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Stargirl: Rebirth Of The JSA

A deep analysis of Stargirl Ep's 6-8 and how it breathes life into the emergence of the new JSA

The thing I’m starting to realize about the hit series “Stargirl” is how intelligent and creative the show is.

The tightly woven foundation which is a reinforcement of stability behind the property is built from the same fabric of a Netflix show but still remains grounded and crafted with the flair of a standard network television series.

The hit series is intentionally serialized but, at the same time, it is split into mini-arcs. For example, the first five episodes were predicated on introducing the cast, showing us their struggles as people, the conflict each endures and conveyed empathy to the viewer. 

Stargirl — “The Justice Society” — Image Number: STG106c_0074r2.jpg — Pictured (L-R): Neil Hopkins as Sportsmaster and Joy Osmanski as Tigress — Photo: Jace Downs/The CW — © 2020 The CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

The first five episodes also toed the line between comics and reality. The more you invest in the series, the more you learn about the dark secrets that the quaint town of Blue Valley harbors. Remember the time when you first dip your foot into a pool and get the sensation of wanting to jump in? When you watch and finish the recruitment and world-building stage of episodes one through five, that’s the exact feeling you receive. 

Whereas in episode six, the arc changes once again as the team is put into action by Courtney. It was a step in the right direction because we got to see what the Totem (MacGuffin) meant to each of the recruits. Diving into spoiler territory, the first recruit was Yolanda, aka Wildcat, back in episode four.

Remember when we were shown a glimpse into her backstory and how everything she held dear was taken away just because of an accident? Well, when she puts on the Wildcat suit she feels a sense of confidence start to grow and adheres to the conflict residing in her. It’s clear to see her arc is one about the stages of acceptance and redemption.

Stargirl — “The Justice Society” — Image Number: STG106a_0172r.jpg — Pictured: Neil Jackson as Jordan Mahkent — Photo: Annette Brown/The CW — © 2020 The CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Moving on to Beth Chapel, also known as Doctor Midnite in this universe. Beth is riddled with self-worth and has no drive to leave the nest and mature as a person. She undergoes a major turnaround when she receives the original Doctor Midnite’s goggles. She finds a friend and a mentor — someone that understands.

Then we reach Rick Tyler, the son of the first Hourman. This discovery makes him boil with anger because of his parent’s death still hanging and looming around him at all times. I know your thinking that all these supporting characters just feel reminiscent of CW storylines. That’s because “Stargirl” is directed towards a younger demographic, but stands out due to the constituency and removal of comic tropes like “plot armor” and real human emotion.  

Needless to say, the new recruits stumbled with taking on the mantle and responsibility that the costumes and totems bear. There was a great scene where the camera pans on the faces of the kids with horror painted on them. It’s from the point of seeing the result of death for the first time and the realization of the world they just entered.

Stargirl — “The Justice Society” — Image Number: STG106c_0149r.jpg — Pictured (L-R): Yvette Monreal as Wildcat and Cameron Gellman as Hourman — Photo: Jace Downs/The CW — © 2020 The CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Courtney throughout episode six had a chip on her shoulder because she was in the mindset of establishing herself as leader of the new Justice Society of America (JSA) just because she was in the possession of her story MacGuffin. 

She failed to understand that the roles she picked for them mean more than she thinks. Something episode seven shows us quickly in the first opening moments.

The intro sequence of episode seven shows Courtney with a sense of pride and empathy every time she picks up the cosmic staff. It’s exactly how the latter feels with their JSA totems.

Episode six is crucial to the structure of the series because we see more villains start to emerge from the shadows, but we also see a dose of humility start to grow in the hearts and mindsets of the young heroes. 

In addition to the construction of a new JSA, the relationship between Courtney and Pat grows whereas resentment between Mike, his dad and Courtney grows due to the choice of keeping the JSA hidden from him. It’s clear to see in his eyes that he feels neglected by his family. 

Pat also doesn’t help his cause as he forces Mike to get a job in order to build character while also keeping him distant from the superhero life. One where many feel it’s fun to be a hero, wear a colorful costume, but fail to understand the toll, and ramifications that come with the cowl. 

Stargirl — “Shiv Part One” — Image Number: STG107c_0382b.jpg — Pictured: Nelson Lee as Dr. Ito/Dragon King — Photo: Josh Stringer/The CW — © 2020 The CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Episodes seven and eight almost feel like a movie split into two separate chapters. Seven is built upon the commentary of the past exposure of Cindy Burman, who is the bully of Courtney during his adventures in high school.

At the same time we learn more about her family and how her place in the JSA is revealed. The story is refreshing, yet fulfilling, and left me wanting more from the episode. Not too much was planted but certain characters were fleshed out more and the narrative was picking up all around.

Courtney has been growing as a person. Enemies were emerging and relationships were being created over choices. Then the episode ends and we are left begging for the latter part of the series. 

Stargirl — “Shiv Part One” — Image Number: STG107a_0544r.jpg — Pictured (L-R): Meg DeLacy as Cindy Burman and Brec Bassinger as Courtney Whitmore — Photo: Quantrell Colbert/The CW — © 2020 The CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

A week passes as consumers and fans digest and ponder about the direction of the series and the likeness of how it may start to wither and become stale. Episode eight reignited the fire of passion and strength for the story and plot.

Episode eight was creative because of how it paid respect to many comic tropes with a twist of misdirection. One thing to note about eight was that the actors brought their A-game, and the season has not slowed down from here on out because the end of eight saw the birth of a new mini-arc take form and blossom on screen. 

Brec Bassinger as Courtney Whitmore in ‘Stargirl’ season 1 episode 8 (Photo: Annette Brown © 2020 The CW Network, LLC)

I think the best thing I enjoyed about the eighth episode of this series was the identity, and how it felt like I was watching Sam Raimi Spider-Man. Every second, every piece of dialogue, kept me longing for more. It wasn’t like new comic book media where a big villain was attacking or an end of the world scenario was on the horizon.

No, it felt personal and real. It’s like I tell everyone — the story isn’t remembered for set pieces or action. It’s remembered due to the characters.

In closing with everything I discussed it’s clear to see why Stargirl already has a season two greenlit, and in the works. Also, episodes one through eight are nothing compared to the final arc of nine through thirteen. So, to those who haven’t watched, or took a glance at the series, now is the time to start your journey.

Brendan Rooney

Brendan Rooney has always been full of creativity and enthusiasm towards the world of widespread media. He is also a passionate comic book fan along with a die-hard sports pedigree. Brendan has written various articles covering all topics and dreams of forging a long-lasting legacy by bringing respect to the Rooney name as either a teacher, journalist, or whatever else the future holds. Brendan plans to graduate from Westfield State University in the spring of 2022 with a degree in English and a minor in Journalism.

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