Stargirl 3×11, “Frenemies – Chapter Eleven: The Haunting,” finds its biggest surprises in the hits and misses caused by Jordan Mahkent’s resurrection. Icicle’s return (or revival) to Blue Valley strengthens concerns about whose stories Stargirl prioritizes, especially with only two episodes remaining in the series. This episode struggles with pacing as disjointed narratives attempt to piece themselves together like Icicle.
The absences or dialed-back appearances of critical players, like Rick or Cindy, should become unmistakable hurdles in the episode’s quest to focus on the older generation. Yet, instead of Sylvester and Jordan bolstering Courtney and Cameron, the story lands as if the younger generation is stunting the narratives Stargirl wants to tell about the villain and the Golden-Aged hero. The irony is that the characters voice knowledge of such.
Icicle’s Haunting Return
Jordan weaponizes feelings to manipulate both teens. His exploitive effects on Cameron make a bone-chilling appearance on the Whitmore-Dugan front porch. That scene, exemplifying Cameron’s steadfast belief in his father, acts as the final icicle in Camney’s story. The scene’s timing in the episode also means it misses an opportunity to lead to Cameron’s introspection and extrospection. Instead, most of it hinges on Jordan.
While Stargirl‘s next episode will hopefully follow that thread, giving Cameron more clarity, it’s still a missed mark to focus more finely on Jordan’s repositioning in town. “Frenemies – Chapter Ten: The Killer” sets a disappointing example of the future for reformed members of the Injustice Society of America. So, investing in a similar venture, even for a second, is challenging — primarily because Jordan doesn’t hide his ulterior motives well.
Unlike Icicle and Ultra-Humanite’s team-up, it’s surprising that Stargirl doesn’t lean into the story that encourages more of the emotionally-driven performances Neil Jackson and Hunter Sansone deliver when Jordan and Cameron reunite. How Cameron does or doesn’t reflect Jordan and how Jordan’s decision impact Cameron’s perception of his father is far more alluring than Jordan making another villainous decision.
Grieving the Crocks
The generational tension and tethers Stargirl has at its fingertips are part of its appeal. “Frenemies – Chapter Eleven: The Haunting” exemplifies this with flying colors through Artemis Crock. However, the prevalence of Atemis’ grief and the heartwrenching performance it pulls from Stella Smith make it all the more disappointing that Smith has been so criminally underused this season. Season 3 often shows the Crocks making amends with Pat and Barbara, but it loses time with Larry, Paula, and Artemis.
Because of Smith’s performance, that disconnect doesn’t undercut Artemis’ grief. Rather, it amplifies it, underscoring that Artemis just got her parents back, and someone stole them for her. Artemis’ screams shifting from utter despair to a war cry is as astounding as it is painful. Smith is easily the standout performer in “Frenemies – Chapter Eleven: The Haunting” because of her ability to navigate Artemis’ overwhelming anger and loss.
Despite this episode’s missteps, it successfully settles into the characters grieving the Crocks. From Beth’s struggle to say it aloud to Pat’s stunned silence and Mike’s hesitancy to ask why, the loss of Larry and Paula looms large over “Frenemies – Chapter Eleven: The Haunting” — as it should. It’s genius to juxtapose that shock with Baraba’s reaction to Jordan’s reappearance. That scene is one example of how the episode walks in lock-stop with its chilling title through the effective use of silence and thoughtful direction.
Like much of Season 3, “Frenemies – Chapter Eleven: The Haunting” indirectly answers the question of if characters like Artemis, Cindy, and Rick would get more narrative weight if Sylvester stepped back. Stargirl spends multiple episodes attempting to repair Sylvester’s reputation and his relationships. He even makes strides in supporting the JSA, but this episode burns that development down as quickly as Sylvester sets the barn aflame.
The best character growth is not linear, but Sylvester Pemberton struggles to maintain a single positive change.
Instead, he maintains a larger-than-life persona that refuses accountability and gratitude, and it’s more than frustrating at this point in the season. This episode focuses on Sylvester’s demons (and outbursts) more than it does the JSA’s concerns for Rick, Cameron’s complicated emotions, or Cindy’s decision to team up with Mike and Jakeem.
Then, by the end of “Frenemies – Chapter Eleven: The Haunting,” Stargirl attempts to reframe Sylvester’s narrative as a supportive one. Sylvester’s attempts to get Courtney to give him the staff falls short of believability because Sylvester barely assists Courtney. “Frenemies – Chapter Two: The Suspects” is the exception. Not to mention, Starman has had the cosmic staff for most of the season — not Courtney.
The JSA’s Ghosts
Stargirl Season 3 shows Sylvester suited up far more often than Courtney, which will always be one of this season’s greatest pullbacks.
The show’s titular hero gets lost in the shadow of her predecessor, and the other members of the Justice Society of America barely get enough independent focus. Yolanda’s phone call with her mother is a logical reaction to learning about the Crocks, but it doesn’t fix the lack of focus the story received all season long.
Furthermore, Stargirl often delivers news of Beth’s discoveries through voiceovers or bouts of exposition instead of seeing her in action as Dr. Mid-Nite. The character’s knowledge often gets the team out of sticky situations, but the show rarely emphasizes Beth’s growing skills as the hero. Also, there’s still no update about Rick’s residence or general whereabouts.
When Stargirl returns from its brief hiatus, there will be two episodes left in its unfortunately short run. Season 3 has a long list of stories to resolve and characters to give satisfying endings. Based on the season’s track record, it’s a mystery whether this superhero show will stick the landing or give its characters the cold shoulder.
Other Sparktacular Moments:
- Pat and Sylvester’s banter
- Beth calling Rick
- Mike helping with S.T.R.I.P.E.
- Courtney wearing a sweater with stars on it
- The unlocked door callback
- Jordan melting
- Barbara comforting Artemis
What did you think of Stargirl 3×11, “Frenemies – Chapter Eleven: The Haunting?” Let us know in the comments below!
Stargirl airs Wednesdays at 8/7c on The CW.