After weeks of excellent episodes, the most recent Stargirl seemed less focused and successful.
Of course, part of that sensation is the fact it was part one of the season finale. Presumably, many revelations and fights will occur next week, but it left the first part oddly hollow — and that’s even considering the seeming truth about Project New America. In terms of a plot, it mainly revolved around the Justice Society, Mike (Trae Romano), and Barbara (Amy Smart) holing up in a magnificent cabin outside of Blue Valley to consider their options in fighting the Injustice Society. In terms of character, the most important beats revolved around Mike, who is finally in on the secret. And yet, it feels like these plot points are left handing either for him to drive S.T.R.I.P.E. next week or to potentially break bad in Season 2.
Consider how he and Pat (Luke Wilson) never have the talk they need. Look at the way Courtney (Brec Bassinger) never really assuages his fear of being replaced in Pat’s heart. Sure, Mike lacks the awareness and words to express that fear, but she’s mature enough to know his expressed hope to join the JSA needed something like “we’d be lucky to have you” in response. Instead, it’s all left in the air and Mike is given the mission to protect the dog. If he does break bad, it all starts with this failure to communicate.
As it is, it feels like we have a number of bad breaks to think about. Anya (Hina X. Khan) essentially gave her son permission to become the third Fiddler while Shiv (Meg DeLacy) … well, she actually has the excuse to go good now that Brainwave (Christopher James Baker) has revealed what the ISA really think of her. It wouldn’t be the strangest character progression; she and Courtney managed to bond before Shiv realized she was Stargirl. And should Mike join up with children of the ISA, her refusal of that legacy would build a nice parallel story tension for Season 2.
But don’t listen to our predictions — we’ve been way off about Mike and Barbara’s place in the story the whole time. Instead of Icicle (Neil Jackson) recruiting them to his way of thinking, he ordered them killed. To an extent, we like that Stargirl weaves around the more obvious story directions — which, to be fair, we picked up by reading DC Comics’ output of the 1990s and early 2000s — we just wish they’d cooked something a little more dynamic and direct.
See also: Rick Tyler (Cameron Gellman). To be fair, the show really hasn’t had time for any of the other JSAers, but Rick has had so little to do since his debut episodes. He’s been fussing with his father journal this whole time, only for it to be just a little too conveniently unlocked by a passing comment. Again, this is more an issue of time and the show’s (entirely justified) focus on Courtney and Pat, but Rick ends up being a prime example of how that focus left these characters in the wings for far too long. As another example, consider the way Yolanda (Yvette Monreal) has been left to deal with her grief alone. Sure, Beth (Anjelika Washington) and Chuck correctly guessed her problem, but the show really had no time to address it.
Well, unless the show decides to give Yolanda a violent catharsis by dealing with Brainwave.
It would be an interesting place to take her, but Stargirl has yet to give us reason to think the other characters will be as well served as its two leads. And we freely admit that expectation is not coming from the show itself. Rather, it stems from the way the Arrowverse and the other DC Universe spread story around its ensembles. Stargirl is firmly a two-hander. Well, at least for this year. Moving exclusively to The CW may see it behave more like an Arrowverse show.
Meanwhile, we’ll admit the episode started strong with fine fight scenes for Courtney and Pat. In fact, Courtney’s battle was the highlight as it was well-shot, made good use of the Cosmic Staff, and proved to be a good story point as Barbara finally got to see her daughter in action. The show also ended strong with all the adults on the JSA side becoming victims of the machine.
Hopefully, the season finale will prove to be a return to the quality we’ve come to expect from the series.
Stargirl streams Mondays on DC Universe and airs Tuesdays on The CW.