Harley Quinn season 1, episode 10 review: Bensonhurst

Harley Quinn, ep. 4 "Finding Mr. Right" -- Photo Credit: 2019 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Harley Quinn, ep. 4 "Finding Mr. Right" -- Photo Credit: 2019 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. All Rights Reserved. /

Harley Quinn is finally in the big leagues with the Legion of Doom – but at the cost of all of her crew including Poison Ivy departing. Quinn returns to her family in the tenth episode…

Things do not appear to be easy as for what appears to be a downtrodden Harley Quinn as she watches King Shark (Ron Funches) on social-media documenting his first day out of work, is enjoying life to the fullest at an amusement park. Yes, Harley Quinn’s tenth episode, “Bensonhurst,” opens with our series protagonist (Kaley Cuoco), who clearly isn’t pleased that her entire crew and, supposedly, her B.F.F – Poison Ivy (Lake Bell) – have bailed.

Bane (James Adomian) enters Quinn’s office and notices she’s distracted by Insta posts of her crew, instead of doing actual work – namely villainy. Bane, who always falls back on every solution to his problem in “blowing” everything “up” let’s slip that he is going to Black Manta’s beach lair instead of being held up and stuck at the Legion of Doom Headquarters.

Return to the defective Quinzel Household

Back at her lair, alone with Sy Borgman wheeling around the complex, Quinn still attempts to contact Poison Ivy, who is otherwise captured last episode in “A Seat at the Table”. Quinn texts just to see how she is getting on but the sane part of her subconscious interrupts her trail of thoughts. Harleen Quinzel convinces her to return to her family including Nick (Charlie Adler); her gambling mob father; mother Sarah and Grandma Quinzel (Susie Essman).

Meanwhile, Gus (Rory Scovel) meets Ivy who is restrained at the Plant Wide Pavers facility. Ivy manages to control a Dandelion seed head into a living, fully grown Dandelion weed to reach Frank the Plant (J.B. Smoove) and get Quinn to rescue her. The Dandelion weed reaches Ivy’s apartment where Chaz (Adomian) and Frank are present to inform them about Ivy’s kidnapping and to reach Quinn for a rescue.

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Sometime later during the evening, Quinn, Nick, Sarah and Grandma chat over Spaghetti Bolognese, tomatoes and mixed salads and dressing for dinner. Quinn resents her father over betting against her to lose the 2009 College Gymnasium Championship. Nick insists that he is a reformed man since his prison sentence and stopped gambling, but Quinn is not buying it for one second.

Just when Grandma – who is welcoming of her granddaughter’s company – tries to explain that she has been diagnosed with brain cancer, she gets shot in the head by a mystery assassin. It is not before Nick confesses to his wife, Sarah, and Quinn he took out a loan from the Mob to secure his finances.

Revenge against the Mob and Thumb Sacrilege

Nick attempts to negotiate with the grossly stereotypical Italian Mafioso mobsters to write-off the loan he purchased from them, but Quinn goes for the direct approach, bursting right in the restaurant. Quinn flexes at the Mob to bow down and forgive Nick for not paying his debt but incites a shoot-out after breaking one of the mobsters’ teeth with her bat.

With the help of Nick, Quinn uses her gymnast skills, with his coaching to takedown each gang member. However, a Chef barges in with a handheld rail gun, shooting Nick’s thumb off. Quinn disposes of the Chef by throwing a piece of a broken wine bottle at his neck, killing him.

The truth about Bensonhurst, turn for the worst…

Out of all the episodes of Harley Quinn, the plot has to be the most interesting as there are quite a lot of twists and turns, especially for this kind of genre. Even though Harley Quinn is set within the confines of the superhero genre, with vigilante heroes, meta-humans, super-villains and mad scientists etc. this is overtly a mature, animated black comedy that dips its toes into satire.

The strengths of this episode are the writing and direction, including the pacing, thanks in part to the teleplay by Laura Moran. While not so much laugh-out-loud (the series overall has its moments) one thing this series consistently gets right is character development. This writer will get to Quinn’s family in a moment, but her childhood and past were foreshadowed back in the fifth episode. Moran’s script explores Quinn’s distant relationship with her family; her resentment of her dad Nick; emulation of her mum Sarah and subtly explores why she stayed away.

Quickly, however, the overall tone shifts from a cautionary tale akin to episodes of Roseanne or Love and Marriage to a hit-and-run revenge plot from The Sopranos with a crazy psychotic in clown make-up. The action ramps up a notch with the fluid and superb animation by Andrew Barno, and both the editing and timing of these sequences deserve a lot of praise – in particular, the action set pieces.

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The Quinzels are a largely dysfunctional family, although not much is known about her baby brother, Barry, of whom her parents kept his ashes, neither Grandma nor Grandpa Quinzel (sadly before they died) although it could be implied that Nick’s gambling and crimes had caught up with him and caused his son to possibly get murdered. As for Quinn’s mother, she is certainly meddlesome and illiterate with a bad taste in men.

The downsides of “Bensonhurst,” were the scenes with Ivy and the goon, Gus. Although to be fair, Ivy spent most of the time captured, waiting to be tested on by a mysterious “Doctor” at the lab facility, revealed to be none other than one of the Legion of Doom members, Dr. Jonathan Crane, aka Scarecrow – who sedates her with a strange, purple solution in a syringe. The core issue is the majority of the gags did not land because Ivy’s gags are better put together during her interactions with Quinn.

However scenes with Frank the Plant continue to provide great humor, as you can always rely on this character to steal the spotlight in comedy.

In terms of the heel-turn at the climax, this was a surprise, but it felt a little flat with a major plot-hole. The main culprit behind the bounty that had been placed on Quinn’s head – who the audience has seen in earlier episodes – was a good choice that fits the overall tone of the show. While it does manage to subvert expectations, it does not make sense why Sarah would side with her husband all because she wanted a better life for Quinn.

Off-The-Wall Observations:

  • Harley Quinn is revealed to be at least partially Jewish.
  • Poison Ivy is held at Planet Wide Pavers facility by Dr. Jonathan Crane aka Scarecrow, who is running experiments on her.
  • The short opening sequence that showcases the cast of “The Quinzels” references a lot of family drama and sitcoms like Everybody Loves Raymond, Roseanne and Love and Marriage.
  • Barry Quinzel, the younger brother, is discovered to be the one that Harley lost growing up.
  • Joshua Cobblepot – Oswald Cobblepot/The Penguin’s nephew – returns in a big way.
  • Nick is a deadbeat father and Sarah, an overbearing, ignorant, mother with low self-esteem.
  • Bensonhurst is a location somewhere in Brooklyn on the outskirts of Gotham City.

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Did you enjoy this week’s episode of Harley Quinn? Are you a fan of the series? Let us know in the comments below!