When Courtney Whitmore came to Blue Valley, her lack of a father figure was a noteworthy hole in her life. Now, deep into Season 3, she not only has a father figure in Pat, but also a weird British shadow uncle in the Shade. Spoilers follow for Stargirl Season 3, Episode 8, “Frenemies: Chapter Eight: Infinity Inc. Part Two.”
“Infinity Inc. Part Two”
Desperate to avert a major crisis on their hands, Courtney (Brec Bassinger) attempts to help a friend navigate their powers. Elsewhere, Pat (Luke Wilson) and The Shade (guest star Jonathan Cake) are forced to face their worst fears.
When last week’s ending brought Courtney, Pat, and the Shade to the Helix institute, it set the show up for a week with a much smaller cast than we’re used to–the JSA, the rest of the Dugan-Whitmore family, Cameron, and everyone else is back in Blue Valley, leaving us to focus on these three characters and Jennie.
Pat and the Shade are trapped in the Shadowlands, while Courtney finds herself separated from Jennie.
The Odd Couple
Pairing together two characters who usually don’t spend time together can be fun, and that’s what we get with Pat and the Shade. Both characters have pretty set viewpoints in life. For Pat, any problem can be solved by approaching them head-on and being honest and well-intentioned. For the Shade, all issues should be avoided, unless they stand to involve personal gain, and investing time and energy in the people around you is a non-starter.
The Shadowlands is this metaphysical space that seems to at once have a physical element and yet operate via the emotions of the person perceiving it. In this combination, we have two weird variables that the Shadowlands isn’t prepared to deal with. The Shade is the only person–until Jennie’s brother–who can access it as an ability. Pat is a guy who has seen everything–villains and heroes, life and death, fatherhood–and come out of it seemingly mentally healthy. Pat might be the most well-adjusted dad on TV, and Luke Wilson does such a good job of making him into a character I want to see more of. And so with these two, things get weird.
The Shade opens the door to Blue Valley’s diner, and… it’s the diner, not another place altogether. The Gambler is waiting for them, and he taunts the Shade. His weakened powers seem to have caused the Shadowlands to go after him like limping prey. They escape and appear in Pat’s garage, where they discover his dad working on a classic car. His dad berates him enough to impress Peacemaker’s dad. Pat doesn’t engage, though. He lets the tulpa say its piece and then just tells his dad he loves him. Despite happening in a mystical world of shadows on a teen superhero show, it feels like one of the more real moments I’ve seen on TV in a while. It’s not dramatic; it’s just quiet and sad. Pat’s dad can’t help himself, and Pat is sad for him.
As I’d started to guess last week, Mister Bones isn’t the bad guy. He’s just the misguided guy–he’s genuinely trying to help Jennie’s brother, but he’s working with partial information. This whole two-parter feels like it was meant to be a backdoor pilot for another show. Everything about it–the episode name, Infinity Inc., the introduction of Mister Bones (who is sometimes affiliated with Infinity Inc. in the comics), the way the episode ends with him saying that they should start a superhero team of their own–screams backdoor pilot.
The state of superhero shows, however, makes that extremely unlikely, and typically if they were going to do this they would’ve introduced other future hero characters, the same way that Titans did with Doom Patrol and Arrow tried to do with the Green Arrow and the Canaries spinoff that never happened.
Mister Bones does fit in nicely with the overall aesthetic of Stargirl, though, as a character that looks downright evil but has a lot more going on. I don’t expect we’ll see a lot more of him, and that seems a bit anticlimatic. I hope I’m wrong, though.
The next episode will take us back to Blue Valley and the drama there. This acts as somewhat of a bottle episode to resolve the lingering questions about Jennie, her brother, and the Shade, hopefully making for a cleaner final act to the season.