Stargirl 3×13, “Frenemies – Chapter Thirteen: The Reckoning,” is a whirlwind series finale that embodies the season’s greatest strengths and weaknesses. The episode races to tie up loose ends, struggling to find cohesive threads between scenes that land more as snapshot check-ins. Still, it delivers jaw-dropping, big-screen action, cinematography, and visual effects, which Stargirl consistently brings to the small screen.
Stargirl is always successful at weaving story into action sequences, but the series finale’s three-act fight between the JSA and the Ultra-Humanite/The Mahkents is overly extensive. Its length, though emulating the best of superhero blockbusters, leaves Stargirl racing against time — like Jay Garrick, who is nice to see again — to bring this show to a rightful conclusion. Unfortunately, the characters’ arcs succumb to that pressure.
“Frenemies – Chapter Thirteen: The Reckoning” sneaks up on poignant, character-driven beats, but the show moves on to the next narrative thread before the characters can unpack what’s before them. For instance, Rick’s instantaneous recovery from the hourglass’s effects lacks real payoff, especially when a season and a series finale with better pacing could have followed his detriment and recovery more closely.
It’s fitting for an episode titled “Frenemies – Chapter Thirteen: The Reckoning” to carry the weight of reckoning, successfully or not, with Season 3’s shortcomings. Somehow, Beth’s arc with her parents is one of the season’s most cohesive and consistent ones. Alternatively, Stargirl is more hit-and-miss with the advancement of the dynamic between Beth and Rick, and the lash-forward makes that inconsistency sting even more.
It’s easy to wishfully think about how differently their relationship could have played out had Season 3 not committed so much time to Sylvester/The Ultra-Humanite. The same is true for Yolanda, who never gets the spotlight she deserves. Yolanda’s only scene, wonderfully portrayed by Yvette Monreal, to resolve her arc is in the show’s final act.
A series finale is the most opportune time to sit with Stargirl‘s core ensemble.
Stunningly, “Frenemies – Chapter Thirteen: The Reckoning” begins with Sylvester’s initial resurrection. While an impactful cut from Sylvester’s last words being about Pat to The Ultra-Humanite walking away from Pat buried alive, it’s jarring not to directly pick up with the JSA, especially when it’s already a rare occasion to see them all together.
Stargirl makes up for it by ending the episode (before the time jump) with another family gathering at the Whitmore-Dugan family. It’s a refreshing scene to see everyone take a breath and take a beat together after a series of fighting big bads with hidden agendas. It contains a ton of memorable interactions, like Rick bonding with the Chapels and Mike and Jakeem chasing Buddy, who is carrying around a plushie version of Dragon King.
Albeit, Cindy Burman’s final showdown with her father doesn’t play out as expected. As she’s already killed her father once (and Icicle has killed Starman twice, if we’re keeping score), Stargirl doesn’t necessarily need to see Cindy enact her revenge and find justice by killing Dragon King again. However, after he says, “You belong with me. You belong to me,” it would have been rewarding to see Cindy stun with the upper hand.
Of course, Cindy doesn’t need to enact violence to win a fight because she’s not like her father, despite how she may view herself. Stargirl could have let Cindy come to that conclusion as she faces her father’s brain inside of an albino gorilla. Instead, the episode opts for something that is frustrating in one breath and instantly gratifying in the other — Jakeem finally steps into his own as the true holder of The Thunderbolt.
It’s energizing to see The Thunderbolt’s powers coarse through Jakeem as he makes a successful vague wish because he is the rightful holder of the magical pink pen.
However, his wish saves Cindy from Dragon King. While there’s a lesson in that action about Cindy finally understanding that accepting help isn’t a weakness but a strength, again, it would have been such a moment to see Cindy best her abusive father one last time.
That said, Cindy Burman joining the JSA sometime before ten years in the future and acquiring the moniker Dragon Queen, leaving Shiv in the past, is a testament to the growth she experienced on Stargirl and beyond.
After all, “Frenemies – Chapter Thirteen: The Reckoning” delivers a satisfying enaction of vengeance and justice when Artemis kills Icicle to honor her parents.
The Stargirl series finale shines the brightest in its parting message and Courtney Whitmore’s reclamation of power. Brec Bassinger‘s delivery of “You are not worthy. But I am,” as she takes the staff back from the Ultra-Humanite, should become a classic superhero TV show scene; it’s that good.
Likewise, the scenes between Pat, Barbara, and Mike when he meets his biological mother at Richie Rock’s Diner are fantastic. Barbara and Mike are one of Stargirl‘s best-kept secret weapons, and those scenes utilize them beautifully. Amy Smart and Trae Ramano (& Luke Wilson, of course) tug at heartstrings with such earnest, genuine emotions. The Whitemore-Dugan family helps Stargirl shine — from the pilot to the series finale.
Stargirl‘s parting message about the immortality of heroism is touching, and not only because The Shade, an eternal pessimist eternally annoyed with the JSA, delivers the speech. His words strike a chord that encompasses the complicated emotions that come with reckoning with the end of this show. The Shade’s words are meta, too. Even as this chapter ends, it will always be here for another generation to find.
It’s never the end. Not for the Justice Society of America. Not for Stargirl. As The Shade so eloquently puts it, “They’re the greatest heroes the world has ever seen. But they won’t be the last — oh, no. Because there are other legacies of heroism waiting for a new generation to find, to take on, and rise up. For as much as evil has tried to destroy the Justice Society of America, it cannot. Nothing can.”
Other Sparktacular Moments:
- Every punch Pat got in on The Ultra-Humanite
- Pat digging out of the grave
- Icicle freezing Courtney’s lungs
- Rick feeling bad for Cameron but still wanting to fight him
- Beth and Sofus agreeing to stop the violence
- Yolanda’s “I didn’t do it”
- The car falling on Lily like The Wizard of Oz
- Barbara’s “Stay away from my daughter”
- Jordan still holding a flame (or an icicle) for Barbara
- Barbara using Paula’s crossbow
- Cosmo liking the old crate
- Pat and Courntey heard each other
- Every DC character namedrop
- The return of McNider
- Cameron and Courtney’s final scene
What did you think of Stargirl 3×13, “Frenemies – Chapter Thirteen: The Reckoning?” Let us know in the comments below!
Stargirl is streaming now on The CW’s website and HBO Max.