Monday, 10 August 2020

Stargirl - Stars & STRIPE Part 1 and 2

The end of the first season is here! The return of STRIPE! JSA vs ISA! Etc, etc! The reason why I am reviewing the final two episodes together is that it is a two-parter, and the success of part 1 is reliant on part 2. I am happy that I kept up with this series, hopefully showcasing my resolve in keeping this blog active. For this review, rather than give an in-depth summary as I have done for the rest, I'll give the board strokes.

We catch up to the Whitmore/Dugan family, and immediately remember that unless you are in the Marvel universe, secret identities are very important. Courtney and Barbara are attacked at the house by Tigress as they are packing. The fight itself continues the top-notch choreography that this show is destined to be known for, but despite the intensity, Tigress loses the fight. The first time Tigress fought on screen, the battle ended in a stalemate when Pat showed up in his robot, but Tigress and Sportmaster definitely would have won. I get that with the cheesy nature of this show, it was a forgone conclusion, but seeing her training would have made her victory easier to swallow. Sure, Barbara helped out a little, but still.

Pat vs Sportsmaster was better. Mike is finally brought into the loop as Pat brings him to the auto shop to tell him the truth. From then, Sportsmaster attacks Pat and taunts him throughout the fight. Mike surprises him with a drill, letting Pat knock him out. This victory was acquired due to pure luck, so I wasn't taken out of it.

The heroes then gather at a remote cabin, which I got to say is interesting. A lot of superhero stories on screen has at least one story of heroes in a forest. From there, the character interactions between characters took the forefront of the episode. Yolanda is still thinking about Henry's death, but like the previous episode, it is not highlighted and is forgotten seconds later. It feels like the writers want us to just move on from the repercussions that come from a major character's death. Rick and Pat finally realize the code in Rick's father's journal, which contained a map of the underground tunnels so the team knows where to go. Ss far as season-long mysteries go, this was... eh. It drives the plot forward, but I finally hope that it would add some character development for Rick, perhaps help him grow closer to his parents or something like that.

Speaking of lost potential, Tigress kills The Fiddler, who was the school's principal. We never saw her in action, or really involved in the ISA's plot. The moment was played to shock us, but it fell flat. I mean, look above. I didn't even bother to learn her name.

Courtney, Yolanda, Rick, and Pat go to the tunnels, as Beth and Barbara go to Jordan's office and discover his master plan. While on the surface, his goal seems better for all mankind, he turns out to be a low-rent Thanos, and his mind control plan would end up killing millions. The Gambler, working the computers turns on the machine using Brainwave's abilities, which have grown in the wake of Henry's death, and all the adults in Blue Valley are frozen in place, including Morgan Stark's foster dad. Just joking, but Lexi Rabe, the young actress from Avengers: Endgame makes a significant appearance.

The team manages to free but Pat and Barbara from Brainwave's control. Before they reach the main machine, they come face to face with the ISA. The JSA vs ISA fight is exactly want you would expect. It is a massive scene to watch, the entire frame filled with so something to watch. While it is composed of solo one on one fights, there is a little teamwork throughout. Noteworthy moments included Cindy getting freed, and killing her dad, and the entire team ganging up on Jordan.

In an effort to turn the battle in their favor, Gambler sets Solomon Grundy loose. We finally see him in all his CGI glory. He reminded me of the Hulk's look in the 2008 film. Seeing Grundy vs STRIPE was dope. Soon, Grundy gets the upper hand and almost kills Pat before Rick steps in to get his revenge. Rick beats Grundy into submission and almost strikes the killing blow, but sees that Grundy is a mindless beast that only does as he is commanded. Despite his quest for vengeance, he lets Grundy go. This was a massive moment for Rick and sets a good foundation for him to become a better hero for season 2. Yolanda also gets a massive moment in Part 2 as well. After defeating several minions, she is about to take out the last one when he removes his mask and reveals himself to be Henry. While initially overjoyed, she realizes something isn't right and slashes his throat, and he dies. It is revealed to be Brainwave using a mind trick on her. Beforehand, she tried to sway Rick from killing anyone, and now she crossed that line. I know that given the way that the show was gone, we won't see how that affects her, but it was an interesting change between the two young heroes.

As Courtney destroys the mind control machine, Jordan returns to the office, kills Chuck inside Beth's goggles, and takes Barbara with him. At a clock tower, Pat goes to face him but is really the distraction as Courtney attacks. The two fall over the rail. Jordan seemingly shatters while Yolanda catches Courtney. As Jordan recovers and is about to go full Icicle, in a comedic moment, he is killed as a truck crashes into him. The driver? Mike. The character who I called the weak link is the one who got the kill the main villain.

So, yeah. The day saved. Gambler and Cindy getaway, making plans for season 2, while Sportsmaster and Tigress' fates remain unknown. Fast forward to Christmas. We finally find out what was inside Courtney's Christmas box. She presents it to Pat, saying that she was waiting to present it to him for a while. It is a "Best Dad Cup", which perfectly ends the story between the two. Their relationship was a great strength in the comics, and the show is no exception.

Overall, this season was a decent start. Little oversights in storytelling and lack of character development for some definitely hurt it. Perhaps next season, the ensemble is used more effectively. There are several superhero shows that have large casts that are used more effectively so I know that I am not being too harsh. There are fun teases for next season. Starman still being alive is a big one.

Stars and STRIPE part 1 and 2 concludes this season with good payoff and mostly resolves everything, and promises a potentially better second season. Hopefully, the overlooked talented cast gets a chance in the spotlight.

Season 1 overall:

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