Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (January 30, 2022)
Back in 2020, Stargirl debuted on the CW Network and gave us another series based on DC Comics characters. Here we focus on a teen who discovers a superhero side.
This three-disc set includes all 13 episodes from the show’s second season. The plot synopses come from IMDB.
Note that whereas each episode in Season One came with a unique title, Season Two covers all via the moniker “Summer School”. It differentiates the shows with “chapter” indications.
Chapter One: “With summer break around the corner, Pat Dugan (Luke Wilson) suggests the family take a vacation. Beth Chapel (Anjelika Washington) stumbles upon a major secret her parents have been keeping from her. Rick Tyler (Cameron Gellman) secretly tracks Solomon Grundy after suspecting he may be still in the area.”
As I went into Season One of Stargirl, I did so with some skepticism because of its teenybopper focus. I thought the series might get dumbed down due to that orientation.
Instead, S1 offered a good mix of action, drama and comedy to become a winning collection of shows. This set me up to look forward to Season Two.
“Chapter One” offers an intriguing open to the year, as I like the way it explores how Courtney “Stargirl” Whitmore (Brec Bassinger) deals with the stresses of newfound superhero status. The show plays some of this for laughs but it adds some interesting dramatic tension as well. “Chapter One” launches the season on a positive note.
Chapter Two: “The Whitmores get a visitor, but Courtney is the only one suspicious of her. Meanwhile, an antiques dealer comes to Blue Valley and Pat recognizes him from the past.”
That “visitor” is Jennifer-Lynn Hayden (Ysa Penarejo), a young woman who inherits a Green Lantern ring from her father. That adds an intriguing twist, especially since the ingratiating Jennie gets on Courtney’s nerves. Expect a solid show.
Chapter Three: “After getting a taste of the superhero life, Mike Dugan (Trae Romano) pleads with Pat to let him join the team. Elsewhere, after seeking help from the Thunderbolt (voiced by Jim Gaffigan), the JSA prepares for a confrontation with the Shade (Jonathan Cake).”
Thunderbolt offers a fun aspect of “Chapter Three”, and Gaffigan’s lively vocal performance helps. I admit I find Mike to become a somewhat annoying character, but “Chapter Three” works well enough overall to minimize that irritation factor.
Chapter Four: “Cindy Burman (Meg DeLacy) begins to gather her new ISA, while the Crocks (Joy Osmanski and Neil Hopkins) break out of prison to see their daughter Artemis’s (Stella Smith) tryouts.”
While S2 has been enjoyable so far, I admit I think it strays too far from Courtney – you know, Stargirl, the series’ title character? While not absent from “Chapter Four”, she feels like a surprisingly minor component. This remains a fairly entertaining show, but I do wonder when S2 will actually focus on Stargirl and not the supporting cast.
Chapter Five: “Eclipso (Nick Tarabay) finds a new host, and the JSA hunts for the demon.”
When I watched S1, I feared the series would be little more than cliché “Young Adult” content. That didn’t occur in that span, but it seems more true with S2.
As noted, S2 still comes with a fair amount of entertainment, but it pushes more toward melodrama than we saw in S1, and this trend intensifies during “Chapter Five”. Due to this factor – and the aforementioned odd de-emphasis of the title character - I find myself less satisfied with S2 the farther into it we go, but we still find plenty of time for the series to rebound.
Chapter Six: “Cindy and her new team make their move against the JSA, leading to an epic showdown.”
That sounds promising, doesn’t it? Though one might expect an “epic showdown” closer to the end of S2, not in the middle of the season.
The well-staged battle does give S2 a nice shot in the arm, as it presents a lot of action absent from the prior five shows. This factor makes “Chapter Six” better than the last couple of episodes and gives me hope that the second half of S2 will continue to improve.
Chapter Seven: “When the guilt over Brainwave's death becomes too much to handle, Yolanda Montez (Yvette Monreal) is forced to make a heartbreaking decision.”
Yolanda has played a relatively small role in S2, so it’s good to see her get some more screentime. While “Chapter Seven” lacks the action thrills of the prior show, it comes with a darker tone that suits it and allows it to become a solid push ahead in the narrative.
Chapter Eight: “With his world crashing down around him, Rick focuses his attention on protecting Solomon Grundy after learning hunters are after bear in the woods. Beth becomes the target of Eclipso's latest plan.”
“Chapter Eight” continues the dark tone of the previous show, which works fine for the most part. Some of this feels “dark for dark’s sake” but enough drama occurs to make this a worthwhile episode.
Chapter Nine: “Pat is reminded of painful memories from his past. Mike is forced to control the guilt he feels for his role in Icicle's death. Courtney struggles to hold on to hope after Eclipso targets those around her.”
With a mix of flashbacks, “Chapter Nine” feels more expository than most of its siblings. Some of this proves useful, but the episode sees a little “stuck in place” and doesn’t move along the narrative as well as I might hope.
Chapter Ten: “Courtney learns that Pat lied to her, and she and Pat go to find Jennie to help them restore the diamond and put an end to Eclipso.”
After the last episode’s information about the “old JSA”, “Chapter Ten” pursues that side of things. It also feels somewhat like a bit of a placeholder, as it seems more concerned with some personal affairs, but it thickens the plot in a moderately effective manner – and it brings the welcome return of the Thunderbolt.
Chapter Eleven: “After a frightening encounter leaves Courtney's life hanging in the balance, the team band together to determine their next steps.”
In an intriguing twist, “Chapter Eleven” spends much of its time with Courtney in a form of purgatory, where she confronts demons. As we build toward the season’s finale, this become an intriguing approach that works.
Chapter Twelve: “Courtney, Pat and even Cindy put the new JSA back together to fight Eclipso.”
After a fairly somber run of shows, “Chapter Twelve” manages to bring back some comedy, which I appreciate. I think Stargirl fares best when it goes for the lighter touch, so this moderate return to tone pleases me. Add in the requisite increase in threat necessary for the climax and “Chapter Twelve” delivers the goods.
Chapter Thirteen: “As Eclipso unleashes the final part of his master plan, Courtney, Pat, and the JSA band together to take him down once and for all.”
This leads to the inevitable Big Action Climax, one that proves reasonably exciting, if a bit inconsistent. As mentioned, Stargirl works best as a lighthearted show, and the season’s mix of grim drama and comedy hasn’t always succeeded.
As such, “Chapter Thirteen” reflects the inconsistency. Like most of S2, it gives us a mostly entertaining experience, but it comes with its ups and downs.
Expect “Chapter Thirteen” to become an erratic but generally good episode in an erratic but generally good season. While S2 marks a decline after Season One, it still does enough to keep the viewer with it.