07th Aug2020

‘Stargirl 1×12: Stars & S.T.R.I.P.E. – Part One’ 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

The season finale of Stargirl is only one week away and with all the pieces in place and only 12 hours left till ISA’s master plan takes effect, the new heroes have their work cut out for them!

The episode starts with Sportsmaster attacking Pat at his garage, per Jordan/Icicle’s orders. Pat holds his own for a bit but since Pat doesn’t have any superpowers, he’s no match for Sportsmaster. After taking a severe beating, Pat is able to crawl closer to his robotic friend but Sportsmaster stops him from activating him. Just as Sportsmaster is about to deliver the final blow to Pat, Mike rushes in and attacks Sportsmaster with an electric drill and stabbing him! This gives Pat just enough time to recover and knock Sportsmaster out with a lead pipe. The best part? Mike stares in disbelief at the giant robot in front of him and now knows his dad and Courtney are superheroes.

While Pat is dispensing Sportsmaster, Tigress is at Courtney’s house, attempting to fulfil her mission of killing Barbara and Courtney. Luckily for them, the Cosmic Staff is there to assist in the fight and also protect Barbara. It’s a well-shot fight and it’s nice to see Barbara and Courtney, who haven’t had many scenes together this season, work together by using the Cosmic Staff to throw Tigress through the door. With the two villains dispensed, Pat, Barbara, Mike and Courtney set off for a safer location, a cabin in the woods.

Sportsmaster and Tigress, once they wake up from being knocked unconscious, alerts Jordan of their failure to complete their mission. Jordan is not happy with the results and sends Anaya Bowin, aka the Fiddler, to fix the situation. While at the house, Anaya makes a comment insulting Sportsmaster and Tigress’ parental skills, which results in Tigress shooting an arrow through her heart. Well, I did like the Anaya character, but it looks like it falls on her son, Isaac, to take the mantle of the Fiddler.

Brainwave and Dragon King are completing a test run on their American Dream master plan and within a few hours, over 100 million Americans will be under their control. Well, actually 75 million as the machine will kill any citizen that “fights back” mentally against the machine, which Dragon King figures is approximately a quarter of the citizens. Once Brainwave and the machine is successful in taking over the minds of the American public, Dragon King will use his new drones to cause as civil war in America and make his own country.

One issue with the machine though… it looks identical to Professor Xavier’s machine, Cerebro from X-Men! I mean, come one Stargirl, at least try to make it look different than the most famous machine in comics that can see into the minds of others. Instead of describing the similarities, I’m just putting this photo into the review and you can decide for yourself.

At the cabin in the woods, the JSA, along with Barbara, Mike and Justin, all meet to figure out their final plan to stopping the ISA. Rick has the near-impossible job of deciphering the code for his father’s journal (thanks for bringing this plotline back), while the others eat dinner and brainstorm their next step. Rick, with Pat’s help, finally realizes his father’s 1966 Mustang is the key to deciphering the code and with that, the JSA now knows how to infiltrate the ISA’s underground base. After seeing Rick struggle all season with his identity and background, it was nice to see him get a “win” this episode.

Barbara and Pat reconcile as Pat admits that the reason he kept his superhero past a secret is to protect the ones he loves. Everyone prior to Barbara died and he just wanted some normalcy in his life but, if he knew Blue Valley housed the ISA, he never would have moved his family there. There still is some friction between Barbara and Pat but it’s a step in the right direction. This conversation feels like a cliched “last apology” conversation and my worry for Pat’s future grows.

Beth’s googles not only reveal the location of the ISA’s machine but also what the machine’s main objective. With time running out until the ISA’s master plan is fulfilled, the JSA realize they need to act now. The team splits up in order to invade ISA’s lair from multiple locations, while Barbara and Beth attempt to hijack the power source at Barbara’s job, the American Dream company.

At Barbara’s desk, Chuck, Beth’s AI system, hacks into the system and advised the team that they only have 35 minutes to stop ISA’s machine from turning everyone into drones. Chuck also uncovers what the ISA plans to do after they control a third of America: Eliminate global warming, embrace solar and wind energy, and provide universal healthcare. You know, this actually doesn’t sound so bad, outside of being a mindless drone but after the year we all have had, maybe it’s not so bad.

The Gambler interrupts Chuck infiltrating the computer system and advises Beth that it’s too late to save the day. Beth states they still have time as the countdown is only at 30 minutes, but the Gambler tells her that it actually means the machine has already started and Brainwave is only 30 minutes away from finishing the plan. At this point, our young heroes realize their adult counterparts are all emotionless and staring up at the sky towards the satellites with Brainwave in complete control of their minds. I like the twist on the countdown clock actually being a countdown towards Brainwave completing the plan and not until the plan starts. Next week, with the parents as mindless drones, the young JSA must step up and save the day from ISA!

Easter Eggs:

  • In a little throwaway moment, Pat tells Mike that he cannot go with them but must stay and watch the dog back at the cabin. I’m thinking the dog won’t be a dog for long and might actually be a reference to Victory, the winged horse of Justin/Shining Knight! My guess is that once Justin is able to transform into the Shining Knight (it better be next week!), the dog will transform into the magical horse, which could provide a fun visual with Mike.

One Good Thing:

  • Mike knows the family secret. I’ve been a champion of Mike this season and after a whole season of underutilizing him, the writers finally give him something to do! In a matter of minutes, Mike not only helps his father defeat Sportsmaster but also finds out his father’s secret. In that one scene, there is not only happiness in Mike finally being “let in” on the secret but also relief in Pat that he no longer has to hide what he truly is from his son. Later on, Mike has a heart-to-heart talk with Courtney, and he feels a little jealous that he wasn’t chosen by the Cosmic Staff but at the same time, he loves that his sister is Stargirl. Overall, it’s only a matter of time until Mike joins the family business of being a superhero and if his father does die, which I suspect happens next week, he would be the perfect replacement for piloting S.T.R.I.P.E.

Grade: B- (Good)

Stargirl’s second-to-last episode of the season wasn’t as strong of an episode as the last several weeks but it also does a tremendous job of setting up the season finale. Everyone has a purpose and was put in the right places for the final battle between the JSA and the ISA. The adults are incapacitated so now is the time for the young JSA to step up, something the series has been building towards all season. I have high hopes for the season finale and based on the second-half of the season, I feel my expectations will be exceeded.

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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