REVIEW: Stargirl Season 2 Episode 1

Yolanda’s story is one of the most promising and tragic. Still haunted by killing Brainwave at the end of season 1, Yolonda goes to confessional yet it is revealed this isn’t her first time going and she has still yet to share what she has done with the priest. She breaks down and cries and just asks to sit, and when she leaves the confessional appears to have a panic attack remembering the sound of Brainwave as he took his last breath. Bravo to Yvette Monreal who really steals the episode with this one scene.

Yolanda killing Brainwave affects her on a number of levels: one being she is just a kid but second, she is Catholic, and that Catholic guilt is weighing on her even more than normal. Yolanda’s character allows Stargirl to explore a concept that many hoped a Man of Steel sequel would explore after Superman killed Zod: examining the aftermath of what it means for a hero to take a life and what that does to inform them. While most comic book superheroes in the Gold and Silver Age didn’t kill, it became more acceptable among anti-heroes like Wolverine and the Punisher. Many of the Marvel heroes in the MCU have killed without it being addressed: Iron Man, Captain America, the various Guardians of the Galaxy. Yet the DC heroes, because many of them have their roots in the Golden Age, have very strict no-killing rules that make sense for their universe. So what happens when that is rule is broken? Now the aftermath of a superhero killing a supervillain can be explored, and the real-life trauma that would leave on the hero and how do they justify or cope with it.

Finally, we arrive at Stargirl herself, Courtney Whitmore. She completely dove into being Stargirl at the cost of her personal life and grades, and now she’s failing two classes. This means she will have to attend summer school, and her parents have to cancel the family vacation they had planned. Courtney’s choice to be Stargirl now not only impacts her but those around her. This has heavy shades of Spider-Man 2, which also found a superhero struggling with balancing their personal life with being a superhero (Stargirl is basically DC doing a Spider-Man story). However, the difference here is that it appears Courtney would rather quit her normal life and instead be Stargirl. When asked about the future of her career, she answers it is being Stargirl. Like many high school students, Courtney is hyper-focused on the present with little thought towards the future, and the future she is thinking of is one of constant danger and threats from supervillains even though at the moment her home is safe.

Courtney then comes face to face with an intruder who reveals herself to be Jade, daughter of the original Green Lantern Alan Scott. Season 1 of the series teased the Lantern in various episodes, so it seemed like it would be a matter of time before Jade showed up (what is weird is this is the character’s first-ever appearance outside of the comics; she has never been adapted into animation or video games). Jade is what Courtney thought she was: actually the daughter of a member of the Justice Society of America, who seems to have inherited her dad’s abilities and now has a heroic destiny to live up to. This could challenge everything Courtney thought she knew about herself, not only as the leader of the Justice Society but also as a hero.

The episode ends with the reveal that Cindy, the daughter of The Dragon King from season 1, is looking to assemble her own team to fight the Justice Society. It appears the various members of the Injustice Society had files on their kids, potentially getting them ready to take over the family business. Her recruits include Artemis Crock, the daughter of Sportsmaster and Tigress, Isaac Bowan who was the son of the Fiddler, and Courtney’s crush Cameron who is the son of season 1 main villain Icicle who in the comics grows up to take on his father’s mantle. Yet the most surprising is Cindy’s own unique pick: Courtney’s stepbrother Mike Dugan. Mike wants to take up the family business but his father doesn’t appear to want to show him how to use S.T.R.I.P.E. and wasn’t given an original JSA item to become a member of the Justice Society like the rest. That is resentment that Cindy could manipulate to turn Mike against his family, especially when his friend Jakeem, who is set to appear this season, gets Johnny Thunderbolts’ pen and becomes partnered with Thunderbolt.

Overall a really strong start to the new season that raises a lot of interesting possibilities. Season 1 of Stargirl is easily the best of the CW Arrowverse series, and it appears that the second season isn’t resting on its laurels. An issue that plagues many of the Arrowverse series is they get into a formula and are unable to break the mold. Some of these series can make it work like Supergirl getting very political where the monster of the week stuff seems secondary to how the world of the universe was reacting, or Legends of Tomorrow that basically acts as the American Doctor Who doing crazy out there stuff week after week and constantly reinventing itself. But series like Arrow and The Flash after a while started to become more of the same, refusing to allow the characters to truly grow in meaningful ways. Stargirl, by the nature of it being focused on high school students who of course will grow up, seems to recognize that change will come to this story no matter what and is working it into the series. While the series may be titled Stargirl, and Courtney is the main focus, this premiere does a good job setting up the rest of the JSA as well-rounded characters with their own fascinating arcs to explore. It has been worth the wait and it is good to have Stargirl back.

OBSERVATIONS

  • Not a big fan of the naming scheme. The season’s subheading of ‘Summer Vacation’ is a fun idea, but having each episode be titled “Summer Vacation: Episode Number” seems a little boring when last season had fun classic names that made each episode feel like the issue of a comic.
  • Cindy Burman going over the various files of the children of the Injustice Society suggests she is assembling Injustice Unlimited, an organization in the comics who are also the children of the Injustice Society.
  • Joel McHale returns, in what appears to be a revived Starman, and he seeks out Pat Dugan’s ex-wife who is working as a waitress. Hopefully, we will explore a bit more of Pat’s history with his ex-wife and Mike’s relationship with his mother, and if that is something Cindy will use to turn Mike to the dark side.
  • What villainous or hero role Mike would take on in the series is a bit of a fun guessing game for fans, but my guess is Eclipso. In the comics, Eclipso does take possession of Yolanda’s cousin Alex Montez (in the show it is her brother). Yolanda’s brother hasn’t been shown that much in the series and making it Mike as the eventual host of Eclipso would continue the theme of season 2, as a second chapter, being a darker more personal one that would find Mike battling her stepbrother and Pat trying to save his son.
  • The little girl at the end of the prologue being revealed as the daughter of Charles McNider aka Doctor Mid-Night is a new addition. While he has no child in the comics, the character does suffer a tragedy when the woman he loves is killed by The Shadower. The series appears to have made the tragedy the death of his daughter and the Shadower subbed in for Eclipso.
  • Patt says The Flash banished a villain to another universe. It is already confirmed John Wesley Shipp will reprise his role as Jay Garrick aka the first incarnation of the Flash from the CW series The Flash. Jay has been shown to be living on Earth-Prime after the events of Crisis on Infinite Earths and just recently gained his speed. Stargirl could explain in the new history that Jay went to live on Earth-Prime and that is why many believe the Flash to be dead.

What did you think of the season 2 premiere of Stargirl? Let us know in the comments below.

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