REVIEW: Stargirl Season 2 Episode 1

Much like Superman 2, Spider-Man 2, and Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, Stargirl Season 2 premiere sets up a second chapter that is more personal, darker, and will explore what those who become heroes sacrifice in order to stay heroes.

Stargirl returns for season 2, and on a fitting note, the premiere of season 2 airs a year to the date of the season 1 finale. When Stargirl premiered on the now-defunct DC Universe app, it entered a world it didn’t quite plan for. It premiered during the summer, normally a slower time for television, but due to the COVID-19 pandemic it became one of the only major new television series airing new episodes weekly. It also aired as the CW Arrowverse series like The Flash, Supergirl and Batwoman were forced to end their season prematurely. With Black Widow and Wonder Woman 1984 delayed out of the 2020 summer schedule, Stargirl, along with Doom Patrol and The Boys, became the superhero events of the summer. Luckily, Stargirl turned out to be really good. Great, in fact, a love letter to the Golden Age of DC superheroes, and that perfectly blended high school melodrama with classic superhero stories. The wait for season 2 felt like forever.

Yet here we are, and the opening of the episode immediately sets a different tone from the first season. Whereas the first season opened with a big action scene that showed the Injustice Society killing off the JSA in an epic action scene that showcased the various villains the hero would face, season 2 opens with a scene that plays more like a supernatural horror film. The scene gives off vibes of Nightmare on Elm Street, The Conjuring, or the recent It films. It serves as an introduction to the villain teased at the end of season 1: Eclipso, who is a major threat in the DC Universe. Eclipso is a Golden Age DC villain who essentially is the personification of God’s Wrath. Keeping tradition with the Richard Donner (R.I.P.) Superman film, the creators have decided to marry the comic book fantasy of Eclipso with established movie and television tropes to ground the character in a real way. In this case, imagined as a Pennywise figure.

Season 2 finds our heroes about five months after the end of season 1. Where that season took place around Halloween and Christmas, we are now in full summer territory and the kids are about to be done with school (the irony of the season now about to air when its main audience demographic will be starting school again) and Blue Valley is safe. The rest of the JSA, including Pat, is looking to take some time off but Courtney assumes danger is around every corner. Instead of a big flashy fight scene, the first episode of the season is more character-centric getting the audience reacquainted with everyone and what they have been up to. In the tradition of many superhero stories, the second installment appears to be pushing more into the character’s psyche and being the darker chapter (with the villainous Eclipso and upcoming the Shade to really hammer in the ‘darker’ aspect in a literal sense).

If season 1 was about getting the new Justice Society of America together, season 2 will be exploring their personal lives more and while they may be a team, they might not be fully prepared to be friends. All the main characters at the start of the season are keeping something from the rest of the group, not wanting to open up about their depression, their secrets, or their anxieties. These secrets that, if kept bottled up, could breed resentment among one another until it festers up and could break the team apart. That is unless they can begin to talk about their feelings with one another and bring down the walls they have put up for themselves. All of the characters feel they must carry some sense of burden alone, and that seems to be the inner obstacle they will have to face.

Beth appears to be grappling with her loneliness, not just from losing her A.I. pal Chuck at the end of last season, but as she discovers her parents are getting a divorce. In a truly tragic scene, Beth prepares a romantic dinner for her parents hoping to save the relationship, but it slowly reveals she ends up eating the meal by herself as both parents are working late and don’t come home. Beth has always put on a smile in the face of being alone when her parents didn’t make time for her and now she is finding it harder to deal with. She doesn’t appear to want to open up to her friends. Beth sees that she has to put on a smile for her friends much like she does her parents. Chuck was the only one she felt like she could really open up to, and now that she is gone, she finds herself more alone than ever. Season 2 could explore Beth being more open with her teammates and they can see another side to her, one that is more vocal and less willing to say yes to everything.

Rick has taken a 180 from when we last saw him in season 1. Driven by a singular quest to kill Solomon Grundy to avenge his parents, Rick decided to spare the creature’s life when he discovered it was just being manipulated by the Injustice Society. While the team thinks Grundy is still out there, Rick quickly tells them he defeated Grundy, covering up the whereabouts of the creature from his team. Now it appears he is taking care of Grundy who is living in the woods, as Rick brings him food to eat on yet the creature is having trouble staying in place as he is breaking into town for food and drink. Rick seems to feel responsible for the creature, as he is the one who let him live but also showing a more sensitive and caring side he has yet to show his teammates or anyone around them. He still puts on a tough guy act.

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