THE POWERS THAT BE — Courtney (Brec Bassinger) makes a difficult decision after Pat (Luke Wilson) confronts her about the potential consequences of recruiting new members to the JSA.Elsewhere, Barbara (Amy Smart) shows up in support of Mike’s (Trae Romano) science fair, and Courtney, Yolanda (Yvette Monreal), Beth (Anjelika Washington) and Rick (Cameron Gellman) prepare for their first major mission. Neil Jackson and Hunter Sansone also star. Chris Manley directed the episode written by Taylor Streitz (#106). Original airdate 6/23/2020.
Stargirl has reached an interesting juncture in its narrative. We’re almost half way through the season. Courtney (Brec Bassinger) has the core members of the Justice Society 2.0 in place, but short of any lengthy training montages they’re not ready for the big fight just yet.
Cue “The Justice Society” which acts a reminder that one should never enter the field before they are ready. But, as is typical of DC’s Stargirl, the episode has a lot more to say than it first appears.
I was surprised to find that Courtney, after speaking with Pat (Luke Wilson), was the one to be hesitant about taking on a mission. The episode opens on the same night as the previous episode (reviewed here) as Courtney returns to home from confronting Rick (Cameron Gellman) and learning the truth of his parents death.
Entering her room, Courtney is immediately confronted by Pat and the two have one of their heart-to-hearts about what she has been up to. The dynamic between Bassinger and Wilson continues to be a highlight for the show. He doesn’t treat her like a step-daughter and she, in kind, doesn’t treat him like a step-father.
Instead their exchanges often feel like a bickering brother and sister or school friends.
It’s interesting that the show is choosing to linger over passing on the Green Lantern torch to a new user. We haven’t really explored the JSA Green Lantern from the flashbacks. But at the same time the lantern itself has been prominent in a number of scenes. Stargirl is clearly building to something but for now we don’t know when.
Pat leaves Courtney with very little choice, asking her to return the JSA artefacts that she had passed on. At first it seems like a simple task, but instead it offers the episode chance to take a fresh look at Rick, Beth (Anjelika Houston) and Yolanda (Yvette Monreal).
Each has already been impacted by Courtney’s influence. Beth has a new friend outside her parental circle. It transpires she’s spent the rest of the weekend talking with AI Charles McNider (Henry Thomas) and the two have formed quite a bond. After seeing the cracks in Beth’s facade last episode she is much more like her usual self this week. At least until the team goes in to battle.
Yolanda is also happier thanks to Courtney’s influence. We briefly see Yolanda and Beth eating lunch together in the school, bonding as friends. The polar opposite to how we found them in the pilot. There’s also a moving scene where Yolanda has been researching Ted Grant’s past and drawing comparisons with her own, difficult life.
Pat chooses to reach out to Rick by himself. Using his connected to Rex, Rick’s father and their time together. It, of course, backfires because Rick is an angry teenage boy. Though he is able to pass on Rex’s diary there’s still a lot of angry in Rick which causes tension between the two.
Whilst Courtney and Pat are working on deconstructing the new JSA, “The Justice Society” is also working to build its Injustice Society. This week we’re focussing on Neil Hopkin’s as Sportsmaster and Joy Osmanski as his wife Paula, also known as Tigress.
The two initially appear alongside daughter Artemis (Stella Smith) and come across like Stepford parents. I’m not sure whether it was the writing but their characters feel a bit Stepford Wives until the action gets going. The facade of perfect, encouraging parents feels a little cartoony and so when they confront the coach who benched Artemis I felt the scene played more for laughs than as menacing.
That being said, when the JSA 2.0 come face-to-face with Sportsmaster and Tigress, thinking they will be confronting The Gambler (Eric Goins), things really get interesting.
Firstly, the episode transitions Courtney in to the role which Pat has been playing with her. The mentor. The worrier. The sceptic. We’ve yet to see this side of her character. She takes a step back, looks to craft a plan of action before entering the field and encourages the others not to dive in head first.
It reflects well on her to show these kinds of leadership skills early on. It also signifies a progression in the series writing. Things are moving along great.
The battle with between the JSA and the two villains is the highlight of the episode. Given that all the characters, bar Courtney, have less flashy powers it isn’t quite on the level with the pilot flashback. But it does feature some incredibly impressive wire work from plenty of the characters involved.
Even though this is their first time going in to battle together, all four of the heroes work to their own strengths. McNider and Beth work with the practicalities of the environment thanks to the googles, Rick uses his brute strength and Yolanda is as agile as we saw her during the trip to the hospital in episode four.
Sportsmaster and Tigress are a formidable team and it was great that the writers decided to make this an extended sequence which flows through much of the episode’s third act. More sequences like this in the future please.
What proved to be the most interesting point amongst the characters was when they returned to Pat’s garage for a debrief. The exchange between Courtney and Pat, again showing off the brother-sister dynamic, really flipped their roles and helped Courtney to see how a leader needs to function.
As the episode draws to a close everyone is left in a new position amongst the cast and with a sense of hope for the future. It’s going to be really interesting to see where DC’s Stargirl goes next.
“The Justice Society” is a great progression for the series. It shows the potential for Stargirl to become a truly cinematic entry to the DC Universe.
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.