After Courtney gets herself into some trouble following an unexpected confrontation, Pat decides they need to come clean to Barbara. Meanwhile, Cindy takes heat from her father after a plan to take matters into her own hands goes awry. Finally, Yolanda, Beth and Rick lead an investigation into one of their own classmates.
Last week’s part one of this two part story (reviewed here) was a blistering opening gambit which really pushed the story of DC’s Stargirl forwards.
That episode featured some of the best character work on the series to-date by finally pitting Courtney (Brec Bassinger) against one of her peers as a villain. In a style befitting Buffy the Vampire Slayer it cleverly played upon the parallels between high school villains and comic book ones.
“Shiv, Part Two” picks up right where the last episode left off and continues both the high quality of story but also the excellent pacing of part one.
The opening scene takes an interesting spin on a superhero trope, having Pat (Luke Wilson) cover for Courtney’s injuries at the end of the previous episode by faking a car accident. But where many superhero shows would make a throwaway comment, Stargirl delves a little deeper by showing him total his beloved car and making the call to Barb (Amy Smart) to let her know about the accident.
Going to a slightly greater length to setup the subterfuge actually makes the entire situation feel more convincing to us as an audience. Flipping what is usually a comic book suspense of disbelief and turning it in to something more interesting.
It was also really beneficial to the human aspect of Stargirl to see Barb and Pat disagree over his cover story. Barb isn’t an unintelligent character, her job at The American Dream has illustrated that there’s more to her than just the mum figure and slowly Stargirl is exploring that more.
There’s very little chance that Barb is going to be so upset at Courtney and Pat’s lies that she becomes a supervillain. But it should certainly put her marriage in jeopardy to know that Pat allowed Courtney to risk her life for Blue Valley.
There’s a scene between Courtney and Mike (Trae Romano) which also brilliantly follows on from last week’s episode but broadens the relationship between the two brilliantly. It’s only the second time these two actors have been able to share a scene which isn’t purely constructed around comedy and I would appreciate the show giving them more emotional material like this.
Elsewhere the episode really does belong to the Courtney/Cindy (Meg DeLacy) dynamic. After Courtney’s discharge from hospital, Cindy comes to visit her at home in one of the most comedically tense scenes the show has ever aired.
Their awkward moments are interspersed with team JSA attempting to dig up dirt on Cindy and her father, whom they believe to be a member of the ISA. Both situations are equally hilarious and really break the dramatic tension of the overall story without spoiling the tone.
As Beth (Anjelika Washington) and Pat chat with Cindy’s stepmom (Lesa Wilson), Courtney is stuck in her bedroom making awkward smalltalk. Both scenarios are left lingering reveals: does Cindy know Courtney is Stargirl? Will Beth discover the dirt on Cindy?
It’s this kind of emotionally intelligent storytelling which really sets Stargirl apart from other superhero shows at the moment. It balances between genres without leaning too heavily into any one specifically causing other moments to feel out of place within the episode.
So when Cindy goes to leave Courtney’s room and nonchalantly drops in to conversation that she knows her secret identity it feels like a satisfying twist in the tone. The comedy subtly shifts towards something more menacing and the episode seamlessly transitions itself back towards more serious fare.
“Shiv, Part Two” is able to show us a slightly more aggressive side to Courtney’s personality this week. We’ve seen her rush headfirst in to danger before but often this is due to her own enthusiasm for heroism. This week she goes after Cindy due to the threat against her friends. She charges in to the fight and is unrelenting and the fight moves from the house and out in to the street.
It’s a show of brute strength from Courtney which really reinforces her growth as a character over the last eight weeks. Though it still may not the right course of action and is sure to have consequences later, we’re slowly unravelling all the different facets of her character.
It is testament to both the writing and Meg DeLacy’s portrayal of Cindy that she has been able to switch from recurring character to main villain so easily. DeLacy handles her scenes with gusto and doesn’t even begin to chew at the scenery which, forgivably, could be very easy to do in this type of show.
The vile streak in her personality is equally as believable as the cracks in her facade that we witnessed last week. So too is she able to handle the stunt work in this episode which is, once again, superb.
As the episode reaches its climax the overall narrative of the season is thrown even further forwards. The arrival of Henry (Jake Austin Walker) heralds further complications for both Shiv and Stargirl. It remains to be seen exactly where his allegiances lie but for now it appears another cast member has discovered Stargirl’s secret.
“Shiv, Part Two” is an utterly brilliant follow-up to last week’s part one. A perfect balance of drama, humour an action adds to a nail biting conclusion to Shiv’s origin story.
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.