Stargirl Recap: Season 2, Episode 13, “Summer School: Chapter 13”


Image for article with the title Stargirl delivers an exciting season finale

photo: The CW

Star girlThe debut season was so strong that by the time the show was a little superficial Action climax, I couldn’t help but be disappointed that the first season hadn’t reached its full potential. This time, however, I have the opposite reaction. In retrospect, Star girl‘s second season was an overloaded but immature affair that had a lot impressive Highlights but never quite grown together into something that is greater than the sum of its parts. So it is wise that this finale should put action-packed tension above all else. Even though Star girl its losses in “Summer School: Chapter Thirteen” not exactly reduced, it clearly focuses more on delighting its audience with superhero razzle-dazzles and seductive teasing than on bowing the season just watched properly.

But when this frenzy includes cool fight scenes, dramatic character beats and the surprising appearance not only of STRIPE, Thunderbolt and Solomon Grundy, but also of the Crock family The Shade, and Starman himself, it’s hard to think up too much. Intellectually, there are all sorts of holes I can pound in the storytelling decisions of this season – and I’ll probably spend much of this review doing just that. But it is worth recognizing that I had an absolute pleasure watching this episode. “Chapter Thirteen” throws “everything on the wall!” Approach to the show’s massive ensemble storytelling. And it’s fun to see what that makes up Avengers: Endgame Final battle on a DC / CW budget.

The majority of “Chapter Thirteen” revolves around the climate fight against Eclipso. The demon reveals that his master plan is to take over Courtney’s body, combine its power of light with his power of darkness, merge the land of shadows with the earth, consume all of humanity, and shape himself as God. (In other words, just another average Tuesday in Blue Valley.) To break the sun-drenched superhero’s spirit, Eclipso tortures her friends with her worst fears. Yolanda confronts the derogatory Ted Grant, Cindy struggles with her younger self, Pat rumbles a crueler version of himself, and Beth watches in horror as her parents are emotionally manipulated by one of Eclipso’s visions. But it is only when Pat is physically tortured in front of her eyes that Courtney finally admits that she hates Eclipso and gives the demon the opportunity to possess her.

One of the most unexpected decisions of this finale is to anchor the ultimate battle for Courtney’s soul in the character of Sylvester Pemberton, who eventually dealt with it Dinner in Nevada and made his way to Blue Valley in time for the fireworks. It’s testament to Joel McHale’s accomplishment – and the way the show portrayed New Year’s Eve in this season’s flashbacks – that the moment works, even though Courtney and Sylvester have never met before. They are connected as the two people trusted by the Cosmic Staff. And that allows Sylvester to break through to Courtney’s innate goodness in a visually stunning sequence in which they hover over the town square.

Image for article with the title Stargirl delivers an exciting season finale

photo: The CW

In fact, of the many, many characters who appear in this finale, Courtney is the only one to get a truly satisfactory conclusion to her cross-season arc. Last season, Courtney learned to have a more nuanced view of herself and her heroism; she could still be a superhero even if her skills weren’t inherited from her father. This season, Courtney learned to take a more nuanced look at humanity as a whole. Yes, everyone has the capacity for darkness, but they also have the capacity for good. Seeing these shades of gray inspires Courtney’s optimism rather than tarnishing it. And that’s exactly why Sylvester knows she’s the perfect person to run the baton – with a few more lessons from him.

The arrival of New Year’s Eve into the Whitmore-Dugan household is one of the many exciting teases Chapter Thirteen delivers for the next season. Elsewhere, the Crocks buy the house next door, Cindy asks Yolanda for a chance to turn a new page by joining the JSA, Mike suggests Jakeem start his own superhero team, Cameron’s grandparents inform him about his ice powers and The shadow hints at Solomon Grundy’s return as well as his own decision to stay in Blue Valley (yay!). And that’s not even the post-credits return to the ominous Helix Institute for Youth Rehabilitation from “Chapter Ten” to set up next season’s big bathroom, Mister Bones (voiced by Keith David).

Image for article with the title Stargirl delivers an exciting season finale

photo: The CW

Yet all of the excitement for the future makes it easy to overlook just how badly this season is botching some of their own ongoing arcs. The most egregious is Yolanda, who simply overcomes her debilitating guilt / PTSD and returns permanently to the JSA after fighting Eclipso. Cindy’s move on the good side feels pretty rushed too. And in hindsight, it’s strange that the first part of this season put such a focus on introducing Jennie and Thunderbolt / Jakeem, only to marginalize those characters for much of its run. Elsewhere, poor Rick ends this season completely powerless and doesn’t even seem to notice. And while Beth at least a solid and empowering second season, the way this episode is Dr. McNider awkwardly writing off history by sending him to Indiana to be with his wife and previously unrecognized 10-year-old son is one of the many chunky stories in this finale.

However, considering what the show had to do with filming a season during a global pandemic and tackling the shift from a DC Universe budget to a CW budget, Star girl‘s second season did an admirable job of keeping the ship afloat while adding some compelling new pieces in the process. I’m especially happy that the third season is subtitled “Frenemies”. From Courtney’s uncomfortable bond with Cindy, to Crusher Crock’s affection for Pat, to The Shade’s very existence. Star girl has carved out a unique niche for itself as a superhero show that is just as interested in humanizing its villains as it is its heroes. And while the pure, unfiltered evil of Eclipso made for an interesting change, I suspect a focus on human drama will allow Star girl shine even brighter.

Scattering observations

  • I don’t know Beth, I feel like turning a sentient creature into a piece of burnt toast is basically like killing it.
  • These weeks Luke Wilson scene that I could see for an hour: Two Luke Wilsons in an episode?!? Be still my beating heart! Like Pat’s turn to the dark side with Rick’s uncle last week, I found Wilson did an excellent job adding some ominous tones to Pat’s normally sunny demeanor.
  • It was fun to see the new, improved STRIPE in action again for the first time this season, but it was even better to watch Zeke calmly take in Thunderbolt’s existence.
  • I don’t know if the plan was always to reveal that The Shade’s death was just his “grasp of the dramatic,” or if this was a last-minute retcon based on how well he worked as a character, but I did I’m so glad we got to know more about Jonathan Cake’s outstanding performance!
  • I was angry with Dr. McNider and said to Beth’s parents, “You should both be very proud.” It will be a fun subversion to see Beth grapple with her overly supportive helicopter parents for the next season.
  • This finale puts all of our New Years Eve Pemberton questions about next season, but I still want to know what was wrong with him when he visited Pat’s ex-wife at that diner.
  • I liked Courtney’s montage of happy memories reminding her that she is loved by her friends and family.
  • On behalf of me and my regular fill-in rapper Jarrod Jones, thank you for following the reviews this season! See you again here in 2022!


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