‘Stargirl’ 2×03 Review: “Summer School: Chapter Three”

Stargirl continues to best itself with 2×03, “Summer School: Chapter Three.” This episode picks up the season at full momentum as all the puzzle pieces start to fall in place. The characters’ dynamics deepen as The Shade pushes the JSA together after being separate for much of the season so far. As the JSA continues to work through their trauma, Stargirl explores the depths of their grief and passion for heroism by continuing to explore what it means to be a superhero. All the while, the show maintains an interest in The Shade. This sets him up as a villain with more depth than the shadows he manipulates.

Stargirl strikes an emotional balance with its JSA flashbacks that know how to set the tone for the episode. Sometimes the original JSA can feel so far in the past that it’s hard to remember who the JSA is avenging now. By starting “Summer School: Chapter Three” with the flashback, we are put right back in Pat’s shoes more than a decade ago. It’s those same shoes that his son will find himself in later in the episode. It reveals The Thunderbolt’s ties to the JSA. Most importantly, though, it reminds us why Pat keeps his guard up. 

Those flashbacks feel like a long time ago to us and the JSA, but to Pat, those wounds are fresh. He lost all of his friends, his fellow heroes, in one fell swoop. That’s not something someone can easily recover from. It’s a traumatizing event that influences everything Pat does after the fact. He and Barbara are the best parents in Blue Valley, but they’re also becoming the resident Mom and Dad of a group of teenage superheroes. That kind of responsibility is unfathomable considering the danger the JSA steps into without second thought.

Beyond that, it’s undeniable that this has to be triggering for Pat as he continues to find himself walking familiar paths with heroes in familiar suits who aren’t his friends he fought alongside. The fear of the past repeating itself must be unbearable at times. The flashbacks to the OG JSA inform the episode’s larger story, but they’re also a reminder of everything Pat lost. It lets us into his decision-making process when he calls the shots, like asking Mike to stay put just as Wildcat did to Stripe a decade prior.

This also raises the question that Pat’s overwhelming fear that history will repeat itself could make him overly cautious and leave room for mistakes far greater than assuming Mike’s curiosity wouldn’t get the better of him.

Stargirl could go on for many more seasons. These teenagers care about each other. They show up for each other when it matters. That bond will always make them a compelling group of heroes to watch.

Jonathan Cake‘s delivery of “He’s gonna kill those children” has a lot of emotion behind it. It doesn’t come across as someone who wants that to happen but the opposite.

It’s not that I imagine a long-lasting alliance between the new JSA and The Shade. It’s only that Stargirl is really great at muddying the water by making its villains reside in the grey. While Eclipso shows no signs of leaving the far side of the spectrum, it’s fun to think of where the show will take The Shade.

Other Spark-tacular Moments:
  • Jim Gaffigan was amazing as The Thunderbolt!
  • Pat and his car have a special connection that spans decades. I love that for them.
  • Johnny Thunder!
  • Ted Grant!
  • Jakeem!
  • Rick’s face when he saw how happy Beth was to hear from Chuck
  • Johnny’s last wish was that The Thunderbolt would find a new friend.
  • “By the way, I knew that was a 1976 Jag.” – Pat Dugan
  • The Thunderbolt saying that Starman would like S.T.R.I.P.E. made me so happy.
  • The Whitman-Dugan family dog is a main character. And that’s that on that.
  • Barb is right S.T.R.I.P.E. should have a setting to be both silent and invisible.

What did you think of Stargirl 2×03 “Summer School: Chapter Two”? Let us know in the comments below!

Stargirl airs Tuesdays at 8/7c on The CW.

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