Sometimes, the need for connective tissue breaks the momentum.
That is certainly the case with Stargirl‘s fifth episode, entitled “Hourman and Dr. Mid-Nite.” On the one hand, it had a job to do: introduce Rick Harris (Cameron Gellman) and establish Beth Chapel (Anjelika Washington) as the new Dr. Mid-Nite. Or, at the very least, get her talking to the AI of Dr. Charles McNider (voiced by Henry Thomas)
Because of these introductions, the needle moves only very slightly in the ongoing threads. The ISA plot a theft on the highway while Pat (Luke Wilson) grumbles about Courtney’s (Brec Bassinger) continuing involvement in this whole mess. Yes, he does get distracted when he suspects Rick is the son of Rex Tyler (Lou Ferrigno Jr.), but its an oddly underdeveloped idea as it falls on Courtney and Yolanda (Yvette Monreal) to convince the high school bad boy that he has a superhero legacy to fulfill.
And “bad boy” might be overstating it. Rick, as presented here, seems set up to be the team’s Wolverine: the loner who’s too afraid to admit he wants friendship, camaraderie, and intimacy. The episode does a good job establishing he gets none of things at home; instead he faces an abusive uncle every day. But growing up in that environment means he lacks the very tools to even realize what he wants and or to imagine what being part of the team could offer him.
It’s … not a bad way to go with him. Even in Geoff Johns‘s JSA run, Rick was a hard character to pin down. He enjoyed being a hero and mainly wanted to keep Liberty Belle safe — although, that’s our recollection of nearly twenty-year-old comics. Aging him down to a high school delinquent definitely offers Johns and the writing team a chance to make him something a little more well rounded.
We’re going to assume Beth will also get some more rounding in subsequent episodes because she gets so little to do here. Sure, we’ve met her before, but every scene with Beth is the same: she talks a lot and it annoys people. Is she on the spectrum? That would at least be a place to start; as would examining her relationship with her parents a little more. As she tells the McNider AI, they want “their lives back” and for Beth to find friends outside the home. Why can’t she? If it is her talkativeness, then it needs some fleshing out — especially if she’s a JSAer now.
Also, we couldn’t help but notice McNider was born in 1910 and died in 2014. That long life suggests something to us about JSA history and we hope the show follows up on it. That bit of the team’s legacy is such an interesting idea and fits in well with the tone of the show. As does giving Beth an AI to talk to who is well-versed in JSA history and can help the group learn from the past. In fact, we see a little of that as it reveals to Rick what really happened to his parents.
But, for the moment, that revelation has put him on the path of revenge. There is, of course, time for the others to convince him that justice should be served instead. Although, how does one bring Solomon Grundy to justice? This is where our love of Starman reveals itself again as we’d love to see the gentle Grundy appear on this show.
We’d also love to see who the Green Lantern picks as Alan Scott’s successor. Since it glowed for Pat, there is the possibility he may wield Green Lantern’s light — S.T.R.I.P.E.S’s special effects are expensive, after all — but that could be a waste as there’s always room for Jade or an Earth-2 version of Jessica Cruz or Simon Baz to take the ring. The fact the show even has the Lantern to play with is kind of a miracle.
Oh, that reminds us, making Hourman’s power a function of the hourglass and not the Miraclo (or Mirakuru) drug is the smartest choice, all things considered. A bad boy pill-popper would probably work on Titans, but not on Stargirl.
Stargirl streams Mondays on DC Universe and airs Tuesdays on The CW.
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