16th Sep2021

‘Stargirl 2×05: Summer School – Chapter Five’ Review

by Jason Brigger

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

What Happened This Week

It’s getting closer to Halloween, and it looks like Stargirl jumped into the theme of the season as this week’s episode is more horror than family friendly. The Justice Society fight their biggest fears, Eclipso finds a new host this week, and we actually get a tease of what this demon looks like. Spoilers, he looks like Spider-Man’s arch-nemesis, Venom.

Eclipso’s Reveal

The episode starts 10 years ago when a young Cindy awakes from her sleep due to a nightmare where her father finds her and attempts to “change” her. Luckily it was only a dream as her mother tells her that they are safe and will not be found by Cindy’s father. Way to jinx that because once Cindy’s mother leaves the room, we see the silhouette of Dragon King waiting in the shadows of Cindy’s bedroom. The long, drawn out visual of a young Cindy trying to go to sleep while the Dragon King slowly emerges from the shadows was one of the creepiest things I’ve seen on network television and set the tone for the rest of the episode.

In present times, Cindy’s need for power and obsession with destroying the Justice Society leads to her next victim, art teacher Mr. Deisinger. Cindy uses the Black Diamond to allow Eclipso to take over his body and mind, resulting in Mr. Deisinger coughing up paint (ewww!) and eventually painting a mural of Eclipso’s creepy eye throughout the art room.

Later, the Justice Society, after Pat tells them to follow the recent bad weather in the area to find Eclipso–yeah I don’t get it either–enter the paint-splattered art room. Stargirl, Hourman, Wildcat and Dr. Mid-Nite begin to look around the creepy room when a black, Venom-like substance emerges from one of the painted canvases. The room’s door swings shut, locking them in while the demon/Venom entity crawls out of the painting and runs up and down the walls of the room.

Eventually Hourman is able to break open the door, but the locker-filled hallway of the school isn’t much better as each of our heroes’ worst fears appear to them. Hourman sees Solomon Grundy and his deceased parents which results in him punching every locker in the hallway, Dr. Mid-Nite crumbles to the ground as she hears her parents stating they no longer want to be a family, and Wildcat envisions herself killing Brainwave over and over. It’s a tremendous scene and the writers lean heavily into the horror elements in order to make the audience feel the fear our heroes are experiencing.

Stargirl is able to escape seeing her worst fears, but notices Mr. Deisinger is struggling with the darkness surrounding him, courtesy of Eclipso. After Eclipso pushes Stargirl back, she realizes that to stop the darkness, she must use the light of her staff to free the art teacher. As Stargirl attempts to attack Eclipso’s Venom-like substance, Mr. Deisinger is able to finally reach the light emitting from the staff, resulting in Eclipso being burned and eventually fleeing from the Justice Society. Stargirl stands over the collapsed art teacher while the rest of the heroes’ worst fears evaporate around them. They may have stopped Eclipso but it’s only temporary as Pat tells the JSA that our villain is becoming stronger, and he no longer needs the Black Diamond to use his powers.

Courtney is a Muse

Courtney hasn’t had much of a life outside of being Stargirl but that may change as Icicle/Jordan Mahkent’s son, Cameron, accidently reveals to Mr. Deisinger, that he has a crush on Courtney. Mr. Deisinger tells Cameron that the sketches of Courtney in Cameron’s sketchbook reveals that she isn’t just a crush but a muse for our young artist. Mr. Deisinger even admits his art career stopped once he lost his muse and encourages Cameron to keep pursuing his love of art and use Courtney for encouragement.

Unfortunately, Cindy has her eyes on Cameron and throughout the episode she makes attempts to convert Cameron into joining the new Injustice Society. Cindy even resorts to attempting to bond over deceased parents with Cameron, but it backfires on Cindy as he remembers how cold-hearted Cindy was when her own mother died years ago. Cameron, who is quickly becoming one of my favorite secondary characters on Stargirl, is about to be stabbed by Cindy but is saved when Mr. Deisinger walks in on the two teenagers. Don’t hurt Cameron!

After flirting with each other throughout the episode, Courtney meets up with Cameron at the outdoor mural he is painting of his father. Cameron reveals his sketches to Courtney, and she is flattered that she is his muse and the two are about to kiss but as usual, Courtney is called away on superhero duties. The episode ends with Cameron learning about his super ability as he accidently freezes one of his paint brushes. Cameron still doesn’t know about his father’s villainous alter-ego but once he does find out how his father was defeated by the Justice Society, it will be interesting to see which Society he decides to join.

Quick Notes:

  • The Shade paid Barbara a visit this week to advise her that Courtney needs to stop reaching out to him and messing with his plans. The Shade seems to acknowledge that he is giving this courtesy warning to Barbara because he like Courtney and doesn’t want to see her hurt. Aww…the Shade may have a heart after all.
  • Mike only has a small scene this week as he asks Zeke for helping in fixing up an old station wagon in hopes of turning it into a getaway car for the Justice Society. Pat isn’t happy with Mike’s “big project” but after spending most of his superhero life on the sidelines, he offers to assist Mike in finding smaller projects to help the JSA. It’s a nice scene between the father and son with Pat reaching out and realizing Mike is in the same position Pat was for years with Starman.
  • Beth spends most of the episode trying to convince Pat and Rick that Dr. Mid-Niter is still alive and trapped in the Shadow World and while Pat doesn’t believe her, he states that once Eclipso is dealt with, they will do everything in their power to see if the former hero is still out there.
  • While this season is supposed to be taking place in the summer, it’s apparent the series was filmed in the fall as trees in the background have no leaves on them and all the main characters are wearing sweaters or jackets. It’s supposed to be hot people, let’s act like it!

Grade: A- (Great)

Stargirl brings the scary this week and whether it was the Dragon King in Cindy’s bedroom, a black substance crawling out of the walls of the school or Mr. Deisinger going all Venom on Stargirl, this episode racked up the intensity! The CGI continues to look good despite the series having a limited budget and any concerns I have about Eclipso’s reveal has been calmed. I sound like a broken record, but Stargirl continues to get better each week and this week’s episode was the best of the season. While the build for Cindy’s new ISA team has been slow, it’s just a minor issue in an otherwise excellent 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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