Besides a few hiccups along the way, Stargirl delivers a season finale as ambitious and epic as any superhero story you would see on the big screen. This episode includes post-credits scenes and everything!
The fight sequences are technical and purposeful. The cinematography is stunning at every turn. The characters shine despite Elclipso’s darkness in Stargirl 2×13, “Summer School: Chapter Thirteen,” and it’s a sight to see.
The first act of “Summer School: Chapter Thirteen” is fast-paced and intense. So much so, there are a few beats when it feels like the screen should cut to black for a commercial break because we, as the audience, could use a recess from Eclipso’s psychological games.
Stargirl tests our limits alongside Beth, Courtney, Cindy, Pat, and Yolanda. The fractured yet formidable group of heroes (and an anti-hero) stand tall against Eclipso.
The fight sequence in that first act packs so much story into every punch. It’s worthy of a rewatch (or two) to catch every single moving part. The additions of Ted Grant and Young Cindy are so seamless that it gives you whiplash in the best way.
This sequence is a perfect way to kick off this season finale. It lets us wonder if this is what Stargirl delivers during the first few minutes of the episode, then what else is waiting for us?
More importantly, it lets Cindy, Pat, and Yolanda fight their demons while Courtney fights a literal demon. Cindy’s interactions with the younger version of herself do show her growth and maturity.
Eclipso heavily doctors those visions of her past self, but there is some basis to that depiction of herself. It represents her worst fears, who she fears to become due to what she accidentally did.
That insight makes her request at the end of the episode more intriguing. The payoff is more significant, too, knowing the journey she had this season. The endlessly fun aspect of this character is you always wonder if there is another card up her sleeve.
Yolanda knows this, which could be the JSA’s incentive to keep their friends close but their enemies closer.
Alternatively, Yolanda’s return to the JSA doesn’t have the level of payoff it could have if Stargirl spent a little more time with her this season. Those brief scenes with a fictionalized Ted Grant are particularly cathartic and let Yolanda prove herself (again) as Wildcat, but it still feels like we’re missing a piece of her story.
This season is about everyone recognizing the good in themselves, and it feels like we missed formative moments of Yolanda’s story involving that revelation.
The same is true for Rick Tyler. Rick fighting with the JSA without the hourglass (and without Grundy) is a considerable step symbolizing his evolving belief in himself. It’s only that this character is so fascinating that it’s frustrating when Stargirl doesn’t let us see more introspective scenes with him.
Those quick glimpses of his time in a jail cell are not sufficient.
Cameron Gellman plays this character with such controlled reservation and nuance, especially this season, that there is plenty to read into between the lines — between the scenes.
Most notably, in “Summer School: Chapter Thirteen,” a scene is missing between Rick leaving the Pit Stop and arriving at the American Dream with Grundy. Sure, the surprise of Grundy taking Eclipso off guard wouldn’t exist, but it would have added more weight to Grundy’s death.
Albeit, we learn Grundy’s death isn’t permanent. So why not add a scene of Rick and Grundy reuniting now that he’s out of jail? Why not add a scene that shows Rick grappling with his mistake and accepting Grundy as his friend?
Stargirl is already one of the best comic-adapted TV shows on right now. It’s one of the strongest Arrowverse shows. However, it could be even greater if it balanced the stories of its core characters better.
This show proves it can translate trends from the source material on screen, like how certain characters weave in and out of the larger plot. This season does so with Sylvester, Jennie, and Jakeem with great ease.
Though, it is incredibly odd that no one questions Sylvester’s return from the dead. Dr. McNider’s return from the Shadowlands is a sound explanation for his miraculous recovery. Sylvester doesn’t have as strong of an alibi, especially considering Eclipso’s ability to project illusions.
Maybe that’s a story for next season to tackle as the Whitmore-Dugans deal with a complicated life in the suburbs now that the Crocks are their next-door neighbors. That twist is endlessly fun and fabulous.
The wait for Stargirl Season 3: Frenemies is going to be so arduous.
Though there are some things that “Summer School: Chapter Thirteen” falls a little short of delivering on, it does not fail Courtney Whitmore and the chosen family at Stargirl‘s heart.
Sylvester’s eventual return in the season finale is predictable, but the show subverts my expectations by letting Courtney save the day with her friends. It would have been easy for Sylvester to show up, fight Eclipso (in Courtney’s body) for the staff, and put an end to things.
Stargirl catches my skepticism and throws it in my face mere seconds after that breathtaking shot when Sylvester’s hand reaches out to grab the staff. It’s evident in Sylvester’s brief interactions with Courtney when she’s fighting for her life (and that of the world) that he isn’t there to upstage her. He’s only there to help, like Pat and Dr. McNider.
It’s honestly difficult to put into words how marvelous it is to see that group of heroes and a few notable anti-heroes stand united in front of Eclipso. It’s a shot that mirrors the iconic one from The Avengers when the team stands in front of Loki.
That shot is the kind of stuff we watch superhero shows to see. It’s as beautiful as the staff’s colors colliding with The Thunderbolt’s powers and the force from Jennie’s ring. It’s a sign that history doesn’t have to repeat itself because people can change for the better.
Furthermore, it’s a glorious depiction of the goodness in people being enough to save Blue Valley and the world with it. Knowing a force that strong stems from Courtney Whitmore is the everlasting reminder that she is the right person to wield the staff. Now is a good time for Courtney to realize her full potential while Sylvester teaches her about the staff’s.
There is a stable foundation beneath all of the rubble of this season. The future is bright with the JSA as they rediscover what it means to lean on each other as more than teammates. There is necessary room for Courtney, Beth, Rick, and Yolanda to be a stronger unit than ever before.
Plus, Beth Chapel is getting her comics-accurate black and yellow suit. Is it 2022 yet?
Other Spark-tacular Moments:
- The Stargirl logo being pink like The Thunderbolt’s powers made me very happy.
- This show gets me. It knows TWO Pat Dugans is better than one Pat Dugan.
- The continuity with The Thunderbolt getting Chinese food joke also made me very happy.
- Sylvester is going to be the trouble-making Uncle, and I couldn’t be more excited.
- Mister Bones looks terrifying!
- Zeek is the textbook superhero assistant, and I adore him.
- Jakeem and Mike are so much fun to watch together.
- Does anyone else ship Cindy and Yolanda?
- Moreover, does anyone ship Charles McNider and The Shade?
- How sweet of Cameron’s grandparents to wait and spill the family secret until after he finished his mural of Jordan.
- I actually cheered when The Shade said he was staying in Blue Valley.
What did you think of Stargirl 2×13, “Summer School: Chapter Thirteen”? Let us know in the comments below!
Stargirl airs Tuesdays at 8/7c on The CW.