Stargirl 3×04, “Frenemies – Chapter Four: The Evidence,” reinforces why this show is at its best when it focuses on the teenagers with big feelings and big problems, who happen to be superheroes and maybe supervillains. The narrative strengthens when it removes the weight of a character who looms as large as Sylvester Pemberton from its shoulders.
Stargirl will never truly say goodbye to Sylvester, and wisely so because the character has an undeniable presence within the superhero lore at the heart of the show. Furthermore, Joel McHale brings a dynamic and surprising edge to the character that makes Sylvester compelling to watch — even when he continues to make similar mistakes.
“Frenemies – Chapter Four: The Evidence” shifts its focus to the characters Stargirl keeps letting fall to the wayside — the JSA members — when last week’s cliffhanger forces Sylvester to take a beat. Admittedly, the show struggles to find a balance and place for the Jakeem and Mike narrative; they get lost in the episode — or the tunnels.
The follow-up is non-existent for that duo, but this episode finally delivers a few more crumbs about the JSA members’ arcs this season, specifically with Yolanda. The scene in Yolanda’s bedroom confirms that she and Rick are friends who talk beyond lunch tables and JSA meetings. Furthermore, it provides additional necessary context for her actions.
“Frenemies – Chapter Four: The Evidence” reveals that Yolanda’s family relies on her for monetary assistance since her father lost his job. Regardless of her status as a superhero, the external pressures in her personal life are relevant and shape her. Much of that character work is missing or never explicitly defined this season for the JSA.
By including those details, this episode takes a step toward expounding Yolanda’s motivations. Plus, Yolanda’s relationship with Wildcat is still in a state of repair after killing Brainwave, and her resistance to Cindy joining the team likely throws a bigger wrench into her desire to suit up with the team. All of which logically contributes to her turning to Rick.
It’s frustrating that Sylvester’s arc is more sharply defined in the four episodes than any other JSA members — aside from Courtney. They are the character this show builds its premise on, which Stargirl express its acute awareness of at multiple points. Sylvester even mentions that the JSA is the new generation he should step aside to support.
Yet, Stargirl struggles to let go of the past as its vice grip on Sylvester Pemberton’s golden age tightens, and the JSA gets lost in his shadow. Season 3 understandably relies on intrigue as a murder mystery unfolds in Blue Valley, but there doesn’t need to be nearly as much speculation about where the characters are going this far in the season.
Consequently, “Frenemies – Chapter Four: The Evidence” does what the episodes before it does and takes one step forward and three steps back with Sylvester. This season will always get caught in a cycle with him until Stargirl makes a definitive move in one direction and doesn’t turn around. The other characters will always come second.
It’s early enough of the season for Stargirl to make a change because it knows how to balance the other characters from the previous era of superheroes and villains, like Paula and Larry. As a result, they fold into the narrative organically. However, their appearances are more frequent than Artemis, who assumedly is still trying to break good.
Still, Stargirl‘s time with the Crocks across three seasons works in their favor. There’s less work to do to bring the characters and the viewers on their side, however temporary. Because of the lost years with Sylvester, Stargirl races at a breakneck speed to prove he is a character worthy of redemption or merely investment.
At this rate, the show will run out of energy before Sylvester can prove himself one way or the other. This character exploration doesn’t need to happen so quickly; a slower pace could only benefit Sylvester. The attack at the crime scene can be his rock bottom, and Stargirl can slow down long enough for the character to explore what that means.
The show can grant Sylvester the time and space to think about what Pat repeatedly tells him and what Dr. McNider expresses. But, instead, by the end of “Frenemies – Chapter Four: The Evidence,” Stargirl falls into Sylvester’s allure and throws him back into the action he desperately craves. It speeds right past the point for critical commentary.
If this character continues getting caught in his own web, when will Stargirl untangle him? This show loads Sylvester with many exciting stories that can influence the characters at the heart of this show. This episode posits that Sylvester’s rock bottom influences Courtney to find balance, i.e., reach back out to Cameron, but that’s as far as it goes.
If Sylvester Pemberton, the almighty Starman, is not as almighty as the superhero history books claim, that’s good. It means he is flawed and human, despite how Cosmo changed him by saving him. That evergreen reminder is one that a young generation of heroes needs to hear. They can believe they’re invincible; Sylvester can hold a mirror up to that.
However, for a pivotal moment like that to matter, Stargirl must put in the work with Beth, Rick, and Yolanda. It needs to give the characters more depth in scenes that last longer than two minutes and are sandwiched between plot-driven JSA scenes. “Frenemies – Chapter Four: The Evidence” succeeds in that regard with Cameron and Courtney.
Cameron’s internal struggle, supported by his grandparents’ pressure to push him in a villainous direction, is wonderfully portrayed by Hunter Sansone. He and Brec Bassinger work great together, expanding Cameron and Courtney’s dynamic. Their performances and the writing creates propulsive energy for their scenes, making them standouts.
Most importantly, their scenes carry the heart of Stargirl at its best. They embrace the external pressures, effects, and history of Courtney and Cameron’s superpowers. That context electrifies the already compelling drama of two teenagers who have feelings for each other but don’t know how or if they should act on it — Season 3 needs more of that!
Before the epilogue, “Frenemies – Chapter Four: The Evidence” ends with Courtney and Cameron’s first kiss — three seasons in the making. Stargirl knows how much that romantic beat matters to the individuals involved and how it informs the lingering drama — also seasons in the making. It’s thoroughly effective, exemplifying Stargirl‘s ability to balance superhero drama and teen drama.
Other Sparktacular Moments:
- Cosmo waking Courtney up to rescue Sylvester
- Mr. Bones with the cameras
- Beth and McNider working together
- Cameron making it snow so he and Courtney are in their very own snowglobe
- Tim showing Barbara respect — and Paula being the reason why
- Crusher being Crusher
- Pat and Sylvester reciting the movies they’ve probably watched a million times together
- The JSA talking about Dragon King’s potential return in the middle of Blue Valley High’s halls
What did you think of Stargirl 3×04, “Frenemies – Chapter Four: The Evidence?” Let us know in the comments below!
Stargirl airs Wednesdays at 8/7c on The CW.