For a show that started off relatively bright and sunny, Stargirl has really developed a dark side. Eclipso is loose in Blue Valley, and that’s bad news for everyone. Now there’s creepiness in the shadows, unexpected allies and enemies, and a lot happening behind the scenes. Blue Valley is getting less idyllic all the time, as we see in “Summer School Chapter Five.”
The show opens ten years ago in Farmersville, California. It’s not exactly unheard of for a small child to have nightmares, especially if they having a missing parent. But in this case, it seems the nightmares are real and there really is something lurking in the dark. I have a suspicion what this might be about, but we’ll wait and see. In the present, Cindy Burman continues her recruiting attempts for her Injustice Society. This time she meets unexpected resistance, and we see that a few things do run in families.
That night, Stargirl tries to sneak in after curfew, but Pat is waiting in her room, scaring her badly. He’s lucky he didn’t get blasted, really. While they don’t exactly see eye to eye, they agree to go after Eclipso, but carefully. Pat is clearly not sharing everything he knows, and feels bad about it. Whatever the unrevealed past between Eclipso and the JSA is, it’s definitely remarkably ugly. The following morning, Cameron, son of the late Icicle, is hard at work on his mural. The strange storms plaguing Blue Valley drive him back inside, where he has a talk with Mr. Deisinger, the art/summer school teacher. Deisinger has mostly been a foil for Yolanda and Courtney so far, but here he’s more of a real person who has some passions and cares for his students. Deisinger gives him some good advice, although there’s no telling if he’ll act on it based on the fit of awkward immediately afterwards.
Cameron has a confrontation with Cindy just after this, and apparently she burned a lot of bridges in her past. Cameron has no interest in her or anything she has to say. Mr. Deisinger comes in and interrupts, but pays a heavy price without even knowing about it at the time. Continuing a day of surprising encounters, Barbara finds the Shade in her office, and does an impressive job of standing up to him. Barbara gets increasingly confused as the conversation goes on, as Shade just doesn’t act like what she’s expecting from a supervillain. He leaves after making a warning and a request, and with an impressive distraction. There’s a very odd scene between Rick and Cameron that came out of nowhere and I really don’t understand what happened there. The only thing I can think of is that, in the comics, Rick is a talented artist, and maybe this version of him never got the chance, and is envious of Cameron?
At the Pit Stop, Pat talks with Rick and Beth about the strange weather and how it fits in with what’s going on. Beth brings up her surprising encounter with what was apparently the original Dr. Mid-Nite. Pat is dubious, but agrees to look into it after they deal with Eclipso, or at least get a real lead of some kind. At the school, Deisinger gives out assignments and ends class early while he has a coughing fit. He retreats to the art room, and shows some really disturbing symptoms. Pat and Barbara pay a visit to Zeek’s junkyard, where Mike is doing something a bit odd. There’s a very nice nod to a recent episode, and Pat finally manages to really connect with his son, which is nice to see and long overdue. After school, Courtney and Yolanda walk home, but Courtney decides that life’s too short to let thing slip by and goes to talk to Cameron. Cameron is happy to see her, and shows her something very special.
While Deisigner’s condition gets much worse, Courtney gets a tour of Cameron’s house. It’s an impressive place, and he talks about his parents, his grandparents, and his future. Courtney is clearly taken with him, not that this wasn’t clear in past episodes, and he seems to return her feelings. You know that old saying about be careful what you wish for? Courtney has wanted to be a real superhero for a while now, and one of the big problems with that life rears its ugly head and messes up her afternoon. Cameron is decidedly not happy.
In costume, the JSA meet up at the high school, Beth using her goggles to track the strange storms. Pat is supposedly on the way with STRIPE, but they decide not to wait when they see something that worries them. It may be just as well; I have no idea how STRIPE would get inside the school without major property damage. The team walks down the hall and go from a superhero show to a horror movie. We’ve heard about what Eclipso can do, and seen bits of it. This is a bigger helping of his power, as the team is taunted by their fears and fall under his sway. Stargirl manages to win free and save the day after a short struggle that goes oddly and isn’t exactly an unblemished victory.
A collection of scenes close out the episode. Pat and Courtney talk at the Pit Stop, and compare notes. Pat is worried that their foe is getting stronger, and he seems to be right from everything we’ve seen. Beth has a very difficult conversation at her home, and I swear her parents prove that Sportsmastser and Tigress, the supervillains, are better parents than the Chapels are. The growing ISA has a meeting down in the tunnels, where Cindy admits they lost one, but has her sights set on an unexpected target that I could see possibly working. The final scene shows another Blue Valley resident is getting powers whether they want them or not.
What I liked: Eclipso is a brooding, threatening, mostly off-screen presence, and they’re handling that really well. It makes sense that something so old and powerful could so easily handle a group of rookie heroes. I was glad to see that scene with Pat and Mike, and wonder if it’s going to be enough to stop one of the potential problems coming. Cindy’s first scene getting shut down was nicely done, and I’m curious to see where that goes. Again, the Shade is a great character that I’m enjoying immensely. Barbara has gone face to face with two different villains in as many episodes, and the woman is certainly courageous. The effects in the big fight and the lead up to it were great. The nice little detail in the junkyard about the recent past was a great touch they didn’t have to do.
What I didn’t: How the Chapels have avoided getting Child Protective Services called on them before this I have no idea. I really don’t like how they treat their daughter, who seems like a great kid. The Rick and Cameron scene made no sense at all.
It was a good episode, and they are building up Eclipso as a force to be reckoned with very well. I’ll give this a high 3.5 out of 5. I’m really enjoying the season and the series.