Stargirl Summer School 5 Television 

Five Thoughts on Stargirl‘s “Summer School: Chapter Five”

By | September 8th, 2021
Posted in Television | % Comments

Last week, I mentioned that Shiv, aka Cindy – I should really start using her given name – was the one character on Stargirl who seemed devoid of emotional depth. This episode attempts to give her a little more in that department, as well as did some reinforcing of the familial themes of the show. Let’s get to it.

1. What would we do baby, without us? Sha-la-la-la!

So much of this series, but especially this episode, is about the family ties of all of these characters. Even the characters, like Yolanda, who haven’t had family drama this season, is haunted by the deaths of a father and son. The JSA, since the 90s, has been about legacy, and this show has played directly into that theme. But we are also seeing that with the ISA, and we are beginning to see both SAs realize that, sometimes, a family legacy isn’t enough.

Even though Cameron is starting to exhibit freeze powers of his own, and despite seeing his grandmother’s own powers manifest themselves, he is the only character thus far that is not being pulled towards the family ‘legacy.’ But as I said last week, even though his dad took everything way too far, Icicle’s intentions were to make the world a better place. And so, while the remaining, non-Cameron, Mahkent family may hate Courtney, they also hate Dragon King, and call him and Cindy both monsters. Most of the villains on this show are pragmatists or selfish people who want things that can, in a vacuum be seen as having some value outside of their own small experiences.

But Shiv and her dad are just out for evil, and that is why Eclipso seems to have targeted her. She will give herself over to the Black Diamond without question, and therefore will be able to go further than any of the other villains, save her dad, that we’ve encountered. There will never be enough for her, until she burns it all down.

Rick flashes back to his parents leaving, Beth confronts her parents about their divorce, and everyone is haunted, both in dreams and in their real lives, by their pasts. The ties are both holding people back and tethering them to reality. We’ll see which get clipped by season’s end.

The most interesting familial connection this episode is only a teased/implied one. We see Shade and Barbara talking in her office, and he says that he sees something in her, a familial connection to someone he knew a long time ago. I’m trying not to put too many of my “Starman” feelings into this, but I’m going to venture a guess: they will somewhat retcon Shade’s past, and say that he used to date Hope O’Dare years before, and Barbara is an O’Dare. For those that didn’t read “Starman,” that likely means nothing to you, but know that the O’Dares are an Opal City institution and one of the great, underused families in the DC Universe. Jim Lee, hire me to write an O’Dares anthology book.

2. Poor Paul

We’ve seen Paul Deisinger, the summer school teacher, a few times this season, but we get to spend a little time with him this week, and saw what a mentor he is to Cameron. Sure, he’s a little creepy about it, but as a kid who had a lot of adult mentors who were incredibly well-intentioned, these types of characters always speak to me. We, then, see him get infected with the Black Diamond after Cindy bumps into him. We then see his ‘great’ artist emerge, painting Black Diamonds everywhere, but also going insane and being the vessel for Eclipso himself. We’ll talk about how he gets free later, but when he is, his fist sentence is, “I’ve lost my muse.” This is a reference to a conversation with Cameron he had earlier, and it shows the pain that he feels, as an artist, to have lost what made him feel relevant again.

Not that he can’t find joy in teaching, but he clearly has a desire to be ‘great,’ and that aspiration is not being met in his current life. You almost get the impression that, given the choice, he’d have been more content as an inspired puppet than an autonomous high school teacher. You’ve got to feel for the guy.

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This is now the second time in two seasons that Courtney and Cameron have almost expressed their feelings for each other, but both times Courtney had to run away on Stargirl business. Cameron is starting to get frustrated by this, and you can understand why. And it’s not like Courtney can confide in him about being Stargirl, because that will lead hm to know that she’s (partially) responsible for his father’s death.

In this instance, they were inches away from kissing when her phone beeped. Before she left, she should’ve just planted one on Cameron and say something like “I promise this is the last time.” By saying that without the kiss, she’s not showing him her feelings. That’s a common complaint of television shows, where characters just don’t express themselves enough – I remember a long run of LOST episodes that could’ve been expedited if people just talked to each other about stuff – and here, it seems like the obvious solution to the problem. “Hmm, how can I show him that I’m not running away from him?” By showing him that you like him too! C’mon, Court.

4. The nuISA is still not clicking

With Cindy dismissing Cameron, due to his grandmother calling her out, the ISA is still looking to recruit Mike to their side, but we’ve seen very little action on that front thus far. In “Chapter Five,” we see Mike attempt to buy/restore a getaway car for the JSA, still looking to connect to the team in some way. There is a clear path to getting Mike to the ISA, and that’s to point out how Pat/Courtney don’t trust him enough to bring him fully in, but this episode messes with that. Here, see Pat promise to work on some JSA stuff with Mike, and Mike is so happy that he bearhugs his father.

However, if Cameron is, again, rebuffed by Courtney and embraces his powers, and if Mike can be turned from his dad, it still seems like Shiv’s plan for the full team can come together. Stargirl is doing a good job of showing us various paths forward for just about the entire cast, with there being hopeful and mournful futures for each. There’s excellent drama building in Blue Valley.

5. Is this the most heroic thing Courtney has ever done?

The episode’s finale was truly one of the best action sequences on the show, ever. First of all, the Eclipso horror stuff was handled extremely well, with the CW budget being stretched to give the shadows some truly terrifying qualities. The camera work was also noticeably different and more inspired by modern supernatural thrillers. All of that stuff absolutely landed, and made the sequence stand out.

But more than that, Courtney took on the mantle of hero in the most concrete way she has thus far. She not only (temporarily) stopped Eclipso, but she saved Mr. Deisinger’s life. She didn’t do that by simply using her Cosmic Staff, but also by talking him through it. “Do you see the light?” was what Court kept shouting at Deisinger, and her strength of will is what allowed both victories.

While Courtney is, obviously, a superhero, this is the first action that felt unabashedly heroic. It wasn’t reactionary, it wasn’t in self-defense, it wasn’t even to just stop Eclipso. This was Courtney’s Superman moment, where she was as concerned with saving a person as she was with stopping a villain. It was a great moment for her, and one I hope the show doubles down on in the future.

//TAGS | Stargirl

Brian Salvatore

Brian Salvatore is an editor, podcaster, reviewer, writer at large, and general task master at Multiversity. When not writing, he can be found playing music, hanging out with his kids, or playing music with his kids. He also has a dog named Lola, a rowboat, and once met Jimmy Carter. Feel free to email him about good beer, the New York Mets, or the best way to make Chicken Parmagiana (add a thin slice of prosciutto under the cheese).


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