05th Jun2020

‘Stargirl 1×02: S.T.R.I.P.E’ 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

Episode two of Stargirl starts off where episode one ended, with Pat and his mech-robot bringing Courtney back to the garage for a heart-to-heart talk about the power of the Cosmic Staff. Pat once again denies that Starman was Courtney’s father and forbids her from using the staff again. Courtney walks out on the conversation, but not before telling Pat that he’s the one that failed by giving up when Starman died by not using his powers to help people. Luke Wilson continues to shine in the series as the comedic relief, but also as the man trying to be a father figure to Courtney. The character of Pat comes across as a mix between Ward Cleaver from Leave It To Beaver and Phil Dunphy of Modern Family. I’m not sure another actor could pull of the goofy but loving dad as well Wilson does and it’s another reason the series works.

Local bully Henry is also having a heart-to-heart talk with his father, Henry Sr., but this dynamic is much different than Pat and Courtney’s talk. Henry’s father is displeased that his son lost to a girl (not that!) and his prized car was destroyed in the fight. Henry Sr. tests his son for any superpowers, specifically reading people’s minds, but again, his son fails to show any promise. The differences on how Pat and Henry Sr. see and support their loved ones is a great dynamic and gives understanding why Courtney and Henry Jr. act so differently and reveals that environment truly makes the person. Back at Riverdale High, Courtney, after stealing the old Starman costume from Pat’s belongings, makes her alterations to the suit to better fit her. It’s a good thing this high school didn’t get rid of home economics like most schools in the country.

In a cliché out of every CW superhero series, Dr. King, aka Brainwave, actually works at the local medical facility with Dr. Bridget Chapel (Kron Moore), who happens to be the mother of Beth Chapel (Anjelika Washington), Courtney’s new friend at school. At the high school open house, Henry Sr. scouts the students in order to find out which student is actually Stargirl. Henry Sr., after listening to people’s thoughts, is able to determine that Courtney is the one she is looking for.

Henry Sr. corners Courtney in the hall and reveals that Starman is actually Courtney’s father, but is this information true or is he just playing games to mess with her mind? He threatens that if Courtney doesn’t bring the Cosmic Staff to him at midnight, her mother will be killed. The scene is supposed to played seriously but Brainwave has yet to be presented as intimidating and comes across as a weak Professor Xavier from the X-Men. At home, Pat plays the protective parent and tells Courtney that he will deal with Brainwave and if he doesn’t make it back, it’s up to Courtney to take her mother and Mike and leave Blue Valley. Pat shows up at the high school in his mech-robot, which leads to a funny response from Brainwave, “Who are you?”. Pat, true to his nature, responds with a corny, “Someone looking for justice.”

Brainwave and the robot rumble and before Brainwave can do more damage to Pat’s robotic friend, Stargirl makes her first official appearance to save the day! She obviously needs to be trained but she holds her own in her first fight with a supervillain. Brainwave is able to take Stargirl down and just when it looks bleak for her future, Stargirl shoves the staff into Brainwave’s face, causing some energy thing to happen, and knocking out her new arch-nemesis.

Since Stargirl and Pat have no prison to put Brainwave in, they drop him off at the medical facility he works at, with Dr. Chapel taking care of him as his brain is basically short-circuited, and he is now in a coma. Henry Jr. is called to the facility and vows revenge on whoever did this to his father. Back in their superhero base, well, their garage, Courtney tells Pat that she needs him (and his mech-robot) as her sidekick. Pat is reluctant but Courtney seals the deal by stating since the staff chose her, she chooses Pat, or as he is now known as, S.T.R.I.P.E., which is an acronym for Pat’s robot.

It’s a good thing Stargirl has a sidekick because the Injustice Society is alive and well! It seems that the CFO for the local creepy foundation, American Dream, Steve Sharpe (Eric Goins), not only has Solomon Grundy in a cage in his secret underground base, but is working with Jordan Mahkent (Neil Jackson), aka Icicle, in forming a new Injustice Society!

Easter Eggs:

  • At the end of the episode, Pat reveals where the Cosmic Staff comes from, as it wasn’t created by Starman, but his predecessor, Ted Knight. Comic book fans might remember that Knight was the original Starman, and was a member of the Justice Society of America and the All-Star Squadron. I’m hoping the introduction of Ted Knight’s name leads to an origin episode of the Cosmic Staff.
  • Beth’s father, James Chapel, also works for the American Dream, a foundation in the comic books that does some very shady things.
  • The principal at the high school brags about her son’s, Isaac Bowin, musical talents during her speech at the open house. In the comic books, Isaac becomes the laughable villain, the Fiddler.

One Good Thing:

  • Chemistry between Pat and Courtney. As discussed last week, the cast will make or break this show. The dynamic between Pat and Courtney, after only two episodes is stellar and does not seem forced in any sense. Pat’s character comes off as a caring individual that is only protecting Courtney and while Courtney may not agree with everything Pat says, she doesn’t come across as a whiny brat that goes against his wishes. They actually have dialogue that feels real and not clichéd. It’s a welcome change from the normal father/daughter dynamics in television shows and makes a series that seems weird at times, more grounded.

Grade: C+ (Above Average)

We are still being introduced into the world of Stargirl and while not much happened this week, they did add a few more layers to the world they are building. While it’s ludicrous that all these supervillains are in a small Nebraska town, it also adds to the charm and silliness, and I mean that in the most positive way, of Stargirl. I appreciate they are not doing a slow burn with supervillains, like most superhero shows do, and instead, Stargirl is diving right into this crazy world of superhero costumes and characters. After two episodes, Stargirl continues to be a fun ride.

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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