Whenever a show shows characters having what is clearly the best day ever, it always means that something is going to go horribly wrong for them. Every single time. Spoilers follow for Stargirl Season 3, Episode 10, “Frenemies: Chapter Ten: The Killer.”
Courtney (Brec Bassinger) and the team regroup after a dramatic confrontation leaves battle lines clearly drawn. A terrifying discovery made by Mike (Trae Romano) and Jakeem (Alkoya Brunson) forces Pat (Luke Wilson) and Sylvester (Joel McHale) to go on high alert. Finally, Paula (Joy Osmanski) and Larry (Neil Hopkins) take matters into their own hands to make things right.
After the climactic battle last week, this episode is exactly the shift we need to recover from it. One side is somber and quiet, while other side is cheerful and peaceful. The episode opens with the Crock family just absolutely killing it. This episode is, really, about Paula and Crusher, the former villains who have become awkward but reliable allies for the JSA. And that makes what follows so horrifying and sad.
The Crock Family
While everything else is going on, the Crock’s are living their lives. They talk early on about how important it is for them to protect Courtney and her family because they’re “our people.” Paula tries to teach Barbara how to use a crossbow after Cameron’s ice grandma shows up at her house. Paula and Crusher keep stopping in front of the Mahkent mansion, talking about doing something about the situation. It’s framed to suggest that they’re going to fall back on their old ways. Instead, though, they talk to Cameron’s grandfather, Sofus, about moving on.
Crusher specifically calls out Courtney as the one preaching forgiveness, and he lays his hockey mask on the table as a statement. It’s time to move on and forgive. Sofus listens to them honestly and seriously, and they leave feeling like they’ve done well.
It’s devastating, then, when the two–just after finding out their daughter is getting into the college she wanted and breaking gender barriers with their sports team–follow a trail of flyers for Crusher’s gym down into a sewer, where they find that bank of TVs we’ve been cutting to all season. It’s all incredibly ominous. The two aren’t in combat mode, they’re unprepared for battle and, ultimately, they’re both actively practicing peace.
Ice Man Returneth
The killer, it turns out, is Icicle–Jordan Mahkent. You can’t really kill a guy who can turn into ice just by hitting him with a truck anymore than you can kill a guy who can turn into liquid metal by freezing him. Paula and Crusher are caught totally off guard when Icicle attacks, and it’s over before it even starts. They barely attempt to fight back before Crusher is on the ground slowly turning to ice, and Paula follows right after. The last thing they do is tell each other, “I love you.” And then their eyes go blank as they freeze solid, and Icicle turns them to ice dust. It’s grisly and grim.
Stargirl has done such a good job of rehabilitating these characters over the course of the season, showing how Courtney, Barbara, and Pat have changed their worldview in a very real way. They’ve actively tried to befriend them and have broken through their suspicion. First the Shade, then the Gambler, and now the Crocks–all warmed by Courtney’s good heart. It makes this legitimately horrifying death land incredibly well.
I don’t have a problem!
Elsewhere, the other stories continue to develop. Rick is doing the classic Guy On Steroids thing that us old kids will remember from Saved By The Bell and a heap of other late ’80s to mid-’90s shows about teenagers in high school, right down to Rick saying he feels better than ever and can handle it, and then freaking out his friend with violence. Mike and Jakeem run from the ape, find Cindy–who is totally fine, of course–and then take news of the great white ape back home. Notably, this is the third CG talking ape to grace DC TV, following the Flash‘s Gorilla Grodd and Doom Patrol‘s Monsieur Mallah. This one is called the Ultra Humanite, a scientist who keeps transplanting his brain into other bodies to keep living.
The other tough moment this week is when Courtney encounters Cameron Mahkent. Thanks to the interference of, presumably Jordan, her attempt at telling Cameron the truth has turned into a deep betrayal, and the once chill artist is now full Anakin, brooding and glowering. This is one of those moments where you can tell exactly why Brec Bassinger was cast, aside from being traditionally attractive and in great athletic shape. She does the quiet pain thing really well, and it’s hard not to hurt for her as he all but curses her name.
It’s hard to believe at this point that there are just a few episodes of this show left–there are a lot of plot threads to close up and make sense of before we’re all out of show. The pacing has been great this season, though, and this was the perfect time to deliver on the horrible, unfortunate ending for the Crocks. I don’t think a show like this has ever left me thinking about the way characters died as much as this did.