Stargirl: Brainwave Review
*This Review Contains Full Spoilers*
On this week’s episode of Stargirl, Brainwave, Henry (Jake Austin Walker) attempts to understand his telepathic powers better through his father’s (Christopher James Baker) research as Courtney (Brec Bassinger) looks to bring him on as a new member of the team.
Just after breaking up the fight between Courtney and Cindy (Meg DeLacy), who is currently under house arrest by her father (Nelson Lee) and is not happy about it, Henry finds some old video tapes of his father first learning about his abilities. The opening of the episode gives us a glimpse into the origins of Brainwave by showing us the first time he first used his abilities to kill a mugger. While his whole scientist going mad story is pretty baseline, it is elevated by how its presented. Henry watching his father discuss how their powers work and what’s he discovered about people as a result is a very unique way to display his origins. It’s also a very big effect on Henry who is seeing his father differently for the first time. This episode rides very heavily on Walker and Baker’s shoulders, but they really give it their best hear and it creates two very compelling performances.
Throughout Henry watching his father’s monologue tapes, Baker really gives you the impression of someone finally gaining the sense of power they’ve never felt before. It’s almost as if their this sense of rage that’s been waiting to be unleashed and after hearing how he talks about making a man blind and then telepathically pushing him into traffic because he heard his lewd inner thoughts about a woman on the subway, we see his dark turn to villainy. Even more interesting is seeing how Henry is reacting to all of this as he isn’t too sure on how to process everything. It’s easy to see that a part of him doesn’t really want to be like his father, but he’s slowly suffering from seeing the same problems that his father did.
It’s actually very intriguing to watch him hear thoughts that range from people hating his father to someone at the hospital anxiously awaiting the death of his wife so he can have the house and it’s something that drives him to think like his father. While I do wish that this element was played with a little more, the way the episode calls out this false ideology is great as Courtney’s speech to Henry is very heartwarming. She makes a great point about this being an isolated incident and that Henry is judging the people around them on a singular moment. There’s always much more to people that lies beyond the surface and maybe that’s why Brainwave became so distasted by society because he took these singular moments of ugly and made it his outlook on humanity. It at least leaves Henry pondering who he wants to be, but with one bad line about his father’s abuse towards him, Henry’s rage gets the best of him and he tells her to leave. Things only get worse with Yolanda (Yvette Monreal), and really everyone, not super thrilled about Courtney wanting to bring Henry onto the team and she arrives at the hospital to threaten him about joining. It all culminates in a genuinely shocking finale with Henry killing someone trying to steal his father’s fortune and awaking Brainwave from his coma.
While most of the episode mostly surrounds Henry uncovering his father’s past and his new abilities, we do get some more steps forward with what the Injustice Society are really after. After learning about Cinedy’s father being the Dragon King, we see that Pat (Luke Wilson) actually has some history with him when he and Starman were on another team called the Seven Soldiers of Victory – which has eight members. It’s an interesting tidbit that finally gives us a connection to the mysterious janitor that ended Courtney and Cindy’s homecoming brawl and delves into some more DC lore. Even more interesting is that Pat seems a little intimidated by this newfound knowledge and I can’t really blame him since he’s truly the brains of the operation over at the Injustice Society – other than Brainwave and Icicle (Neil Jackson) of course. We even get a glimpse of what the “New America” that the Injustice Society is planning to build, and it seems like mind control is their main weapon. It actually makes sense now why Henry has become such a big player in these last couple episodes now, especially with his father being in a coma for so long, and it’s going to be pivotal for either side to get his support.
Courtney and Pat also finally discover that Icicle is really Barbara’s (Amy Smart) boss after he and his family come over for dinner. It’s actually a really nice sequence where the dramatic irony of us already knowing things keeps you on the edge of your seat. You’re constantly wondering who is going to figure out what and it ends up being Courtney who figures out about Icicle’s powers after he mistakenly grabs an incredibly hot plate from Courtney without even reacting. I love the moment because of how causal it is, and that Pat doesn’t totally disregard Courtney when she tells him. Not to mention, it adds more tension to Courtney and Cameron’s (Hunter Sansone) relationship as she starts to question if he also has gained some icy powers of his own. Also, even though Courtney is still against Barbara knowing about all the heroes and villains in Blue Valley, we see that she walks in on Courtney using the staff and now we have a superhero confession to look forward to next week.
This week’s episode gives us a glimpse into Brainwave’s past as Henry wrestles with what he should do with his powers and Courtney and Pat finally figure out Icicle’s identity and its way too close for comfort. It sets up a lot of great things to come as the big battle between the JSA and the Injustice Society grows closer.