‘Stargirl’ 1×07 Review: “Shiv Part One”

Stargirl Season 1 Episode 7, “Shiv Part One” takes a look at why Cindy Burman is so mean, and it reinforces that everything is not always as it seems.

“Shiv Part One” proves that heroes and villains aren’t born overnight. Cindy Burman, for example, is surrounded by villains and becomes an anti-hero as a result of her circumstances. However, Cindy’s experience isn’t entirely void of autonomy. In fact, her budding friendship with Courtney actually leads Cindy down a path of mostly her own choosing. 

Stargirl — “Shiv Part One” — Image Number: STG107c_0382b.jpg — Pictured: Nelson Lee as Dr. Ito/Dragon King — Photo: Josh Stringer/The CW — © 2020 The CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

An Antihero Amongst Villains

Stargirl delivers something much more complex than a classic, irredeemable villain. Cindy Burman (Meg DeLacy) is an anti-hero. She is not evil; she shows more emotional depth than any of the adults in her life who are too far gone. 

However, Rick is correct that Cindy’s mother dying and her father remarrying is horrible, but there’s no reason for Cindy to be such a bully. Her tragic and unfortunate childhood, well, what we know about it so far, is also no excuse for her to kill someone with thinking, to prove her worth to her father. Cindy has every right to be downright furious about the cards she’s been dealt, but she should not take that out on the people around her. Even if it is her robotic and terrified stepmother. Hopefully “Shiv Part Two” takes a closer look at this and doesn’t excuse them.

That being said, it’s understandable that Cindy has so much fury brewing inside her when she grew up with a father like Dr. Ito aka Dragon King.

The ISA have proven themselves to be villains who use their children as excuses for their actions until the time comes to weaponize those same children, like Henry and his budding powers. In what initially comes across as a twisted act of love, Dr. Ito mutilated Cindy to give her powers that would “protect her.” 

Stargirl — “Shiv Part One” — Image Number: STG107a_0136r.jpg — Pictured: Brec Bassinger as Courtney Whitmore — Photo: Quantrell Colbert/The CW — © 2020 The CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Dr. Ito calls Cindy his greatest experiment, which completely diminishes her humanity. There is no way Cindy does anything but internalize that mindset and think of herself as disposable. This is why I can’t blame Cindy for demanding a seat at the table, which not only hits because she wants to be a member of the ISA, but also because she is a woman being denied entry into a predominantly male club. 

The experimentation also lends itself to Cindy’s ability to immediately heal after receiving burns that would have killed her otherwise. This makes me wonder if her emotions are so hidden because she is incapable of feeling physical pain anymore so Cindy represses all forms of expression. 

This makes the moment Cindy puts on the super suit so rewarding, despite her doing so to fight Stargirl. It’s difficult to believe Cindy had any choice in the experimentation, but she does choose to dawn that suit and prove to herself that she is worthy of it. 

Stargirl — “Shiv Part One” — Image Number: STG107a_0147r.jpg — Pictured (L-R): Luke Wilson as Pat Dugan, Brec Bassinger as Courtney Whitmore and Trae Romano as Mike Dugan — Photo: Quantrell Colbert/The CW — © 2020 The CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Empowered Women Shine Brighter

Courtney wears a shirt that reads “Empowered women shine brighter” for most of the episode. That made me think about all of the ways women are empowered on “Shiv Part One.” 

Lea Thompson brilliantly directed this episode to highlight some of these moments. My favorite sequence is when Cindy puts on her suit. It’s not sexualized or dramatized. It’s mostly off camera, since it’s a private moment for Cindy. Lea also focuses on Cindy’s discarded cheerleader uniform. To me, this moment feels like Cindy is swapping one armor for the other. 

Meanwhile, Beth is dancing around with her goggles and prioritizing her happiness instead of making her grown and capable parents lunch. Yolanda couldn’t be happier as Wildcat, finding more strength in herself. 

It’s also interesting to see both Cindy and Courtney go on their respective journeys of realizing even empowered women need people. Cindy has been burned too many times, and Courtney doesn’t see anything wrong with only always relying on a magical staff. 

Unfortunately, it looks like these two have a lot to learn before they can fully come to that realization.

Stargirl — “Shiv Part One” — Image Number: STG107c_0669r.jpg — Pictured: Cameron Gellman as Rick — Photo: Josh Stringer/The CW — © 2020 The CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Family Matters

I was shocked that Mike confronted Courtney before he did Pat, but I suppose it’s easier to talk to Courtney than it is to be honest with Pat. He just wants to watch one game with his dad, and it breaks my heart that he feels like he can’t do that anymore. 

Although I didn’t expect a confrontation between Pat and Barbara this early because Stargirl certainly hasn’t been prioritizing their relationship onscreen, but I’m glad they did. It’s understandable Barbara feels uninvolved when Pat mentions teaching Courtney to drive, but it feels disjointed from my viewing experience. I can fathom a mother being upset about missing out on such a milestone experience or feeling left out of decision making, but we haven’t seen much of Courtney’s home life to properly understand how involved Barb and Pat were before the move.

Stargirl could only benefit from expanding this family from more than people who just pass each other on the way to work/school to one that actually interacts, unless Stargirl is planning on delving into this family and their clear disconnect. 

I’m a sucker for superheroes and chosen families but it feels weird to be this far into the season and not know more about the Whitmore/Dugan family. 

Stargirl — “Shiv Part One” — Image Number: STG107a_0373r.jpg — Pictured (L-R): Hunter Sansone as Cameron and Brec Bassinger as Courtney Whitmore — Photo: Quantrell Colbert/The CW — © 2020 The CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Other Sparkling Moments: 

  • The way Courtney greets the staff in the morning!!!
  • The driving metaphor works too well for superhero life.
  • The JSA’s slow-mo walk down the hall is so perfect and unique to both the secrecy of being superheroes and high school life in general.
  • Is Grease their homecoming theme? I stan.
  • Pat spent all day on his setup at the Pit Stop. Reader, I love him. 
  • I don’t think Jordan was joking about killing the man who was also competing for Cameron’s mother’s heart.
  • Does Cameron like Courtney? That’s cute. We have a ship, I think. 
  • Remember that time I thought Crusher was an eccentric but harmless townie? OOPS. 
  • Cindy totally heard Pat call Stargirl “Courtney.” 
  • Mike made Barbara a road trip snack bag!!!

Stargirl is new Tuesdays at 8/7c on The CW.

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