STARGIRL 1×04 “Wildcat” review

Stargirl (DC Universe/Warner Bros.)

Synopsis

After realizing that she needs the extra help, Courtney sets out to recruit new members to the Justice Society of America – starting with Yolanda Montez (series regular YVETTE MONREAL). Elsewhere, Pat’s suspicion is piqued after a bizarre conversation with one of the town’s residents.

Review

As DC’s Stargirl heads in to its fourth episode, the series has already laid some impressive groundwork for its storytelling. Over the course of the previous three episodes the series shown us that its not afraid to take risks or shy away from the pitfalls of heroism.

“Wildcat” strays towards more safe territory as Geoff Johns and his team continue to flesh out the world that Courtney (Brec Bassinger) inhabits.

Whilst earlier episodes spent some time at Blue Valley High School, we had yet to really dig in to the culture of the high school and its inhabitants. But with Courtney now looking to recruit to her own Justice Society of America we’re given the opportunity to get to know more about her peers.

As the title suggests, this episode focusses on the recruit of a new Wildcat. If you had seen the promotional photos for the episode (here) then you’ll already know that Yvette Monreal’s Yolanda is the one to take on that mantle.

The episode does a great job of catching us up on Yolanda’s life prior to season one starting through a musical montage. Through the course of those early episodes we learnt she had sent naked photos to her boyfriend Henry (Jake Austin Walker) which had then been spread around the school.

We quickly find out that before that she was happily in a relationship with Henry. She was popular, she had friends and she was incredibly successful in all aspects of her academic life. We also meet her family and it appears she is at the centre of their world. Adored by her parents, her grandmother and even her brother, Yolanda quickly falls from grace when Cindy (Meg DeLacy) is the one to spread the photo around.

Though her whole history is told in a matter of minutes, it’s effective in bringing us up to speed and making sure the audience feels sympathetic for her.

The episode take a simple approach to bringing Yolanda in to the fold. In act one Courtney attempts to reel her in, sharing her own secret and trying to find common ground. Writer James Dale Robinson does a brilliant job of keeping the dialogue between the two teens feeling natural. Teen superhero shows can sometimes err on the side of cheesy but that doesn’t happen here.

In the second act Yolanda suits up and we get our first glimpse of Courtney becoming the teacher. Of course it’s far too early for her to really be a mentor to a new hero. But it’s fun to see the two working together to figure out what Wildcat’s powers are and testing them out. Once again Robinson keeps the scenes steeped in teenage culture. I can quite imagine a teenager superhero checking Wikipedia to find out what their own powers are.

Their first mission takes them to Blue Valley Hospital to check in on the unconscious Brainwave (Christopher James Baker). Courtney thinks they can use the visitor register to try and uncover who else might be a secret member of the Injustice League.

Again it’s a nice simple mission within the wider narrative of the episode. It allows Wildcat to express her powers without raising the stakes too high. Whilst it feels a little safe, being wrapped up in all the family-adventure fun it makes for another incredibly satisfying episode.

As proceedings wind down in act three, “Wildcat” brilliantly pivots back to Yolanda, mirroring her opening fall from grace. Using her time with Courtney to empower her, she gives back the costume and decides that she needs to reclaim her own identity before she can take on another.

Stargirl has learnt incredibly well how to pull the rug out from under the audience. It did it with the death of Starman and the JSA, it did it again with the death of Joey in episode three and it does so again here when Yolanda confronts her family. their unwillingness to engage with her new found sense of empowerment is heartbreaking. But it does at least serve a narrative purpose in pushing the character back to Courtney.

Once again Stargirl is able to bring the emotions full circle and we end on yet another hopefully note as we seemingly move on to recruit our next member of the JSA: The Next Generation.

Verdict

With “Wildcat,” Stargirl once again steps up its game in terms of storytelling and scope.

8/10

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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By Neil Vagg

Neil is the GYCO Editorial Chief. He has a BA in Film & TV and an MA in Scriptwriting; he currently works 9-5 as an office manager and 5-9 as a reviewer/web designer. He has been subscribing to comics for around nine years but has been reading them as long as he can remember. Favourite comics: Batman; Nightwing, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and All New X-Men Favourite films: Batman (any apart from & Robin); Star Trek Generations, Underworld, Beetlejuice Favourite TV shows: Fringe; Buffy, Arrow, TBBT, Being Human UK and Star Trek TNG