Waiting until midway through the third season to even start putting a show’s two romantic interests together shows immense patience on the part of the showrunners. It would’ve been overdramatic to pair Courtney with Cameron when she was battling his dad, and overload to do it while she was battling Eclipso. But when she doesn’t know who to trust, finding someone to turn to only makes sense. Spoilers follow for Stargirl Season 3, Episode 4, “Frenemies: Chapter Four: The Evidence.”
After one of Sylvester’s (Joel McHale) plans results in an unexpected outcome, Pat (Luke Wilson) calls upon an old friend for help. Meanwhile, Beth (Anjelika Washington) uncovers a new suspect in their murder investigation, and Courtney (Brec Bassinger) reaches out to Cameron (Hunter Sansone).
We’re not supposed to know who in Blue Valley we can trust right now, aside from the core members of the JSA, and Stargirl is doing a great job of giving us reasons to trust people we shouldn’t and to suspect people we wouldn’t have.
Each week, my feelings about Starman waver back and forth. He’s trying to do the right thing. He needs to move on. He should stick around and help. This week, we get some of both. Following the ambush at the end of the previous episode, Sylvester ends up in a hospital bed. Thanks to Beth’s over-interested parents, they have an ally in the ER that can lie for them when necessary. Pat brings in the original Dr. Mid-Nite to see if they can find some evidence of who might’ve attacked Sylvester, and the Doctor discovers that the ex-hero appears to have absorbed a good amount of cosmic energy from the staff, allowing him to heal quickly while he thinks about whether he ought to even continue this existence.
Later, Crusher visits Pat’s house with a get-well six-pack for Sylvester; the initially reticent Sylvester decides to give him a chance. Minutes later, though, while Sylvester is talking about giving up heroing completely, an unusually enthusiastic and persuasive Pat Dugan brings down the Starman outfit he’d been working on, and it’s not long before he’s suiting up again. There’s an uneasy feeling to this; Sylvester is putting himself in danger, along with Rick and Yolanda, and for Pat to be the one encouraging it feels strange.
It feels like the Frenemies name of the season might pit Sylvester and Courtney against each other by the end, for control of the staff. The staff being willing to work with both feels weird, too. This staff Just Knew that Courtney was the one to take on the mantle, but it seems to be misreading Sylvester repeatedly–so what does that say about the staff?
While this is going down, the plot finally gives Courtney some downtime with Cameron, the cryokinetic son of Jordan Mahkent. Jordan is struggling to contain his powers when she finds him in the art room, and his attempt to push her away results in an explosion of his powers. Courtney is, of course, unsettlingly calm; Cameron takes notice of this. She’s also immediately very trusting of the guy whose father almost killed her in the way only an infatuated teenager can be. If Courtney were even a few years older, it wouldn’t feel nearly so authentic and instead, feel more like a writing shortcut than it does. Instead, it’s just a reminder of where Courtney is at in her life.
When Courtney tells Cameron to focus on things he cares about as he uses his powers, resulting in a gentle snowfall above them, it borders on Hallmark Christmas Movie stuff, but it’s putting Courtney in a difficult spot. Cameron thinks his father was a good guy who died trying to help people, while Courtney knows the darker truth. At the same time, she thinks she can protect Cameron from embracing the evil parts of his powers. The JSA has always pulled her away from him, but here she’s setting the JSA aside.
Return of the Dragon King
Underneath Blue Valley meanwhile, we learn that Cindy is changing. Her father experimented extensively on her as a child, and her arm is starting to look more like the snake that Yolanda thinks she is. Cindy seems to be caught between denial and fear. I’m still hopeful that the show isn’t faking us out with her turn toward the good side. She has plenty of reason to be angry at the world, but Courtney has given her a new start after rescuing and trusting her. It’s been interesting for her character and for Meg DeLacy, the actress playing her.
All of these relationships are sending these characters toward an explosive falling out that will hopefully change how we see some of them. A heel turn for Starman could be really fun, but I’m still not sure if that’s really where they’re going. Giving Courtney some reasons not to be Stargirl will be good to help remind her why she needs to be.