What’s up everyone! Welcome to Beyond The Panel. Coming at you today with talk about DC’s Stargirl “Brainwave Jr.”! The plot just keeps getting thicker. I was anxious for this week’s episode, yet at the same time I found myself bracing for the worst when this is one of those stories where things are going to keep getting worse, before they get any better. Two families a mess, and not ready for the reality of their situations.
I gotta call it what it is, they started this off crudely. After the note they left us on last week, they knew the first thing we wanted to see was what happened when Barbara discovered what Courtney and Pat have been up to. Yet they decided that now was the time to finally show how the two met, before throwing us back into that confrontation. That said, everything you could say came naturally when she expressed her anger at everything going on behind her back. Normally, this would make you dislike a character like her because it seemed forced. However, at the same time this was always going to be the response they got. You can’t explain a whole past life which Pat was never upfront about, or that Courtney is out there playing superhero, or the fact that playing superhero landed her in the hospital not too long ago. This was all just a recipe for disaster that was going to get worse every day that they did not decide to let her in on the troubles of this town. This whole thing was just an emotional roller coaster since there was no one taking more heat than Pat. As the adult, there is no greater blame for anything that has to be explained to another adult.
Now for this episode they also gave the impression that Barbara would
This brings us to the main focus of the episode, considering that this is titled “Brainwave Jr.”. They did not disappoint bringing Henry Jr.’s arc full circle. Since his father woke up in the previous episode, there was no other path his story could take than to fully understand what it is that makes the ISA evil. The best thing about this episode was following Henry Jr. as he began to see the world with both eyes open, and an open mind. He experienced so many things you initially would have assumed were outside of his capability. Credit where it is due thatI mean, I was ready for a lot of things, but not where this was going by the end of the episode.
For better or for worse, there was no better time than now for them to give these young heroes something to fight for. Let’s face it, this is not much of a team right now. So far in this season they have only had two missions. The first was episodes ago, which turned into a complete failure. Then you have this one here which was not much better. In fact, it couldn’t have ended worse for these young heroes who clearly needed to be reminded the stakes in all of this. They got their crap together when it counted, but even then it was not enough. This I commend them for because episodes like this separate the genuine storytelling, from everything else that is more or less the same. When we were first warming up to this story, there was no way you couldn’t have concerns about young heroes and the drama which follows them. Yet with Stargirl, they went in on what you would call the young superhero treatment these days. This means leaving all of the fun and games at the door to show them what kind of world they are really stepping into. It’s a world where the villains aren’t afraid to cross a line, and a world where not everyone can be saved. They lose someone this episode, and even I’m still getting over how boldly they pulled the rip chord. This was the first time where this team could look at the face of evil and see that everything else paled in comparison. I hope this moment right here changes everything moving forward.
Beyond all of that, there was a couple things I would like to point out that stood out to me. The first was the bit of a tease they threw in for comic readers. If there’s one thing you love most about comic book shows, it is references to the comics which only you yourself could have pointed out. For this episode, it was the way they had us glance by the the theater showings to see that they are airing a movie called Strange Adventures. You know, like the book ongoing right now called Strange Adventures. The other thing was them giving Mike his moment given the current situation with their family. We don’t see much of the kid, but you do expect that they make the effort to ensure that he exists in that household. For this episode in particular it was important that he had some emotional response to how things have suddenly fallen apart. Not to mention the frustrations he has towards being so out of the loop to what’s going on around him.
They went there, and they did that. I don’t know what else to say about DC’s Stargirl “Brainwave Jr.”. This is what it looks like when the writers aren’t trying to hold your hand. There is no stakes if the consequences aren’t real. That is where you genuinely draw the line in the sand between hero and villain.