NOTE: Full spoilers for this episode of, “Stargirl” are present in this review
Stargirl delivered a memorable, if slightly confusing introduction to Courtney’s future arch-nemesis, Shiv last week, better known as Blue Valley High queen bee, Cindy Burman. This week seeks to conclude the two-part Shiv introduction storyline as well, while also bringing the new Justice Society closer to discovering a key foundation behind the Injustice Society, and what they’re planning. “Shiv Part Two” also has the advantage of being another especially strong episode of Stargirl to boot, easily surpassing last week’s, “Shiv Part One”, and better establishing the animosity between Courtney’s and Cindy’s secret identities, while also bringing another key character into the show’s ongoing battle against the ISA.
This episode’s plotting immediately starts out very strong, by openly addressing how Pat and Courtney have to cover up Courtney’s injuries from the battle against Cindy, following the climax of the previous episode. After Pat wrecks his beloved Buick in order to fake a car crash, thus helping to cover up Courtney’s superhero identity to Blue Valley at large, Pat nonetheless feels that Courtney should come clean to her mother about what she’s been doing. Speaking of Barbara, she’s also continuing to work well under Jordan, securing The American Dream’s big deal with aplomb, and thus earning Jordan’s favour. This looks to set up a great personal connection between Courtney’s family and the Icicle family, especially when Icicle begins exacting vengeance on a former waste disposal manager, who is alleged to have contributed to the fatal cancer that killed Jordan’s wife.
This continues to tease the ultimate agenda of The American Dream as something nicely morally interpretive, especially considering what we learn about Cindy’s parentage in this episode. Avid DC fans would likely already know about Cindy being descended from Dragon King, but this episode finally catches up the other characters, after an enraged Rick motivates Yolanda and Beth to break into Cindy’s house, which Beth later softens to merely doing recon. A begrudging Pat also comes along, posing as Beth’s father in the Burman house, whereupon they meet Cindy’s likely-brainwashed stepmother, Bobbie Burman. The two are also surprised to find that the Burman house is largely empty, being devoid of family photos, or even genuine decorations.
It’s surprising how effectively the tense search through Cindy’s house manages to work. Yolanda and Rick are merely benched outside in this case, but the recon mission at the Burman house nonetheless provides a great chance for Beth to start utilizing her more intellectual abilities as the new Doctor Mid-Nite. Pat manages to keep Bobbie distracted long enough for Beth to find a photo of deceased Japanese scientist and war criminal, Dr. Shiro Ito in Cindy’s room as well, whom DC fans will no doubt quickly put together is Cindy’s father, Dragon King. This necessary building block with Ito finally puts the new JSA on the trail of a vital clue regarding the ISA, and after a narrow escape, they manage to get away unseen.
Another surprisingly effective, very tense interaction in this episode occurs when Courtney is allowed to return home, only to eventually be met by Cindy. Cindy appears under the guise of friendship, apologizing for her former behaviour, and even bringing Courtney chocolates. After Cindy inexplicably failed to acknowledge Courtney’s obvious identity under her Stargirl mask during their confrontation last week, it appeared through most of this episode that Cindy genuinely didn’t recognize her ‘friend’ as the ISA’s new opponent as well… Only for Cindy to finally reveal on the way out that, yes, she is fully aware that Courtney is Stargirl, even going so far as to spell out the obvious; Courtney’s Stargirl disguise is pretty terrible for people that know her civilian identity. This was a very smart way to play with viewer expectations, especially when Cindy appeared ignorant of Stargirl’s identity around even her own father, after she’s reprimanded for going after Stargirl at Blue Valley High, and failing to kill her.
Another unsettling obstacle brewing in the background among all this is Henry, whose powers really start manifesting in this episode. After Henry continues to feel confusion, disorientation, and the voices of other people’s thoughts, he eventually realizes his telepathic abilities at the King house. After finding a key that unlocks his father’s Brainwave lair as well, Henry learns the hard way that his relationship with Cindy is a sham, and that Cindy was merely appointed to see if Henry would develop his father’s powers. Now that Henry knows the terrible truth, it makes things extra uncomfortable when he chances upon a brief scuffle between Courtney and Cindy at the end of this episode, eventually inadvertently separating them with a potent psychic blast. Cindy is taken away by her father’s underlings, but Courtney is left to seemingly ponder whether Henry could be a useful ally, something that her friends, Yolanda especially, are bound to protest pretty extensively when the suggestion inevitably comes up next week.
Overall, “Shiv Part Two” represents some very tight, surprisingly exciting plotting, even with a minimal emphasis on action this week. Now that Cindy has finally fessed up to easily deducing Courtney’s identity under her costume, the only questionable element to the storytelling in this episode is how Barbara is still shrugging off Pat’s and Courtney’s mysterious activities, especially when Courtney ends up considerably injured this time! Still, there is at least a nice scene wherein Mike and Courtney reconcile, even if Barbara’s placement in Stargirl’s ensemble still feels a little awkward, at least for now. Even so, considering the tightening professional relationship between Barbara and Jordan, Courtney’s identities are bound to clash soon, when the Whitmore/Dugan family ends up meshing further with the Mahkent family. That’s before considering that Courtney seems interested in getting through to Henry as well, particularly now that Henry is on the verge of becoming a dangerous metahuman menace in his own right, and all without his father currently awake to guide his major new transformation into the next Brainwave.
- Smartly completes the Stargirl/Shiv animosity
- Surprisingly tense recon at the Burman house
- Henry discovering the truth about himself
- How is Barbara so casual about Courtney's injuries?