Stargirl: Summer School Chapter Thirteen

Do I get a bigger part next season?

Stargirl has had a major thematic shift between seasons. The first season was a girl trying to become a hero. The second has been about a pervasive, brooding evil, at times more like a horror movie than a superhero action series. Now, Stargirl and her allies band together to try and end the malevolence of Eclipso as the Summer School series comes to an end with “Chapter 13.” One recurring theme has been that “evil is relative,” and parts of this episode do seem to speak to that. As a season finale, there may be spoilers below.

The previous episode ended with Eclipso, in the form of young Bruce Gordon, taunting the Doctors Midnight, and telling them his goal was to bring out the darkness in Courtney. Eclipso doesn’t give them time to worry about that, revealing that Beth’s parents are also under his sway. Beth runs to save them with McNider in tow, and they find the Chapels trapped in an office being tormented by an evil version of Beth. Jennie’s stream of nightmares finally comes to an end with her jerking up in bed. Barbara comes to check on her, Jennie gasps out a warning, and finds out she’s too late. Wildcat, Shiv, Stargirl, and Pat move down the street, trying to find Eclipso, and Shiv gets reminded of her own recent misdeeds while tears open in the sky. It doesn’t look good at all,

At the Pit Stop, Rick tries to repair the hourglass he foolishly smashed, and shows he’s unsuited for the task on a few different levels. In another room, Mike and Jakeem talk tempers and meditation, while Zeek runs into problems trying to repair STRIPE. A part of the team reaches Eclipso, and fights him while Pat tries to find Beth. Wildcat faces a legacy from the past while Cindy/Shiv has her own confrontation to deal with and Stargirl keeps missing her annoyingly evasive foe. Pat tries to find and help Beth, but comes face to face with his own dark doppleganger. Things aren’t looking great for the good guys, but there’s a small turn around when McNider finds Pat and helps him see the truth. In true villain fashion, Eclipso boasts of his plan to the increasingly frustrated Stargirl.

Shiv and Stargirl team up long enough to get hurled out a window together, landing painfully in the town square. Rick finally decides he’s had enough and takes matters into his own hands. Jakeem’s new best friend finally comes back from his errand, and Zeek shows a remarkable ability to just roll with whatever’s happening, no matter how odd. Looking for more dramatic surroundings for his next rant, Eclipso moves up to the roof of the American Dream building as the other heroes try and regroup. Eclipso’s grandiose speech gets cut short as we see Mike has developed some new talents, although when I’m not sure. Unfortunately, the next wave of help is very inexperienced, and while they manage to throw Eclipso off his game briefly, they’re not match for his evil and raw power. Hourman shows up and tries a new trick, which also knocks Eclipso down briefly, but does no lasting good. Barbara and Jennie worry about what they should do and then get an unexpected visitor that helps them decide.

Pat tries to help Mike, who has gotten in over his head, but becomes the focus of Eclipo’s next attack. The villain drags Pat down the street and starts beating on him, goading Stargirl to make an admission. Finally, she screams her confession at Eclipso, and it’s the opening he needed in order to possess the young hero. Things are looking bad for the good guys when they finally catch a break. Beth’s parents are freed when someone makes an unexpected return, an amused confession, and then starts rallying and regrouping the heroes. The Doctors Midnight suit up and leave behind Beth’s very confused parents. Wildcat finds Shiv, who displays a disturbing healing power. Those two see the newest turn of events with Stargirl, and have very different opinions about what to do next. The Eclipso-possessed Stargirl floats into the air, boasting about how unbeatable they are now… which is when a subplot that’s been simmering in small scenes all season comes to the fore and the original Starman returns, helping Courtney resist the evil of Eclipso and exerting his control over the Cosmic Staff. Courtney manages to expel Eclipso, the heroes get their combined act together, some unexpected reinforcements show up, and Eclipso winds up on the wrong end of a very concentrated, united attack. Jakeem still has a lot to learn about his new power, and Eclipso ends up uniquely transformed.

The young heroes gather on the Whitmore-Dugan porch to look back at all that’s happened. Yolanda gives Courtney some good news, Beth has regained her optimism, Jennie still has a quest to complete, and Rick has a daunting task ahead of him that I’m really not sure how he even got started. Their musings lead to Courtney asking Pat some questions down in the basement, and him at least being honest enough to say he doesn’t have the answers. Sylvester shows up and manages to both give some reassuring news and show he’s not necessarily going to be a great role model for Courtney. Then again, he’s been kind of a jerk in most of the flashbacks he’s been in, so this isn’t stunning.

The wrap up scenes keep coming as Dr. McNider announces his own plans, and Beth turns up to help him out with some information. McNider gets stunning news, gives Beth a great compliment, and then gets ready to attend to unfinished business. Mike and Jakeem make their own plans as they walk past the theater that gives another nod to a very obscure DC hero. Cameron regards the mural he’s been working on and then gets a visit from his grandparents, who have their own surprises for him.

Yolanda leaves church and gets an unexpected visitor. They warily talk to each other and Yolanda gets asked something that shocks her. Rick does his own grim task, gets a surprise of his own, and we learn something about the future plans of my favorite supporting character on the show. The Chapels are suddenly being very supportive of Beth and give a nod to her comic book incarnation as Beth struggles to shift gears.

They’ve saved some of the biggest surprises for last. The Dugan-Whitmore family gets ready for breakfast and talks about more or less normal things. They get interrupted by the doorbell, and meet their new neighbors, which leads into the title card for season three: Frenemies. It’s very fitting. The final scene is the strange Nurse Love we met before giving a report, and we finally see who she’s talking to. It’s a figure from the Infinity, Inc comics, and it sounds like next season is going to be very, very complicated.

What I liked: Almost everything. Rick was really clever in his way of helping fight Eclipso. My favorite supporting character is back and sounds like they’ll be around next season, too. The huge fight was well done on most fronts. Zeek’s unflappability is kind of endearing. I’m impressed Cindy at least admitted she’d made some mistakes. Everyone coming together at the end was really nicely handled. I’m very amused at the situation with the new neighbors. I’m not sure what to make of Sylvester’s return.

What I didn’t: Rick’s earlier task in the show was something Pat really should have been doing. Jennie is arguably one of their most powerful allies and spent most of the episode in bed. If Pat’s going to keep showing up in public with the team, he really needs to get back in costume and/or at least wear a mask, much like Diggle in the first few seasons of Arrow. I don’t get how Rick managed to get his final job out into the woods.

I really enjoyed the finale, and thought the whole season was pretty good. I’ll give the finale a 4 out of 5, the season a 3.5 out of 5, and I’m glad they’re coming back. I’ll be waiting for the new craziness sometime next year.