13th Aug2020

‘Stargirl 1×13: Stars & S.T.R.I.P.E. – Part Two’ Review

by Jason Brigger

Stars: Brec Bassinger, Luke Wilson, Amy Smart, Yvette Monreal, Anjelika Washington, Trae Romano, Christopher Baker, Neil Jackson | Created by Geoff Johns

It’s all leading to this, the season finale of Stargirl! It’s been a fun season and I’ve been looking forward to how the writers will tie everything together.

The new Fiddler, Isaac Bowin, is taking his frustration out on the school bully by punching him in the face with his tuba. Before the teacher can take him off the football field to the principal’s office, the football field opens up and a giant satellite dish rises and discharges the shockwaves from Brainwave and the American Dream project.

Jordan is walking around town, that is now filled with local residents paralyzed and staring up at the sky, when he comes upon a little girl trying to wake her father up from the American Dream trance, he is in. Jordan tries to explain that her father will be a better person, one she can be proud of, when he awakes as he is not one of 25% that tried to fight back and die from the project. We also learn that Jordan and the ISA are immune from Brainwaves’ shockwaves due to wearing an ear pierce that will block out any waves emitting from the American Dream satellite dish.

Stargirl, while fighting S.T.R.I.P.E. the Robot, attempts to reason with a paralyzed Pat, pleading with him to break the hold Brainwave has on him. She is warned by the JSA that Pat cannot fight back or break apart from Brainwave’s trance or else he would die. Limited on options, Chuck, Dr. Mid-Nite’s AI, suggests attacking the Gambler where it hurts the most, his bank account, in order to distract him from the project. Chuck hacks into the Gambler’s personal account, transferring millions to a charity giving the JSA an opportunity to jam the signal. Pat is able to snap out of Brainwave’s control and rejoin the fight against the ISA.

While Pat is out of the woods, Barbara is still under the trance from Brainwave. Beth warns Stargirl not to destroy the machine as anyone still under the trance will be killed, unless Brainwave is defeated. The whole JSA, including Justin(!), meets up with the ISA in their underground lair and the fight we have been waiting for all season finally arrives! Even the Gambler, safe in his own private bunker, joins the fight by unleashing Solomon Grundy from his cell.

The ISA takes the early advantage of the younger, less experienced JSA, but the tide is turned when Dragon King, just as he is about to stab a fallen Justin, is stabbed by his own daughter, Cindy! It seems she escaped her cell and is just as ruthless as her father. This is the opening Stargirl needs as she helps Hourman and Wildcat take down Sportsmaster and Tigress. The whole JSA, including S.T.R.I.P.E., team up and take down Jordan/Icicle but just as Pat is about to deliver the final blow, Grundy rams the robot and saves Jordan.

Pat tells Stargirl to stop Brainwave and he’ll take care of Grundy and Jordan. Stargirl doesn’t get very far though before Cindy stops her, looking for revenge. Luckily, Wildcat is still around and takes off to stop Brainwave and the American Dream satellite dish. After beating some mindless drones, Wildcat is stopped by Henry Jr! He tells Wildcat that he wasn’t killed in the cave-in and has been wondering around the ISA lair in drone clothes. She almost believes him but when Henry asks Wildcat where “her friends are”, she realizes Henry is actually an illusion made by Brainwave as her friends were Henry Jr.’s friends as well. One slit of the throat and Wildcat has avenged Henry Jr.’s death. I did not see Brainwave dying so easily and especially at the hands of Wildcat.

Stargirl finally is able to get the best of Cindy and instead of locking her in a cell, she runs down the hallway to see a shocked Wildcat standing over the now deceased Brainwave. Wildcat states she didn’t want to kill him, but it needed to be done due to all the pain Brainwave has caused in the world. Stargirl and Wildcat arrive at the giant satellite dish, which is easily destroyed by the Cosmic Staff.

Back in the ISA lair, Hourman is defeating Grundy but just before Hourman drops a rock Grundy, he sees innocence in the eyes of Grundy. Hourman realizes that Grundy is more animal than human and throws the rock to the side, and yells at Grundy to leave and never come back. It was a satisfying conclusion to Rick’s journey that ultimately ended with him choosing forgiveness over vengeance and confirms he was the right choice to take up the mantle of his father.

With Brainwave killed, Barbara is free from the mental paralysis and just in time to see Jordan arrive and destroy Beth’s googles, and Chuck in the process. Not Chuck! Jordan takes Barbara to the top of the clocktower in the center of Blue Valley, because, why not? He offers Barbara a chance to run away with him and form a new plan to make the world better, but she knows he’s a psychopath and declines his invitation for a new life.

Just as he is about to push Barbara over the railing to her death, Pat shows up and threatens Jordan. Jordan laughs at him until Stargirl tackles him from behind, leading to the final battle between the two. In the course of the battle, Jordan transforms himself into a man actually made of ice but before he can take out Stargirl, they both fall off the tower, with Wildcat catching Stargirl on the way down but Icicle falling to the ground. He attempts to continue the fight but is crushed/ran over by Mike driving a van and asking if he can now be a part of the JSA. I greatly enjoyed Mike getting the final blow on Icicle, thus saving the day and finally giving the character of Mike his moment.

Fast forward six weeks later and the JSA, minus Justin who is off searching for more “soldiers”, is celebrating Christmas as Barbara and Pat’s house. Courtney gives a “World’s Greatest Dad” mug to Pat and the family is now whole. It’s a sweet moment and seeing the JSA come together as a family was a nice moment after everything they have been through this season. 

Before the episode ends, we get a few epilogues to our story. A new villain, the Shade, materializes at the ISA lair vowing to take revenge on the JSA, while in the Magician’s storage locker, Cindy is rummaging through his items and finds a glowing diamond that is housing another new villain, Eclipso. Bringing in two new villains is always tricky in any series, but I have confidence that Stargirl can make it work and I’m interested in how the series interprets these villains.

Finally, we see a man in North Hollywood walking up to the building manager at an apartment complex, asking if Pat Dugan still lives there. The manager says Pat moved away months ago and wonders who is asking. The camera pans out and we see it’s none other than Starman himself, alive and well! Is he still Pat’s friend or is he looking for revenge on something we don’t know about? Looks like we have to wait to find out.

Easter Eggs:

  • Eclipso is originally God’s Spirit Of Wrath, but he became too powerful and too evil, resulting in him being imprisoned in a diamond, the Heart of Darkness. This is the diamond Cindy found at the end of the episode and will use to seek revenge on Courtney. Eclipso feeds off hatred and no one in Blue Valley has more hate in their heart than Cindy.

Grade: B+ (Very Good)

There is no “One Good Thing” this week as Stargirl’s season finale was a “good thing”. The series wrapped up the whole season while not feeling they short-cut anything. Everyone had a moment to shine and the final battle between the JSA and ISA was very satisfying. There are enough teases to make the audience excited for season two as the Shade, Cindy, and Eclipso should provide plenty of trouble for our young superhero team. Plus finding out Starman is alive and looking for Pat was a twist I did not expect. Overall, the series started out “average” and turned into a fun, enjoyable, and worthy series earning the right to for a second season.

You can catch Jason Brigger on the geek-centric podcast, The History of Bad Ideas, as new episodes are released every week at www.nerdly.co.uk or subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Stitcher and other podcasting apps. You can listen to their latest episode right here.

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