And then, halfway through the season, we saw the new JSA try and screw up.
Of course, that is a perfectly natural thing for a show like Stargirl to do. Up until this point, the show’s strongest emotional center was Courtney’s (Brec Bassinger) relationship with Pat (Luke Wilson). But with the introduction of Yolanda (Yvette Monreal), Beth (Anjelicka Washington), and Rick (Cameron Gellman), the emotional core is now split among their own character arcs and their attempt to become a superhero team. Consequently, their first night out had to be a relative disaster. But consider for a moment how much worse their tussle with the Injustice Society could have gone. Both Titans and Doom Patrol offer far darker scenarios. Learning they need training is the best outcome of being unprepared to fight supervillains.
Which brings into relief how odd this show is in The CW context. In terms of DC Universe, the show is, in some ways, too slow and cautious. But when compared to its broadcast network cousins, the series is moving at a good clip just by introducing three additional heroes besides the title character. Remember where The Flash and Arrow were six episodes in? At the same time, though, the show has barely had a moment to really build any of these characters beyond the one sentence description: Yolanda is the disgraced overachiever trying to find her way back, Beth is friendly person who finds it hard to make friends, and Rick is the bad boy outsider who desperately wants a family. Then again, maybe we will get more as they begin training. As it is, we’ve seen Yolanda spark to life just be accepting Wildcat into her life. But in comparison to way CW shows treat characters in the first season, there has been so little focus on any one character or idea.
Even the bond between Courtney and Pat seems secondary despite being the ultimate point of the episode. It isn’t that the writing is bad — although, Rick is nothing but bad boy loner cliches — but more that the show is trying accomplish a lot while also serving a Golden Age villain plot in the form of Project New America. Oh, and if enough plates weren’t spinning, the ISA members have family problems of their own to consider. The balance is very nearly there even if episodes like this leave us feeling as though no character was properly served.
That said, the proper introduction of Sportsmaster (Neil Hopkins) and Tigress (Joy Osmanski) into the mix was fun. Their soccer-parent energy and obsession with fitness makes for a nice counterpoint to the kids’ more accidental physical readiness for combat. Also, we like that the villains, except for perhaps Icicle (Neil Jackson), are cartoony. It makes Stargirl‘s Earth-2 a more colorful world and it fits in with the show’s overall brighter touch. It also means some of the acting will come off hammier than we expect from supervillains on TV, but it all feels intentional.
And speaking of counterpoints, we appreciate the show taking its time to show Barbara (Amy Smart) and Mike (Trae Romano) bonding. Despite telling Pat not to come to the science fair, he wanted him there — and Barbara’s appearance has further endeared her to him. One imagines Icicle will ultimately use this emerging bond against Courtney and Pat because, let’s face it, that is how these sorts of stories work and Stargirl is not afraid to dive headlong into 80-year-old superhero comic tropes.
We hope the show gets a second season to build out the character some more as they are an interesting ensemble. In the meantime, though, we can’t wait to see them become a team and actually win a fight against the ISA.
Stargirl streams Mondays on DC Universe and airs Tuesday on The CW.
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