That's how it's done.

After a decent start, the past two episodes have truly upped the ante, as Stargirl Season 2 Episode 4 was another standout installment.

It was a tad exposition-heavy in the middle, but other than that, this episode, like the one before it, proved that Stargirl Season 2 is on a whole different level.

Part of what's beautifully working this season is the show's characters, particularly its villains, continue to operate in shades of gray.

The second season is less black and white than the first, and that point couldn't have been more apparent, thanks to the return of Sportsmaster and Tigress, played by Neil Hopkins and Joy Osmanski, respectively.

I'd almost forgotten how funny the marrieds are, and the actors, who have been promoted to series regulars for the show's upcoming third season, slipped seamlessly back into their old roles.

Having Crusher and Paula break out of prison solely to see their daughter try out for the football team was hilarious in and of itself, but it's also something they would do. They're just that crazy that a prison break to support Artemis would be regarded as no big deal.

They saw Artemis was struggling -- which is understandable, given everything she's been through -- and decided to be there for their daughter in her time of need, no matter what the cost.

Sure, kidnapping Mike may not have been the best approach to winning over Pat and Barbara, but at least they didn't try to kill anyone this time around. That's progress.

Say what you will about Crusher and Paula as people, but they are devoted and dedicated parents, even if they tend to be overly invested in their daughter's affairs, not that Artemis seems to mind.

All they want is what's best for their daughter, and that's where they and Pat and Barbara find some common ground. 

On the surface, neither couple has anything in common with the other, which is why it was so hilarious to watch them mostly realize they did have some commonalities.

Barbara and Paula bonded over their daughters' stubbornness, and Crusher thought he and Pat had become BFFs by the end of their brief stay at the Dugan-Whitmore house.

I laughed out loud when Crusher wondered why he and Pat weren't better friends and found it comical that Crusher deludedly thought he and Pat were on the road to becoming besties now that they had cleared the air.

Overall, everything about this plot arc was utter perfection, and now that we're guaranteed to see more of Crusher and Paula in the next season, it'll be exciting to see what the writers have in store.

Hopefully, when Crusher and Paula return next, we'll see more of their attempts to be "good," or at the very least not immediately kill anyone they dislike because there's so much potential for shenanigans to be mined from that.

There are plenty of other villains in the Arrowverse to keep the JSA occupied besides the married, though I'm starting to rethink my position on the Shade as well.

Some commenters believe the Shade isn't the villain he seems to be, and that theory is starting to resonate. His reasons for wanting to find Eclipso are still a little vague, but a supervillain team-up, as Courtney posited, doesn't appear to be the Shade's end goal. 

As he told Courtney, there are different levels of evil, and while the Shade's done some bad things and can overarchingly still be characterized as a bad guy, he's not necessarily the season's big bad.

We thought he killed Dr. Mid-Nite, but the JSA member is still "alive" -- albeit trapped in the shadows. So if we were wrong about that, who's to say there isn't more misinformation about him out there?

To be fair, we know very little about the Shade to begin with, so there's not that much to go on, but his actions so far indicate that he's not so much a supervillain as an anti-hero.

This development is fascinating as the Shade has functioned as both a hero and villain at times in DC Comics, so it'll be interesting to see how the show balances those juxtaposing dispositions.

That doesn't mean we should go as far as to consider the Shade a friend, but having an ally to fight Eclipso may at least give the JSA a fighting chance because what we learned about the demonic entity trapped in the Black Diamond makes Eclipso more dangerous and powerful than we initially thought.

The full scope of Eclipso's abilities is uncertain, but its powers seem to be more akin to vampire compulsion than forcing someone to act on their deepest and darkest desires.

As Pat filled us in, Eclipso can get inside someone’s head and make them see things that aren’t there.

Case and point: Artemis attacking Courtney during football tryouts because she thought police in tactical gear would kill her parents.

Eclipso also drives people to do bad things to themselves and others, and something tells me, Bobbie attacking Cindy is just the tip of the iceberg.

And even though we got a crash course about Eclipso's origins, we're still missing a huge part of the puzzle because some people -- *cough* Pat and Barbara *cough* -- have decided to withhold that information from the JSA and, by extension us.

Heck, we wouldn't even know that the little girl Eclipso killed on Stargirl Season 2 Episode 1 was Dr. Mid-Nite's daughter Rebecca had it not been for the Shade.

We and the JSA have no idea what they're up against, so you can hardly blame Courtney for seeking answers elsewhere. 

Pat and Barbara have the best intentions about wanting to protect the JSA, but we all know the truth will come out eventually, so it's a somewhat moot point about keeping it a secret.

Cindy probably doesn't even know the whole story either, as she's more interested in assembling a new ISA than researching Eclipso's past.

All she cares about is using Eclipso to form a new supervillain squad, on which she did make substantial progress.

By sympathizing with Isaac's and Artemis's plights, she presented the new ISA as a way for them to avenge their parents and get revenge on the JSA for its supposed misdeeds. 

She had no qualms about stretching the truth or manipulating Isaac and Artemis, and she did an admirable job as she managed to convince the two of them to join her.

Now all that's left is Cameron and Mike, and the new ISA will be complete. Presumably, the same tactics will work on Cameron, but it's still a head-scratcher on how Mike fits into all of this.

He would have to be mind-controlled by Eclipso to join Cindy because no matter how much he wants to be part of the fray, he would never defect to get in on the action.

Cindy probably has some other tricks up her sleeve, but her plan is coming together, and it's only a matter of time before the new ISA and JSA face off.

Now, that is something we can't wait to see.

Some stray thoughts:

  • Beth's parents continue to be the worst. She deserves parents who are upfront and honest with her and would tell her about their impending divorce, but that has never been the Chapels style. Seriously, why did they have a child if they were going to treat her like absolute trash?

  • How has no one in Blue Valley seen Solomon Grundy around and reported it? The closest we got was radio jockeys talking about a bear running amock during the season premiere, but nothing else since then. It's a giant zombie running around the woods. Not that hard to spot.

So what did you think, Stargirl Fanatics?

Were you excited that Crusher and Paula returned?

What are the Shade's intentions?

What are Pat and Barbara keeping from the JSA about Eclipso?

Don't forget to hit the comments below 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-4-review-summer-school-chapter-four/

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