One of the most interesting things about the series premiere of Stargirl is how quickly the series introduced the Justice Society, the Injustice Society, and the new Justice Society in just an hour. We didn’t know their names or backstories all at first, but all of the pieces were on the table. (And it helped that the bad guys obliterated the original Justice Society in the first six minutes.) By the season 1 finale of Stargirl we know a more about these characters and who they are. The tragedy, however, is that we don’t really get to see them grow into their hero personas. Similarly, we didn’t really get a full sense of what each of the villains in the show want. Neither do we get to understand why, of all of them, Neil Jackson’s Icicle is their leader.
Yet, these quibbles aside, Stargirl is a wonderful cape series. It found a way to be dynamic and fresh on networks crowded with them. The performances are all delightful, including the villains who chew through scenery like it’s their superpower. Of all of the DC series on DC Universe or the CW, Stargirl feels like the one an entire family could enjoy together. Perhaps it’s the idyllic Americana setting, the bright and vibrant visuals, or the earnestness of the characters.
We are going to spoil things below. So, if you’ve not yet seen the finale, bookmark this page and come back after you have. Full of comic book goodness, the Stargirl season 1 finale does leave some questions and criticisms behind.
What the Stargirl Season 1 Finale Got Right
Image via Warner Bros. Television
The storytellers succeeded in nearly everything in Stargirl season 1, including delivering a suitably epic finale. Amongst the core cast, they even set up some interesting emotional and ethical dilemmas for future storytelling. It’s a bold choice to have Yvette Monreal’s Wildcat and Cameron Gellman’s Hourman advocate for one thing and ultimately make a different choice in the end. Detractors may call that “bad writing,” but I’d argue it’s the opposite. We all know people (maybe even ourselves) who say we believe one thing, yet when faced with the decision in real life do the opposite. The character I am most interested in going forward is Wildcast, to see how she reconciles killing Christopher James Baker’s Brainwave.
The family dynamic between the Dugans and the Whitmores is excellent, too. By the end of the series, even Trae Romano’s Mike Dugan is in the family superhero club. Over a long comic book run, secret identities can prove to be a great source of drama. Yet, for some reason, they don’t work so well in live-action set in the modern day. So, it’s good that the entire family is in on the secret and present their own interesting dynamics for future family drama.
The rest of the Justice Society is great, too, even though they got the short shrift in just 13 episodes. The journeys of Hourman and Wildcat felt abridged, rushed, and a little incomplete. The journey for Anjelika Washington’s Beth Chapel was barely touched on at all. (She was best pals with her parents and then best pals with a pair of goggles. Beth deserved better.) Still, these are all problems that can be addressed in future episodes and seasons.
What the Stargirl Season 1 Finale Got Wrong
Image via Warner Bros. Television
I have a few complaints about this series. One is nit-picky and the other is a little less so. To start with the more substantive complaint, I am deeply disappointed with the handling of the villains in this series. The series played them as mostly one-dimensional, glorified goons. The idea that these super-villains killed their greatest nemeses and then retired to nowhere and set down roots is fascinating. Personally, I would have preferred them saving most of the ISA for future seasons, focusing more intently on Icicle, Nelson Lee’s Dragon King, and Brainwave. The latter character is, essentially, the only character we got know on a deeper level and he’s gone now. (Or is he? Because, you know, comic books!)
Two very interesting characters, Hina X. Khan’s The Fiddler and Joe Knezevich’s Wizard were absolutely wasted. The rest of the ISA seemed to be capable and bloodthirsty but stayed committed to the Big Bad Plan for reasons as yet uncertain. In fact, Brainwave killed his entire family to support their “New America” plot, and we have no idea why he would do that. This concept, of parental bad guys on some supervillain business is not new. Marvel’s Runaways showed how you can tell this story, while making the villains real people with believable motivations.
Finally, what slightly annoyed me is how Icicle basically lost his powers for the entire final episode. They could have given some comic book-y reason for this, but they just didn’t. Incredibly powerful the way they designed him, Icicle ended up getting his butt kicked with almost no use of his powers. In a way, it made the new Justice Society’s victory feel a little hollow.
Lingering Questions and Predictions for Season 2
Image via Warner Bros. Television
Ultimately, the episode told a compelling story that looked great on TV. All of the areas that disappointed are areas where they can improve in the next season. So let’s take a look at what questions remain and where the series might go next year.
First, there is the question about the surprise return of Starman himself, played by Joel McHale. Though this is something fans expected when they say McHale in the role, it will provide an interesting dynamic for his former sidekick and his Cosmic Staff in the next season. Will it be significant or will McHale’s character stay as a glorified cameo?
Next, there is the question of the remaining members of the Justice Society. They are still prominent members of the town, though they will likely flee. (Also, the Whitmores will have some explaining to do when the Fiddler’s body is found in their house.) Hopefully, if these villains become persistent threats, they get better story arcs and characterization. Also, Stargirl’s toughest villain, Shiv, is out there with what may be a deadly new ally.
Finally, the biggest question is what will become of the town of Blue Valley and the team of superheroes that now live there? This is anyone’s guess, but I have a few ideas. First, I imagine that we’ll see Wildcat trying to come to terms with killing Brainwave. Also, I suspect that Hourman will find himself befriending Solomon Grundy, mirroring what happened in the Infinity Inc. comics where Grundy joined the team. (Though, given the heavy CGI needed for the character, we may not see him much.) Also, I imagine we’ll see Beth Chapel come into her own as a hero, and Brec Bassinger’s Courtney Whitmore balancing family and heroics.
What did you think of the Stargirl season 1 finale, and where do you hope the series goes in season 2? Tell us in the comments below.
Featured image via Warner Bros. Television
Joshua M. Patton is a father, veteran, and writer living in Pittsburgh, PA. The first books he read on his own were comics, and he's loved the medium ever since. He is the greatest star-pilot in the galaxy, a cunning warrior, and a good friend. His book "What I Learned: Stories, Essays, and More" is available in print from Amazon and from all electronic booksellers.