21st Oct2021

‘Stargirl 2×11: Summer School – Chapter Eleven’ 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

Get ready to get trippy this week as Courtney descends into the Shadowlands of Blue Valley! The warped version of Pleasantville takes everything we have seen in Courtney’s life the last two seasons and twists it in an evil, darker version. Luckily, Courtney has a few friends to help her on her journey so let’s get to it!

The Upside Down World

Courtney arrives in the Shadowlands, as noted by the black and white coloring, and must walk through purgatory itself in order to save herself and escape the vast void. Courtney is welcomed to the Shadowlands by the Zarick family, you know them as the family of magicians from the first season and just like then, son Joey asks Courtney to pick a card for a magic trick. Courtney reluctantly picks a card but before Joey can guess, he calls her out for lying like the first time he performed this trick. This freaks Courtney out enough for her to leave the diner and be magically transported to the high school.

Courtney is confronted by her arch-nemesis, Cindy, who is dressed as her villainous alter-ego, Shiv. The girls begin to battle in the hallways until Cindy is able to cut Courtney, causing her to bleed. Cindy stops the assault when she realizes that Courtney is real and not one of Eclipso’s mirages. It’s a significant moment for Cindy as she’s been alone in the Shadowlands and surrounded only by visions of her dead father, the Dragon King and her dead mother.

Cindy then transports Courtney to Cindy’s bedroom where she explains the “in’s and out’s” of Eclipso’s Shadowlands. The world was designed by all the evil that humanity has done and will do, resulting in its inhabitants to relive their real world’s worst moments in a timeless cycle. Basically purgatory. If you continue to feed into the evil and negativity, your scenario becomes worse and worse and in Cindy’s version of purgatory, this translates into a never-ending cycle of Cindy fighting against her father.

Courtney’s first version of purgatory is set in her old apartment where she lived with her mother when Courtney was a child. Barbara greets Courtney as she is playing the role of the babysitter and Barbara proceeds to tell her everything that is wrong in her life from being a single mother to a father that left to not having the career she dreamed she would have when she was younger. Courtney begins to spiral out of control, feeling her mother never wanted her but luckily Cindy is there to pull Courtney back from the edge of collapse.

After saving Courtney, Cindy is transported to a one-on-one confrontation with a mirage of her mother. Cindy realizes she was evil to her mother and never should have killed her and asks for her mother’s forgiveness. As the mirage is controlled by Eclipso, it goes as well as you think it does…Cindy is heartbroken as her mother doesn’t forgive her and runs off. Cindy follows but eventually is captured by her father the Dragon King, who tries to finish the experiments he started on his daughter many years ago.

Courtney has a little better luck as she is saved from a colorless void of nothingness by the original Dr. Mid-Nite! Courtney then gets a crash course in how to survive her purgatory: don’t let the evil in and try to stay hopeful about where you are at, which is easier said then done. Dr. Mid-Nite states his personal purgatory is repeatedly hearing his deceased daughter’s voice but then Beth communicated to him through is googles and he developed hope.

After the Shade contacts Courtney, see below, she runs off to save Cindy and attempt to bring her back to the real world. Courtney finds Eclipso in the form of the creepy child, who attempts to play mind games with our hero by declaring everyone that Courtney attempts to help ends with Courtney causing them more pain. Eclipso’s illusions of Yolanda and Rick causes Courtney to finally break and announce she hates Eclipso. No Courtney! Stay in the light!

Courtney eventually finds herself in Dragon King’s laboratory experimenting on his daughter but once Dr. Mid-Nite provides some words of advice, Courtney is able to acknowledge it’s all an illusion and the Dragon King vanishes. Courtney then snaps Cindy out of her personal purgatory and our heroes all pass into the real world, thanks to the Shade.

The Real World

Back in the real world, Courtney’s friends and family are struggling with Courtney’s alleged death. The camera panning through the house and showcasing how each member of her family and friends are coping with their grief was a haunting visual and conveyed the overwhelming emotions of the moment. There is some good news in the moment as Beth, using her googles, is able to contact Dr. Mid-Nite and learns Courtney may be alive.

Jennie, aka Green Lantern, uses her ring to scan the Shade’s business card and is able to find the Shade sitting in a movie theater in Blue Valley. Don’t ask how the ring has power to do this…just go with it. Barbara and Pat confront a beaten-down Shade at the theater and reveal Dr. Mid-Nite and Courtney may still be alive in the Shadowlands. The Shade finally has his chance to be a “good guy” and uses his power to turn the movie screen into a portal and contact our heroes! As nothing can ever be easy in Stargirl, Courtney refuses to leave Cindy behind in the Shadowlands and goes off in search of her.

After our heroes, and Cindy, return to the real world, the Shade collapses after using all his remaining energy to keep the portal open. Barbara rushes over to the Shade and with his last dying breath, he asks Dr. Mid-Nite and Barbara to let the world know that he tried to do something good before he died.

It’s a touching moment as the character of the Shade was a breath of fresh air this season and his death will surely be felt in the series. The chemistry between Barbara and the Shade was terrific and felt organic and gave Barbara direction this season. From a selfish point of view, here’s hoping the Shade becomes another hero who defeats death and returns in future seasons of Stargirl.

Quote of the Week

  • Cindy to our heroes: “Who wants to kill Eclipso?”

Grade: B+ (Very Good)

Stargirl produced a strong episode this week as Courtney being sent to the Shadowlands was able to get the series back on track after a few average episodes. The return of the original Dr. Mid-Nite and Cindy are good substitutes for the JSA if Rick and Yolanda are not returning to the team, and will add a new dynamic. Dr. Mid-Nite will be a great mentor for Beth and Cindy adds some friction to a team that needs to come together, now more than ever. There are only two episodes left this season and the path is clear as a new and reformed JSA, mixed with the ISA, will need to join up to defeat Eclipso. Overall, a very good episode this week that flew by and stayed focused, which didn’t seem to be bogged down with pointless side stories.

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.

Comments are closed.