What’s up everyone! Welcome to Beyond The Panel. Coming at you today with talk about DC’s Stargirl “Shining Knight”! Last week was one of those episodes where they just leave you wondering, “Where do we go from here?”. If these villains didn’t already succeed in crossing that moral event horizon in their pasts, they surely did when a father was that committed to kill his own son. That is where you genuinely draw the line in the sand between hero and villain. Now that we have seen the worst, there was no better time than now to see what really makes a hero.
This episode surprised me, because it took some time for us to finally get the Courtney episode we have needed from the start. I know there are some viewers out there crushed that this is that one week where there is no action, but the reality is that action isn’t everything. We still have to see this for what it is, and that is an origin story. One which requires the main character to be as understood as everyone else who we to some extent know better than Courtney. Up to this point, it’s not as if we haven’t gotten some strong character moments from Courtney as she went through her new hero experiences, but none of these things were truly helping her to grow as a person. That kind of growth could only come from Courtney also better understanding herself and the kind of hero that she wanted to be. This starts with finding the real reason that she wanted to be Stargirl. Not because of who her father was, but because heroes come in a shapes and sizes. Courtney just needed to realize this herself.
Unfortunately, this meant confronting the long-awaited truth. That her father was not Starman. Even while we knew what was coming, this did not stop the moment from impacting you as much as it did. Avenging her father was the foundation for everything Courtney has done since the first episode. There was nothing less that you would have expected from her as this deadbeat dad made his way into her life. Credit where it is due that they tried to create some endearment from this, though everything really came down to waiting for that other shoe to drop. For Courtney to see what made this guy the dad who her mother dismissed so aggressively in the past.
So in turn, this was also a good episode for Pat. This episode more than any of the others previous was important for him to show that this was more than just a partnership for him and Courtney. That or simply trying to be the adult in this situation. Through what the family tries to get through this week, he seemed to finally get the idea that it mattered for him to be the dad Courtney needs right now. No matter who her father ‘was’, the fact of the matter was that they were not constants in her life, but he was. Now with that said, this isn’t excusing the obvious neglect towards Mike. Honestly, when even Barbara is in the know about what is going on? Only bad things can come from keeping a kid like Mike in the dark about things which could easily affect him for not having the same guard up as everyone else. On the flipside, the same could be said for Barbara, as this was possibly one of her better episodes. They played wisely into the kind of person she can be with strong connections to this town. For all her talk about wanting what’s best for the town and its people, this was her moment to put her money where her mouth is. How she began to accept these things was a natural progression that she needed as well to open her eyes to everything wrong happening behind the scenes.
In spite of everything else ongoing, there was still the reason for this episode being titled “Shining Knight”. I didn’t feel let down by the focus they placed on Justin and the role he has played being the janitor. Till now, it was easy to assume that he was either just being undercover, or just too old to do anything himself. If I’m being honest, his identity came as a surprise to me some episodes ago, because I originally assumed this was the old Fiddler. So color me intriguing when it turned out that this guy was an old hero instead. Though the question of course was why someone would be that deep in the heart of the evil, and still not make any moves. The answer to that was heartbreaking since this week was also our time to see that there are some fates worse than death. You could be a guy like Justin and have everything stripped from you. Your identity, confidence, even your power. He was a walking reminder of just how cruel these villains can be.
That aside, it wasn’t hard to see where things would go with the ISA given Brainwave’s return. He knows Courtney’s identity, which meant that it was inevitable that this information was going to reach Jordan. His reaction was perfect considering how little he suspected Courtney or Barbara to know who he is, or what he is trying to do. Though I was definitely more concerned with Brainwave this week. It takes a special kind of evil to do what he did, and see nothing in the way of having a conscious about killing his whole family for the sake of ambition. Now more than before did we understand the depths of evil, and it was high time that the JSA saw that too. At this stage in the story, there couldn’t have been a better motivator towards taking them down because that’s just what heroes do.
Heroes can come from anywhere. DC’s Stargirl “Shining Knight” was the compelling episode we have needed from the start, and it did not disappoint. Courtney has finally begun to come into her own, and there was no way we could have finished the first season without giving her this time to realize that it matters that she knows what kind of hero that she needs to be. For herself, and then for everyone else.