Stargirl: Shiv, Part Two

Stargirl-Shiv-Part-2

“This is the worst thought-out undercover mission ever!” 

Last episode got ugly on several levels. We learned a lot more about Mean Girl Cindy Burman, saw some interesting reveals about a character that’s been hanging around the edges of our story, and got treated to an epic fight between two second-generation characters, a hero and a villain each. Now there are loose ends to deal with after the events of last time, and yet more of poor Pat trying to ride herd on neophyte heroes who are lacking in everything except guts. Blue Valley is getting to be a busy and dangerous place in “Shiv, Part Two.”

The episode opens with Pat going to extreme lengths to provide a cover story for Courtney’s injuries after her epic battle with Shiv/Cindy. Out of town, Barbara and Jordan share a nice dinner during which Jordan praises Barbara’s passion for her work before excusing himself to go see an old friend. While there’s nothing improper at dinner, I don’t like the direction I think this is heading in. Barbara’s dessert gets interrupted by Pat calling from Blue Valley with some disturbing news.

Courtney wakes up from her beating in the hospital, very confused and clearly hurt. Pat is there and tells her that he’s taking care of things, but is short enough on detail that I’m expecting it to be an issue later. Courtney is stunned to hear the lengths Pat has gone to for (and because) of her, but Pat brushes it off and tells her how they’re going to move forward. Which is great, because Courtney always reasonably listens to good advice, right? The two of them argue about what to do in reference to Barbara. In a parallel scene, Cindy has a talk with her own father, who is not pleased or impressed with her clash with Stargirl. He’s less understanding, and a lot more threatening, than Pat, but it seems Cindy and Courtney listen about equally well.

Back at the Pit Stop, Rick rages about Courtney’s injuries, and wants to go take direct action, while Yolanda and Beth try and calm him down. I suspect this will be a recurring theme of the show. I’m also not sure how they know what happened, since none of them were around for the Stargirl/Shiv fight, and I’d hope Pat wouldn’t be foolish enough to tell them what happened. Beth, of course, has a plan. And it’s a bad one. Pat wheels Courtney around the hospital, and she has an unpleasant run-in with another classmate. That’s Courtney, Miss Popularity. Finally home to start recovering, Courtney gets an unexpected visit and a kind of sweet scene with her step-brother Mike.

While Mike and Courtney actually bond a bit for the first time since the series started, Pat goes to the basement for a chat with the Cosmic Staff, which isn’t particularly useful as far as he can tell. It does fill in some history about the former Starman. Pat leaves when Barbara calls downstairs, and we see as he leaves that he might have had an impact after all. Once upstairs, Pat takes a bit of blame for something he didn’t actually do, which once again speaks to what a good, if not great, guy he is, which he gets no credit for in the series. Barbara goes to check on her daughter, and we see the hallway outside Courtney’s room is a really strange space. Jordan goes to see his “old friend” in a scene that combines multiple Easter Eggs with Jordan being ominous and threatening, something actor Neil Jackson portrays very well. The Easter Eggs include the man’s name, Ed Reilly (get there in a sec), and two companies, Bannerman Chemical and Firebrand Chemical. Bannerman is where Rex Tyler was working in the comics when he discovered the Miraclo drug that led to him becoming Hourman. Firebrand was the name of several different DC Comics superheroes, the first two of which were Rod and Danette Reilly. Danette, interestingly, had a long-term relationship with the Shining Knight, the two even marrying after World War II. She was later killed by the Dragon King. Interesting plot choice there.

In his father’s study, Henry King, Jr, makes some interesting and surprising discoveries as he goes through a few growing pains. Rick and Yolanda watch as Beth enacts her ill-conceived plan. Pat gets there at the last minute and they push on, illustrating the importance of getting your cover story straight. Beth must have taken “listen to more experienced people” lessons from Courtney and/or Cindy. Speaking of, Courtney gets a very surprising visit while she’s recovering, and she and Cindy play a lot of cat and mouse word games as Courtney tries to figure out what’s going on. Pat and Beth stumble their way through the mission, until they finally get a moment alone. Beth dons the Dr. Midnight goggles, which make an amusing, if unlikely, comment about Pat before helping Beth break into the tunnels below the house. They explain the goggles away as being corrective for Beth’s terrible eyesight, which is both a nice excuse and possible nod to all three comic book Dr. Midnights being literally blind. The code Beth ends up using is the year Stargirl first appeared in the comics, although then she was the Star Spangled Kid. The second one, even.

The tensions start ratcheting up as Cindy and Courtney continue their fencing, Yolanda and Courtney exchange texts, and Beth moves on with her explorations. Beth, on hearing something from one of the ISA members, shows she might be the wisest of the new heroes. There’s a lot of chaos when Cindy comes home unexpectedly, someone shows they aren’t as broken and beaten down as a few people probably think, and there’s even some teamwork involved in getting someone out of danger. Pat, Beth, Yolanda, and Rick all meet up to compare notes, study a picture, and see a really weird reaction from Yolanda about being in costume. Worried about what she’s learned, Courtney sneaks out of her sickbed to charge to the rescue, and meets some unexpected resistance.

Henry makes a few more shocking discoveries and can’t take it anymore, fleeing his home to get some air and maybe go confront someone about what he’s read. Just as Cindy figures something out, Stargirl comes hurtling in her window and the two get an abbreviated rematch. They trash Cindy’s room, with no comment from elsewhere in the house. I wonder if this has something to do with a bottle of Chardonnay that was referenced a few episodes ago. The fight spills out into the street, and gets interrupted when Henry shows up just in time to get even more confused. Henry, Courtney, and Cindy all go their separate ways after some really confusing exchanges. After the fight ends, we see someone has been watching and they make an observation or two of their own, which I suspect bodes ill for a few characters’ futures.

 

What I liked: There were some great Easter Eggs dropped in this episode. We’re slowly getting a history of Starman, and I’m intrigued by what we’re learning. The Bannerman and Firebrand references were interesting, especially with all the ties they have to other characters we’ve seen here. I liked the scene between Courtney and Mike, although I still don’t understand his outburst last episode. The Cindy/Courtney scenes were well done, and Cindy (Meg DeLacy) can be almost as menacing as Icicle/Jackson, just in a different way. We finally got to see at least a glimmering of teamwork, although I find it telling Courtney wasn’t involved in that scene. Beth’s reaction to her discovery in the tunnels was both funny and smart. Pat’s big surprise on the mission was intriguing, and I’m hoping that isn’t just played for a joke. I’m really curious to see where Henry comes down in all this.

 

What I didn’t: Pat is doing everything he can to help out just about everyone, and getting no credit for it from anyone. He’s really the king of being taken for granted, although I’ll grant some of that is from the secrets he’s keeping. I don’t get how Rick, Beth, and Yolanda knew what happened to Courtney. Yolanda’s reaction about being out in public in costume was just weird.

I thought this was another really good episode. While there were a few flaws, I really enjoyed it overall. I’ll give this another 4 out of 5.

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