04th Oct2021

‘Stargirl 2×08: Summer School – Chapter Eight’ 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

Stargirl is rapidly approaching the end of the season and this week we finally have a Rick and Beth-centric episode after being stuck in the background for most of the season. While Yolanda may be off the series for the foreseeable future, it’s a pleasant surprise to have the writers focus again on more of the underdeveloped characters of the series. Let’s see if they can give Rick and Beth a strong episode like they did last week with Yolanda.

Rick’s Frankenstein

While it may be the Fourth of July in Blue Valley, you wouldn’t know it by the weather as it resembles more fall-like weather than summer thanks to Eclipso’s arrival. It’s a convenient excuse to cover up the fact the series was filmed in late Autumn and all the trees in the background look dead. Thanks writers for addressing one of my main issues this year!

My personal annoyances aside, Rick is greeted at his home by his teacher, Miss Woods, who apologizes for her insistence that Rick was cheating in school. An apology isn’t the only reason Miss Woods drove out to Rick’s house to visit; she has college pamphlets and financial aid information for him to review. Miss Woods implies to Rick that she had a tough childhood too and college gave her a fresh start, much like college could do for him. Unfortunately, Rick’s drunk uncle interrupts the meeting and not only kicks Miss Woods off their property but also throws the college information all over the front yard, telling Rick he’ll be in jail before he’ll be in college. Rick, please go to college and get away from this guy!

After his uncle’s tantrum, Rick leaves and runs off to the woods to visit Solomon Grundy and deliver food to his friend. Rick tells Grundy a story about his dog growing up and how it was originally a mean dog due to the environment it grew up in but once it moved to a different house and different owners, the dog became friendly. Frustrated with a lack of response from Grundy, Rick goes to leave but Grundy reaches his arm out and puts it around Rick in a warm embrace. It’s a nice moment for Rick while also explaining why he wants to save Grundy.

Side note, the CGI this week on Solomon Grundy was horrendous and looked like a visual from a 1990s computer game. I understand there is a budget and shortcuts have to be made but Grundy looked cringe-worthy this week.

Rick isn’t just dealing with his uncle’s mood swings, he also has to deal with local hunters searching for a bear, aka Solomon Grundy, as the “bear” is being seen close to town. Rick calls his JSA friends, Pat and Courtney, to ask for their assistance in saving Grundy from the overly-aggressive hunters. Pat and Courtney arrive but have trepidation about helping Grundy as Pat feels he is nothing more than a monster.

Rick meanwhile is in the woods looking for Grundy when he comes up on two hunters, one of them wounded by the “something other than a bear”. The hunters inform Rick that the creature took a 10-year-old girl from the local farm and vanished in the woods. Rick runs off and finds Grundy standing near the river and over the body of the girl. Rick assumes Grundy killed the girl but instead of explaining what happened, Grundy runs away.

Meanwhile Pat and Courtney are searching through the woods for Grundy and they also come across the body of the 10-year-old girl. Pat picks her up (it’s a crime scene Pat!) but before he can say anything to Courtney, the girl opens her eyes, creepily laughs, and vanishes. Looks like Eclipso is behind the whole illusion of “hunters are looking for Grundy”.

Pat and Courtney eventually catch up to Rick, who is using the power of Hourman to beat Grundy into submission. Pat and Courtney attempt to reason with Rick by telling him Grundy didn’t kill the girl and it was all Eclipso but by the time Courtney uses the staff to stop him, it’s too late. Rick looks up and realizes he wasn’t beating Grundy but rather his uncle! Rick is disgusted with himself, resulting in him smashing his super-powered hourglass and ending his reign as a superhero. The episode ends with Rick in a police car and his uncle unconscious in the back of an ambulance.

Beth’s Journey

Rick isn’t the only secondary character getting attention this week as the writers finally give Beth more time! It’s a miracle. Beth is continuing to search for the original Dr. Mid-Niter in the Shadow World and she briefly talks to him through the googles but as soon as he cuts out, Eclipso shows his face on her laptop.

Later, Beth’s parents sit her down to talk (and they made Beth lunch!) about the divorce and how they got to this point. Her parents are, shall we say, less than supportive and blame Beth for them losing sight of each other and as a result, they grew apart. Wow, way to give your child a complex. Beth completely loses it when she looks down at her sandwich and sees maggots crawling on her food, resulting in Beth throwing the plate across the room and storming out of the house. Are her parents really that broken that they are blaming their daughter for the divorce or were they overtaken by Eclipso? I’m hoping Eclipso because that was tough to watch.

Beth runs over to Courtney’s house to talk about her parents’ divorce but only finds Bruce, aka Eclipso in a child form. Bruce taunts Beth as a “thief” for having Dr. Mid-Nite’s googles as he runs upstairs with them. Beth takes off after him, not a good idea, and ends up in Courtney’s room. She calls the demon-spawn out of hiding and who knew Bruce/Eclipso is a racist! He tells Beth that no one chose her and states, “You’re no fighter. Fighters are athletic. I guess some of the stereotypes are wrong!” Whoa Eclipso, let’s take it down a notch!

Eclipso sends Beth to the old-school ISA headquarters where the original Starman, Wildcat, and Hourman question why she is in their building. The “heroes” tell Beth she doesn’t belong and she is the wrong gender and color. Seriously, when did a demon become so racist?

Beth is zapped back to her own house where Eclipso continues to taunt her about not being brave and how she was never chosen to be Dr. Mid-Nite. Beth finally has enough of Eclipso’s games and calls him out for being a coward and hiding from her. Beth’s taunting works as Eclipso, in his true form, reveals himself and they struggle over Dr. Mid-Nite’s googles. Beth proclaims she chose herself as Dr. Mid-Nite and is able to gain the strength to pull the googles from Eclipso, breaking his illusion in the process. As she puts on the googles, the original Dr. Mid-Nite tells her that as long as she has the googles on, she can see all of Eclipso’s games/illusions.

Beth’s parents arrive later that night and it turns out that it was Eclipso creating the illusion of her parents earlier in the day. Thank goodness. Beth opens up to her parents that she is trying to be something she isn’t, which results in her mom telling her an encouraging story about how she didn’t fit in as a doctor when she first came to Blue Valley. Through hard work and perseverance, she was able to convince Blue Valley she belonged and she wasn’t going anywhere. It’s a sweet moment with Beth’s family and allows her parents to break their hard shell and show their love for their daughter.

Quick Notes:

  • Courtney struggling with Yolanda quitting the JSA and blaming her for killing Brainwave has potential as a storyline as we have yet to see Courtney struggle with something that isn’t caused by a supervillain. Neither her staff nor her teammates can help Courtney with Yolanda and it makes it more difficult as Yolanda won’t even talk to her.

Quote of the Week:

Beth to Eclipso: “I’m strong, I’m proud… and I chose myself to be Doctor Mid-Nite.”

Grade: B (Good)

Stargirl again focused on two secondary characters, Beth and Rick, and again the series produced another strong episode. Rick’s storyline with Solomon Grundy was reminiscent of Frankenstein and the monster being misunderstood while Beth’s storyline focused on her finally accepting herself and her role as a hero. Both storylines worked well and it was a nice change of pace episode with Pat and Courtney in the background. Eclipso is slowly tearing the JSA apart, with Yolanda and Rick leaving the group, so it will be interesting who will stand with our heroes when the final battle occurs. Next week winter arrives early to Blue Valley and the series will again focus on the main characters as Eclipso traps Courtney’s family in a house of horrors!

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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