Stargirl: The Justice Society Review
*This Review Contains Full Spoilers*
On this week’s episode of Stargirl, The Justice Society, Courtney (Brec Bassinger) must make a tough decision about her new teammates as they get ready for their first mission together.
Now that Courtney has finally assembled a Justice Society of her own, she feels ready to start making moves on the Injustice Society and stop Icicle (Neil Jackson) from forming his “new” America. However, Pat (Luke Wilson) pulls a classic disappointed parent type move by waiting in the darkness of Courtney’s room to confront her about taking the tokens and costumes of the original JSA. After another spat with Pat about whether or not it’s time for a younger group of heroes to rise, Pat tells Courtney that she has to take away the costumes and tokens away from her new friends and it’s actually made to be a really tough task.
It’s great to see the generational collide of new and old coming together through the new members finding inspiration in the old ones. The scene of Yolanda (Yvette Monreal) being inspired by the story of Ted Grant not willing to succumb to the unethical gambling in boxing, but still go out fighting strong is very motivating. It’s easy to see how much Grant’s story connects with hers and it’s nice to see different generations connecting without them having to be face to face. Even better is that the growing friendship between Beth (Anjelika Washington) and Chuck (voiced by Henry Thomas) constantly gives off these infectious and irresistible good vibes. Whether it’s them discussing books or just laughing from jokes that just connect with them, you can feel how much Chuck means to Beth and that she finally has a genuine friend. All of this is what makes it hard for Courtney to tell them that they can’t keep these things, but, thankfully, this task is short-lived and ends up making the team eventually go on their first mission together – costumes and all.
While Courtney talks to Yolanda and Beth, Pat attempts to set Rick (Cameron Gellman) straight and get his help in deciphering his father’s journal. Attempting to show Rick how his rage can bring destruction and tell him that his father would be displeased with his action, Pat actually gets more than he handles as Rick brings up some fair points about Pat’s fears. Pat fails in getting Rick to give up the hourglass, as well as the journal, and Rick points out how Pat is supposedly trying to stop the Injustice Society and handling everything, but really isn’t. Don’t get me wrong, Pat’s fears are reasonable, but it’s really great to see someone other than Courtney call him out for his cowardice. It’s also creates some more empathetic qualities for Rick, who was a big ball of angst last episode, and it’s nice to see this interaction leave an impact on the characters that’s fleshed out at the end of this episode.
Before we get to that or the team’s first mission, it’s important to acknowledge how this series is creating some of the best villain depictions I’ve ever seen. We first have to get to the two villains basically headlining this episode with husband and wife duo Sportsmaster (Neil Hopkins) and Tigress (Joy Osmanski). From how they kill the current football coach for scolding their daughter Artemis (Stella Smith) for punching a teammate in the face to the genuine itch they have just to go on another mission and whip out the costumes, these two are pure villainy glee and its rad. They’re even training Artemis a bit too as they leave her with a workout routine to complete as they go on a mission that Icicle sends them on. We also get to know Steven Sharpe (Eric Goins), or rather his villainous alter ego The Gambler, a little better and see that things aren’t so peachy keen in the Injustice Society as Icicle scolds Sportsmaster and Tigress for killing another coach and the married couple get mad at Gambler for littering.
The real MVP (most valuable portrayal/performance) of this episode has to go to Jackson as Icicle as his tragic backstory and sympathetic qualities that stem from the great writing and performance from Jackson are just immaculate. We initially see that Icicle is still haunted by his wife’s death and we later find out that her birthday has come around. He’s clearly distraught by the date, but it hasn’t made him completely cold to the world. His heartwarming relationship with his son, Cameron (Hunter Sansone), makes it hard not to feel some kind of empathy for him and he could’ve easily just snapped at the waitress who brings a piece of cake with a candle for the birthday she overheard them talking about, but he doesn’t. Instead, he sees it as a sweet gesture and uses the opportunity to bond with his son as they pay remembrance to a fallen loved one. Even for the evil deeds we’ve seen Icicle do, there’s a genuinely sympathetic element to him that makes him so complex and the writing for him is phenomenal.
Eventually, we get to see this two sides collide as Courtney takes the group of young heroes on their first mission with everyone in costumes, including Rick’s Hourman and Dr. Mid-Nite (which look cool), and take on Sportsmaster and Tigress. Although the group is looking to stop The Gambler from hacking satellites, they end up just running into Sportsmaster and Tigress and we get a pretty great fight sequence that shows how skillful these two are and how experience really does beat enthusiasm. Sportsmaster’s fighting is pure comic book madness as he gloriously cracks baseballs at deadly speeds to knock Rick on his ass and utilizing an explosive hockey puck to put Courtney’s staff out of commission for a bit. Tigress even shows she’s a strong match for Wildcat as they get into a really cool brawl to show who’s the ultimate feline themed character. All joking aside though, this sequence shows that Sportsmaster and Tigress still got plenty of strong fight within them and that the new generation of the JSA still need some work.
Outside of Courtney holding her own against both villains in a pretty awesome fight sequence and Yolanda being a worthy sparring partner against Tigress, the other two just don’t measure up. Rick’s rage doesn’t really get him far in his fight with Sportsmaster and Beth isn’t given a whole lot to do other than get Yolanda out of a tight spot. Frankly, if Pat didn’t show up as S.T.R.I.P.E., these new members wouldn’t be around so long. However, after Pat shows up, we get some great resolution with Rick respecting Pat’s skills in creating a giant robot and Pat and Courtney finding some common ground. Pat accepts this new team and is ready to train them to be better and Courtney accepts that they still might not be as ready as she thinks it is. It’s a deeply honest moment that’s made better through Wilson and Bassinger’s great acting and sets the tone for a brighter future for the new JSA.
This week, Stargirl delivers a perfect episode that shows a great connection between different generations of heroes, a stellar showing of villains with Sportsmaster and Tigress suiting up for action and Icicle gets some excellent sympathetic moments, and a bright direction for the new JSA.