Stargirl Season 1 Episode 8, “Shiv Part Two,” is an excellent follow-up to last week’s thrilling episode. Stargirl has quickly become one of the most fun and engaging superhero shows on TV right now. The storytelling only gets richer as the show defies tropes, introduces new dynamics, and finally pulls more characters into the action.
If Stargirl Season 1 Episode 7, “Shiv Part One,” is about Cindy’s treacherous journey to becoming Shiv, then this week’s episode is an inside look at how the dominos fall in her wake.
There’s No ‘I’ in Team
Courtney is forced to sit out of the superhero life for much of the episode, which gives other JSA members time to shine and makes Courtney’s comeback all the more rewarding. Three of the episode’s strongest scenes actually come as a result of Courtney having to sit this one out. The first is Pat’s heart to heart with the sentient staff. Not only does the magical, inanimate object act like another teenager in Pat’s life, it somehow knows it must listen to Pat and guide Courtney away from danger every once in a while. This scene is further proof that Luke Wilson is one of Stargirl’s national treasures. He is so great at balancing humor and heart.
You can’t help but tear up when he worries history may be repeating itself tenfold, since Courtney is much younger than Sylvester was when the staff chose him. Then you can’t help but laugh when Pat pokes fun at himself for trying to bargain with the staff in the first place. It’s perfect.
Another strong scene is when Luke Wilson and Anjelika Washington improve to convince Bobbie Burman that Pat is in fact Beth’s father. It’s so, so good. Beth’s attempt at cheerleading moves are good. Pat showing unconditional love for Beth even in a hypothetical situation is so good. However, this scene becomes all the more important when noticing it’s the first time Pat is truly accepted by the new JSA. Pat’s a hero in his own right, even though he valiantly holds the mantle of sidekick. Because guess what? Sidekicks are heroes, too!
Beyond that, Beth’s fearlessness in standing up to Rick’s unnecessary amount of rage gives her some serious superhero stripes. It’s ironic that Rick is so quick to judge Cindy for taking her anger out on others, yet that is exactly what he does. Beth is the only one brave enough to call Rick out on it. She does so in such a careful way that she makes her voice of reason louder in a conversation where Rick tries to prove his point by hollering over everyone. It’s also really nice to see Yolanda take Beth’s side in that situation, especially because Yolanda was so hesitant to let Beth join the JSA in the first place. The payoff for this scene comes when Beth risks her life to get intel on Cindy, and Rick catches Beth during her grand escape. Rick has her back, you all!
As for Courtney, she still has a lot to learn about being a team player. Her fight with Cindy at the end of the episode doesn’t show any growth on that front. It does show that Courtney gets back up after she’s knocked down. That’s some serious superhero stuff. Hopefully Courtney can learn from why she was knocked down and let it make her stronger.
Good to Be Bad
The third strong scene is when Cindy tells Courtney she knows that Courtney is Stargirl. Thankfully, Stargirl avoids asking viewers to believe that a super villain, who fought the hero in close combat, does not recognize the hero without their super suit just because they wore a mask and their hair was different. Cindy is smarter than that. After all, she’s good at watching things. Cindy is so good that she prolongs revealing Courtney’s secret identity until after she makes herself at home and eats all the chocolates she brought for Courtney. Stargirl doesn’t leave anyone guessing about whether Cindy really knows that Courtney is Stargirl.
Cindy knowing this early on in the series really shakes up where Stargirl can go from here, because a reveal this huge usually takes episodes, if not seasons, to happen. Meg DeLacy plays Cindy’s duality so perfectly in this scene that I almost find myself forgiving her. Then Cindy reminds both the viewers and Courtney that she is out for blood — particularly the blood of the JSA.
Her interaction with Courtney makes her plea to Henry more affecting and unnerving. Cindy is willing to kill to prove herself to her father, but she isn’t against having someone by her side while she does. This is where Henry finally comes in. He could fill that void for her. However, if Cindy is looking for a loyal ally in all things evil, she shouldn’t look to the person with whom her relationship is built on lies.
Henry hasn’t been given much room to show any signs of growth beyond being a bully who may not have spread Yolanda’s photos around the school but definitely shared them with his friends. Henry’s father being in the hospital doesn’t change anything with Henry in the way that it could have. There isn’t a ‘Life is fleeting, I must apologize for my mistakes,’ journey. Instead, empathy for Henry’s situation emerges at the same time as his powers. It’s unfortunate that Henry has to learn about his powers and the reality of his relationship on his own, but that doesn’t mean that his past is forgiven. The two aren’t mutually exclusive.
“Shiv Part Two” ends with Henry knowing one too many secrets, and his powers crescendo into something similar to a banshee scream. That makes him an asset and/or a threat, which means Henry is finally useful. But only time will tell if he’s going to lend his abilities to the JSA or the ISA.
Other Sparkling Moments:
- I find it so endearing that Beth still calls Pat ‘Mr. Dugan.’
- The Courtney and Mike scene is so pure. More of that, please.
- Pat wrecked his Buick for Courtney! I don’t think I’ll ever stop crying over how much he loves her.
- Can we please get more scenes with Barbara?
- Pat pulling up a chair to talk to the staff is such a dad move.
What did you think of this week’s episode of Stargirl? Let us know in the comments below!
Stargirl is new Tuesdays at 8/7c on The CW.