Birds of Prey (and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn), a recap (part 4 of 5)

Last time on Curds of Whey: An insanely valuable diamond is currently traversing the colon of the school-aged thief Cassandra Cain, and a group of badass babes with improbable personal connections to her are all wanting to get it back for reasons of their own. This thief has just been blown out of the apartment of Gotham’s ex-crime queen Harley Quinn and is on the run from both cops and bounty hunters.

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“This next bit ain’t very pretty,” Harley’s VO warns. She decides to sell out Cassandra since everyone’s doing it these days, and calls Sionis on the sly to arrange a swap.

Oh no, Harley you idiot! There are no real phone booths left! That’s the secret tunnel that takes you to CONTROL.

A bizarrely spooky cover of Pat Benatar’s “Hit Me with Your Best Shot” starts up forebodingly as a gleeful Sionis tells Black Canary to drive Mr. Zsasz to the pickup. Canary texts the location to recently suspended Detective Montoya, who’s currently drinking and setting fire to photographs in the first evidence of this supposed alcoholism of hers.

This is the most cryptic sexting I’ve ever seen in my life.

The Crossbow Killer AKA Huntress follows Canary on her motorcycle. Canary notices the mysterious figure on the bike behind her but somehow senses she’s not in danger and keeps driving.

Canary’s phone is sitting on the car’s center console. Zsasz notices an incriminating text from Montoya pop up on the lock screen, and asks to be let out of the car to take a leak. He sneakily phones Sionis while pretending to pee, telling him of Canary’s treachery. The impact of this betrayal causes Sionis to get visibly choked up. He tells Zsasz to leave Canary to him, and slips on a mask made of some sort of black material. Did this movie remember to establish that he was nicknamed Black Mask? It did? Okay, good.

“Eat shit, COVID! Not gettin’ the McGregster!”

Meanwhile, Harley’s taken Cassandra to a broken-down old circus that is apparently located inside the Upside Down.

Air pollution in Gotham has gotten so bad, the only color light that makes it through the smog is blue.

Kinda makes you wonder why she bothered getting an apartment in the city when there’s this whole cool place to spread out in. Not centrally located, probably. That bus line’s a bitch. Plus, the interior is just a bunch of old sets from Batman Forever. What were we thinking in the ’90s?

Like if you stuffed a Dr. Seuss background into a pair of Zubaz.

Cassandra walks into this room with Harley willingly, and a cut happens, and then after the cut Harley’s got her duct-taped to the toilet with her pants around her ankles in case nature takes its course. Cassandra yells at Harley for her betrayal and Harley says it’s just business.

She answers the door for someone she assumes is Zsasz, but instead it turns out to be Montoya. Montoya punches drunkenly at Harley, who dodges the blows easily. The two women kick each other in the crotch some, and Montoya distracts Harley with a cheap boob punch long enough to slap a cuff on her and attach the other to her own wrist. Enraged, Harley twirls gymnastically and somehow takes the cuff off and puts it onto Montoya’s other wrist.

“You killed my sandwich!” Harley bellows, kicking her through the window, presumably to her death.

A master of shot composition, Cathy Yan makes sure to frame the couch just barely but distractingly in the foreground, with the relevant scene action behind it, just as Godard recommended.

“Bye bye, birdie,” Harley says remorselessly, because, you know, title.

One second later, she gets shot in the neck with a tranq dart from Zsasz. He goes to creep on Harley lying immobile on the couch while Black Canary rushes over to Cassandra and starts to cut her off the toilet. Zsasz lifts open his shirt for the paralyzed but conscious Harley to see, revealing that like his comic book namesake, he has numerous scars. He’s saying he has a scar each for “all the little birds I helped fly away from this world.” They’re really pushing bird metaphors into everything they can to try to justify the movie’s name. Adaptations are fun, aren’t they?

“Two problems with that mouth of yours: too much sass, not enough Zsasz.”

Hearing some commotion from the other room, Zsasz goes to investigate. He tells Canary to cut Cassandra open and retrieve the diamond from her guts, but Canary refuses. Zsasz says he knows Canary’s a rat and holds a gun to her head. He calls Canary a “bird” and tells her he knows Sionis is distracted by pretty girls, which is why he needs Zsasz (Zsasz is, for no particular reason, not distracted by pretty girls).

On the couch, Harley uses her powers of party-girl drug tolerance to decide not to be tranquilized anymore. She starts to wiggle around. As Zsasz notices Harley pull the dart out of her neck, he turns around and gets an arrow in his own neck courtesy of the Crossbow Killer. He flops down on the couch, where Harley stabs him repeatedly with the tranq dart.

Aww! Someone’s in love!

Before Hunterine can deliver a kill shot, however, Montoya uses her cop powers to decide not to have just fallen out a window, appearing in the window frame with her gun drawn. “Freeze!” she yells, though it’s not clear who she’s addressing. Just “freeze”, in a general kind of way. But Cassandra one-ups her crazy, grabbing Zsasz’s gun and holding everyone hostage.

Since Huntress has already killed Zsasz (whoops! He died while we weren’t looking), the final person on her revenge list, she tries tries to dip out. But Montoya holds up her gun again and stops her, accusing her of working for Sionis. Outraged, Huntress reveals her identity and her mission.

We step into Flashback Land and again see the firing squad in Huntress’s living room all those years ago, intercut with a young Huntress drawing her attackers in crayon, intercut with clips showing an adult Huntress killing all those guys, including the guy from the restaurant, the old guy in bed, the guy Harley and Joker tattooed a clown face on, and finally, Victor Zsasz. Her quest for revenge having gone off without a hitch, as quests for revenge tend to do, Huntress wants nothing to do with whatever the rest of these ladies are into.

But Montoya says the Huntress’s work isn’t done; she still has Sionis to kill. Sionis masterminded the execution of her family, a fact that neither Huntress nor the audience was privy to until right now. On cue, Sionis shows up at the theme park with an entire Batman original cast’s worth of bloodthirsty bounty seekers. As Harley points out, they’re well past the point they can just turn Cassandra over and go home. “I just robbed him, [Canary] betrayed him, [Huntress] killed his BFF, and [Montoya is] dumb enough to be building a case against him,” she elaborates. If they’re going to get out alive, they’re going to need to work together.

“We’ll be a great team! Look at all this representation! We’ve got an African-American, an Asian, a Latina, an Australian, and an actress!”

Luckily, Harley has just the touch of magic they need. She opens a cabinet dramatically, beaming, while everyone else looks inside and their expressions tell us something hilarious is about to happen…

“The guns, I understand, but he took all my makeup too?”

…Oh no! All the guns that used to be in the cabinet are missing. Three guesses who did it. At least he left Harley a box containing some hand weapons and another Suicide Squad callback.

“That’s a Halloween costume! I can’t believe you thought I actually wear stuff like this.”

Next time: It’s all headed to a knock-down, drag-out battle full of men’s balls getting smashed by giant clown hammers. Don’t miss it!

Multi-Part Article: Birds of Prey (and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn), a recap

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