Updated: Dec 29, 2021
Episodes 8 and 9 of Stargirl: Summer School have been slow burns, and somewhat of a chore to get through. A part of me knew something like this was bound to happen, but I watched each episode with the hope that something desperately exciting would happen. After all, Eclipso is loose in Blue Valley! Freed from the black diamond that held him back from exercising the full scope of his power. Episode after episode, I played out the Michael Jackson Thriller meme, with a smile on my face and popcorn in hand as I took a seat to watch. By episode’s end, I was left disappointed. That’s on me, though. Even a series with over 9 episodes usually has a yawner or two within it. (I'm looking at you, Squid Games). Ultimately these yawner/talky episodes serve a purpose in not only stretching the story arc across the season, but to also give each JSA member their moment in the spotlight. The exciting stuff is soon to take place. It’s a matter of patience and faith.
Breaking up the JSA would be the best case scenario for Eclipso, which is why he makes it a point in these episodes to focus on the inner anger and fears of the JSA members and Courtney’s family. Eclipso’s comic book history reveals how he would use all of this inner turmoil and negativity to control others, make them do his bidding, or just destroy them. By destroying any flicker of peace and hope within the JSA team, no one will be able to stand in his way as he moves on to consume their souls, and Blue Valley in kind. Season One of Stargirl introduced us to three teens unlikely to ever become friends outside of superhero purposes. There was Yolanda the humiliated religious girl, Beth the friendless nerd with absent parents, and Rick the poor, bad boy orphan from the wrong side of the woods. As the lead, Courtney is everything she is expected to be: athletic, zealous, smart, brave, and bold. She doesn’t shy away from danger and will run right to it. Yolanda, Beth, and Rick are not all of those things. Beth is very intelligent, but she’s definitely not going to win the Feats of Strength at Festivus. Yolanda is wicked athletic, but she is too much in her head, absorbed in guilt and regret of past actions. Rick is brave and bold, but his hot-headedness takes over, rendering him unable to think things through before taking action.
Eclipso takes the heroes’ faults and toys with them all in truly messed up ways. Beth is largely the focus of Episode 8, and we see how sadistic Eclipso can be. He takes on the form of the young boy, Bruce, which we have seen in episodes past. As a young Bruce Gordon, Eclipso is nothing short of shocking. All that he throws at Beth is not only extremely offensive, but clearly shows just how much he relishes in the things that would make all of us cringe and squirm. Classic Eclipso! This is a very important episode for Beth not only for her character development, but to also show how worthy she is to carry the name Dr. Mid-Nite. Meanwhile, Rick deals with difficulties of his home and personal life, including secretly bringing food to Solomon Grundy in the woods.
I watched Episode 8 three times because for some reason I couldn’t stand to watch Rick’s story. I just kept tuning out. It kept bugging me because I couldn’t pinpoint why until after the third viewing. Despite the good that has happened to Rick in becoming Hour Man, he has to go home every night to an abusive environment. Think back to Season One when he was anywhere but home, doing various kinds of hooligan dealings. We all know his guardian/uncle isn’t someone who is of a nurturing nature, far from it. There are few things worse than being emotionally, verbally, and physically abused by someone who is supposed to love and protect you. This is such an infuriatingly confusing life experience where you feel all kinds of internal conflict. A part of you hates the abuser with all your heart, but there’s another part of you that hopes they see the harm they’ve caused, and change their ways, which turns everything around and life is good in the way it should be. Dare to dream, I suppose. You may be asking, how could Eclipso possibly torment an already tortured Rick in the way he has tormented Yolanda and Beth? For that you’ll have to watch the episode.
Watch this space on Monday for a Review on episodes 9 and 10!
Watch Stargirl: Summer School Tuesdays on the CW, and streaming the day after on cwtv.com
Ruth Kotsalos spent her Saturday mornings as a kid fully invested in Batman: The Animated Series. Since then, she has been a fan of all DC animated cartoons and movies. Ruth currently works in the nonprofit sector, has a masters degree from The New School, and lives in New Jersey with her husband John, and their German Shepherd puppy, Athena.