Stargirl Season Finale Review
*This Review Contains Full Spoilers*
On the season finale of Stargirl, the JSA and ISA come to a head as the group attempts to put an end to their plan of New America before Brainwave (Christopher James Baker) is able to create their brain-dead army.
Before we get to any big brawls between the JSA and ISA, we first get a glimpse into what’s happening in Blue Valley while Brainwave is gaining the control of every adult mind. After we see Principal Bowin’s son take his mother’s advice and bash some bully’s head in with his tuba, we see where the ISA’s big machine is and it’s hilariously in the middle of the football field. What follows is a grim image of all the adults transfixed by the sky and frozen in place. There’s even one little girl that’s tugging at her father’s sleeve confused and scared by her father looking lifeless. If this is what the ISA see as “progress,” it’s not the kind of thing I would want to be a part of – especially when people start bleeding out of their ears. As it was established last episode, the minds that are resistant to Brainwave’s control will die and with their being millions of lives at stake, Courtney (Brec Bassinger) are going to have to act fast.
First though, Courtney is going to have to fight against Pat as he’s controlled by Brainwave, but when she tries to call to his heart by finally showing her acceptance of him as her father. It’s a sweet moment that works in the for a short time but creates a new problem when Pat’s ears start to bleed when he resists Brainwave’s control. Thus, Beth (Anjelika Washington) and CHUCK (voiced by Henry Thomas) are forced to find a way to fight against The Gambler’s (Eric Goins) hacking and it’s pretty great how they do it. There’s nothing more The Gambler seems to care about other than his money, so CHUCK decides to help him create a better world by donating all of his money to charities. It’s a pretty hilarious solution and gives us more great time to Beth and CHUCK working together. Even better is that Pat and Janitor Justin (Mark Ashworth) are now free of Brainwave’s control and are ready to give us a very dope fight.
With the clock winding down and the ISA getting tired of Courtney and the rest of the JSA getting in their way, it’s time for these two feuding sides to showdown. It’s sort of a perfect mirror of chaos as we saw in the first few moments of the series with original JSA and ISA squaring off. Sportsmaster (Neil Hopkins) and Tigress (Joy Osmanski) get unleash the beast again, Dragon King (Nelson Lee) is ready to spar against Janitor Justin for old time’s sake, and Icicle (Neil Jackson) doesn’t even have to go into his full icy form to deal some heavy blows. One of the first big takeaways is that while the Dragon King pins Justin into a vulnerable kill position, Cindy (Meg DeLacy) escapes her cell and lands a seemingly killing blow to her father. Now, we’ve heard multiple times that it’s pretty tough to put the Dragon King down so it’s more than likely that he’s not actually dead, but Cindy’s escape is going to create major ramifications going forward – some that we see at the end of the episode.
More importantly, after Sportsmaster and Tigress are knocked out, Yolanda (Yvette Monreal) is able to sneak in and defeat some of Dragon King’s lackeys but runs into quite a surprise. The last goon standing ends up being Henry (Jake Austin Walker) as he says that he’s been actually laying low as a goon, but it’s easy to feel like something is fishy about this. It’s quite a stretch and when it was initially happening, I had a gut feeling that Brainwave was attempting to pull of some trickery. My hunch ended up being right and Yolanda doesn’t fall for it either and ends up slashing Henry’s throat, in a pretty gruesome moment, to reveal that it is Brainwave. Personally, this moment left me a little mixed. It’s definitely a strong and satisfying way for Brainwave to go since his cockiness and ego have finally come back to bite him. Truthfully, I don’t know what he was thinking and why he thought he could leave his chair and come back just fine. Regardless, it’s a fitting end for a rising threat and it’s a little more comforting that Yolanda is the one able to get vengeance for Henry.
What makes this moment mixed for me though is the conversation that preempts this kill with a random conversation between Yolanda and Rick (Cameron Gellman) about the ethics of killing. It’s a pointless conversation that’s just stuck right before the final battle and just comes off stereotypical Yolanda goes against her initial feelings and we don’t get much of a reaction of it and we probably won’t until next season. After the dust has settled, we see that’s she’s a little shaken up by her actions, but it’s unsatisfying to see this be unresolved. Truthfully, this conversation is really meant to preempt the fight between Solomon Grundy and Rick – which ends up being the most disappointing and underwhelming aspect of this entire finale.
The second Grundy is released the hype levels raise like no other, but immediately fall the second you see him. Look, I’m not going to lie, Grundy looks totally fake and the CGI used for him looks terrible. Obviously with this show being in its first season, it doesn’t have the highest budget, but without it slightly resembling Grundy, it would be tough to even know that it was him. It’s disappointing to see him not even mutter the nursery rhyme that inspired him, and he barely even looks that strong since Rick basically just kicks his ass without too many issues. Throughout the whole season, Grundy has been positioned as this daunting threat that Rick takes all too lightly and seems like a perfect opportunity for Rick have a good old slice of humble pie. However, Grundy is shown to be more a gentle giant at the end and Rick just letting him go because he won’t fight back ruins any chance of him learning a unique lesson about his rage. It’s super unsatisfying.
It’s even easier for Courtney to destroy the machine since she just has to blow it up, but that doesn’t mean that Icicle is out of ideas. Seeing his team be beaten by the JSA, Icicle storms the town hall to confront Beth and Barbara (Amy Smart) and ends up taking out CHUCK in a heartbreaking fashion. With one ice blast, Icicle puts CHUCK out of commission and breaks the hearts of Beth and any viewer watching in an instant. While I’m sure this isn’t the last we’ve heard of CHUCK, it’s a shockingly sad blow to the team and is an incredibly poignant moment for Beth as she’s lost her best friend. Even worse is that Icicle has taken Barbara to the top of the building and has totally lost it.
With his plans being nearly foiled, Icicle is totally losing it as he tells Barbara that he’s not going to let his last actions for his wife be for nothing. It’s actually very compelling to see Icicle become so consumed by his hatred and desperation and it could’ve been interesting to see him be totally unhinged later on – it could’ve if this series didn’t unfittingly get rid of one of its best characters. Just as a big battle ensues on top of the building and Icicle falls to the ground leaving us with a half human/half ice Icicle that looks awesome, he’s unceremoniously smashed to pieces by Mike (Trae Romano) driving a van. It’s a crushing blow that’s immensely unsatisfying because one of the greatest DC villains brought to life is killed by a walking/talking cartoon character. In short, it sucks, and the series completely blows giving it’s top villain a satisfying end.
Even the wrap-up we get of everyone is mostly bland, outside of a few moments, as everyone is licking their wounds. There is a nice moment of Janitor Justin exiting and giving us hope that we could see some more soldiers appearing in the future. Pat and Courtney have a nice moment at Christmas with her giving him a corny “World’s Greatest Dad” mug and it’s been really nice to watch their relationship grow over the course of the season. We even get a pretty cool sequence of Stargirl and S.T.R.I.P.E. flying through a snowy forest and showing that their superhero days are far from done. However, none of it compares to what we get with the possible villains in the future.
Cindy is shown rummaging through The Wizard’s old stuff and finds a glowing diamond that boasts an evil laugh when she mentions the name Eclipso. From what I’ve read thus far, Eclipso is a Jekyll and Hyde type villain you don’t want to mess with, and it seems like the JSA has an even greater threat to worry about in the future. Not to mention, The Shade, an old member of the ISA, is shown mocking Icicle in their old meeting room and it’s a mystery, for now, what side he’ll end up playing for when Eclipso comes around. The biggest shock, however, comes in the form of Starman (Joel McHale) still being alive and looking for Pat. It’s awesome that we’ll actually get to see McHale get to play the character more and it’s what making a second season look pretty damn good right about now.
Although the series isn’t able to capitalize on the expectations, it’s built around its villains since Icicle has a pretty unremarkable and undeserving conclusion and Grundy doesn’t live up to the hype, it’s still provides a solid season finale through the heroics of the new JSA and creates some interesting routes for season two.