Saturday, September 25, 2021

May The Cake Be With Him!

Happy Birthday to Mark Hamill, who turns 70 years old today! Yeah, that's right, SEVENTY! Jesus Christ, Luke Freakin' Skywalker is now a whopping seven decades old.

I need to go lie down in a dark room.

The Bridge Of Khazad Tooth

Spotted this establishment recently a few blocks from my house.

"We've had crowns, yes, but what about second cr0wn?"

Wednesday, September 15, 2021

R.I.P. Norm MacDonald

Well this thoroughly sucks. I just heard that comedian and actor Norm MacDonald has died, at the much too young age of sixty one.

This miserable goddamned world of ours. We truly are living in the darkest timeline.

This one hit hard, as I was a fan of MacDonald and have enjoyed his work for years. His dry, deadpan humor was right up my alley, and I gotta admit he influenced my writing and delivery quite a bit. He'll definitely be missed.

The Canadian-born MacDonald began his career as a standup comedian in Ottawa in the mid 1980s. He enjoyed moderate success there, but things really took off for him when he appeared on Star Search in 1990.

After that he was hired as a writer on Roseanne in 1992. He left after one season to join Saturday Night Live.

It was on SNL that MacDonald really rose to fame, as the anchor of the Weekend Update segment. He relentlessly bashed celebrities like Michael Jackson, labeling him a pedophile, as well as OJ Simpson, who he regularly referred to as a cold-blooded murderer. 

Nervous NBC executives eventually pulled MacDonald from the anchor chair, as they worried his controversial remarks would damage the show's ratings. 

Later on MacDonald starred in a series of Celebrity Jeopardy parody sketches on SNL, in which he did a passable impression of Burt Reynolds (or "Turd Ferguson," as he called himself). Oddly enough, even though the sketches took place in the present day, MacDonald played the 1970s version of Reynolds. His impression was so much fun that I don't think anyone noticed!

Reportedly MacDonald pushes for the Jeopardy sketches solely so he could do his Burt Reynolds impression!

Most recently MacDonald worked on The Orville, where he voiced Yaphit, an alien crewmember who's an amorphous green blob.

According to Orville creator Seth MacFarlane, he cast MacDonald in the part without even auditioning him. He reportedly called MacDonald and asked, "Norm, you want to be a blob?" To which MacDonald replied, "Hell yeah, I'll be a blob." And the rest is sci-fi history!

Unfortunately, due to labor-intensive animation and rendering times, Yaphit's too expensive to include in every episode, so he only appears in a few select scenes. Pity, as MacDonald gives the character quite a bit of personality and emotion. Quite a feat for a blob that doesn't even have a face!

Jesus Christ! It just occurred to me that it's been so long since The Orville last aired (nearly TWO AND A HALF YEARS) that the goddamned cast is starting to die off!

Sunday, September 12, 2021

Stargirl Season 2, Episode 3: Summer School: Chapter Three

This week on Stargirl we get a damn fine episode, one that may be the best of the entire series! 

Summer School: Chapter Three has everything you could ever want in an episode and more. It's a fun little romp, is extremely humorous at times and yet also features some genuinely heartfelt and emotional scenes. What more could you ask for?

The highlight of the episode is the long-awaited appearance of the Thunderbolt, a character from the Golden Age of comics. He's realized here through some pretty decent CGI, and is ably voiced by comedian Jim Gaffigan. Based on the end of the episode, it's a sure bet we'll be seeing him again at some point this season.

Also this week, Mike finally gets his big chance to join the JSA. His hopes and dreams are ultimately dashed though, first by his father and then by the unpredictable nature of his newfound powers as well.

My favorite part of the episode were the parallels between Dugan and Mike. Both of them were marginalized due to their lack of powers, and relegated to sidekick status on their respective teams.

Dugan apparently forgot the way the JSA treated him though, as he does the exact same thing to Mike. It finally takes an extradimensional genie to make Dugan see the light, and realize he's been neglecting his own son.  It's a subtle bit of writing that I wouldn't normally expect from an Arrowverse show.

Jonathan Cake continues to be a standout as Shade, giving the character the perfect blend of genteel sophistication and deadly menace. Hopefully they'll continue to feature him all through this season.

Lastly, this week's episode was directed by Lea Thompson. Yeah, THAT Lea Thompson, star of the Back To The Future franchise and critically beloved box office hit Howard The Duck (heh). Apparnetly she's decided to try her hand at directing. This isn't her first Stargirl rodeo, as she also directed last season's Shiv Part One.

Thompson does an amazing job here, giving the episode an equal mix of humor, menace and poignancy. Kudos!

SPOILERS!

The Plot:
Eleven Years Ago:
It's Xmas Eve, and Dugan's in the Justice Society's garage working on the Rocket Racer. Johnny Thunder bursts in and says he's tired of constantly being benched by his teammates— especially when the Thunderbolt makes him more powerful than all the other members combined.

Just then Wildcat enters and says the Injustice Society has a Hulk, er, I mean has Solomon Grundy, and tells Johnny they need the Thunderbolt's help. Dugan wants to go as well, but Wildcat says that Starman wants him to stay behind. Dugan looks disappointed, and goes back to tinkering with the car.

Present Day:
Mike's on his paper route, flinging papers into birdbaths and bushes. Suddenly he's confronted by three bullies— Devin, Lutz and Marky— who shake him down for money. When he tells 'em to get lost, they give him an old fashioned ass-whoopin.'

Cut to Dugan making breakfast for his family. Courtney gloats that she was right about yet another ISA villain showing up in Blue Valley. Dugan points out that the Shade is highly dangerous, and they need a plan to deal with him. Barb suggests using STRIPE, but Dugan says a giant robot isn't exactly subtle.

Mike enters, looking disheveled and beaten. Sadly, his family doesn't even notice his condition. He overhears them talking about the Shade and asks about their plan to stop him, clearly wanting to be part of the team. Dugan tells him to leave the superheroics to Courtney and the team. Disappointed, Mike slowly trudges up to his room.

Mike's boss calls and adds a new customer to his route. Mike searches for a pen to write down the address, and spots a pink one in Courtney's room. He grabs it and writes down the address, unaware that this is same pink pen that houses the Thunderbolt.

Cut to Mike back on his paper route. Oddly enough he begins noticing the words "So Cool" everywhere he looks. He hits a rock and falls off his bike, sending newspapers scattering. He picks up one and sees the headline reads "So Cool." He says the words out loud, and suddenly a pink electric genie pops out of the pen. He introduces himself as Thunderbolt, and says he used to work with Johnny Thunder as a member of the JSA.

Thunderbolt explains that he's from Bahdnesia, wherever that is, and the word "sowkewl"— which sounds like "So Cool" in English— frees him from the pen 
and allows him to grant the speaker any wish. Intrigued, Mike says he's thirsty and wishes for a drink. He's instantly doused with water, as Thunderbolt tells him his wishes have to be specific.

Mike then wishes he was taller, and seemingly grows a foot or two. He's disappointed when he looks down and sees Thunderbolt just placed him atop a bench. Thunderbolt then lays out even more rules, saying one can't make the same wish twice, nor wish for someone to die or come back from the dead.

Elsewhere, the JSA meets at the Pit Stop. Dugan tells them the Shade is in Blue Valley, and he used to be a member of the ISA before he quit. He tells them Shade's at least a hundred years old, can manipulate and travel through shadows and is highly dangerous. He says he saw him kill Dr. Mid-Nite right in front of him. This angers Beth, who says they need to avenge "Chuck's" death.

Rick asks how they can fight someone who can disappear into shadows. Dugan says the only thing he ever saw that could stop Shade was the Cosmic Staff. Naturally this makes Courtney confident she can beat him. Yolanda asks what they'll do if they do manage to subdue Shade, and Dugan says they'll figure that out later.

Meanwhile at the American Dream building, Barb goes up to the storage room in the clocktower. There she looks through William Zarrick's stuff, curious as to why Richard Swift (aka the Shade) wanted it. Suddenly Swift comes up behind her, saying they can look through the collection together. Barb points out that he's trespassing and asks him to leave.

She fumbles out her phone but sees it's suddenly dead. Swift finds a wooden box and anxiously opens it. He's disappointed when he sees it's empty. He asks if he can have it anyway, and Barb says she can't let him take it. He tells her that's a shame, as the lights instantly go out. When they finally come back on, Swift— and the box— are gone.

Courtney and Yolanda sit in summer school class, bored out of their minds. Suddenly Yolanda winces in pain with a splitting headache (confirming my suspicions about her and Brainwave). She says she won't kill again, and Courtney assures her it won't come to that with the Shade.

Elsewhere, Mike watches the bullies harass a little girl selling Girl Scout Cookies. They steal several boxes, and Mike wishes Thunderbolt would make them stop. Suddenly several stop signs begin dropping from the sky, surrounding the bullies. Unfortunately the signs just keep on coming, and Mike tells Thunderbolt that's enough. He says he's simply following the wish, and can't stop until the bullies do. The three end up running off in different directions.

Courtney & Yolanda see Mike standing near the numerous stop signs, and he introduces Thunderbolt to them. He then says now that he has "powers," he's looking forward to becoming the newest member of the JSA.

Cut to the Pit Stop, where Dugan meets with the team. He says Thunderbolt's dangerous, as no matter how careful they are, their wishes will inevitably bite them in the ass. He orders Mike to give him back the pen. Mike's upset that Dugan thinks he can't handle it, but hands it over to him. The pen instantly vanishes from Dugan's hand and appears back in Mike's.

Dugan sends the others out so he can talk to Thunderbolt alone. Dugan points out that even with all of Thunderbolt's power, Johnny Thunder still ended up dead— a fate he doesn't want for Mike. Thunderbolt says Johnny's last wish was that he find a friend, and he can only do so with someone who feels all alone. This hits Dugan hard, as he realizes he's been neglecting his son.

The JSA tell Dugan they voted and decided Mike can become a member. Dugan says it's not up for voting, and Courtney reminds him that he didn't want her or the others to become superheroes at first either. Realizing he's outnumbered, Dugan agrees to let Mike help them find the Shade, and that's it.

The team then spends hours coming up with an ironclad, foolproof wish that can't possibly be misinterpreted by Thunderbolt, in order to locate the Shade. Mike makes the incredibly detailed wish, and a pink burst of flame ignites on a nearby map of the city. Dugan checks it out and says Shade's hiding in William Zarick's old house.

The team preps to leave, including Mike. Unfortunately Dugan reminds him of their deal, and tells him to stay behind and guard the garage.

Dugan tells Barb about their plan, saying once they capture Shade they're going to use her old tanning bed to negate his powers and hold him till the authorities arrive. Barb's skeptical, but Dugan tells her it'll be fine. Courtney assures Yolanda again that they're just going to capture Shade, not kill him.

At the garage, Mike sits and stares at the pen. Suddenly he gets up and starts writing out a new wish on the whiteboard.

Dugan and the JSA arrive at Zarick's house. Courtney uses the staff to pick the lock, and they burst in. They enter the dining room, where they see the Shade calmly waiting for them. Rather than attack, he unexpectedly invites them to sit down and enjoy some tea. Dugan asks what he's doing in Blue Valley, and Shade dismissively says it's best if they don't know.

Beth accuses Shade of killing the original Dr. Mid-Nite, and he assures her she doesn't know what she's talking about. Once again he asks them to join him, and Dugan tells the others to sit. Stargirl says she won't let Shade hurt the town the way Icicle did. Shade says Jordan was a lunatic, and the two of them were always at odds.

Just then Mike runs in and recites his wish for Thunderbolt to zap Shade. The Thunderbolt appears, but Shade conjures up a series of shadowy tentacles and grabs him, along with all the others. Shade easily knocks them all on their asses and subdues them. One of the tentacles tries to grab Stargirl's Cosmic Staff, but it begins glowing brightly. This causes the tentacles to recoil, and Shade angrily tells them to stay out of his way as he vanishes.

A bit later Mike's pouting on the Zarick home's porch. Yolanda comes out and asks if he's OK. He says he just wanted to help, but ended up blowing it. She asks if he feels bad about killing Icicle, and he says not really, as it was an accident.

That night Dugan and Barb lecture Mike. He tells them he's sorry, and wishes the pen was in better hands. Right on cue, it disappears.

Cut to the home of Mike's friend Jakeem. He's playing video games as his sister comes in and calls him a loser. He sighs and says she's right. Suddenly the pen appears on the desk in front of him.

Elsewhere, Dugan tells Barb what Thunderbolt said— that it chose Mike because he felt all alone. 
They both admit they've been neglecting Mike lately. Barb mentions that Shade took an empty wooden box from Zarick's collection, and asks Dugan if he knows anything about it. He says yes— it housed the Black Diamond, and it's bad news.

Beth's at the Pit Stop tinkering with her goggles. Rick enters and asks if she's OK, and she says she thinks her parents are getting divorced. Just then the goggles activate, and Chuck says, "You're in danger. Eclipso!" Beth asks Chuck what he means, but the goggles shut down.

Elsewhere, Shade stands atop the clock tower of The American Dream building. He opens the wooden box and stares into it as he says, "He's going to kill those children."

Thoughts: 
• Just a quick note here— some readers may find it odd that I gushed like crazy over this episode in the intro, and then wrote 50,000 words tearing it apart. Despite how it may appear, I really did like the episode quite a bit! 
In fact it may be my favorite of the entire series so far! As I like to point out, it's entirely possible to enjoy something and acknowledge its imperfections at the same time.

• As with most episodes of Stargirl, this one starts with a flashback, this time to eleven years ago (circa 2010).

• I've mentioned it before, but this show has a bizarre interesting timeline. It features characters from the Justice Society Of America, most of which made their comic book debut way back in the 1930s and 1940s. As a result of that, their costumes all look like they came straight out of that era.

But because the show's taking place in the present day, the producers had to bump the characters forward in time by seventy or eighty years. So we end up with characters who look— and in some cases even act— like they're from the 1940s, but are alive and well in the 2010s! 

I don't necessarily see this as a problem, but I gotta admit it's an oddity. You just have to accept it and move on.

• Looks like they still use old school incandescent Xmas tree lights over on Earth-2. Here on Earth Prime, we started using LED Xmas decorations in the late 1990s. 

I guess it's possible the Justice Society just hasn't bought new lights in a long time.

 • If nothing else, I continue to be impressed by Stargirl's fidelity to its source material. Golden Age hero Johnny Thunder makes a brief appearance in this episode, complete with his trademark bright green suit and nerdy bowtie. He looks like he stepped right off the comic page!

In the comics, Johnny Thunder was the seventh son of a seventh son, born at 7am on the seventh day of the seventh month of the year. Due to this special birthdate, he was kidnapped by natives of Badhnesia and taken to their island nation. There they gave him the Thunderbolt, and intended to rule the world through him.

Those plans changed when Badhnesia was invaded by a neighboring country and Johnny escaped back to America. There he lived a normal life until the day he casually said the words "Say You" and summoned the Thunderbolt. After learning to control it (sort of), he eventually became a member of the JSA.

• It was great to see the original Wildcat again, if only for a few seconds.

• We get a brief glimpse of Mike's room this week, and see that he's apparently a fan of Rock 'Em Sock 'Em Robots (just under the window)! Cool!

• After Mike finds the pink Thunderbolt pen, he returns to his paper route. Suddenly he begins noticing the words "So Cool" everywhere he looks. Eventually he says the words out loud, which releases the Thunderbolt from the pen.

This is a major change from the original comics. See, back in the 1940s, Johnny Thunder controlled Thunderbolt by uttering the words "Cei-U," which sounded like "Say You." As in, "Say you, what's the big idea?" This made perfect sense eighty years ago, when people actually talked like that.

Nowadays, not so much. When Jakeem replaced Johnny Thunder in the comics, the magic words were changed to a more modern "sowkewl"— pronounced as "So Cool." It appears the show's following this change as well.

Not complaining, mind you, as the change was logical in context. After all, no modern kid's gonna go around hollering, "Say you!"

• Mike asks the Thunderbolt about the magic words that summon him:

Thunderbolt: "It's pronounced sowkewl in my native homeland of Bahdnesia."
Mike: "Bahd-what?"
Thunderbolt: "It's not on the map anymore. Thanks for bringing it up. Sowkewl 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."

Looks like the writers did their homework! As I mentioned earlier, in the comics the Thunderbolt was indeed from the fictional island of Bahdnesia. 

There Thunderbolt was a djinn named Yz from the 5th Dimension— a realm with electrical based lifeforms. He has the power to do almost anything, as long as his master makes an exactly-worded wish. It's unclear how he ended up on Earth-2.

• As with Jonny Thunder, the producers did an amazing job of translating the Thunderbolt into live action. The character's instantly recognizable, and looks exactly like he did in the comics. Well done!

If I had one complaint about his live action design (and you knew I would), it'd be with the three jagged bolts of energy jutting from the top of his head. I always assumed it was supposed to look like he had lightning sparking from his noggin.

Apparently the FX team didn't understand that, as they decided to go another way. Instead of cracking energy bolts, it now looks like he has three floppy rabbit ears on top of his head. They even squash & stretch as he moves around, like they're made out of something soft & rubbery! What the hell, guys?

• When I first heard the Thunderbolt speak, I thought he sounded like Patton Oswalt. Eventually I figured out he was voiced by comedian Jim Gaffigan. He did an amazing job, too!

• When Mike finds out he now controls a genie who'll grant him any wish, he immediately asks it to make him taller. This is ironic, as actor Trae Romano has shot up like a weed in the past year, and is visibly taller than he was in Season 1. Puberty ahoy!

• Mike's excitement is dimmed somewhat when he finds out the Thunderbolt's powers are governed by all sorts of rules, and that he interprets wishes literally— to often disastrous effect.

This is how it worked in the comics as well. I get it— the whole literal thing is for maximum comedic yuks. But it makes Thunderbolt seem like... well, an asshole. When someone says, "I wish for a million bucks," he clearly understands they mean money, and don't want to be buried under a huge pile of male deer. As written it seems like he's deliberately looking for loopholes in order to be a dick.

• In the comics, Thunderbolt always came out of his magic pen to grant wishes. Here on the show there are several scenes in which he uses his magic while still INSIDE the pen. I will bet anything that was done to save money on costly CGI. By staying safe & sound in the pen, the FX team only had to add a couple pink sparks, instead of a fully animated humanoid.

To be fair, in the early comics the Thunderbolt would often exit his pen but become invisible, to prevent Johnny Thunder from seeing him.

• Last week when Rick was leaving food in the woods for Grundy, I asked if he was trying to make a pet of the behemoth. This week Dugan scolds Rick for being late to their JSA briefing, and asks what kept him. Rick says he was "feeding his dog." Looks like I called it!

As I mentioned before, there's a precedent for this in the comics, as Infinity, Inc. (which Stargirl borrows heavily from) actually included a "Grundy Becomes An Honorary Member Of The Team" storyline.

• I'm glad the writers are including Barb more this season. It's far more interesting to see her become an active member of the team rather than the worried yet understanding wife and mother.

Last week Richard Swift met with Barb at The American Dream and expressed interest in buying the William Zarick Collection. In this episode we see her rooting around in the building's attic, curious as to why swift was so interested in Zarick's stuff. A couple things here:

First of all, as Barb searches the collection we see numerous magical stage props, including giant oversized playing cards that are three feet tall. This makes perfect sense, as when Zarick wasn't busy trying to take over the world as The Wizard, he was a talented stage magician as well.

We also see one of his campaign posters in the collection. If you'll recall, last season he ran for City Councilman
— right before he was brutally murdered by Jordan Mahkent, aka Icicle.

Secondly, I wondered how and more importantly why the Zarick Collection ended up at The American Dream. They're ostensibly an urban renewal organization, not an auction house or legal trust.

As I thought about it though it actually made sense. The American Dream was Jordan's foundation after all. Once he killed Zarick, he likely boxed up all his magic paraphernalia (both stage and real!) and stashed it in The American Dream's storage space. This had the added advantage of preventing the authorities from getting their hands on it, so they didn't discover Zarick's secret identity or start messing with dangerous magical artifacts.

Also, later in the episode Beth mentions the Zarick house was made an historic home by the city, so that could also explain how The American Dream got ahold of the collection.

• Back in Summer School: Chapter One I predicted that Yolanda would end up "possessed" by Brainwave, as he likely projected his consciousness into her mind as he died (just like Spock did to McCoy in Star Trek II: The Wrath Of Khan).

Welp, it's looking more and more like that's what's happening. This week Yolanda's sitting in class when she practically passes out due to a splitting headache. I'm betting Brainwave's ratting around somewhere in her head, and she'll be completely taken over by him in the season finale.

• At one point Mike makes an errant wish and causes the Thunderbolt to surround a trio of bullies with dozens of stop signs that fall from the sky.

So... just how does Thunderbolt's magic work? Do the objects he conjures vanish after a time, or are they permanent? Let's hope they eventually disappear, otherwise Blue Valley's gonna have a plague of randomly-placed traffic signs!

Also in this scene, Thunderbolt continues to be a dick as he drops a stop sign through the windshield of a random, innocent person's car— long after the bullies had cleared the area! 

• Courtney suggests using Thunderbolt to locate the Shade. Dugan reluctantly agrees, but says they'll need to come up with a "bulletproof" wish. 

We then get a fun montage of the JSA carefully brainstorming a ridiculously specific ironclad wish that the Thunderbolt can't possibly twist or misinterpret.

Mike recites the incredibly lengthy wish, which ends with, "So In conclusion, show us the location of 'The Shade,' not to be confused with a lamp or window shade, but the last known member of the Injustice Society of America, hiding somewhere in Blue Valley, Nebraska, 68060, USA."

I was excited when I heard that zip, as I thought it'd give us a good idea just where Blue Valley's located inside Nebraska. I looked it up, and unfortunately there's no such zip code anywhere in Nebraska or even in America. Whoops!

Technically this might not be a mistake though, as Stargirl takes place on Earth-2, so maybe there they have a 68060 zip in Nebraska!

• The writers reeeally need to resolve Beth's "Broken Goggles" storyline, and fast. She's always been the weakest member of the team, even with the Chuck AI. Without him, she's even worse— a normal, non-superpowered teenaged girl wearing a bulky costume. 

No offense to the character, as I like Beth quite a bit— but at this point she's a liability to the team. Any run-of-the-mill villain could easily capture her, hold her for ransom or even kill her, and there's little or nothing she could do to stop them.

• As I mentioned last week, it appears the show's going with the modern version of the Shade. The one who's morally ambiguous, yet cultured and refined.

Oddly enough it seems he's only in Blue Valley to find the Black Diamond, and has absolutely zero interest in opposing or defeating the JSA. In fact when he's forced to fight them, he uses his powers in a purely defensive manner, as he clearly doesn't want to kill a bunch of teens. This makes for a MUCH more nuanced and interesting character, and I'm enjoying his scenes quite a bit.

• There's a fun little exchange at the Zarick house between Dugan and Swift, that's also a callback to their previous meeting. Last week Dugan "subtly" checked out Swift in the diner:

Dugan: "Actually noticed a, uh, '65 Jaguar out on the curb. It's a real beauty."
Swift: (condescendingly) "It's a '67."
Dugan: "'67, huh?"

The implication here is that Dugan knew the Shade had a 1967 Jag, and was testing Swift to make sure it was really him.

When they meet again this week, Dugan says:

Dugan: "By the way, I knew that was a 1967 Jag, right? You know that?
Swift: "Well of course I do, Stripesy."

Ha! Dugan couldn't stand the idea of anyone— even a supervillain— thinking he didn't know his cars. Put away your male ego, Dugan! This is no time for a pissing contest between you and Shade!

• At one point Mike rushes in and wishes for Thunderbolt to capture Shade. Surprisingly Shade's able to easily overpower the genie. The JSA then attacks Shade as we get a brief but cool setpiece battle.

Note that Shade uses his shadowy powers to form grabby little hands that try and yank Stargirl's staff away from her. Fortunately they're apparently susceptible to light, and can't get a good grip on the luminous staff. It's a pretty cool effect. Kudos to the FX Team!

• Still reeling with guilt after killing Brainwave, Yolanda sees a potential kindred spirit in Mike— who murdered Icicle in the Season 1 finale. She asks him how he deals with the constant feelings of remorse, hoping to find an answer that'll help. Unfortunately for her, Mike says Icicle's death was just an accident, and he doesn't have any feelings of regret over it. D'oh! 

Maybe Yolanda should stop asking fourteen year olds for psychiatric advice and go see an actual therapist!

• At the end of Chapter One, we saw Cindy staring at photos of potential recruits for her new ISA. Among them was a snapshot of Mike. I then made the following prediction:

At some point Mike's gonna find the pen, become the Thunderbolt's new master and demand to become a member of the new JSA. But something will happen to give control of Thunderbolt to his friend Jakeem, which would align with the comics.

I'm betting this will send Mike into a spiral of anger and resentment, and make him vulnerable to Cindy's recruitment drive— especially if she's got the Eclipso diamond to help manipulate his emotions. Again, stay tuned to see if I'm right.

Wow! I got the first part of that prediction exactly right! Mike did indeed find and control the Thunderbolt for a little while, before it was handed over to Jakeem.

As for the second half of my prediction, eh, I dunno. Mike was most definitely disappointed when he lost the Thunderbolt and his place on the team. But he didn't seem upset enough about it to turn evil and join a supervillain group bent on his former teammates' destruction.

Plus as I said in Chapter One, there's no way Cindy could possibly know about Mike's feelings of abandonment and his failed attempt to join the JSA, so she'd have no reason to believe he'd want to join her merry band. I think she's simply gonna use the Black Diamond to cloud his judgement and recruit him.

Lastly, why does Cindy want Mike at all? He doesn't have ANY powers whatsoever that she could exploit. Does she want him as the team's plucky comic relief?

I have to assume she's most likely trying to enlist him in order to get back at Courtney.

• After almost getting the JSA killed, Mike wishes he'd never found the pen, which inadvertently gifts it to his friend Jakeem.

He's only onscreen for a minute or so, but the Jakeem seen here is quite different from the comic version. TV Jakeem is a timid, self-described loser, while his comic counterpart was confident and wisecracking.

In the comics, Jakeem was from Keystone City (home of the Golden Age Flash) and lived with his mother. After she died be was taken in by an aunt, and became a tough, foul-mouthed street kid. 

When the now elderly Johnny Thunder developed Alzheimer's (comics are fun, kids!), he absentmindedly stored Thunderbolt inside an ink pen. The pen was eventually passed to Jakeem, who learned to control the genie inside it. He ended up working with the JSA, and even cured Johnny's condition.

• At the end of the episode, Beth opens up to Rick and tells him she found her parents' divorce papers. He gently consoles her and says she should talk to them about the situation.

Based on their interaction here, it looks like they're setting up a romance between Rick & Beth.

• Thanks to Beth's semi-functioning goggles, we now know that Rick's 5' 10", weighs 186 pounds and has a heart rate of 82 beats per minute! Oh, and the goggles somehow know Dugan's propane tank is 23% full.

We Ain't Found Sh*t!

Just a reminder that in Spaceballs, President Skroob orders his troops to comb the desert till they find Princess Vespa. Naturally, his soldiers take him literally. Com-O-Dee!

Of course there's also a group of black soldiers combing the sands with an oversized afro pick! Borderline Racist Com-O-Dee That'll Get You Canceled Here In Ultrasensitive 2021!

When Dark Helmet asks if they've located the Princess, one of the pick soldiers says, "We ain't found sh*t!"

Turns out the "Sh*t Soldier" was played by a young Tim Russ, aka Tuvok from Star Trek: Voayger!

Because Knowing Is Half The Battle!

Sunday, September 5, 2021

Stargirl Season 2, Episode 2: Summer School: Chapter Two

This week on Stargirl, we get an episode that's short on action but lonnnnnng on setup and exposition.

Summer School: Chapter Two introduces us to Jennie-Lynn Hayden (aka Jade to comic book fans),who's the daughter of the original Green Lantern. It was fun to see an Arrowverse show FINALLY tackle the Green Lantern lore, and give us a long-awaited glimpse into that particular corner of the comics.

Unfortunately Jennie's story felt a bit rushed, as she discovers her heritage, locates the lantern and learns how to use it before leaving— all in one episode. Her arc definitely could have used a bit more room to breathe. 

We also needed a bit more explanation of just who Green Lantern was, and how his ring and lantern/power battery actually work. As well as why Jennie seems to be a living power battery who doesn't need the lantern. Hopefully these questions will be answered later in the season. 

This episode also gives us a storyline in which Courtney feels jealous and left out, due to the fact that Jennie's a JSA legacy and she's not. It's all VERY obvious and heavy-handed, and I'm sure the writers thought the whole "Green (as in Lantern) Equals Jealously" thing was terribly clever. They were wrong.

On the plus side, the Shade makes his debut this week. Yes, he made a VERY brief appearance in the Season 1 finale, but I'm not counting that as we never even saw his face and he was played by a completely different actor. Jonathan Cake portrays him here, and plays the character to perfection, giving him a combination of Old World charm and quiet menace. Cake does an excellent job here, and I look forward to seeing more of the Shade.

Despite the fact that Jennie disappears at the end of the episode, it's a sure bet she'll return at some point. Especially now that the Shade's been set up as a major threat. Who better to defeat a living shadow than someone who's literally a beacon?

Those minor nitpicks aside, this was another top notch episode of a series that continues to fire on all cylinders.

SPOILERS!

The Plot:
We open on a flashback to six days ago. Bobbie Burman— wife of the Dragon King and stepmother to Cindy Burman— is celebrating the seeming demise of her horrible, horrible family. She joyfully smashes dishes and vases, then packs a suitcase and heads out the door to start a new life anywhere but Blue Valley.

Unfortunately those plans instantly change as she sees Cindy standing in the doorway. Cindy asks who changed the locks, as she raises her Eclipso diamond to her eye.

Six Days Ago:
We see an establishing shot of the Ordway Orphanage in Milwaukee. Mrs. Ordway, owner of the place, tells her a young girl named Jennie that it's time to hit the road and wishes her luck! She gives Jennie a box that belonged to her father and slams the door shut. Jennie sits on the steps and wonders what the hell she's going to do next. She opens the box, and inside it she sees a toy car labeled "Todd." She realizes it belonged to her beloved long-lost brother, who she somehow knows about.

She also finds a Green Lantern ring in the box. The second she sees it, the ring begins glowing, floating out of the box and slipping onto her finger. It then drags her off camera.

Present Day:
At the Dugan house, the family assesses the damage caused during Courtney's battle with Jennie at the end of the previous episode. Dugan's furious with Courtney, but she says she was simply responding to an intruder in their home. Jennie apologizes for the damage, but says she was only there for the lantern, as the ring led her to it.

She introduces herself and says her father was Alan Scott. Dugan's startled by the mention of that name, and tells Barb he was the Green Lantern. Dugan introduces himself to Jennie, who recognizes him as Stripesy. She asks if he can train her in how to use the ring.

Barb asks Jennie to stay the night, and gives her Courtney's room (!). Courtney's then banished to the couch, where Dugan brings her an extra pillow. Courtney asks how he knows Jennie's really Alan Scott's daughter. He says the ring only worked for Green Lantern, so her ability to use it must mean she's telling the truth. 

Courtney worries that Jennie's a supervillain or a spy who's there to find out their secrets. Dugan insists she's seeing villains where there are none, and reminds her that being a superhero is more about helping people than fighting bad guys. He also reminds her that she gave Yolanda, Rick and Beth a shot when no one else would, so she should give Jennie a chance as well.

The next morning Courtney wakes up late and shuffles into the kitchen. There she sees Jennie's fixed an elaborate breakfast for the entire family, who've accepted her wholeheartedly. Dugan says he's going to take Jennie to the garage to figure out how to use the power ring and lantern. Feeling left out, Courtney insists on tagging along. Barb says she'll do no such thing, reminding her that she has summer school.

Cut to Blue Valley High, where Courtney grudgingly walks into class. She's delighted when she sees Yolanda there as well. When she asks why she's in summer school when she gets straight As, Yolanda says her asshole parents enrolled her to keep her out of trouble (!).

Mr. Desinger enters, making dated jokes and references that fly far over the heads of the teen students. He begins taking roll call, and we see surly psychotic Isaac Bowin's in the class as well. He then calls Rick's name, but unfortunately he's absent.

Elsewhere, we see Rick traipsing through the woods, carrying several boxes of pizza to feed Solomon Grundy.

Dugan arrives at his garage with Jennie. They're amazed when they see Zeek's installed a wrist-mounted flamethrower on the STRIPE robot— just as he promised to do last week. After Zeek leaves, Jennie asks Dugan what he knows about the power ring and lantern. He says not much— only that the ring can create anything she can imagine if she wills it hard enough.

Jennie then concentrates and creates a 3D energy replica of her brother Todd's toy car. Dugan's suitably impressed and congratulates her.

Meanwhile, Courtney & Yolanda eat lunch in the cafeteria. Courtney rants about Jennie, saying she broke into their house and everyone's perfectly fine with that. She says Dugan's more than fine, as he & Jennie are now seemingly best friends. Oddly enough, Yolanda takes Jennie's side as well.

Back at the Burman home, Bobbie's cleaning up the mess she made the night before. Suddenly she hears Eclipso's voice, croaking, "You'll never escape her."

Courtney & Yolanda show up at the garage, where Jennie's demonstrating the ring to Rick & Beth. Jennie introduces herself to Yolanda, who's instantly smitten with her as well. Courtney's upset to find that the others told Jennie all about the JSA and their secret identities. Rick says it's fine, as Jennie's a "legacy" like him.

Courtney still refuses to blindly accept Jennie, causing her to say that maybe it's best if she just left. The others glare at Courtney as they follow her out. 

Meanwhile, a man decked out in a top hat and cane arrives in Blue Valley. He pays a visit to Barb at The American Dream, and introduces himself as Richard Swift— a collector specializing in stage magic props (?). He says it's come to his attention that William Zarick (aka the Wizard) had quite a collection of such items, which are now owned by The American Dream for some reason. 

Swift tells Barb he wants to buy Zarick's collection, and would pay handsomely for it. Barb's instantly suspicious, and says she'll have to discuss it with the committee. 

Elsewhere, Bobbie's still cleaning. She hears the voice again, telling her that she'll never get her old life back as long as Cindy's alive. She then sees Eclipso's true form reflected in the blade of a butcher knife, as he urges her to kill her stepdaughter.

At the garage, Dugan tells Courtney she should apologize to Jennie (!). He says she's just a superhero trying to find out about the father she never knew, and says Courtney should know how that feels. Just then Barb calls him about Swift, and he says he's gotta go.

Courtney reluctantly joins the others and apologizes to Jennie. She tells her she spent months thinking she was Starman's daughter, and it devastated her to find out she wasn't. She says Jennie's perfect, and is everything she ever wanted to be. She tells Jennie she has it all.

Oddly enough Jennie doesn't take this well, claiming instead that she has nothing. She says all she wanted was to find her brother Todd, and hoped the ring would help her do so. Her eyes being glowing green as she says the ring's done nothing, then angrily sweeps the lantern off the table. It lands on the floor and begins glowing with green energy.

Cut to the diner, where Dugan somehow knows Swift will be. He enters, spots Swift and introduces himself. Dugan mentions he has a garage where he restores antique autos, and comments on Swift's 1965 Jaguar parked out front. Swift corrects him, saying it's a '67. Dugan's eyes narrow, as that date apparently means something to him. Just then he sees Courtney and the others run past the diner, carrying the dangerously glowing lantern. He excuses himself and goes after them.

The kids take the lantern to the courthouse square, hoping to keep it away from people in case it blows. Dugan joins them and asks what's going on, and Jennie says it's all her fault. He reminds her that emotions control the ring (?), and they all tell her she can do it. She begins concentrating, and starts absorbing the power from the lantern. Courtney realizes that Jennie IS the lantern, as she charged it instead of the other way around.

Jennie manages to absorb all the energy safely. Just as she says, "I think I got it," the lantern explodes, knocking everyone on their asses and sending a massive green shockwave through the town.

As they pick themselves up, they see a large crater in the middle of the square. Beth chokes back tears as she says Jennie sacrificed herself to save them. Just then they look up and see her hovering above them, bathed in green energy. She looks down in wonderment and says she can fly now.

The next morning, Courtney gets up and walks into the kitchen. She asks if Jennie's up, and Barb tells her she was gone when she woke. Apparently she got what she wanted from them and then buggered off.

Dugan sits in the basement, studying an old JSA file on the Shade. Courtney comes down and says she's done looking for villains under every rock, and is going to concentrate on school. Dugan looks sheepish and says the Shade's a villain from the old days, and is the last member of the ISA who's unaccounted for... and he's in Blue Valley. Courtney practically bursts with excitement as she runs to get her staff.

Cut to the Burman house. Cindy comes home, and Bobbie attacks her with a knife. Cindy easily disarms her stepmother and knocks her down. She pleads with Bobbie to stop, but she reaches for the knife anyway. Instantly Cindy's possessed by Eclipso, as her eyes glow red and half her face goes dark. She sucks the soul out of Bobbie (I guess?), causing her body to crumble into dust.

Cindy regains control, and demands to know what Eclipso just did. He says Bobbie was trying to kill her, so he took control of her body to save her. She hisses that she can save herself, and says if he ever possesses her again she'll put the diamond back in the box. Eclipso apologizes and says it'll never happen again. Cindy then looks at the remains of her stepmother, and says she never wanted her dead.

Thoughts: 
• The episode begins with a deliriously happy Bobbie Burman preparing to leave Blue Valley to start a new life somewhere else. ANYWHERE else.

We've seen Bobbie several times before, as she appeared in Season 1's S.T.R.I.P.E., Shiv Part One and Shiv Part Two.

• As with most episodes of Stargirl, this one begins with a flashback. Seriously, it's like the show's in love with them they happen so often. This time we flash back to a whole six days ago.

"The Ordway Home For Children" is no doubt named after Jerry Ordway, a prolific comic artist and inker who worked extensively for DC. 

Ordway's one of my all-time favorite comic artists, as his work effortlessly conveys the power of the characters, and is somehow clean and simple, yet highly detailed at the same time. His art can be seen in many of the Superman titles, as well as All-Star Squadron and Infinity, Inc. both of which inspired much of Stargirl. He also inked George Perez's awesome pencils on the Crisis On Infinite Earths minseries.

• We then see young Jennie-Lynn Hayden (who broke into the Dugan house last week) being kicked out of the orphanage by its owner, Mrs. Ordway.

Mrs. Ordway's quite a piece of work, and clearly has no business being around children. Especially emotionally vulnerable orphaned children. Don't believe me? Get a load of her dialogue:

Mrs. Ordway: "Jennie, here's a little something for the bus. I'm sorry you have to go, but you know how this works. Other kids need a home, and you're no kid anymore."
Jennie: "I understand, Mrs. Ordway."
Mrs. Ordway: "This was left for you by child services for today. Happy birthday, Jennie."
Jennie: "Is this about my brother?"
Mrs. Ordway: "I have no idea."

Wow, you can practically feel her warmth and compassion coming right through the screen!

Seriously, would an orphanage REALLY force an eighteen year old girl out into the cold, cruel world without arranging a job or lodging for her first? At night? On her goddamned birthday? Jesus Christ!

Ah, but Mrs. Ordway's not finished yet! As Jennie walks away from the orphanage for the last time, she tells her:

Mrs. Ordway: "A little advice for out there in the world. Don't try so hard to be perfect. You don't have to be for people to like you. And it's a little annoying."

Holy crap! What kind of advice is that to give to a kid? How the frak did this woman get a job in social services in the first place?

• In the comics, Jennifer-Lynn Hayden is the daughter of Alan Scott, aka the Earth-2 Green Lantern, and Rose Canton, who was the plant-controlling villain Thorne. Rose had a split personality, but her condition was allegedly cured and she eventually married Alan Scott. The couple had fraternal twins, Jennifer-Lynn and Todd.

Fearing her evil persona would return, Rose gave up the children for adoption. Sadly they were split up, with Jennifer-Lynn going to a family named Hayden, and Todd to a family named Rice.

Both kids turned out to be metas— Jennifer had powers virtually identical to those of Green Lantern and became a superhero known as Jade, while Todd had the ability to become a living shadow who could fly, and called himself Obsidian. Both siblings eventually joined Infinity, Inc.

Whether the show follows the comic template is anyone's guess at this time.

• What the hell was up with Courtney's family this week?

At the end of last week's episode, Jennie straight up broke into the Dugan home and stole the Green Lantern's lantern. Quite rightly, Courtney attacked this unknown intruder and tried to stop her. 

Granted, Courtney may have gone a bit overboard with the excessive force, as she inadvertently destroyed the Dugan's cool Mid-Century Modern kitchen in the process. But in her mind she was simply defending her loved ones from a potentially deadly threat. After all, it's not the first time a supervillain's busted into their home!

Unfortunately, rather than praising Courtney's actions, Dugan and Barb inexplicably condemn her. Even more puzzling, once Jennie explains why she broke into their home, the Dugans are instantly touched by her sob story and actually side with her! Barb even offers to let her spend the night in Courtney's room. Courtney's then forced to sleep on the living room couch for the duration of Jennie's visit!

OK, I assume this was Barb's way of punishing Courtney for the damage she caused, but it still seems kind of harsh. Plus who the hell lets a complete stranger— especially one who just broke into their home— spend the night?

Courtney tries to defend her actions, but her family refuses to listen. I'm with Courtney on this one. Jennie could have simply knocked on the door, explained who she was and why she was there and asked for the lantern. Instead she broke into their home in the middle of the night and tried to steal it. She literally committed a crime, but Courtney's family can't seem to comprehend that.

• After taking over Courtney's room, Jennie sits on the bed and gazes longingly at a photo of her beloved brother Todd.

So who the hell's the little white girl next to Todd supposed to be? It can't be Jennie, as she's clearly of Hispanic origin. It looks like a photo of two completely random kids.

Could the Prop Department really not find a child anywhere in Georgia (where the series is filmed) who looked even remotely like a young Jennie?

• Apropos of nothing, Courtney wakes up the next morning and staggers into the kitchen as she struggles to pull on her robe.

Virtually every character I've ever seen in a movie or TV show dons a robe the second they roll out of bed. Is robes actually a thing in real life? I haven't owned one since I was six years old. I just eat breakfast in the t-shirt & shorts I sleep in year round. 

Even if I did have one, I for damn sure wouldn't wear a hot flannel robe in the middle of summer, which is when this episode's taking place.

• I just noticed the Dugan's have a portrait of their dog Max in their dining room! Cool!

• Courtney drag herself to summer school, where she's happy to see Yolanda there as well.

Once again, Yolanda's parents continue to prove they're the world's biggest assholes, as they forced her to sign up for summer school classes "just to keep her out of trouble. 

Jesus Christ! How many years are they gonna make the poor girl pay for her sexting transgression? I think she's been punished enough.

• While in class, Yolanda asks Courtney about "this Green Lama girl" who's staying with her. 

First of all, how the hell did Yolanda find out about her? I guess we're meant to assume the JSA is constantly texting one another and keeping everyone informed as to what's going on, but it feels like sloppy writing to me.

Secondly, this is sort of an in-joke, as there really was a Green Lama. There've been several different versions of the character over the years, appearing in pulp magazines and later in comics. 

The character premiered in 1940 (the same year Green Lantern debuted), and was an orphaned millionaire very similar to Bruce Wayne. He studied to become a Tibetan Lama, and acquired many "mystical" superhuman powers. Eventually he decided he could be more use by using his abilities to fight crime. 

The comic version had a similar origin but different powers, as he was more of a sorcerer who could travel through time and resurrect the dead. Even later iterations of the character gained the ability to fly. 

• When Mr. Desinger takes attendance, he calls Rick's name. A couple things here:

Last week Rick aced a test for the first time in his life, thanks to the Power Of Studying. This made his teacher unfairly suspect he cheated, and she demanded he take another test in front of her. When he refused, she threatened to flunk him. Looks like she meant it, as he's now having to take summer school classes in order to pass!

Second, Rick doesn't bother to show up for the first day of summer school. Did... did he just drop out?

• Speaking of Rick, last week he started leaving buckets of fast food chicken in the woods to feed Solomon Grundy, who's hiding out there. At the time I asked how a high schooler with no job could afford to pay for that much food every day. In this episode we see he's still feeding Grundy, so the question still stands!

By the way, what's Rick's endgame here? Does he just feel sorry for Grundy? Is he trying to prevent him from robbing any more fast food places? Or is he hoping to make a "pet" of him? It isn't out of the question, as something very much like that happened in the Infinity, Inc. comic!

• In the previous episode, Dugan's friend Zeek pretty much took over the STRIPE robot and outlined all sorts of plans and upgrades he had in mind for it— including a wrist-mounted flamethrower. 

This week we see he was true to his word, as STRIPE can now shoot flames from arm!

• So Dugan's completely taken with Jennie as well, and agrees to train her to use the power ring & lantern. When she mentions the ring flew onto her finger after being kept in a box for years, Dugan finds that odd. According to him, Alan Scott, the original Green Lantern, had to charge his ring daily with the lantern/battery.

In the comics, Jennie/Jade didn't need a ring or battery like Green Lantern did. Her powers came from a birthmark on her palm, which acted much like Green Lantern's ring and was apparently fueled by her own body.

The show seems to be going a slightly different way here, as Jennie doesn't have a birthmark— but we do find out she's somehow charging the lantern with her own body..

• As part of his training regimen, Dugan tells Jennie that the power ring can create anything, and is limited only by her imagination and willpower. Determined to prover herself, she screws up her face, concentrates and instantly makes a 3D simulation of her brother Todd's toy car— on her first try!

And what a replica it is, too! Every detail's absolutely perfect, right down to the name "TODD" scribbled on the bottom of the car! Jesus Christ! This is doubly amazing when you consider that she saw the toy car for the first time a week ago! 

• Several times in this episode, Dugan tells Jenny that the Green Lantern ring is affected by her emotions. What the hell..? 

This was news to me, as in every Green Lantern story I'd ever read, the ring was controlled solely by willpower, which I'm pretty sure is a physical and mental action and not an emotion. 

But it turns out Dugan was right. Sometime after I stopped buying comics, DC published the Sinestro Corps War and Blackest Night, two massive Green Lantern crossovers which introduced the concept of the Power Ring Spectrum. 

There are apparently nine different colors of power rings, each controlled by a different emotion (sort of). White is controlled by life, Red by rage, Orange by greed (um... shouldn't greed control the green ring?), Yellow by fear, Green by willpower (which as I pointed out isn't an emotion), Blue by hope, Indigo by compassion, Violet by love and Black by death.

Strangely enough, Jennie's green power ring seems to be affected when she's anxious, nervous or fearful— emotions which don't have anything to do with will. Based on this I'm assuming they're not following the comics, and won't be introducing the Power Ring Spectrum on this show.

• When Yolanda, Rick & Beth meet Jennie, they're immediately charmed with her— just like Courtney's family was. In fact they're so taken by her that they tell her their secret identities. 

Quite rightly, Courtney's not happy about this, and tells them so. Her friends instantly jump to the conclusion that she's jealous of Jennie, and chastise her for being so petty.

To be fair, there may be a small grain of truth in their accusations, as it's possible Courtney may be feeling a twinge of jealousy here. After all, Jennie IS the daughter of the original Green Lantern, and as such a JSA legacy— something Courtney desperately longed to be, but was cruelly denied last season.

But none of that explains why her teammates began worshipping Jennie seconds after they met her. Why's everyone so infatuated with this complete stranger who breaks into peoples' homes? It almost makes me wonder if Jennie has a secondary superpower that allows her to manipulate emotions! It would explain a lot, as she's not THAT nice or likeable!

• I get that this is an ensemble show, and they were doing lots of setup for the rest of the season. But man, Yolanda, Rick & Beth really got shafted this week. No mention or even a brief acknowledgement of their respective problems in this episode. In fact they all seemed perfectly fine.

• Richard Swift rolls into Blue Valley, driving what appears to be a Jaguar Mark 2, which were produced in England from 1959 to 1967. 

Jaguar made a limited run of a "reimagined" version in 2014, which sold for a modest $350,000 each. I'm betting that's likely the version we're seeing here.

• Swift pays a visit to Barb at the American Dream, where he asks if he can peruse the collection of the late William Zarick, aka the Wizard. Lots to unpack in this scene.

First of all, Swift is clearly the Shade, another character with a lengthy and convoluted backstory in the comics. He first appeared in 1942's Flash Comics #33. In his first appearance he used a machine to "steal" the light in Keystone City, allowing him to rob it at will. He was opposed by the Jay Garrick version of the Flash.

Later he became an enemy of the Barry Allen Flash as well, wielding a magical cane that could animate shadows. Eventually he teamed up with The Thinker and The Fiddler in the Flash Of Two Worlds storyline, which kick-started DC's multiverse.

The character was retooled in the 1990s, becoming an immortal Victorian gentleman named Richard Swift, who was sort of a living shadow. He had a connection to the Shadowlands, a dark and primordial realm, and could create illusions and creatures from darkness and shadow. He could teleport himself and others through the Shadowlands, emerging at any point on Earth.

This new Shade grew bored with his life of crime and became a mercenary, working for the highest bidder on either side. He developed a strict moral code, based on honor and fair play, refusing to commit any crimes in his hometown of Opal City. Eventually he became something of a mentor to the Jack Knight version of Starman.

Based on this episode, it looks like Stargirl's giving us the modern, morally ambiguous version of the Shade.

I love how Barb isn't impressed by Swift's smug, oily charm, and is instantly suspicious of him. Glad to see her being given more to do on the show, and not just play the supportive wife & mom.

That said, I was surprised to see she's still working at the American Dream. How the hell is that place still in business? While it was ostensibly designed to revitalize Blue Valley, it was actually a front for Jordan Mahkent's nefarious plan to take over the country. Seems like it should have died along with him.

Barb does mention some sort of committee though, so I guess maybe the town leaders decided to keep the place around and continue the benevolent part of the business?

• At one point Bobbie hears a voice, and sees a glimpse of Eclipso's true form (complete with glowing red eyes) reflected in a butcher knife. He urges her to kill her Cindy.

Based on this scene, it's clear that Eclipso wants Cindy dead, since she's currently able to control him (sort of). I'm betting we'll eventually get a subplot in which Eclipso becomes more than Cindy can handle, and she has to turn to the JSA for help.

• Something just occurred to me regarding Eclipso. Stargirl takes place on Earth-2, and is separate from the rest of the Arrowverse (so far!). Up to this point, all the characters we've seen on the show are based on ones who've appeared in comics set on Earth-2.

Until now. I could be wrong, but as near as I can tell there's no Earth-2 version of Eclipso in the comics, as he was always strictly an Earth-1 villain. 

I don't have a problem with this, mind you. I just thought it was worth a mention.

• Courtney apologizes to Jennie, which upsets her for some reason. Her emotions then cause the lantern to overload and threaten to explode. She and the others rush it to the town square, hoping it'll do less damage there.

When Jennie picks up the out-of-control lantern and absorbs its power, I swear the musical score sounded very similar, if not identical, to the Superman Theme from Superman & Lois. Did the composer just recycle his own music for Stargirl?

• Jennie seemingly absorbs the lantern's energy at the last second, as the team breathes a sigh of relief. Suddenly the lantern explodes anyway, causing a huge shockwave of green energy in the middle of town.

Fortunately everyone in Blue Valley apparently goes to bed at 8pm, so no one saw the gigantic explosion and wondered what it was. Nor did anyone notice the giant crater it caused.

• After absorbing the lantern's energy, Jennie discovers she can now fly under her own power. This officially makes her the most powerful character we've seen so far on the show. Courtney comes close, but even she can't fly without the Cosmic Staff.

• The next day the Dugans wake to find Jennie gone. Apparently she got what she needed from them and then noped the hell out of there. Doesn't sound all that perfect now, does it? 

This is why I sided with Courtney all through this episode. The other characters all talk about how nice and perfect Jennie is, even though we see no actual evidence of this. Her "niceness" is an informed attribute. That's when the script constantly TELLS us of a character's charm or skill, even though there's no visual evidence of it.

I don't think we've seen the last of Jennie though. I'm confident she'll be back at some point, possibly in the season finale, to help the JSA battle Eclipso.

• Dugan looks through old JSA files, and pulls out a folder on the Shade. Naturally the photo's out of focus, so it's impossible to tell if Richard Swift and the Shade are the same person.

This seems to be a common trick on this show, as they did the exact same thing last year when Barb looked at a damaged photo of Starman and tried to figure out if he was her ex-husband.

• I loved Courtney's expression as Dugan said the Shade was in town, and painfully admitted there was still an ISA presence in town. As he speaks she's so giddy she can barely contain herself!

• At the end of the episode, Bobbie tries to kill Cindy. Suddenly Cindy's eyes glow red as half her face goes dark, and she sucks the soul from her stepmother, leaving her a pile of ashes.

Cindy's horrified by Bobbie's death, and realizes that Eclipso possessed her without permission. She threatens to destroy his diamond if he ever does so again. A few things here:

At the beginning of last week's episode, we saw a lengthy prologue in which a young boy named Bruce Gordon was possessed by Eclipso, and killed Rebecca McNider, the daughter of the original Dr. Mid-Nite.

We didn't get to see exactly what happened to Rebecca, but based on this episode, it's a good bet she died the same way Bobbie did.

Secondly, Cindy clearly thought she'd be able to use Eclipso for her own purposes, but it's evident she's already losing control of the demon. She's definitely in way over her head, and who knows, he may even end up killing her as well.

Lastly, I was surprised to see Cindy so broken up over the death of her stepmother Bobbie. I'm assuming this was an attempt at giving Cindy a bit of depth and make her a more interesting character. It's just that every time we've ever seen the two of them interact, Cindy's always been rude, insolent and downright evil to her stepmother. Heck, if I remember right she even threatened to kill her last season.

So it's all the more jarring when she's suddenly mourning her death.

• Poor Bobbie. "Mr. Stark I don't feel good..."
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