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Stargirl (DC Universe)

STARGIRL 1×11 “Shining Knight” review

Take a look at Neil's review of the latest episode of DC's Stargirl. The episode is available to stream now.

Synopsis

Courtney’s life gets turned upside down when someone from her past arrives in Blue Valley.  Meanwhile, Pat uncovers new information about the ISA’s plan and Jordan makes a surprising discovery at work.

Review

Heading in to its two-part finale DC’s Stargirl is putting the breaks on its pace to spend an episode focussing on its lead for a moment.

Thinking that we’re only on the eleventh even episode of the series Courtney (Brec Bassinger) has been through a lot. She’s discovered that – she thinks – her father is Starman, taken up the mantle and Cosmic Staff, moved from Cali to Blue Valley, joined a new school, lost two friends to the ISA and formed her own Justice Society.

That’s a LOT for a teenager to handle.

It’s nice to see that the series isn’t so focused on the superhero action that it forgoes dealing with the impact that life has on someone so young. But perhaps even more importantly the family focus has never been as strong as it is this week.

I really feel for poor Mike (Trae Romano). No sooner had he shared a tender moment with Courtney when the two were suddenly at odds again. Now he’s struggling to understand why his family seems to be imploding and Pat (Luke Wilson) is too wrapped up in the mission to explain it to him.

Whilst there’s little chance that Mike is about to become a supervillain, he’s certainly on the outside of the family unit right now. Barbara (Amy Smart) had always been the one on his side, but now that she’s in on the family secret she’s instantly become integral and shares the same distance to Mike that Pat and Courtney have.

One slight niggle with the family plot for me is the speed at which Barb has come on board. Episode nine ended with such an excellent cliffhanger when she first saw Courtney with the staff. Episode 10 picked up with her exactly where I felt the plot needed her to be, angry with Pat for allowing Courtney to play hero.

But following on from that she came around to the idea, for now at least, a little quickly. Whilst you could argue she did also discover her boss was an evil, murdering genius and that this could be quite the motivator for Barb it still just doesn’t quite sit naturally within the narrative right now.

The arrival of Sam (guest star Geoff Stults) shakes Courtney’s world almost as much as confronting the ISA. Whilst some will argue the episode really breaks the pacing of the JSA vs. ISA story I would counter that its timing is perfect.

Whilst being an almost entirely self-contained episode, “Shining Knight” still progresses the overall arc of the season but also allows Courtney to pull focus back to the mission.

Elsewhere the JSA are dealing with the revelation that school janitor Justin (Mark Ashworth) is in fact Shining Knight, hero and member of the Seven Soldier of Victory. Not only does he know Pat from his time as Stripsey but he might provide some answers towards the ISA’s mission. Whilst it’s only teased here it will be interesting to see how this develops through the finale.

Bringing in the Shining Knight character is also a big tease for how deep in to DC lore that Stargirl is willing to go. It will be interesting to see how much further the production team take this in season 2.

By the close of the episode not only does Courtney know who her real father is but she is also understands what kind of guy he is. His behaviour in the episode and the fact she was almost drawn in by it really marks a turning point in her emotional arc.

It allows time for her to question why she became Stargirl in the first place and why/if she needs to continue in that role. It’s the perfect identity crisis to set her up for the two-part finale.

Whilst it is important for Stargirl to tell the story of Sam, its timing is really key to breaking and rebuilding Courtney for the challenge ahead.

As is so often the case with this series “Shining Knight” ends on a note of hope. Whilst Mike might be absent from the scene seeing Barbara and Pat together, supporting Courtney really speaks to the core of the series: family.

Verdict

Though “Shining Knight” is short on action it instead focusses on another of the series’ key strengths: its characters.

9/10

The show stars Brec Bassinger in the title role. Luke Wilson is playing S.T.R.I.P.E., alongside Joel McHale (Starman), Lou Ferrigno Jr. (Hourman), Henry Thomas (Dr. Mid-Nite), and Brian Stapf (Wildcat). Neil Hopkins (Sportsmaster), Joy Osmanski (Tigress), and Nelson Lee (Dragon King) will portray members of the Injustice Society.

Stargirl debuts new, unedited episode on DC Universe on Monday’s. The series then airs episodes on The CW on Tuesday’s.


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