DISCLAIMER: This recap of the Harley Quinn episode “Climax at Jazzapajizza” has spoilers. Prepare for the plant zombie apocalypse, and proceed at your peril.
Welcome back, Harlivy lovers! It’s hard to believe we’ve reached penultimate episode territory for Season 3, but here we are. “Climax at Jazzapajizza” boasts a title I have to sound out while spelling it and actualizes Ivy’s Gotham terraforming plan. This outing is lighthearted and fun, displaying the show’s trademark charm and biting wit; however, it feels short. And rushed. All in all, Ivy’s plan to terraform Gotham is short-lived and ends with a whimper.
I was hoping for something that extended at least two episodes. Maybe see Ivy put up more of a fight, as this was her dream for so long. Of course, she loves Harley with all of her heart, and I wouldn’t want this conflict to culminate in a breakup or their deaths. That said, there’s nothing wrong with some high-octane opposition, even between lovebirds. Perhaps my disappointment derives from how much time was spent on this arc, only for it to end, well, as it ended.
Ready to delve into “Climax at Jazzapajizza”? Let’s get to it.
I Gotta Get Him on the Pod
We open with Nightwing (Harvey Guillén) and Batgirl (Briana Cuoco) standing guard over Harley (Kaley Cuoco), Ivy (Lake Bell), Psycho (Tony Hale) and Clayface (Alan Tudyk) in Wayne Manor. Harley and the others explain that Bruce Wayne is responsible for the ensuing plant zombie apocalypse. On cue, ole Brucey (Diedrich Bader) barges into the room with his zombie parents in tow.
Next, Psycho utters perhaps one of my favorite lines of the season: “I gotta get him on the pod.” It’s such a podcast dudebro thing to say. Batgirl peeks out the window and quickly closes the curtain, bewildered at the sight of so many plant zombies. Then, she frees our crew from their ropes.
Frank (J.B. Smoove) suddenly bursts into the manor with a horde of terrifying zombies on his tail. He was able to avoid detection by acting like a zombie himself. That’s how you do it.
Unfortunately, the zombies break into Wayne Manor, and our squad fends them off as best they can. One of them vomits on Psycho before Frank cautions against coming in contact with their tar-looking puke. Psycho morphs into a tree.
Teenagers Scare the Living Sh*t Out of Me
Meanwhile, in the Batcave, Bruce introduces Damian Wayne, a.k.a. Robin, to his zombified parents. Robin doesn’t seem enthused to meet his undead grandparents, though. Teenagers, am I right? Upstairs, our crew formulates a game plan. Ivy endeavors to reenter The Green. The plants and plant zombies share the same DNA, so she might be able to control them.
Having learned that everyone rose from the dead, Clayface flees, presumably hoping to stop the real Billy Bob Thornton from stealing the job he stole. Only Clayface possesses the depth to portray Thomas Wayne as Billy Bob Thornton. We should start a hashtag campaign on Twitter — #OscarforClayface. He deserves to be in the annals of entertainment history.
So, Frank lights a joint while Ivy heads into The Green. Harley pilots the Batjet like the badass she is, while Batgirl hops on a motorcycle and Nightwing rides what looks like a penny-farthing. I desperately need it to be a penny-farthing for comedic purposes.
Our new Bat-trio targets plant zombies while surveying Gotham. While in The Green, Ivy encounters Swamp Thing (Sam Richardson), who encourages her to remove whatever emotional stumbling blocks are in her path. Frank battles off the zombie hordes to protect Ivy.
She’s Got the (Plant) Power
Suddenly, fueled by a new kind of power, Ivy emerges from The Green, reinvigorated. She’s also sporting a costume similar to her comic book roots, including the booties she wore in her first comic appearance (Batman #181, June 1966). Ivy can now control the plant zombies. Hurray! However, she wants to seize this moment to carry out her Gotham terraforming plan. Hurray?
While flying through the city, Harley calls King Shark (Ron Funches), who’s a bona fide ruler now. She asks KS to watch over Ivy. He claims he’s in the middle of diplomatic, kingly matters, but he does as he’s bid. After King Shark ends the call, we see he’s on the toilet. Hey, it’s a kind of throne.
Don’t Kill the Buttholes
Harley learns the Bat fam doesn’t like killing anyone, even if they’re buttholes. Ivy controls her plant zombie followers, forcing them to do the Macarena. Now that that’s out of the way, let’s make Gotham green!
King Shark arrives at Wayne Manor after Ivy and Frank depart. Bruce finds him and, thinking KS is there to attack, resumes his fighting stance. However, King Shark comes in peace. He gives our Batman advice regarding grief and how resurrecting your long-dead parents isn’t a way of coping with your grief. Bruce listens to him intently and seems to absorb King Shark’s sage wisdom genuinely. Who would’ve thought?
Next, Harley, Nightwing and Batgirl kick plant zombie ass while Ivy’s hellbent on multiplying them. Joker (also Tudyk) hosts Jazzapajizza, Gotham’s premier jazz fest, and introduces the next performer. Ivy, a diehard jazz fan, unleashes her plant zombies on the mass of festival attendees. We see a slew of greenery and trees sprout after the zombies vomit on the humans.
Ivy descends upon the Jazzapajizza stage, her excitement palpable. She rallies her plant zombies, telling them humans have taken nature for granted for far too long. Batgirl and Nightwing spot Ivy from afar, realizing she’s behind Gotham’s new green initiative. Greenery, trees and vines materialize right before their eyes. Harley urges the pair to let her talk to Ivy. She’ll listen to reason.
While Harley supports Ivy’s hot new look, she voices her concerns regarding the rapid terraforming of the city. Killing innocent people to fulfill this vision isn’t a good idea. Harley has now become the voice of reason. I love her evolution on this show.
Ivy refuses to relent, so Harley jumps in front of a vomit-spewing plant zombie. Suddenly, Harley starts morphing into a tree in front of Ivy. Bane (James Adomian), who believes Harley sacrificed herself to save him, finally forgives her for The Great Pasta Maker Blunder of 2022. A true saint.
Killing in the Name of (Thomas and Martha Wayne)
Meanwhile, King Shark kills Bruce’s parents in the act of kindness. Thomas and Martha Wayne are murdered (again). Maybe now Bruce will seek therapy!
Ivy, distraught over Harley transforming into a tree, cries out in agony. Her loss of control removes the greenery from Gotham, de-animates the zombies and returns the humans to their natural state. Harley also returns to normal. Success! While Ivy’s happy to have her girl back, she’s also disappointed in her failed terraforming plan.
Well, you know what they say: “(Wo)man makes plans … and God laughs.”
Overall, “Climax at Jazzapajizza” isn’t my favorite Harley Quinn episode. Sure, most of the elements that make a great Harley Quinn installment are there, but the execution, namely of Ivy’s grand plan, which was supposed to be a pivotal plot point this season, left something to be desired. With that resolved, I wonder what the season finale will hold for us.
I’m glad Psycho is back, and I hope he’s here to stay. King Shark helping Bruce Wayne process his grief and trauma made me giggle. I love the constant experimentation this show dabbles in and how it’s unafraid of pushing the envelope in that regard. I suppose “Climax at Jazzapajizza” proves how rock-solid Harlivy’s love is; I am grateful for that.
Harley Quinn drops new episodes every Thursday on HBO Max.