We're finally starting to get some answers.

Sure, there's still a lot we don't know, but Stargirl Season 2 Episode 3 helped answer of few of the season's more pressing questions: What is The Shade doing in Blue Valley? Who will yield Thunderbolt? Will Courtney pass summer school?

OK, maybe the last question is a bit of a stretch, but this season is shaping up to be a good one.

First off, let's take a moment to congratulate the series on finally striking the right balance of honoring the source material while still providing new and engaging storylines.

This may be a point of contention among some fans, but I fall into the category of series taking their cues from the original mythos and then making it their own.

Pat: Still zipping around I see.
Thunderbolt: I can't believe you built this. If Starman had seen it, I'm sure you would have promoted you from sidekick to, like, a senior sidekick. He would have been happy.
Pat: Well, it's not a toy.
Thunderbolt: So there's the new JSA now, huh?
Pat: Yeah, but you know how dangerous life can be and even with power like yours, Johnny died.
Thunderbolt: I remember his smile when he made that last wish, and then he was gone.
Pat: So what was his last wish?
Thunderbolt: That I’d find a new friend.
Pat: Mike, why him?
Thunderbolt: You know how it works. I can only pick someone like me to be partners with, someone who feels completely and utterly alone.
Pat: That's really how he feels?
Thunderbolt: Right now, yeah.

Some loyalists may hate any deviations from the comics, but exact text-to-screen adaptations can be bland. Yes, not all of them are, but especially for television shows, I want to be excited and surprised and caught off guard, all of which is harder when we know how things will play out.

If a television series is a direct copy of a book series or comic book, or even another television show, what's the point of watching? Because let's face it, nothing will ever surpass the original, so they might as well try to elevate the work somehow.

Case and point: Mike, briefly, controlling Thunderbolt.

Fans of the comics will remember that Jakeem inadvertently receives Johnny Thunder’s genie, Thunderbolt, in a pink pen given to him by Jay Garrick. Jakeem eventually becomes a member of the JSA and works alongside superheroes like Hourman, Stargirl, and Shazam, but we're getting ahead of ourselves.

So what the series brilliantly does is it starts with Mike yielding Thunderbolt at the top of the hour, but by the end, the pink, lightning-haired genie is in Jakeem's possession.

It's that delicate balance of respecting the source material and making it Stargirl's own, and the writers nail it.

Ever since finding out about the JSA, Mike has wanted nothing more than to be a part of the team, but not just any member. Instead of riding the bench, he wants to out there with Courtney and co., where the action is.

So when the opportunity presented itself to join the varsity team, you can bet Mike would take it. Based on the episode promo, we all knew Mike would be Thunderbolt's new master, but the details surrounding the how and why were still a little fuzzy.

Mike: What’s going on?
Thunderbolt: What's going on is that you, Mike Dugan, are now in control of me, the Thunderbolt.
Mike: The Thunderbolt?
Thunderbolt: As in Johnny Thunder and the Thunderbolt of the Justice Society of America. You’re so lucky.
Mike: This belonged to the JSA?
Thunderbolt: Yep, you said the magic word, and now I'm back in action.
Mike: Wait, so the magic words are so cool?
Thunderbolt: Word singular. It's pronounced ‘so cool’ in my native homeland of Badhnesia.
Mike: Bas-what?
Thunderbolt: It's not on the map anymore. Thanks for bringing it up. ‘So cool’ means set free the all-powerful force upon the earth of the magical and awe-inspiring Thunderbolt. It’s also a synonym for the sound on the chalkboard that drives everyone crazy, but I like that sound.

This installment fleshed out some of those elements, and we learned only those who feel completely and utterly alone can control Thunderbolt, meaning Mike is feeling more down in the dumps than we previously thought.

Mike provided comic relief for most of Stargirl Season 1, and most everything seemed to roll off his back. Therefore due to his carefree and laidback nature, it was easy to miss just how much Mike was suffering.

Because yes, Mike's finally in the know, but knowing the truth about Pat and Courtney's escapades and the JSA doesn't magically negate him feeling like a second-class family member.

And even after Mike's in possession of Thunderbolt, he still feels less than, especially when Pat benches him from going on the mission to confront The Shade, similar to how the old JSA benched Pat during their final battle with the ISA.

All Mike wants is to help, be included, and feel important, so it's hard to knock a middle schooler acting impulsively, thinking he can singlehandedly defeat a villain as powerful as The Shade.

The show can dress up its characters in costumes and blur the lines between technology and fantasy, but at its core, this series is rooted in human emotions: desire, wanting, searching, guilt, anger, joy, sadness.

So how can we stay mad at Mike for his boneheaded move when a) it's a stunt Courtney would pull -- even now -- and b) all he wanted was to feel like he belonged? (The answer is we can't.)

Plus, it's not like Mike doesn't know he messed up. He's fully aware that he was in the wrong, and, adding further insult to injury, he no longer has Thunderbolt after wishing the genie was in better hands.

Mike: So did you guys have a vote yet? Am I in the JSA, or do I have to go through some hazing first?
Courtney: There's no hazing.
Mike: So I’m in, right?
Courtney: It's not up to me.
Mike: Yeah, it is. You’re like the JSA’s leader.
Courtney: But Pat's your dad. That’s veto power I can't overrule.
Mike: He told you no too. Come on, Court, think about it: All the bad guys we’ll be able to take down, all the people will be able to save, you and me together, brother and sister.
Courtney: That sounds great, really, but…
Mike: The Thunderbolt picked me, so I'm like you. I was meant to be a superhero. It's my destiny. Please, help me try.

In the end, Mike is essentially back where he started: On the outside, looking in, feeling like he's an afterthought. The only difference is Pat is a little more cognizant about his son's feelings, so hopefully, he can figure out a way to make Mike feel more included.

Being a superhero is a dangerous job, so it's understandable why Pat wanted to keep Mike as far away from the action as possible, but all that did was drive a wedge between the father and son and make Mike feel more alone than ever.

Because even when Mike had Thunderbolt, he still felt left out, only hearing that Pat didn't think he could handle being part of the JSA, rather than realizing his father's concerns partially stemmed from Pat's apprehension about anyone controlling Thunderbolt generally, not just Mike.

Pat seems to have realized he dropped the ball when it came to Mike, and in a perfect world, he would rectify things instantly, but this is Blue Valley, and there are bigger threats afoot.

Cindy and Eclipso were missing in action this episode, but the JSA came face-to-face with The Shade for the first time, and to say they were outmatched would be an understatement.

The Shade is more powerful than they anticipated, and the entire JSA failed miserably in their attempt to incapacitate him. And things probably would have still gone poorly had Mike not intervened.

The Shade isn't someone to be trifled with, and while we don't know what his evil plan is, we got one step closer.

We finally know what brought The Shade back to Blue Valley, and in hindsight, it should have been evident once he started sniffing around the late William Zarick's possessions.

Pat: Why are you here?
Courtney: We won't let you hurt our town.
The Shade: Why ever would I do that?
Yolanda: Because you were a member of the Injustice Society.
The Shade: Our interests align for a moment, but birds of a feather, we were not. Jordan Mahkent and his merry band were no friends of mine. Icicles was a lunatic. If there's one thing worse than a man who wants to rule the world, it’s a man who he wants to save it, though seeing the way your generations going, I expect you’ll humanity for good.
Courtney: OK, just because you gave up and only looked out for yourself, doesn't mean we're ever going to. We're never going to stop fighting to protect the world from people like you.
The Shade: Just to reassure you, I have no dark design on Blue Valley. Stay out of my way, and I'll be gone before you know it.
Courtney: Why are you here?
The Shade: Young lady, I'm not being coy. It's just better than none of you know.

The former ISA member is after Eclipso, and whatever he has planned for the demonic presence can't be good. The Shade claims his master plan doesn't involve Blue Valley, but that doesn't mean we should give him a free pass.

Eclipso is a dangerous and possibly uncontrollable entity, as demonstrated by the few instances we've seen the gem in action. 

For the time being, the good news is that The Shade still has no idea where Eclipso is, but that won't stop him from tearing every inch of Blue Valley apart until he finds it.

His search should bring him into the crosshairs of Cindy, and with the demonic presence in her possession, it should be an interesting fight. However, should The Shade get Eclipso, we should be worried.

Cindy is still inept enough at being a supervillain that she doesn't have the know-how or skill to wield Eclipso to its full potential, but someone like The Shade, who's been around for hundreds of years, could probably enact his evil plan -- whatever it may be -- rather quickly.

So, in conclusion, when The Shade gets Eclipso, which we all know will happen at some point, we should prepare for the bloodbath of the season, and I refuse to be on mop duty.

Some stray thoughts:

  • The special effects on Thunderbolt were average, but the genie's 'child hopped up on sugar, zipping around, out of control' personality more than made up for it. He was like the genie equivalent of the Energizer bunny and could not be contained. It was too funny.

  • Something happened when Yolanda killed Brainwave, and now it's causing her headaches just like it did for Henry when he first came into his abilities. Did she somehow absorb Brainwave's powers when she killed him, similar to how Brainwave absorbed Henry's powers when he killed his son?

  • Who do we think is communicating with Beth through the goggles? It has to be Dr. Mid-Nite, right? The Shade was somewhat vague when discussing Dr. Mid-Nite's death, so maybe it's possible The Shade didn't kill Charles McNider after all? I'm just spitballing here.

So what did you think, Stargirl Fanatics?

What's your take on Mike briefly controlling Thunderbolt?

What does The Shade want with Eclipso?

How f*cked is Blue Valley when The Shade finally gets it?

Hit the comments to let me know your thoughts. If you missed the latest episode, remember you can watch Stargirl online at TV Fanatic.

source https://www.tvfanatic.com/2021/08/stargirl-season-2-episode-3-review-summer-school-chapter-three/


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