Stargirl 3×08, “Frenemies – Chapter Eight: Infinity Inc. Part Two,” slows down to follow Pat and The Shade into The Shadowlands, and the Infinty Inc. arc’s finale loses some of its edge in the process. This episode delivers answers to seasons-long questions, but it does so at the expense of another ensemble-led episode.
After the strides 3×07, “Frenemies – Chapter Seven: Infinity Inc. Part One,” makes in striking a balance this season so desperately craves, it’s unfortunate to watch Stargirl stumble back into some of its same mistakes. However, despite its uneven execution so late in the season, this episode is not a filler episode with zero substance.
Even when the plot reveals buckle under the weight of its expectations, the character-driven beats succeed in spades. But, unfortunately, most of the characterization this episode emphasizes affects characters who won’t be in Stargirl‘s immediate future.
Pat Dugan’s Dark Secrets
One exception is Luke Wilson‘s Pat Dugan, whose trip to The Shadowlands solidifies him as a flawed yet deeply good man. It’s a fascinating bait and switch to hear The Shade’s persistent warnings to Pat about The Shadowlands’ pressures, only for The Shade to fold to his worst memories.
Unsurprisingly, Stargirl uses this opportunity to dig deeper into Pat’s childhood trauma, giving Pat’s toxic father a face in G.W. Bailey. Alternatively, it’s shocking that the show finally addresses Pat’s disconnected relationship with Mike. Until now, the father/son duo’s essentially non-existent dynamic is just an unspoken fact on the show.
Now that Stargirl directly addresses Pat’s knowledge of his unbalanced treatment of Mike and Courtney, there’s no reason why the show can’t confront the topic outside of Pat’s subconscious. Courtney plans to use what she’s learned during this trip upon their return to Blue Valley, so Pat needs to do the same.
On the other hand, Stargirl makes perfect use of The Shadowlands by only revealing the status of Mike’s mother there. The supporting information about Pat’s father and Pat’s relationship with Mike fills out what the viewers already know. Meanwhile, The Shadowlands shows its upper hand by revealing desired information about Mike’s mother — something Pat never mentions, even in the slightest.
The Shade’s Redemption
Stargirl‘s dedication to securing a route to The Shade’s redemption is a strange step, considering he’s never been too far from gaining that. Of course, he will always feel remorse about Emily’s death, but the show is more sympathetic toward The Shade than some of its other villains — reformed or otherwise.
The expedited mission to redeem The Shade, only for his presumed redemption arc to primarily take place off-screen in New York with Tim and Jennie, is a choice.
Jonathan Cake‘s performance is such a treat that it’s a shame that The Shade won’t stick around Blue Valley, especially since his emotional arc is more defined than some of the JSA. It’s extra salt in the wound that the dynamic the Infinity Inc. arc builds between Jennie and The Shade (and now Tim) won’t carry over into the remainder of the season.
Nevertheless, Cake and Wilson make a comedic pair that can sharply turn into revealing, dramatic beats within the bat of an eye. Their trip into darkness has surprising notes of light and levity that pair nicely with Courtney’s fight for unity in the face of isolation.
The Infinity Inc. Arc’s Conclusion
While Stargirl doesn’t necessarily need to race to the finish line to give The Shade’s arc closure, “Frenemies – Chapter Eight: Infinity Inc. Part Two” must provide a satisfying conclusion to its isolated arc.
Ysa Penarejo and Tim Gabriel bring emotional resonance to Jennie and Todd’s sibling bond, making it all the more bittersweet that the show doesn’t pinpoint when it plans to revisit the characters. Stargirl may better deliver their closure had the episode spent a fraction of more time with Todd Rice. The only scene when the show gets to know him is his introduction during the arc’s first part.
If this is the last time we’ll see Todd for a while, it’s a shame that Stargirl doesn’t spend much time getting to know him. A few more scenes detailing his perspective would make that scene when the younger versions of Jennie and Todd fade into the older ones all the more emotionally resonant — and it’s already significantly effective.
In comic-book TV show fashion, “Frenemies – Chapter Eight: Infinity Inc. Part Two” leaves the door open at the Helix Institute so Mister Bones can create a team in the future. Unlike Todd and Jennie, that storyline is a proper thread to leave loose in Stargirl‘s universe.
Courtney Whitmore’s Superhero Status
Stargirl Season 3 carefully follows the thread detailing Courtney’s understanding of what it means to be a superhero — with and without the staff. Her journey with such has been non-linear and understandably frustrating at specific turns, but “Frenemies – Chapter Eight: Infinity Inc. Part Two” puts her lessons into action.
Courtney practices what she preaches and pulls the light out of people — Jennie, Todd, Mister Bones, and Nurse Love — who previously thought believing in the darkness to be futile or even dangerous. The message of Stargirl (the show and the character) beats through Courtney Whitmore, and “Frenemies – Chapter Eight: Infinity Inc. Part Two” remembers that at every turn.
It’s a thoughtful story for Courtney to remember the power of light and being true to one’s emotions through helping others, especially when that belief started to dwindle in her. It’s an excellent way to recenter the titular character before her return to a more complicated murder mystery and a fractured JSA (again) in Blue Valley.
As for the season’s murder mystery, the reveal that Mister Bones is not behind the cameras in Blue Valley is such a fun twist. It’s not even frustrating because the show plays with the viewers’ assumptions about Mister Bones to get to that wrong conclusion. Now, Stargirl pushes fans to reconsider who would be capable of surveilling the characters because anyone is capable.
Other Sparktacular Moments:
- Courtney calling Pat “my dad”
- Jennie’s ring’s green powers being the only color in The Shadowlands
- The Helix Six
- Pat somehow remembering Nurse Love
- Todd and Jennie any time they’re on-screen together
- “I still miss you, Pop.”
- “I’m incapable of feeling anything.”
- The reveal of Mister Bones with the camera going over Courtney’s shoulder
- The Sandy Hawkins name drop
What did you think of Stargirl 3×08, “Frenemies – Chapter Eight: Infinity Inc. Part Two?” Let us know in the comments below!
Stargirl airs Wednesdays at 8/7c on The CW.