Stargirl 2×02 “Summer School: Chapter Two,” serves as an origin story for Green Lantern’s daughter, Jennie. By introducing this character to the show and the JSA, Stargirl reexamines what it means to these young people to take up the mantles of superheroes and supervillains.
It’s also incredibly well-paralleled that a new hero who basks in her (green) light comes to Blue Valley at the same time as a villain who works through shadows. Stargirl tees up yet another thrilling battle between the good and the bad, the light and the darkness.
The JSA is still finding its footing after everything last season. So much so, the team operates as separate units until they need to come together to meet Jennie. There is no cohesive thread tying Courtney, Yolanda, Beth, and Rick together yet this season. Though The Shade’s presence will undoubtedly lead to some sticky situations, he could be the common enemy the JSA needs to do proper team-building.
Be Your Own Hero
Green Lantern’s daughter, Jennie, is here! While she doesn’t go by the alias Jade yet, that feels like it’s right around the corner. This is not the end for Jennie and the JSA. Ysa Penarejo comes into this established cast of characters in such a way that makes Jennie a seamless fit for Stargirl. Jennie’s story has such depth despite the fact that we’ve only seen so a little about her and her past.
My favorite part of her superhero origin story is that her emotions are intrinsically linked to her powers. It’s always a good thing to see heroes celebrate their feelings and vulnerability rather than shun them and turn away from that part of themselves.
Her arrival creates understandable tension between Jennie and Courtney, albeit one-sided. The undeniable commonality between certain aspects of their experiences is pointed out by Pat, the voice of reason, as always. Telling Courtney that she’s wrong is never bad when it’s true because it allows us to see flaws in our heroes. Moreover, it will enable her to see them in herself. No one is perfect all of the time, not even Stargirl.
Watching Courtney and Jennie come together through their desire to know more and be the best they can be in honor of their father or stepfather is quite moving. In addition, it’s pretty powerful to watch Courtney tell Pat that she didn’t see how iconic and legendary his tenure as Stripesy was until it was too late. Their relationship is such a pillar of Stargirl‘s success, and moments like these are a perfect reminder of why.
Each member of the JSA tried walking in the footsteps of the people who wore their suits before them. They’re still trying to find their way in the world as teenagers and heroes. Bringing Jennie is a good reminder that none of them have it all figured out, not even Pat. And that’s okay! That’s welcomed! That’s so much better than if they did. Each member of the JSA deals with Imposter syndrome, and Courtney faces that head-on during Stargirl 2×02 “Summer School: Chapter Two.”
It’s exciting to imagine what each of their trajectories to be their version of a hero will look like as the show progresses.
Be Your Own Villain
That trajectory isn’t exclusive to the heroes of Stargirl. Cindy Burman, expertly portrayed by Meg DeLacy, tries to step into her own on the other side of the spectrum. However, when Eclipso isn’t thwarting that plan, the Shade shows up in Blue Valley to remind us that we are still not through with this original wave of ISA members. How can Cindy ever be a supervillain in her own right if she continues to exist in the shadow of those that came before her?
For now, though, Cindy isn’t aware of the Shade. She has much more significant issues with Eclipso to deal with at the moment. DeLacy is so great in the few scenes she does have in this episode. Cindy’s overwhelming anger and fear are palpable. It’s endlessly fascinating that for Cindy to have more control of her life, she must reinstate control over her stepmother’s life. Cindy perpetuates the same cycle of abuse her father thrived off of in the past.
The complexities of Cindy’s story make Shiv a more compelling villain. They also make Cindy a character worthy of our time and energy. It would be a disservice to the character and DeLacy’s incredible talent to make Cindy Burman a one-note villain. Taking her to these darker places where she starts to lose the grip she has on the life she only recently claimed back as her own is a heartbreaking way to make us feel for someone we know we probably shouldn’t.
It’s fascinating that we are discovering Eclipso’s abilities alongside her. Eclipso is an ancient villain who is more than willing to gaslight Cindy if it means he gets something out of it. There is no way that this ends with Cindy maintaining control of herself and her body for long. Eclipso will find his way out of the stone however he needs to do so. The look on Cindy’s face when she pleas with Eclipso, saying, “I’m in control. Me. My body is mine,” is heartbreaking. After everything, after her father experimented on her, that’s what’s most important to her.
Cindy’s methods to get what she wants aren’t excusable. No one should be able to wield that much power unchecked. All of that can be true while still understanding where Cindy is coming from in all of this. It doesn’t mean that we’ll always agree with her, or even that we ever will. But there is something so familiar in a story about a young girl trying to maintain autonomy.
More Pat and Barbara, Please
One of the things most admirable about Stargirl is that it’s a superhero show that knows it’s not about adults. Instead, it’s about teenagers coming of age and becoming heroes. That feels refreshing in a time when most genre shows are mainly about either young adults or adults. Stargirl sees the strengths in adult characters by how they assist the stories of the younger characters. They are fully-realized characters, but it never feels as though Stargirl tries to make them the main focus.
That said, Pat Dugan and Barbara Whitmore have to be the exception. They both know too much for them to be around only for that purpose. It’s Amy Smart and Luke Wilson‘s faults because they are so good. The first season only briefly explores their relationship, and I want more. I want to see them be a crime-solving, power couple.
Stargirl 2×02 “Summer School: Chapter Two” teases as much when Barbara calls Pat after meeting Mr. Swift. Barb is in the loop now; she knows when to be suspicious. She knows the right questions to ask. On the other hand, despite getting the clue he needs, Pat isn’t as good at being sly. So why not let them team up? Stargirl could pair up their talents and let them have an even more prominent role in what’s ahead.
The promo for next week shows Mike with some mysterious powers from that mysterious pink pen. So why not go all out and make the Whitmore-Dugans the new Incredibles?
Other Spark-tacular Moments:
- Cindy sure knows how to make an entrance.
- The needle drops this season are so good.
- Oh, Isaac Bowin. If only you knew what Cindy has in store for you…
- Zeek is the kind of cheerleader Pat deserves.
- I can respect that Yolanda was ready to stand by her best friend.
- Is Rick going to feed Grundy all season?
- The kids running past the dinner window and Pat having to get out of there as calmly and quickly as possible is funnier than it probably should be.
- Can we talk about how Pat has a flip phone?
What did you think of Stargirl 2×02 “Summer School: Chapter Two”? Let us know in the comments below!
Stargirl airs Tuesdays at 8/7c on The CW.