Brief Thoughts On ‘Stargirl’ Episode 11

by Erik Amaya

Heroes can come from anywhere.
One of the dangers in the legacy heroes of DC Comics is the bloodline aspect. The Flash family is the best example of this; from Barry Allen and Wally West comes a whole lineage of characters bound by blood and family. Sure, a lot of those characters are out of continuity right now, but they form a dynasty whose powers and heroic nature come from something in their genetics. Even Starman dabbles in this as both of Ted Knight’s sons took up the identity and legacy as their own.
Of course, there are at least three Starmen (four if you count Thom Kallor in the 31st Century) who are not Knights by blood. And even within the comic book realm, Courtney Whitmore joins the legacy because of Pat Dugan’s marriage to her mother. Nonetheless, it is interesting to see Stargirl confront this issue head on with its 11th episode. Is Courtney’s (Brec Bassinger) ability to use the staff due to some blood relationship to the Knights or Sylvester Pemberton? Or is it something innate that the staff senses in her?
If this season was a two-hour film, these would be great questions to ask right around the 80-minute mark, when the hero is at her lowest point. We even have to wonder if the plot points addressed here were intended for a Stargirl feature executive producer and episode writer Geoff Johns may have developed at one time. In terms of story structure, everything is timed perfectly; from Brainwave (Christopher James Baker) regaining his memory to Courtney’s father, Sam Kurtis (Geoff Stults), arriving on the doorstep.
In the comics, Courtney’s father never amounted to much — he was a Two of Clubs in the Royal Flush Gang before his death — but absent fathers cast long shadows. This is why her belief that Starman was her father felt so palpable throughout the season even if you suspected it was not the case. You always want your father to be a superhero and all the coincidences made it work. And, we have to admit, we’re so used to blood legacy at this point that we assumed she’d be related to Cosmic Staff inventor Ted Knight in some fashion. That could still be in play, but we like the thematic choice made by revealing Sam as her real father and removing any family relationship to the Staff. As Pat (Luke Wilson) tells her in the basement, heroes can come from anywhere. That is, in it way, the real legacy of the Golden Age heroes. The all made the choice to done costumes, create gadgets, or use their strange but innate abilities to serve the American ideal of justice without any legacy at all driving them to action.
And then some of them were handed a sword by a king.
Though it was obvious from the moment we saw the sword in his closest, Justin (Mark Ashworth) finally regained some of his memory as the Shining Knight. In terms of legacy, it was nice to see Johns honor the Star-Spangled Kid and Stripesy’s affiliation with the Seven Soldiers of Victory.
As a group, they are very much tied to World War II and despite any attempts by Grant Morrison to modernize the concept, they belong in that milieu. And it seems Stargirl will give them that history. At least, Pat’s photo of the group has a Golden Age vibe — right down to the Republic Serial quality of Green Arrow and Speedy’s costumes. But in the context of Stargirl, there’s something magical about having Pat smile and remind Justin that he used to tell the best stories. It would border on a Morrison-style meta-comment if it wasn’t so folksy. But folksy works here, even if the character in question is meant to be from 10th Century England.
Oh, and we’ll just point this out again: the timeframes keep painting Pat as a much, much older man. We hope his long life is addressed with more certainty in Season 2.
In the meantime, though, it’s clear our prediction about Icicle (Neil Jackson) using Barbara (Amy Smart) and Mike (Trae Romano) against Courtney and Pat wasn’t quite on the mark. It would’ve been interesting to see him weaponize their emerging bond against Stargirl and S.T.R.I.P.E., but a more direct threat against the family as a whole serves a better purpose: establishing the Dugan-Whitmore clan as Team Stars and Stripes. You can already see this with Barbara, who vocally addressed her concerns to Courtney in the basement. They’re valid and realistic, but they also place Barbara firmly on the side of justice. She knows Courtney can save people and there is a desire to let that happen. Also, we love the way she and Pat play off of each other while talking about superhero shenanigans. Her willingness to put Justin up in the spare bedroom also proves she will be part of the team.
Now, we just need Mike to get a moment like that.
Of course, Mike is also marked for death — another nod to legacy and Icicle’s twisted version of it. We imagine Brainwave will come for them pretty quickly next week, but we also imagine everyone will be ready for him. Oh, and considering the film-like story structure of this season, we expect to be reminded of the Lightning Bolt next week. Even if Mike’s friend Jakeem is a Season 2 addition, we imagine the pen could still be useful in the battle against the ISA.
Stargirl streams Mondays on DC Universe and airs Tuesdays on The CW.

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