Stargirl Season 1 Episode 6, “The Justice Society,” is an electrifying hour with character-driven stories and the first official team-up of the new JSA. The last five minutes contain a visual so powerful that it will stick with me for the rest of the season, maybe even the rest of the series.
Basically, “The Justice Society,” finds Stargirl in its sweet spot. A lot of the clunky backstories and origin stories are out of the way or slowly developing, so there is plenty of room to look deeper into who these characters truly are.
Protect Pat at All Costs
It’s no secret that I’m Pat Dugan’s biggest fan. He has a heart of gold and he wears it on his super suit sleeve. What is there not to love? That makes “The Justice Society” all the more rewarding because Courtney and the rest of the JSA finally realize how freaking cool and respectable Pat Dugan really is this week.
There is still a lot more between Rick and Pat that needs to be hashed out, but that’s going to take some time. Rick needs to do some internal work before he’ll ever be able to hear Pat’s side of things when it comes to Rick’s parents. However, the way Beth, Rick, and Yolanda’s eyes light up when they see what I’m officially deeming the JSA’s lair/HQ and the intricacies of S.T.R.I.P.E. is enough to warm anyone’s hearts.
A lot, if not all of them, have their own reservations when it comes to trusting people, especially adults, so it’s nice to see these teenagers start to trust an adult who quite literally has their backs.
That being said, it must have been incredibly difficult for Pat to stand behind those kids and let them keep their suits. There is so much trauma and grief and drama tied to the JSA and Pat’s history with it that it’s going to be difficult to ever fully untangle that web. However, Pat leaning into the JSA’s new era with a fresh batch of excited and passionate young heroes gives me hope that Pat will find hope in superheroes again.
Some of the most telling interactions of “The Justice Society” are between Pat and Courtney. This is usually the case for most of Stargirl’s episodes, but the ones in this week’s episode hit differently. They hold a different weight, because it’s one thing for a bunch of teenagers who have no prior connection to Pat to learn how to respect him in their own ways, but it’s a whole other thing to see Courtney finally realize the error of her ways.
Pat’s disappointment in Courtney is palpable at the beginning of the episode, and it lingers until its end. However, something shines through in their excellent, final scene of “The Justice Society,” when it all finally clicks for Courtney — when she realizes that it’s important to listen to the advice of those around you who care about you. Pat’s disappointment is overshadowed by pride.
Sure, Pat will probably always be upset with Courtney stealing precious memorabilia, using it without permission, and involving other teenagers in a life-threatening mission for justice, but that doesn’t mean that Pat can’t be proud of Courtney and what she’s trying to accomplish. Stargirl does a great job of showing the duality of those feelings.
Brec Bassinger, who plays Courtney Whitmore aka Stargirl herself, actually tweeted that the equally comical and heartfelt moment between Courtney and Pat where they find common ground is improv. Brec and Luke Wilson made that moment up on the spot, and it’s beyond perfect.
Teamwork Makes the Dream Work
Pat joining the new JSA is such a powerful, moving visual. It’s something that will stick out as Stargirl progresses as a series. Up to that point, the JSA wasn’t a team. It was a bunch of teenagers with different interests, working in the same space. They weren’t working together. Seeing them all align beside Courtney and Pat drop into frame in S.T.R.I.P.E. is such a perfect moment.
And if it looks familiar, then you’re no stranger to the DCTV Universe. That shot is also seen on Legends of Tomorrow Season 5 Episode 1, “Crisis on Infinite Earths: Part Five”, when Oliver introduces the new multiverse. Despite already having seen this moment during that epic crossover, it’s even more touching to watch now.
It shows that with a united front, they are unstoppable, because that is when the ISA retreats. That intimidates them, because that’s something they’ll never have. They may be under the illusion that they’re all working for a common goal, but they’re only working to achieve Jordan’s goal. Chuck makes that very clear when he calls Tigress and Sportsmaster Icicle’s attack dogs.
Although the ISA’s endgame is still blurry for me, I did find Tigress and Sportsmaster incredible entertaining. Despite the ISA being anything but a cohesive team, Tigress and Sportsmaster happen to have an oddly beneficial dynamic, at least when it comes to fighting as supervillains.
As parents, I wouldn’t say the odds are in their favor. Everything is so mechanical and so far removed from the mundane with these two. Their poor daughter is just a deflection for the super villain tendencies. Artemis deserves better, I think? We don’t know much about her yet.
It’s actually interesting to see the ISA sit around a table and deliberate on how to best handle a team of teenage superheroes. Sportsmaster tries to dismiss them as something less than the JSA because they killed the original members, but that comes across as a cheap attempt to make them less threatening.
Of course bad guys have to retreat and plot their evil schemes just as heroes must calculate the best ways to save the day, however, the ISA underestimating the Justice Society as a bunch of aimless kids will be their biggest mistake. If we’ve learned anything over the years, we know that teenagers can save the world.
More Than Meets the Eye
On the other hand, Stargirl finally creates some bonds between characters beyond Pat and Courtney’s complicated one. I begged for more from Barbara just last week in my review of Stargirl Season 1 Episode 5, “Hourman and Dr. Mid-Nite,” and this episode begins to deliver on that front.
My fingers are still crossed to see more of Barbara and Pat’s relationship, but I will absolutely take the extremely adorable scenes between Barbara and Mike. Let’s be honest, Mike hasn’t been that much of a key player on Stargirl yet. He’s sorta rude and withdrawn from the family unit, which becomes even clearer by Stargirl’s understandable focus on Courtney.
His scenes with Barbara on “The Justice Society,” let viewers see some cracks on his walls. Just as Pat is disappointed in Courtney’s determination to show up as a hero, Pat’s son is more than disappointed to learn that neither his dad nor stepmom came to the science fair.
Mike is clearly upset that Barbara is more dialed into his life than Pat. Stargirl looks like it’s setting up a confrontation between Mike and Pat at some point during the series. It’s difficult to believe that Mike doesn’t feel slighted to some extent with how much time Pat spends with Courtney.
If anything, it’s nice to see Stargirl developing more units within the family as Barbara and Mike grow closer alongside Pat and Courtney.
But Barbara changes that for Mike. She dismisses Mike’s claim that none of the parents are coming and shows up anyway, because that’s the kind of person she is. That drive to be there for the people she loves is directly reflected in Courtney. It’s beautiful to watch, so thank you Stargirl for giving us more of Barbara Whitmore. She’s the best!
Hopefully Stargirl continues on this track in the upcoming episodes. This isn’t to say that we need to only see Barbara’s relationship with the men in her life, because she is much more than those relationships. However, they are a big part of who she is and so is her job, but we have yet to see much of her work life outside of Jordan’s lens.
I just want to get to know Barbara Whitmore more. Is that too much to ask?
Pat and Rick’s relationship is another relationship Stargirl tees up from the moment it’s clear that Rex Tyler is Rick’s dad and Rick is missing a male role model in his life. Let’s face it, his Uncle is not it.
I like to believe Pat and Rick can deconstruct toxic masculinity in deep discussions over car parts in a dream world where Rick doesn’t yell at Pat for being the sole survivor amongst his friends.
Stargirl is a show about superheroes and justice, but it’s also about family — maybe even more so than the other two things. The Justice Society, whether they realize it yet or not, are a chosen family. They band together and protect each other.
That’s why it is so hard to watch Courtney try to take back the super suits, because being a superhero is a part of these teenagers’ lives now. It’s part of their second chance. Courtney, being the ray of sunshine she is, can’t possibly take that away from them.
Stargirl continues to tell a beautiful story about acceptance, love, and family underneath all the super suits and cheesy villain names, which is why fans keep watching and falling in love with Blue Valley’s heroes.
Other Sparkling Moments:
- Good thing Courtney has that bay window or she would be stuck on her roof every time she sneaks back into her house.
- Tell me why I teared up when the staff notices the bomb and flies away to not hurt Courtney, fizzles out, and falls back to the Earth? How did Stargirl make me care about an inanimate object?
- While I’m the topic, Chuck is the coolest and I’m glad Beth has him in her corner.
- Stargirl’s score seriously gives me chills! The music that plays when Stargirl saves Hourman and takes on Sportsmaster is so heroic and patriotic. It reminded me of Captain America because I’m me.
- Did anyone else catch Cameron’s icy breath when he blew out the candle?
- The way The Justice Society stops in their tracks when they see the injured security guard. They’re still innocent kids!
- All of the Green Lantern Easter eggs!
Stargirl is new Tuesdays at 8/7c on The CW.