What would you do if you were hanging out with your new significant other, you turned the corner, and found your parents visiting their parents, unannounced? And also you’re a superhero and their dad was a supervillain and their grandmother is very clearly also completely evil. Awkward, right? Spoilers follow for Stargirl Season 3, Episode 6, “Frenemies: Chapter Five: The Betrayal.”
After learning that Courtney (Brec Bassinger) has been spending time with Cameron, Pat (Luke Wilson) and Barbara (Amy Smart) go on a recon mission to see if the Mahkents pose a threat. Meanwhile, Sylvester (Joel McHale) steps in to fill the void left by Courtney, and tensions between Yolanda (Yvette Monreal) and Cindy (Meg DeLacy) reach new heights.
What goes wrong this week for the team? Pretty much everything. The title of the episode is “The Betrayal,” but there’s so much going on that it’s hard to tell who’s betraying who. As I hinted at in the intro, Courtney’s parents show up at Cameron’s home unannounced, infuriating Courtney. Cindy catches Yolanda trying to replace the stolen laptop and the two come to blows. News of Courtney’s courtship of Cameron comes to light, and it threatens to break up the team.
Drama for All
All in all, this episode is kind of a weird one with some bizarre interactions alongside the sudden blowout of drama that seems to pull in just about everyone. It feels like a lot of pots boiling over all at once. The weirdest scene is when Mike and Jakeem go to Cindy’s house to try to persuade her to join their team, and it comes across like some kind of double proposal.
Meanwhile, though, all of the other JSA members are struggling with balancing things out. Rick successfully removes the limiter from his hourglass and is holding hundreds of pounds of weight over his head when the hour mark passes. Rick, how was that going to go if it didn’t work? We know it was going to because that’s the plot, but I can’t help but imagine being Rick and waking up in the hospital after a coma caused by being crushed under a heavy steel pole. Beth continues to push her parents further and further away despite having begged them to pay attention to her for the first two seasons. Yolanda, thanks to Sylvester’s advice, is lost in a haze of rage. When word comes out about Cameron, all three of them are disappointed with Courtney.
While all of this is going on, two important things happen to advance the season plot. The first is that Beth, after hacking the image of the Gambler’s laptop, finds the array of cameras that he also stumbled across. She realizes they aren’t his, and takes the information to Courtney and Pat; the information is out. I particularly enjoyed the All the President’s Men moment that took place when Beth started up the juicer before telling them about it, but then they spoiled it by looking directly at the camera like a bunch of rookie superheroes.
Throughout the episode, though, the show cuts back to the faceless person watching the cameras in the dark room. They’re assembling a puzzle that is a little on the nose or lack thereof: it’s a skull, telling us that the person assembling it is (most likely) Mister Bones, the guy we met at the tail end of Season 2 with the Nazi-looking jacket over a mobster-style pinstripe suit.
Does it tie together?
But all of this brings me to a question. We have all of these interpersonal relationships between characters breaking down, outlined above. That certainly seems like feed into the Frenemies subtitle for the season. But when I think about the strife in Season 2, it all tied into Eclipso and his plans to make everyone so unhappy that he became a god. Here, these just feel like a lot of confusing interactions. There’s no hint that any of this is tied to Mister Bones in any way. I’m okay with not foreshadowing stuff, but if it is all connected it feels a little chaotic.
That makes this episode feel like a bit of a bust–this feeling that none of the stuff happening right now adds up to something. It may indeed add up to something, but it should feel like that, too, at least to us.
The fights are still fun
There are some fun moments, though. When Yolanda attacks Cindy, the battle quickly moves outside. Out of nowhere, a whole truck nearly lands on Cindy–it’s Rick using his newfound power. The three trade blows for a while before Courtney shows up and does her power-slam move to separate everyone. The whole sequence is a lot of fun and another one of those “wait, this is the CW?” moments that Stargirl is good at.
Another is when Sylvester has a private talk with Courtney where he tells her to give herself a break–that balance is tough for people who feel driven to do the work they do. Pat stands outside listening, and later tells Courtney that he had nothing to add–Sylvester said all of it. It felt genuine on Sylvester’s part, and it didn’t immediately feel like misguidance, making him all the more confusing of a character. Is he a good guy who gives bad advice, a bad guy who gives good advice, or a good guy who doesn’t know he’s a bad guy? I really cannot read this character as completely as I’d like, and it’s in a way that’s very different from The Shade’s True Neutral behavior, if we can make a comparison to D&D.
I’m eager to see where things go from here. Stargirl has a strong track record with two excellent seasons under its belt. I want this one to be the third, and it is so far–but it feels like we’re at a tilting point for the season, one way or the other.