Stargirl: The Suspects

I think this would be the first baking show I would actually watch.

Stargirl’s third season got off to a surprising start. The Gambler became the latest supervillain who wanted to reform, and Courtney, of course, believed him completely. He didn’t get much of a chance to prove how sincere he was, as the first episode ended with him being killed and his trailer being trashed. Whoever did it clearly had some kind of superhuman abilities, and left a lot of suspicion on their wake. Add in tension within the JSA over Cindy joining, Sylvester trying to settle in and come to grips with his resurrection, and a few loose ends from last season, and the new JSA and their allies are going to have their hands full. After the murder comes “The Suspects.”

This episode does a lot of back and forth in time, and we start some 12 hours before the murder. The Gambler, Stephen Sharpe, moves into his new home, although where he’s been until now or why he came back to Blue Valley is so far unclear. He sets up his home and unpacks, with an interesting mix of items. Outside, we see one of Sharpe’s former associates considering paying a very unfriendly visit, and finally persuades himself to move along. Just as this one leaves, another former teammate stops by. Sharpe seems to be quite popular with his former team.

After the title card, the JSA, plus Pat and Sylvester, minus Cindy, talk about the murder. This team most definitely doesn’t have a Batman-type detective, and they’re feeling the lack right now. The team is divided about suspects, with some irrationally biased against one person to the point of ignoring physical evidence, while another element is blindingly optimistic. The team goes over the story they’ve heard about what happened, and we see a replay of that character’s account. In the flashback, Courtney recovers a piece of evidence. Beth, using the Dr. Midnight goggles, goes over the wounds Sharpe sustained, and they do back at least part of the story we’ve seen and heard. Of course, some of the team isn’t really in the mood to listen to logic at this point. Courtney does point out one important thing about the crime scene, and it forms their only lead. Of course, the team is essentially covering up a murder and interfering with what should be a police investigation, but I’m not sure we’ve seen any police in Blue Valley so far this series.

Everyone goes their separate ways, but I don’t think anyone’s going to have a peaceful night. Courtney gets emotional going over what she recovered from the crime scene, Cindy is up to something mysterious down in the lair of the ISA, and Rick, on what appears to be the next morning, visits a sad site where things aren’t developing the way he had hoped. I really do wonder where Rick is living. Did he do the emancipated minor bit and we missed it? If so, he still needs a place to stay. Clearly he has one, or Courtney and company would have adopted him by now.

That morning continues to be eventful. Courtney and Pat have a talk, and they seem to be on the same page about what to do. Considering how they started off, it’s nice to see, and it’s good she can talk about things that are bothering her without it offending Pat. Then again, if Pat was offended, I’m not sure he’d say anything. Pat shares his plans for the day, while Mike, still working his paper route, has a talk with Jakeem and comes up with a really bad idea.

Barbara can’t get any peace at her office (I’m still not clear on what she does, or what the company does now that it’s not a front for Icicle and the ISA). She hears a gamut of opinions from coworkers about Sharpe’s death, and deals with a really obnoxious man named Tim, who I’d be happy to see less of. Finally getting to her desk, Barbara is surprised by Paula being there. The two of them make a very amusing pair, and Paula’s arguments as to her and her husband’s innocence are a bit chilling, but make perfect sense. The talk turns to Artemis, auditions, and baking, and it’s a very odd but really entertaining scene.

During lunch at the school, which is when most of the discussions tend to happen, the team debates what might have happened to the late Mr. Sharpe. Their discipline for keeping their identities secret really is lacking. Never one to make a situation better, Cindy stalks up and is offended by them having a meeting without her the night before. Understandably, Yolanda isn’t sympathetic, and Rick seems ready to fight with most people at any given time. Courtney is clinging desperately to their one lead and hoping they can clear this all up and move on. Personally, I don’t think anyone else at the table is ready to move on aside from possibly Beth. At the diner, we see Maria has made progress in her quest to achieve something, and Shade is actually pleased with the result. Naturally, the poor man doesn’t get to enjoy his victory, as Sylvester and Pat come in and do an ineffective version of good cop/bad cop. More bemused than anything else, Shade offers an accounting of some of his earlier movements, and overall seems utterly unimpressed with the two heroes. Sylvester doesn’t handle himself well at all, and Pat has a talk with him outside about, among other things, how this isn’t the old days and Sylvester needs to adapt to some changes.

Things do occasionally happen in other places than the cafeteria at the school. Courtney gets pulled out of math class by Sylvester, and is a bit confused as to why. Considering how much trouble she had in school last season, I really don’t think this is a good idea, but I also can’t blame her for ditching high school with an even semi-plausible excuse. Elsewhere, Cameron is having trouble in art class, usually his strength, and stalks out of the room. Art teacher Paul Deisinger is back, which is a relief after what happened to him last season, and he’s clearly worried about his star pupil.

At the town’s water tower, Sylvester shows Courtney a few tricks with the staff. While Pat has some great insight into the generalities of being a hero, Sylvester knows the staff a lot better, and it’s an impressive display. In the Dugan-Whitmore kitchen, Paula and Barbara continue to attempt to master baking, and, while both women are intelligent and talented, this is clearly not in their wheelhouse. At their school, Mike drags Jakeem into more trouble and doesn’t get what he was hoping for. I can’t say I’m surprised.

Speaking of bad ideas, Sylvester drags Courtney to Shade’s house. Sylvester’s stated intention isn’t bad, but it lasts maybe three sentences into the conversation before he flips out. He and Shade have a confrontation, and Courtney is stuck trying to play peacemaker. Definitely annoyed by the unwanted visit, Shade reveals some surprising information and then leaves in dramatic fashion. Later, Courtney and Sylvester are taken to task by Barbara and Pat. It starts off as an amusing scene, but Sylvester comes to some disturbing realizations and wanders off. At the Pit Stop, which I guess everyone has keys to, or Pat doesn’t lock, Rick is tinkering with his hourglass. He shares some problems he’s having with the device, and Beth is surprised to hear them. Their conversation gets interrupted when Shade comes by, speaks with Rick for a bit, and then leaves. I’m hoping he’s not gone for the rest of the season, as he’s one of my favorite characters, but it’s a possibility.

Down in the basement, Courtney has a serious conversation with Sylvester, and she comes across as much more the adult than he is. They talk about life, Blue Valley, and suspects in Sharpe’s murder. They agree on eliminating one from the list, and wonder about what to do next. Cameron confronts some of his difficulties at home, and gets steered in what I believe is the very wrong direction by his grandparents. The last few things we see are apparently designed to make us wonder about some of the other suspects, as first Cindy and then the Crocks engage in some very questionable activities. The team really needs a detective, or someone with some organized ideas at the very least. So far, I’m not seeing anyone who fits that bill.

What I Liked: I really enjoy this show overall. They blend action and humor, with some great nods to DC Comics’ rich history. Jonathan Cake’s Shade is one of my favorite parts of the show, and the Paula/Barbara scenes are really entertaining. I liked Courtney and Sylvester’s training scene, and hope we get some more of that. I’m glad Pat stood up to Sylvester. With McNider revealed to be alive, and now Sylvester back from the dead, I’m wondering if we’ll get to see more of the original JSA return.

What I Didn’t: I understand Yolanda’s dislike, if not outright hatred, of Cindy. I get it. That said, Yolanda needs to think a little bit instead of just being a ball of anger in every scene. Mike’s side-quest with Jakeem is going to go horribly, and the kid needs to start learning from his mistakes. I’m not entirely sure Sylvester is who or what he seems to be. Are there really no cops in Blue Valley?

I’m really curious to see how this murder investigation plays out. I’ll give this a 3.5 out of 5, and hope I manage to get to more episodes soon.

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