Despite the cheery title of “Summer School,” the second season of Stargirl has been increasingly dark and grim. The evil of Eclilpso is loose in Blue Valley, and the novice heroes are no match for him. Things have been getting worse and worse as the new Justice Society has been chipped away, proving that Eclipso is not only impressively powerful but very, very smart. Things get darker yet both now and in the past in “Summer School, Chapter Nine.”
Decades ago, we see the fall of Bruce Gordon, explorer, who gives in to temptation after Eclipso keeps whispering in his ear. It’s an interesting piece of background and shows us more of what the villain does. In the present, Barbara gets told everyone is being sent home from work early because of the looming storm that threatens Blue Valley. Everyone else is already at home, as Mike and Pat show they have different priorities for what to take to the basement to ride out the storm. Courtney and Pat discuss plans, and Courtney makes a few good points in the discussion.
Pat sees something that triggers a flashback, and we see a funeral relating to something from earlier this season. A few of the JSA are in attendance, and they are all shaken. Two of the attendees are notable: John Wesley Shipp reprises his role as Jay Garrick, and the Shade turns up to offer advice. Shipp played the Flash back in the series in the 90’s, and that character got a great send off in Crisis on Infinite Earths a while back. He has also played Jay on the Flash in the Arrowverse, so this may be the first crossover from Stargirl to the rest of that universe. Of course, we don’t know it’s the same man, with alternate Earths involved, but it’s nice to see anyway. It made my inner hero geek very happy. Also present were Starman, Wildcat, Johnny Thunder, and Hourman in their civilian identities. Pat returns to the present and deals with another ugly illusion. Eclipso seems to be getting even more powerful.
Mike tries to help prepare for the storm, and overhears Courtney talking on the phone with Beth, planning how to fight Eclipso. He goes back downstairs and finds a few things have changed, but doesn’t find Pat. Pat himself is down in the basement, and has another flashback about Starman going off with the Shade. Barbara tries to make it home and develops some car trouble. I’m not really sure where she is when this happens; she was at her work downtown, and driving to their place, which seems to be a nice suburban neighborhood. I don’t know why she ended up going over the river and through the woods. Still in the basement, Pat gets more flashbacks and relieves a very tense conversation with Sylvester about what the JSA stands for and ways to beat Eclipso.
In the present, Mike can’t seem to get warm, and then gets a visit from Cameron, which might explain a few things. Barbara is dealing with her own heating issues as she gets an unwelcome visitor in her stalled car. Things get even more tense with Cameron and Mike as truths come out and Mike gets many unpleasant surprises. Things cut back and forth between Mike and Barbara for a time, and things aren’t looking great for either of them. Finally, Barbara gets some words of encouragement and manages to break free. Mike’s torture is ended with a little help from his sister and the cosmic staff. Then they both realize they don’t know where Pat is and get worried.
Pat’s trips down Memory Lane are continuing, and they’re not good. After some present- day illusions, he gets another flashback to his time with the JSA. There’s a disagreement between Wildcat, Hourman, Starman, and Flash, and they come to Pat for a tie-breaking vote. Flash is heroic even in the face of some dark choices and opposition from his friends and teammates, which I was glad to see. What I didn’t like was how the team treated Pat throughout these flashbacks. Except for Jay, they acted like he was a lackey or hired help, which they definitely did not do in the comics. Pat is sure he knows how things are going to go, and is shocked and deeply disappointed to find out he was wrong.
Courtney manages to get to Pat, and once again helps him out. To me, the staff here is being used almost more like a Green Lantern ring, but then again, this is a different version of the staff. While Mike seeks comfort with the family dog, Pat tells Courtney some dark truths from his past. She is furious he’s held things back and goes on a tirade. She is stunned when she learns that her mother knew some of what was withheld from her. Pat has a final flashback and tells Courtney about what really led to the JSA breaking up. She’s not of a mind to listen, and, when her mom gets home, angrily confronts her. For the record, I agree with Pat not telling her this particular bit of information. Later, Barbara and Pat worry about what Courtney will do now that she knows a lot more, and Elcipso in one of his creepy avatars observes the strife from outside and laughs to end the episode.
What I liked: I always enjoy seeing the original JSA on this show. I was thrilled to see Flash added to their ranks, and am intrigued by some others they mentioned who we haven’t seen yet. I would have bet against a live action Johnny Thunder pretty much ever, so I have hopes for the Hawks, Spectre, and Dr. Fate among others (and they’ve all appeared on other shows). The various hallucinations were well done, and I’m glad Barbara got the help she did on a few different levels. It was an interesting choice to focus solely on the Whitmores and the original JSA, leaving out the rest of the modern team.
What I didn’t: I did not care for how Pat was treated by the JSA. It seemed out of character for most of them. While this episode seems to clear up something about a bit of what’s been happening around town, if things are as they appear, they contradict themselves a bit, especially in terms of one character being back.
I enjoyed most of this episode, and it brought up some intriguing story possibilities. With only four more episodes to go, they should start finding ways to turn things around in the next episode or the one after that. I’ll give this a 3.5 out of 5, and hope we see more of Jay’s Flash soon.