It’s interesting to see the first season of Stargirl played out another way – instead of assembling the next generation of heroes, this season is about collecting a new team of baddies. There’s definitely more of an edge to this process, especially as they don’t seem to like each other. It also adds some mystery. We pretty much knew Courtney would find the goodness in people and get them to join the squad. This season, I find myself unsure who will succumb to the dark side.
Stargirl continues its pattern of starting each episode with a flashback to provide some background into its characters. This time, the subject is Cindy. Cindy has been such a fun, malevolent force that the context, though brief, is welcome. Her nasty streak presents interesting challenges in recruiting, especially since her targets seem to have the potential to choose good or evil. This stands in stark contrast to the first season where the bad guys were pretty nasty (even if they felt they were doing the right thing). The Shade also continues to be a nuanced character that seems to straddle the line between good and bad.
The series also has excellent pacing. Just when you start to forget about a character, the show brings him or her back. Mike hasn’t had much to do since the Thunderbolt episode, but this episode picks his story up. Rick’s “drop food off in the woods” storyline also moves forward a tiny bit, just enough to seemingly confirm my theory as to what is going on.We also have a Zeek sighting! More so than any comic book show, Stargirl organically works in new characters, which makes the random appearance of an art teacher who plays a central role in this episode a bit jarring. While I’m not sure how I feel about him (he kind of reminded me of Bob Ross), he did lead to some cool special effects.
Luke Wilson’s performance this season deserves praise. The first season, he played Pat with a mix of goofiness and resolve. This season, he’s had to mix in some doubt and pathos as he struggles with how much to tell Courtney about the past. It’s also probably time for me to restart my “give Amy Smart more to do” campaign.
Stargirl has become one of my favorite shows because it has a great grasp on long form storytelling. This episode more than any this season requires knowledge of prior episodes (including season 1) to appreciate. The callbacks to earlier episodes make it a strong installment, but new viewers are advised to start at the beginning if possible.
DC’s Stargirl S2 E3 ‘Summer School: Chapter Five’ is now available on the CW streaming service with new episodes premiering every Wednesday!
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