DISCLAIMER: This recap of Harley Quinn Season 4 Episode 8, “Il Buffone,” contains spoilers. Proceed at your peril.
Welcome back, Harlivy lovers! This week, it’s all about the Buffone (the “buffoon”), aka Bane, and the Freeze, aka Nora. This outing is rare in that the focus is not on Harley and Ivy. Admittedly, it’s one of the strongest episodes this season. Every Bane scene is absolutely golden. You have to laugh while watching him — a villain with a secret soft side who learns how to make pasta from scratch to impress his crush. Pasta has been a part of Bane’s Harley Quinn arc for multiple seasons, and it’s as sneakily genius as it is hilarious. This show does ludicrous so well.
“Il Buffone” has also made me a bigger fan of Nora. My girl just wants to have sex, but Lex’s fragile masculinity and paper-thin ego get in the way. It’s all irreverent, cheeky fun that feels very Harley Quinn, even with less of our titular lead in the picture.
Ready to delve into “Il Buffone”? Let’s get to it.
We open with Harley (Kaley Cuoco) and Ivy (Lake Bell), landing in Gotham in the Time Sphere six days after their departure date. Nora (Rachel Dratch) greets them in this dark, colorless, seemingly post-apocalyptic world. Harley’s ready to hop back into the Time Sphere so they can travel six days into the past. Unfortunately, it bursts into flames. Uh-oh.
Still, we rewind six days ago to the Italian countryside, wherein Bane (James Adomian) rides a red motorbike. He bursts through the doors of the Pasta Maker World Headquarters, hellbent on replacing Ivy’s broken pasta maker handle. Unfortunately, the company no longer sells that particular handle. Enraged, Bane decides to do what he does best: splode stuff. We see the building explode behind him as he flees.
Meanwhile, in Gotham, a drunk Nora turns on the news with Tawny Young (Tisha Campbell), who reveals Lex Luthor’s (Giancarlo Esposito) plan to regenerate the ozone layer. We see Lex on the moon with his “Earth Saver Ray.” He has three tufts of black hair on his head, courtesy of his efforts to grow his hair. He looks like middle-aged Robin from 2048. Lex activates the laser; however, the beam can’t reach the Earth’s ozone. It’s 10 feet short of said ozone. Aw, nuts!
In Italy, Bane asks random Italians in the countryside if they know the identity of the best pasta maker. He introduces himself as “Bane-o” to two kids, à la Mario. The kids laugh and call him “Toilet.” They point to a house on a hill to distract Bane while they steal his motorbike. He trudges up the steep hill with his purple luggage, hoping to meet the crème de la crème of pasta makers.
Next, Nora tries to get it on with Captain Cold (Ben Levin) when she spots Lex and Volcana (Jeannie Tirado) walking in the hallway. She asks Lex what he’s planning to do with Volcana. He wants her to make multiple volcanoes erupt to thicken the Earth’s atmosphere, making it close enough for his Earth Saver Ray to reach it. Nora is suspicious of Lex’s motives and with good reason. Who knows what he’s hiding under those three patches of hair?
Meanwhile, Bane arrives at the top of the hill. He enters a seemingly empty, dark house. Suddenly, a knife pierces his chest. We see an older woman approach him, voiced by Janeane Garofalo. He asks her if she knows the best pasta maker in Italy. Her demeanor changes on a dime. She smiles, revealing she fits that description. At the Legion of Doom, Nora picks up a red wig, thinking it’s Ivy’s hair, and she’s been passed out for days. Lex, unable to take Volcana with him, orders his soldiers to break into the Legion of Doom to steal her.
Suddenly, Nora and Captain Cold are interrupted again when Lex’s soldiers barge into the room, guns blazing. King Shark (Ron Funches) wanders in, asking for the Wi-Fi password. He immediately rips off the head of one of the soldiers. Volcana and Captain Cold attempt to freeze and set fire to another intruder. Nora goes to town on the remaining fighters, brutally beating them to a pulp.
When that trick doesn’t work, Lex launches a giant metal shield that encases the Legion building. In Italy, Signora feeds Bane a lovely charcuterie board. Jealous. Signora plans to teach Bane how to make pasta from scratch. He’s on her turf now.
Nora, King Shark, Volcana and Captain Cold put their heads together inside the Legion dome to find a solution. How do they get rid of Lex? Lex orders Nora to hand over Volcana, but our new acting leader won’t have it. Captain Cold puts Volcana in the “panic room” per Nora’s orders, even though the LOD doesn’t have one. King Shark steps up to the plate with a game plan. He’s the IT whiz; now it’s his time to shine. He vows to hack them out of there.
Later, Signora teaches Bane how to crack an egg. It takes him a hot minute to master it. She encourages him to think of Nora, his love. He’s doing this for her. By doing it for her, he’s also ensuring she’s in good standing with Ivy. Signora also teaches him how to make the pasta itself. Cue a requisite Karate Kid montage but with pasta. While King Shark attempts to hack Lex’s system that’s keeping them trapped, a lightbulb switches on in Nora’s head. She snatches up the “imbigulator.” She plans to make the building bigger so it outgrows Lex’s shield.
However, she inadvertently aims the imbigulator at King Shark’s claws, making them too big to type on a laptop keyboard. Uh-oh. You can also only use the device once. That seems counterproductive. The following morning in Italy, Bane wakes on the floor of Signora’s kitchen. She presents him with a plate of spaghetti. He devours it, claiming it’s the best pasta he’s ever had. Well, guess what, big fella? You made that.
Signora reveals her real name is Mama Nacaroni. Yes, she owns the Mama Macaroni’s empire. Apparently, her actual moniker got the American treatment, replacing that “N” with an “M.” Gordon was right! Meanwhile, Lex overheats King Shark’s laptop. Nora and Captain Cold are so close to forking — they’re even down to their undergarments. Unfortunately, Lex proves to be the biggest c*ck-block. He fills the building with a noxious gas.
Then, Bane packs all the pasta he made into his suitcase. He thanks Mama Nacaroni for all she’s taught him. However, she won’t let him leave. She names Bane her successor to Mama Macaroni’s empire. He tries to depart, but she knocks him unconscious. In Gotham, Nora and the gang find Volcana in a supply cabinet, their version of a “panic room.” There are a ton of flammable and explosive items in that cabinet. Perhaps they can blow up the Legion of Doom…
Next, Mama Nacaroni presents Bane with an ultimatum. She’ll shove his fingers into a meat grinder if he won’t assist her. Bane laments his situation. He had it better as a semi-famous villain in Gotham. This catches Mama Nacaroni’s attention. She orders him to call Clayface to get a ticket for her to his Vegas show. Clayface agrees to do this if Bane helps him out. He wants Bane to head-butt Ivy on live TV for his amusement. Bane accepts these terms.
Much to Lex’s dismay, the Legion crew manages to explode the building. That dismay quickly changes to joy when his scientist informs him that Earth’s atmosphere has thickened. The Earth Saver Ray can reach it now. Lex orders him to hit the button. Suddenly, the sky darkens considerably. We see a laser penetrate the Earth, striking Gotham.
Later, Mama Nacaroni lets Bane go free since he got her a ticket to Clayface’s Vegas residency. Meanwhile, Nora, Captain Cold, King Shark and Volcana emerge from the ashes of the Legion of Doom. They notice the sky is incredibly dark. King Shark flees to reunite with his children. Cold wants to have sex with Nora finally, but she’s more engrossed with the idea of raiding shops for free stuff.
Bane arrives in Gotham. He finds Nora exiting a store. Bane tells her he couldn’t replace the handle on Ivy’s pasta maker, but now he can make pasta from scratch. He’s the Pasta Maker. Bane hopes this impresses Nora. Nora claims she had pasta for lunch. But maybe he can help her get that beach umbrella in a window display. Bane throws his luggage full of pasta through the window for his love.
Now, we’re at the moment when Harley and Ivy land in the Time Sphere. Unfortunately, the source of the Sphere’s explosion is King Shark, who accidentally sets it on fire. Harley and Ivy watch a news segment with Tawny, who reveals that Lex’s Earth Saver Ray is the source of the darkness. Then, we see Superman (James Wolk) attempt to fly, but he’s weakened without the sun. He cowers in fear, shielding himself with his cape.
It’s all going down now. The apocalypse is here.
Can our heroes reverse the destruction wrought by Lex’s Earth Saver Ray? Will Nora see Bane as the pasta-making master he is? How will Ivy feel about the Legion of Doom going up in flames? Only time (and more episodes) will tell.
Harley Quinn streams new episodes every Thursday on Max.