Stargirl: Shiv Part 1 Review
*This Review Contains Full Spoiler*
On this week’s episode of Stargirl, Shiv Part 1, Pat (Luke Wilson) attempts to get the new JSA to work as a team while the Injustice Society deals with one of their children wanting a seat at the table – and it’s not who you would expect.
With Pat on board with training Courtney’s (Brec Bassinger) new crew, we get a fun training moment where Pat recaps the villains we’ve come to know, and Courtney learns another lesson in the harshest fashion yet. The scene of Courtney and everyone walking down the halls of Blue Valley high together like a heist crew ready to rob a bank is both hilarious and fulfilling. However, like Pat says, they aren’t really a team yet as they don’t know how to work with one another and surprisingly Courtney is the one who needs the biggest wake-up call.
As Pat gives a fun rundown of who the group is up against, Courtney just keeps interrupting him like a brat, even if she makes a good point about him going over information they already know, and eventually takes down all of Pat’s Injustice League dummies on her own. It’s a moment where Courtney’s selfishness is plain and clear and she’s falling back into her old ways. Now, Courtney has had plenty of moments like this before, but here it shows how even after she’s accomplished so much in getting Pat’s approval and a team of her own that she’s not perfect. She’s also still obsessed with proving to Pat that Principal Bowin (Hina X. Kahn) is the new Fiddler and makes takes a lot of unnecessary initiative that shows her immaturity. Even Beth (Anjelika Washington) is kind of disgusted with her selfish actions and hopefully the kind of drastic consequences and challenges she faces at the end of this episode legitimately make an impact for change.
It’s actually surprising though how little time we get with the now together JSA as we focus more on fleshing out some of the lesser developed characters we’ve seen thus far – especially Cindy (Meg DeLacy). Now, I haven’t said a whole lot about Cindy over the course of the season thus far because, well, she’s kind of just been the class bitch and that’s doesn’t change here. Cindy has essentially been your cookie-cutter mean girl as she’s slut-shamed Yolanda (Yvette Monreal) for what happened with Henry (James Austin Walker) and looked down on everyone around her – even the people closest to her. That doesn’t change here as she puts her own selfish needs of wanting to go to the Homecoming Dance ahead of consoling Henry while he’s wrecked by his father still being in a coma and him experiencing new powers. Even for her striking up a decent friendship with Courtney during science class, she’s an absolute villain to her stepmother and just a chore to watch because she’s so damn evil – but this episode give more purpose to it as we see that it runs in the family.
As Cindy rushes to her father’s workshop to talk to him, we see that she passes by a meeting between Injustice members discussing what to do about Stargirl and throws a comment towards Solomon Grundy like they’ve always known each other. Thus, we get a great realization and reveal that Cindy is actually the daughter of Dr. Ito/The Dragon King (Nelson Lee) and that she harnesses some sharp powers of her own. It’s a pretty awesome reveal to be honest as it delves more into Brainwave’s (Christopher James Baker) role in Icicle (Neil Jackson) and Dragon King’s bigger plan and how the kids of these villains could be used as replacements if things take a deadly turn. It’s even revealed that Cindy is tired of being a teenager, which could mean this some kind of disguise for what she actually looks like since The Dragon King doesn’t look human, and that she’s just dating Henry to keep an eye on him.
Speaking of Henry, we see that his telepathic powers are growing at an exponential rate and that he’s even able to utilize them to help him do well on a math test. It’s great to see this plot thread start to form since the kids of the villains have been touched on more in recent episodes. However, unlike Henry or any of the other villain kids, Cindy knows what she’s capable of and is ready to have a seat at the table. It’s interesting to see Cindy and Ito’s father/daughter relationship parallel, like literally, Courtney and Pat’s relationship and even see it come to a head in this episode’s finale. Tired of The Dragon King holding her back and hating that Courtney canceled their hangout to go to the dance with Cameron (Hunter Sansone), Cindy sees an opportunity to take on Stargirl all by herself when Courtney decides to follow Principal Bowin and we get the introduction of Cindy’s alter ego – Shiv.
While she’s not referred to as Shiv here, she certainly lives up to the name with the blades she has jutting out her wrists like the Hidden Blade in Assassin’s Creed and her sharp acrobatic skills. The suit actually looks just like the one she wears in the comics and the fire-breathing dragon staff is also pretty cool. The fight between her and Courtney that destroys the entire homecoming dance is really awesome and there’s this spinning one-take where the choreography is actually pretty impressive. We also see that Cindy pulls a very Wolverine/Deadpool type move by being able to regenerate wounds – regardless how bad it is. She’s definitely a formidable foe for Courtney and ends up kicking her ass. It leaves the episode on an interesting cliffhanger with both Courtney and Cindy knowing who each other is and it’ll be interesting to see how this impacts their lives at Blue Valley High when they see each other again. Also, apparently the janitor is a sword-wielding knight that ends up saving Courtney so we’ll have to see where that is going and if there’s a new member of the JSA on the rise.
Like I said before, we also get more time with less-developed characters here that’s just okay. At the Whitmore household, Barbara (Amy Smart) is going on a work trip with Icicle that sets up a possible “romance” with them as a conversation with Cameron hints that Icicle could move on to find new love. Personally, I hope that things don’t go in this direction cause it’s kind of unnecessary and it feels like it’s just to give Barbara a purpose in things. We also see Mike (Trae Romano) blow up at Courtney at the homecoming game for spending a lot of time with Pat and Cameron ask Courtney to the homecoming dance after getting advice from his father. The scenes on their own are fine, especially between Cameron and his father, but they just come out of nowhere. Cameron hasn’t been around Courtney all that much and Mike has basically been used for comic relief for the most part, so these moments are just random and aren’t built up all that much. Maybe things could get better if more time is dedicated to these small plot points, but it doesn’t get off on the right foot.
As the series touches on the new generations of heroes and villains that are slowly forming and building toward a thrilling final fight, Courtney faces a new challenge in the form of a rising threat no one expected. There’re definitely some smaller threads that don’t hold their weight, but the series sets up a new direction as the Injustice Society’s plans start to come to light.