on this show. He could voice a parallel universe Joker opposite Tudyk’s version. Make it so!
Harley Quinn drops new episodes every Thursday on HBO Max.