Stargirl is a show about a bunch of teenagers in Nebraska trying to pick up the legacy of a team of superheroes left behind by time. It’s also one of the best written and acted shows on the CW, and the Season 2 finale is one satisfying payoff after another. Spoilers follow for Stargirl Season 2, Episode 13, “Summer School: Chapter Thirteen.”
“Summer School: Chapter Thirteen”
SEASON FINALE — As Eclipso (Nick Tarabay) unleashes the final part of his master plan, Courtney (Brec Bassinger), Pat (Luke Wilson) and the JSA band together to take him down once and for all.
Family is complex. You don’t get to pick all of it, and you don’t like all of it all the time. But when things are truly dark, family is supposed to be there to support each other. Stargirl, despite being a show about light fighting literal darkness, understands how complex people can be without ever turning that into an excuse to have people act horribly in the name of good intentions.
The Stargirl finale delivers on what the rest of the season has built up to. That even the hero who holds the key to saving the entire world can’t go it alone, that not all of her allies are going to be the ones she expects or wants, and that she’ll still have to work hard to keep the ones she does want. The episode doesn’t spend any time messing around before kicking things off, and soon Courtney, Yolanda, Beth, Pat, and Cindy are all fighting Eclipso.
I loved this whole episode. Early on, Cindy and Courtney are fighting Eclipso together and there’s some rad choreography that not only looks cool but delivers on the idea that these two characters have–at least for the time being–put their differences aside entirely and are focused on working together to defeat Eclipso. They’re working in sync, performing practiced moves together.
No one is left out
It’s hard to pick just one or two moments throughout the battle that that stand out as favorites without recounting the whole thing beat for beat. Every character has something to do, and so many of the moments feel like big payoffs. While Mike, Jakeem, and the mechanic Zeek are trying to get STRIPE working, Rick is trying to figure out how to repair the hourglass. He’s not a scientist, though, even if he’s a smart kid. and he ends up giving up. Next time we see him, he’s suited up, minus the hourglass. Eclipso taunts Rick about his lack of super-strength–not that that would make a difference against the physical incarnation of hate–but Rick explains that he doesn’t need it. Then, Solomon Grundy tackles Eclipso. It ultimately goes badly for the ghastly giant, but it’s a triumphant moment all the same, especially for Rick.
Joel McHale’s character finally arrives on the scene at just the right moment in a way that feels organic and earned. Beth’s parents find out about her new side-gig as a superhero and take it in the best possible way. The Shade returns, proving that he’s as hard to kill as he seems and an even better actor than we thought. I’m usually against dead characters returning, but with the Shade it only feels right; like Reverse-Flash but without the whole serial killer vibe.
How do you fight wrath incarnate?
Similarly, I’m also not generally keen on fights that end with the hero defeating the villain with love. But unlike The Flash, Stargirl actually earns its silly comic-book ending. The whole season keeps coming back to this idea of making friends and allies, even when they were previously enemies and adversaries. The theme resonated throughout every episode, with Courtney reaching out to people like Jennie and the Shade and working overtime to save Yolanda; Rick bonding with Grundy and Beth with Dr. McNider (while trying to reassemble her family).
The keys to defeating Eclipso are the appearance of Starman and Courtney’s friends reminding her that she’s not alone. The enemy is, again, literally a god of hate and wrath, and who feeds off of those feelings. So again, for Courtney to realize that she has friends and hope makes sense here. All of these elements work together.
Once Eclipso is defeated–I won’t spoil that part here, suffice to say that Thunderbolt’s particular sense of humor plays a major role–we get some time to defuse after the intense fight.
Turning over a new leaf
Cindy approaches Yolanda and tells her that she wants a second chance, and to join the JSA. I’m not yet ready to believe that Cindy is a good guy, but this felt genuine. After everything these characters have been through, it was powerful for her to realize it, say it aloud, and say it to Yolanda, the person whose life she nearly destroyed. Courtney is ready to accept anyone as a friend; Yolanda is much more defensive, and Cindy knows that. Meanwhile, the Crock family–Tigress, Sportsmaster, and Artemis–move in next door to the Whitmore-Dugan family. I’m not sure how that works; Artemis said she broke them out of jail. How are they buying a house?
Again, though, after what these characters went through (and how they reappear during the fight), I actually believe they’re trying to do good, even if it’ll likely be misguided at some point. Stargirl is only willing to let the most truly evil of characters like Eclipso and Brainwave be unrepentant. The others, though, get a chance to learn, and it feels plausible and good. And so Blue Valley has this weird community of superheroes and ex-villains who are at least trying to do better thanks to the example Courtney keeps setting.
I’m absolutely convinced that Stargirl‘s 13-episode seasons are partly to credit for how well-assembled the show feels. If it was another 11 episodes longer, a lot of this stuff would fall apart. The writers and showrunners built Stargirl around a 13-episode season. The Flash and Supergirl sure seem like they are, too, but the network is forcing them into those longer seasons anyway. I can’t help but wonder how those shows would look with appropriately shortened seasons. I can’t help but think they’d feel as well assembled and enjoyable as Stargirl.