Final Thoughts On ‘Stargirl’ Season 2

by Erik Amaya

STG_S2_8x12_300dpi.jpg Pictured (L-R):Trae Romano as Mike Dugan, Meg DeLacy as Cindy Burman, Yvette Monreal as Yolanda Montez/Wildcat, Brec Bassinger as Courtney Whitmore/Stargirl, Anjelika Washington as Beth Chapel/ Dr. Mid - Nite, Cameron Gellman as Rick Tyler/Hourman, Luke Wilson as Pat Dugan, Amy Smart as Barbara Whitmore and Hunter Sansone as Cameron Mahkent -- Photo: Matt Sayles/The CW -- © 2021 The CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Stargirl, overall, is consistently well-made show with a lot of deep pulls from DC Comics lore and a surprisingly refreshing take on a lot of those characters. Its second season continued that trend despite being produced in the midst of a global pandemic. The entire season, subtitled “Summer School,” proved to illustrate the importance of friendship and community against the darkness. And at a merciful thirteen episodes, it managed to tell this story with really only one episode dragging or feeling like fluff.

Anchoring the series is Brec Bassinger as Courtney Whitmore, a character whose optimism took the brunt of the blows this season, but always managed to find her center as the hope in Blue Valley. Indeed, Bassinger also find a way to keep Courtney’s spirit alive without getting too cloying. Well, for the most part anyway. But keeping the character’s spirit up against something like Eclipso (Nick Taraby) is no easy task, especially when you consider how easily the heroes of Earth-Prime (and their writers’ rooms) gave into despair and self-blame. We imagine the shorter season may have something to do with Courtney staying strong, but it is also due to Bassinger’s growing skill in the part.

We’ll also grant that it made have something to do with the show’s strong ensemble. As we mentioned last year, Courtney’s family and friends are a strong and charming group. This year, we got to see Barbara (Amy Smart) evolve into superhero mom; supportive of Courtney’s costumed adventuring while still offering nurturing, concern, and the occasional food item. Letting her in on the secret at the end of the Season One is a big reason Barbara never feels out of place in group scenes. She’s on the same page and her concerns are always expressed via a full understanding of the situation. Also, the unexpected rapport between her and The Shade (Jonathan Cake) proved to be on the season’s great delights.

Luke Wilson also continued to impress as Pat Dugan. Less harried than last year, Pat was often weighed down by the knowledge of what the previous JSA did to stop Eclipso. It harmed his relationships, but it also revealed just how hard he works to maintain his positive spirit. That Pat makes the choice to be affable is a quiet strength we hope to see more of next year.

Anjelika Washington, Yvette Monreal, Cameron Gellman, and Trae Romano also proved to be great parts of the team each expressing a different facet of growing up. Monreal’s Yolanda became the center of guilt and regret, a tough story to watch at times. Romano expressed ambition as his character, Mike, tried his had at becoming a superhero. As Rick, Gellman’s bond with the purely CGI Solomon Grundy proved touching just as the anger and resentment his character held for his uncle proved surprising when Eclipso used it against him. Finally, Washington’s geeky enthusiasm grew by leaps and bounds thanks, in part, to Beth finally dealing with her parents and finding a more positive role model in the Golden Age Doctor Midnite (Alex Collins). He may be off to reunite with his own family, but his words of encouragement were exactly what she need.

Of course, the strong showings of the core cast and their characters meant the guests often felt a little short-changed. Ysa Penarejo‘s Jennie Hayden is still a mystery, although we freely admit it was partially to set up part of next year’s story. We didn’t get nearly enough of The Shade — granted, that may have been partially our own hope that he would be found in the dinner drinking tea and offering advice to the teen characters. And Jakeem (Alkoya Brunson) only appeared in a scene or two before getting the Thunderbolt … only to appear in a handful more after Mike discovered the imp hand bonded with his friend. That sense of getting less time with these characters is partially down to the writing trying to accomplish a lot this year and the strict safety protocols put in place to shoot the season during first and second waves of the pandemic. Just how much story did they attempt in thirteen episodes? Enough that we haven’t even mentioned Cindy Burman (Meg DeLacy) and her attempt to form a new Injustice Society until now. But now that she wants to be a hero, we expect to talk about her more often … which is good as Cindy’s frenemy status with Courtney and Yolanda has been simmering in the background since the early days of the program.

And, perhaps, reaching for all that story is better than stretching a thinner concept out across twenty-two episodes like some of the other shows. The relative brevity means the show always has compelling hooks to explore in subsequent seasons. As it is clear the show will be far more serialized than its cousins, we look forward to more good pacing and great character work in Season 3.

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