Being a superhero isn’t easy. Being a teenager isn’t easy. So what must being a teenage superhero be like? Yolanda’s guilt is continuing to weigh on her, and that becomes the focus of the story for this week. Spoilers follow for Stargirl Season 2, Episode 7, “Summer School: Chapter 7.”
“Summer School: Chapter Seven”
The fight against Eclipso was devastating; when the evil incarnate loped off into the shadows, one or possibly two members of the ISA were dead, the Shade gravely injured at best, and the members of the JSA shaken to their cores after being tossed around like toys. They’re struggling this week, and none moreso than Yolanda Montez, also known as Wildcat.
This episode belongs almost entirely to Yolanda; the other members of the remain in the periphery and are there primarily to help tell Yolanda’s story. The villains of this season are nowhere to be found, and even the fights that Yolanda gets into are primarily in her head.
As such, almost this entire episode hinges on Yvette Monreal’s performance, convincing us of the angst Yolanda is currently drowning in. We see her struggling and seemingly hallucinating at school, hiding in the confessional booth at her church. She wants to go to Courtney for support, but spots Courtney putting herself first–for once–and that pushes her to isolate herself further.
Throughout all this, Brainwave and his son, Henry, are appearing to Yolanda, and she has a run-in with Bruce, the creepy child incarnation of Eclipso. Brainwave even tells Yolanda at one point that as he died, he transferred his consciousness into her mind–it’s pretty believable! But we have an established baddie for the season whose whole thing is manipulating reality, so it sure seems like that’s what’s going on.
Thanks a lot, Beth
Things come to a head not with a violent battle but with a quiet conversation. Courtney convinces Yolanda that if she tells Rick and Beth what happened–that she killed Brainwave by slashing his throat–that they would understand. Beth, being the limp noodle that she is, can’t bring herself to empathize, and it sends Yolanda spiraling. Beth’s desire to be included, coupled with her lack of self-confidence is becoming a team liability; as we end this week, Yolanda has decided to quit being Wildcat.
After last week’s brutal fight, this episode is a tough watch, but it tells us a lot about what’s going on in Yolanda and Beth’s heads. Yolanda is, again, a teenager, and she’s tangling with the idea that she had to kill someone, even if it was to literally save the world. Her grief put her in a prime position for manipulation, and her previous trauma–in which Cindy Burman sent her risqué photos to the entire school–makes isolating herself almost instinctual.
These kinds of episodes are best when they tell us something specific about a character like this one. The temptation the writers and showrunners have to avoid is making this the theme of the show. If it falls into melodrama, it’ll quickly go the way of some of the Arrowverse’s very worst episodes and seasons. That seems like a far run for a show as generally upbeat as Stargirl, though, so as tough as this episode was to watch, I appreciate what it’s doing for the characters.