Stargirl: Stars and STRIPE, Part 2

Stargirl’s first season wraps up with a hell of a fight. The series has been confirmed for a second season, but it will be only on the CW, as all the series from DC Universe are abandoning that sinking ship. There are scores settled, plans enacted, and a few surprises along the way. Season one ends with “Stars and STRIPE, Part 2.” As this is a season finale, there will be spoilers below, but I’m behind enough that I don’t think that will really affect anyone.

Last episode ended with the Injustice Society’s big doomsday device being activated, and some bad news for the various mission teams. This one starts three minutes back, as the football field at Blue Valley high proves to be the secret location of the hidden machinery. This is revealed just after the late (although no one knows it yet) Principal Bowen’s son commits assault with a brass instrument. All over Blue Valley, adults are hypnotized, staring up at the sky. The effect is typified by one father/daughter combination, the daughter pleading with her daddy for him to wake up. The young girl is, in fact, Lexi Rabe, who also played Morgan Stark in Avengers: Endgame. The kid seems to have superhero mojo. Jordan strolls down the street, and talks with the girl. He’s a really disturbing mixture of compassionate and indifferent with her. The man needs serious psychological help.

Elsewhere in Blue Valley, Pat, under Brainwave’s sway, attacks Stargirl with STRIPE, and she pleads with him to snap out of it, saying very heartfelt things that are long overdue. The Gambler taunts Beth as Barbara is also in the trance, motionless. Justin, too, is frozen in place, and Hourman and Wildcat try to get him to wake up. Yolanda calls him Silent Knight, instead of Shining Knight. Silent Knight was a different DC Comics Arthurian character, and one of Hawkman’s past lives. Beth and Chuck the AI scheme and come up with a way to distract the Gambler.

Brainwave keeps pushing himself and his power as Dr. Ito monitors the machines. Courtney’s desperate pleas have gotten through to Pat, and they have a nice moment amid the chaos. Justin, too, snaps out of it, and goes back to “his normal” as Hourman puts it. Beth and Chuck celebrate their minor victory, but Barbara is still under the machine’s sway, as is most of the town. Gambler and Icicle make plans, while Hourman and Wildcat have a morals debate.

While Brainwave keeps struggling with the machine, the stage is set for a major conflict. Stargirl and STRIPE link up with Hourman, Wildcat, and the Shining Knight, only to be confronted by Icicle, Sportsmaster, Tigress, and Dr. Ito. The teams square off and, after Sportsmaster and Tigress joke about killing the original JSA, rush toward each other. It’s a really impressive fight with some great special effects and choreography. Things take a turn when Gambler decides to up the ante by freeing Solomon Grundy, and the struggle between the Shining Knight and Dr. Ito frees a certain psychotic cheerleader. There are a few wild moments after that, Stargirl takes a break for just a moment to look at the battle, and then rushes in to help her friends. There’s not a lot of good teamwork in this melee from either side, but Stargirl starts tipping the balance.

Grundy shows up and is utterly unimpressed with Hourman’s initial attack. STRIPE takes on the monstrous villain, and the heroes pretty much mop up the rest of the villains. Victory is nice, but the machine is still running, and Icicle managed to get away. Someone tries to settle a score with our titular hero, and she blasts them away with a frustrated “I don’t have time for this,” which might be one of the best delivered lines of the show. Brainwave leaves his machine to try and eliminate the heroes, but things take a surprising turn when his ruse fails. Because they really can’t seem to let Pat have a good moment, STRIPE loses to Grundy, but Pat himself is saved when Hourman wades in, hell-bent on his own revenge. Stargirl sees something troubling, but moves on to take out the big doomsday device that’s brainwashing everyone, and is estimated to kill around a quarter of the people it effects. Considering they’re talking taking over multiple states, that’s a lot of collateral damage.

The major menace is dealt with, but things aren’t over yet. Icicle shows up just as Barbara recovers, and Icicle is furious about his plan failing. Beth shows the disadvantages of being completely non-trained for combat and relying on a prop, and it’s an ugly scene as Icicle does some damage and then drags Barbara away. Hourman urges Pat to go save his wife, and even manages to say something somewhat inspiring before turning his attention to Grundy. As all the screens show everything going offline, the Gambler decides this is a losing hand and slips away. Stargirl finds the aftermath of Icicle’s most recent attack, and goes to save her mom, while the rest of the town manages to shake off the mental dominion of Brainwave.

Up on the roof of the American Dream building, Jordan goes into a long rant of self-justification for the ISA’s schemes. Barbara brings up the cost, but Jordan doesn’t want to hear it. They argue long enough for Pat to show up, and he confronts Icicle. The villain’s smug dismissal of Pat came a bit too soon, as Pat had a plan, which leads to another major fight. There’s a major energy backlash as a result, which ends up with people falling off the roof and being saved by various allies. Hourman comes to a shocking realization and makes a decision that I’m sure will surprise his teammates later. Icicle manages to continue to menace the heroes until an unexpected ally does something surprising (and technically illegal) to save the day and ask if this qualifies them for membership in the JSA.

The rest of the episode is largely wrap up and set up for the future. One of the team is troubled by their actions, one is mourning a loss, but they do seem to be pulling together and supporting each other. Justin decides he’s leaving, not happy about his minimal role in the big battle (I’m not happy about that, either). Pat and the others do their best to reassure him, and he decides to go off in quest of his winged steed, Victory, and the other 7 Soldiers of Victory. Pat would like to see them, too. Down below in the tunnels, someone who has only been hinted at finally shows up, and watches the news present a cover story about what happened in Blue Valley. Elsewhere, in what appears to be an ISA storage room of some kind, someone else makes a very important discovery which bodes ill for next season.

With a six-week time jump, we see the Whitmore-Dugan household celebrate Christmas with their JSA friends. Pat and Courtney get another nice little scene, and then Stargirl and STRIPE get a triumphant pose/victory lap around the town. The credits carry a dedication to Courtney Elizabeth Johns, the late sister of DC writer and editor Geoff Johns. She’s the real life inspiration for the Stargirl character. And then, at the very end, there’s an after credit scene that’s a big surprise I didn’t see coming.

What I Liked: The big fight was really nicely done. I’m intrigued by Wildcat and Hourman essentially changing positions on a major issue. I really liked the scenes with Pat and Courtney. The last-minute help with Icicle was a surprise but it made sense. I’m really curious about some behind the scenes stuff they hinted at, and wonder if that also explains what happened to the captured bad guys. I’d love to see Victory next season, and the remaining 7 Soldiers. Enough bad guys got away to make things interesting, even without the set up scenes at the end.

What I didn’t: I’m with Justin- he had a disappointingly small role in the big fight. I’m hoping they find a way to bring back who they lost. I’m really hoping we get to see more of the wider world next season, because I can’t imagine that Blue Valley is going to have enough crime to keep the JSA busy with the ISA mostly incarcerated (I think?) or dead.

I really enjoyed the finale and the season both. I’ll give this episode a 4.5 out of 5, and the season, as a whole, a 4 out of 5.

No one knows how long it will be until season two, but I can’t wait to see what they do next.

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