Monday, 20 July 2020

Stargirl - Brainwave Jr

This episode wasn't the season finale. Sure, this is an obvious fact, but major things occurred in this one that you would usually see in a somber season finale. Massive developments and revelations, changes in character dynamics. huge sequences, and a shocking ending that I certainly didn't see coming. After last week's disappointment, this was a great return to form.

If you haven't seen the episode yet at your time of reading this, spoiler alert. Sure, in my Stargirl reviews, I do write a general recap, but honestly, events kind of roll by the book in terms of telling a superhero story. This was a rare episode that shocked me.

If you feature the song "Ain't No Mountain High Enough" in anything, I'd probably like it. This is the song that is playing when Pat and Barb meet in a Blue Valley cafe. After that meet-cute, we immediately cut back to where we left off last week, with Barb discovering Pat and Courtney's secret. This revelation shakes up the family dynamic. Of course, poor Mike is left out in the cold, the only member of the family besides the dog that it is not in on the secret. With Courtney so convinced that Starman was her dad, Barb makes a move I have been waiting for since episode 1. She sends the real father an email and tells him that they need to take about Courtney.

Beyond that, she makes the right choice in recording a conversation between Jordan's inlaws when they visit her and Pat in her office and discover that Jordan has a machine that once turned on, will change everything. This is the "b" story, and I was actively engaged with it. It gave Barbara more to do and gave us a look at her relationship with Pat. Better late than never I suppose. Actually, the entire ensemble is used effectively here for once.

Henry, after having killed his father's sleazy lawyer last week (Which is pretty much ignored), finds that his father's memories of the past ten years are gone, and it leads to a soft moment between the two of them. I couldn't imagine Brainwave hugging anyone, much less his son. Henry goes on the continue watching his father's tapes, which is in the thousands. I was a kid when VHS was still used, and I'm pretty sure I didn't have up to one hundred, much less thousands. After watching a tape with his father describing his wife's death, Henry concludes that Jordan killed his mother, who also happened to be Starman's sister. Henry reaches out to Courtney while the cosmic staff has gone missing. The staff is as impulsive as Courtney and gets trapped by Jordan at the hospital while he takes Brainwave away to get his memories back. Courtney informs the team about everything, who isn't impressed with Courtney letting Henry join the team. Yolanda especially. She agrees to help, but tells Courtney whatever friendship they had is over.

The team is back in costume and back in the sewer system. Rick and Beth are paired together again. I hope their relationship is developed more if the writers continually want them paired together. Rick comes face to face with Grundy and attempts to break through the door that is holding him. Thankfully, he is unsuccessful, even with his super strength. The show recognizes that if Grundy himself is still behind those doors, this boy can't just punch his way in. Besides, we still haven't completely seen Grundy, so all the CGI money necessary to make him, they are probably saving for the finale.

Courtney, Yolanda, and Henry go in a separate direction. Henry attempts to make amends with her, buy Yolanda isn't having it. They make it the Dragon King's main lair, where a device is doing work on Brainwave to give him his memories back. Cindy, who is still locked up gives up the heroes right away, while desperately begging her father to let her out so she can "kill that bitch". I don't know why I found that funny, but I did. The battle scene here impressed as the others have. The scope here is great, especially in the wide shots. Henry using his powers in combat was fun to watch, as well as Courtney and Yolanda teaming up as they are the best fighters. A little dark to see some things, but luckily, the Cosmic Staff eventually joins the party.

A great comedic moment occurs when we finally see Dragon King's face under the mask. He looks like a low rent lizard. Both Courtney and Yolanda scream and immediately, the staff blasts him away. While winning the fight, it was mostly in vain because Brainwave regains his memory, and he is just as nasty as you remember him.

With Brainwave's memories back, he quickly establishes why he the shows best villain. As the young heroes attempt to escape, Henry tries to convince his father that people can still be good. But Brainwave is unmoved and reveals that he killed his wife himself, not Jordan. Henry attempts to fight him off, but his efforts are wasted against his most experienced father. Brainwave causes the roof to collapse. Moments left, he apologizes to Yolanda one more time and tells Courtney to still have faith in people. Then the roof collapses on top of him. End of episode.

Jake Austin Walker is clearly the episode's MVP. The past two episodes have given him the most the work with and stretch his acting muscles, and he leaves a mark as one of the show's most important memorable characters. Henry's journey was been a redemptive one, and it one where we have been wondering if he would follow in his father's footsteps and become a next-generation ISA member, seeing as he was introduced as a school bully. But no. He dies a hero. Of course, comic book shows have a tendency to bring people back and seeing as we didn't see a body, there could be a possible return, but for now, I believe he is dead.

The JSA seeing someone die like that in front of them, especially someone that they knew certainly helps raise the stakes, and gives them a clue what they are dealing with. How Henry's death will affect Yolanda next week is exciting drama I want to see. Frankly, I am tempted to skip out on my weekly reviews, and just wait for the final three episodes to be released, and I'll just binge them as a film, but probably not. I don't have the patience to wait like that.

Brainwave Jr is an explosive episode that is easily one of series best by effectively using its strengths, and sets up an exciting final act for the next three episodes.

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