Stargirl 3×07, “Frenemies – Chapter Seven: Infinity Inc. Part One,” reenergizes the season with a character-driven episode that doubles as its most adventurous and ambitious event. This episode slows down at all the right places with all the correct characters. Everything lands impressively well, establishing it as the season’s strongest episode.
The characters and their previously underdeveloped or underutilized dynamics come into sharper focus, boding well for the rest of the season. Characters from Stargirl‘s past tie together loose threads, revealing the show’s attention to detail through clever narrative choices. Plus, the episode’s tonal balance sticks the superhero landing.
Also, importantly, “Frenemies – Chapter Seven: Infinity Inc. Part One” never talks down to its audience members who may not be as knowledgeable about the comic books’ Infinity Inc. arc. Instead, it delivers the material through fan-favorite characters and relationships, making the source material accessible for even its most casual viewers.
Stargirl pulls all this off by pulling back on some characters, like Sylvester, and relationships, like Mike and Jakeem. The Jakeem and Mike scenes in previous episodes are funny but aren’t propulsive. Their attempts to get Cindy to join their team are as fruitless as their Thunderbolt wishes. Prioritizing Jakeem finally gives that disconnect context.
As strange as it is to see Zeek and Jakeem share so much screen time, it works in reframing Jakeem’s role in the narrative and as the person who holds the magical pink pen. Jakeem gains a new perspective that getting in touch with his wishes, not Mike’s, is the only way to utilize The Thunderbolt properly. It’s a turning point the character needs.
The pacing to that beat of self-reflection for Jakeem is less stilted than Yolanda’s boiling tension with her mother, which hasn’t received nearly as much screen time as it deserves. Yet, regardless of its uneven delivery, Yvette Monreal delivers a heartbreaking performance that almost makes any structural issues within the narrative fall away. The reveal of Yolanda at the Whitmore-Dugan door is a loaded choice that will aid the season.
Having Courtney and Yolanda under the same roof will strengthen their StarCat dynamic, which hasn’t gotten much independent focus this season. Unfortunately, it comes on the heels of a brutal reflection of Yolanda’s mother’s emotional manipulation, complicated by the Montez’s reliance on Yolanda’s income in another. It’s also an evergreen reminder of how the members of the JSA are just teenagers who want to be loved.
These characters are supposed to find acceptance in each other, which sometimes doesn’t translate the best on screen. “Frenemies – Chapter Seven: Infinity Inc. Part One” rarely struggles in that department, especially regarding the fan-favorite Hournite. Stargirl‘s extremely slow burn with Cameron and Courtney means that it may be a while (if ever) until Rick and Beth actualize their comics’ romance.
Regardless, this episode expands their dynamic in subtle ways that already pay off for their dynamic — romantically coded or not. Their last one-on-one scene is so short-lived that it’s almost jarring to see Beth and Rick spend most of the episode on a mission together. Their plot-driven reason for being at Blue Valley High is to destroy Mister Bones’ cameras, but Stargirl overlays that team-up with character building.
Rick’s unbridled strength has a noticeable and concerning effect on him, and it’s intentional that Beth is the one who clocks it. The context in which she notices also matters — Rick wants Beth to see what he can do. He’s genuinely giddy, showing Beth what he’s capable of without the hourglass’s limiter.
In a few scenes, Stargirl makes Hournite strides. It’s almost as though removing the hourglass’s inhibitor lowers Rick’s walls, too. Though the glorified strength isn’t beneficial, it boosts Rick’s confidence around Beth. The look Rick gives Beth when she reminds him that Courtney still wants to be Stargirl speaks a thousand words — they know each other.
The Helix Institute
Jennie-Lynn Hayden and her brother Todd Rice have a different, immensely personal connection that “Frenemies – Chapter Seven: Infinity Inc. Part One” reveals in a fascinating flashback of a flashback. The execution of such sounds exhausting on paper but works wonders on-screen. It (re)establishes the characters and exemplifies Stargirl’s long game.
Ysa Penarejo‘s return as Jennie puts Season 3’s quest for balance into action, as Jennie requires the assistance of Courtney Whitmore, not Stargirl. But, equally as important, Jennie returns the Helix Institute to the show’s foreground. Ominous figures like Mr. Bones and Nurse Love become critical players in the horror story that haunts Todd Rice.
Rightfully so, Stargirl establishes the audience’s connection to Todd before revealing his state at the Helix Institute. For example, this show makes it simple to root for Todd and his boyfriend, Danny, in only one scene. Moreover, the show teases the difference between Todd and Jennie’s powers, leading up to the ultimate Jade and Obsidian reveal.
Never once does Jennie and Todd’s relationship feel underbaked — thanks to the sharp writing and Penarejo and Tim Gabriel‘s chemistry. Furthermore, Jennie’s motivation is crystal clear regardless of her lack of screen time recently, and Todd’s remains mostly an intriguing mystery for Stargirl to discover. Also, it all perfectly ties into the season.
Stargirl taking on a story as hefty as an Infinity Inc. arc in the middle of a season, which already follows a murder mystery, could be an impossible task. However, this show manages it with impressive ease and creative control during “Frenemies – Chapter Seven: Infinity Inc. Part One.” Jonathan Cake‘s return as The Shade certainly helps.
Cake’s physicality in the role and his impeccable line delivery make it challenging not to lean in and pay close attention to everything The Shade does and says. Suddenly exposition becomes joyous rather than tiresome, especially considering his perfect banter with Penarejo in such scenes. The Shade’s darkness is as alluring as Jennie’s light.
This dynamic duo seamlessly ties together Stargirl‘s past, present, and future, assuring audience’s that this trip to the Helix Institute is not a meander. Instead, it’s a purposeful, world-building, character-driven detour from Blue Valley that elevates the season’s stakes and takes new characters to unexpected places — literally and figuratively.
Ending “Frenemies – Chapter Seven: Infinity Inc. Part One” with Pat and The Shade in the Shadowlands is a skillful choice — not only because Courtney and Cindy’s time there is one of Stargirl‘s other strongest episodes. It pushes an unlikely duo together while granting Mister Bones and the murder suspect’s threats more weight because the Justice Society of America is down two (one, mostly reluctant) allies.
Other Sparktacular Moments:
- Sylvester being in everyone’s ears
- Pat saying the Pledge of Allegiance at the dinner table
- Everyone telling Courtney and Yolanda that they’ll work it out
- Zeek, Rick, and Jakeem playing board games
- Sylvester complimenting Beth for coming up with Operation Blackout Bomb
- Courtney and Mike acting like siblings with flashlight hijinx
- Every time The Shade calls Pat “Stripesy”
- Rick punching the camera to lead in an act break
What did you think of Stargirl 3×07, “Frenemies – Chapter Seven: Infinity Inc. Part One?” Let us know in the comments below!
Stargirl airs Wednesdays at 8/7c on The CW.