NOTE: Full spoilers for this episode of, “Stargirl” are present in this review
Stargirl kicked off the foundation for a new Justice Society of America on the Post-Crisis Earth-2 with aplomb last week, as Courtney successfully talked Yolanda Montez into taking up the mantle of Wildcat. The building of Blue Valley’s new JSA kicked up even further this week as well, with, “Hourman and Dr. Mid-Nite” already rounding out the team’s heroic ensemble in just one episode, with each of the titular personalities carrying their own interesting backstories and development. That being said however, Stargirl does develop some pacing issues here, suddenly rushing through some key story sequences, so that the show can properly get going with its ensemble battle against the undercover Injustice Society.
The actual ISA once again mostly takes a backseat on Stargirl this week to boot, as Courtney yet again fails to convince Pat of their team-up prospects. Pat doesn’t appear interested in the tease that Principal Bowin may in fact be one of the incognito ISA members in Blue Valley either, instead taking notice of an angry young man, Rick Harris. This curiosity around Rick might have been an interesting turn for Pat, if the show didn’t spell out from this episode’s intro that Rick Harris is actually Rick Tyler, the unknown son of the late Hourman, Rex Tyler. This leaves Pat with nothing much to do beyond bumble around and reinforce what we’ve already learned about Rick at this point, namely that he’s an angry, troubled teen, who has been forced into the ‘care’ of his abusive deadbeat uncle.
Had this episode simply focused on developing Rick, it probably would have felt better balanced and better paced. Instead, this episode decides to immediately pay off Beth spotting Courtney’s and Yolanda’s superhero alter-egos at the hospital as well. Even more convenient is that Beth also happens to the accepted recipient of Dr. Mid-Nite’s goggles, essentially setting her up as the new Dr. Mid-Nite. Courtney and Yolanda are unimpressed with Beth though, who is excessively chatty, uncool and hyper-dependent on her perpetually busy parents. This resolution is a lot more predictable as well, with Beth being so chatty and cloying because her parents are always too busy for her, a problem that Courtney and Yolanda now seem to be reinforcing, only to once again drop it by the end of this episode.
Again, the backstory behind Beth is perfectly fine, but it really needed its own episode to shine. As it stands, Beth really is just a mere tag-along at this point, using the ridiculous knowledge capabilities of the goggles’ A.I. to point out every important detail in this episode, with perfect accuracy. Beth is simply a plot device right now, plus her backstory doesn’t quite have the same dramatic panache as Yolanda’s or Rick’s backstories so far. On the note of Rick, actually, it’s especially interesting to see that, when Rick finally does accept his late father’s strength-enhancing hourglass, he uses it to bash up his stepfather’s truck, and prepares to go on an angry rampage with it. Setting up Hourman as a temporary antagonist is a great way to keep adding complications to Courtney’s quest to build a new JSA, but even with Rick wanting revenge for his parents’ murder, the issue of Rick joining Courtney’s new JSA still feels like it’s resolved too quickly at this point.
Even this episode’s Halloween backdrop feels a little bit wasted, despite a fairly fun sequence of Courtney and Beth having to infiltrate a high school party to get to Rick, which Yolanda initially tries to bow out of, due to the attendance of Henry. The party has some funny moments, keeping up the admittedly infectious charm of Beth in particular (along with Courtney having to make use of a WarnerMedia-approved Gizmo costume head from Gremlins!), but this sequence also doesn’t lead to anywhere truly surprising for the established heroes. It’s frustrating that this episode is both taking too much time, and yet somehow also not enough time, detailing Rick’s and Beth’s joining of the new JSA, all while the ISA continues to operate unchecked, despite them once again retreating into the background this week.
There is, however, one major ISA movement in this episode, even if it’s rapidly overshadowed by the rest of the plotting on the heroes’ end. Gambler ends up passing a ‘tip’ off to a delivery driver, who points him toward a mysterious shipment of… Something, on the way to Blue Valley. The delivery tipster is then killed by a poisoned chocolate coin (how did Gambler poison a sealed chocolate coin?), around the point where the delivery truck is stopped by Principal Bowin, who does indeed appear to be a new incarnation of Fiddler, an ISA thug that Pat confirms was originally a man, and Irish, around the start of this episode. Principal Bowin’s Fiddler powers appear to create hypnotic suggestion whenever she plays the violin, simply allowing her to take whatever the ISA is after, even though Gambler is nonetheless forced to kill one of the other drivers, who resists Bowin’s powers. I really like the fact that Stargirl isn’t afraid to make its ISA conniving and lethal toward innocents, despite how outwardly goofy and proudly comic book-y they are on Earth-2, but it’s also disappointing that they once again got bumped to the sidelines this week, despite most of the ISA’s agenda and characterization still remaining a stubborn mystery.
“Hourman and Dr. Mid-Nite” sees Stargirl beginning to bite off a bit more than it can chew. Rick and Beth are enjoyable new additions to Courtney’s JSA, but they both needed their own episodes to have their backstories properly fleshed out, without feeling like they’re fighting for attention. Likewise, Pat and the ISA didn’t feel like they had much to do this week, beyond go over story turns that the show already covered. Fortunately, now that Courtney’s new JSA seems to be more or less fully-formed, Stargirl can start building on the full-scale conflict that’s about to brew with the ISA, particularly after they’ve continued to take lives in and around Blue Valley. Hopefully, this means that Pat will stop resisting the inevitable as well. After all, we’ve already seen his cool robot rig, and there’s no putting the genie back in that bottle.
- Rick's tragic, morally ambiguous background
- Charming scenes with Beth
- More intriguing movements from the ISA
- Pat doesn't have anything useful to do
- Not enough focus on the ISA, again
- Rick's and Beth's storylines step on each other too much