Friday, June 12, 2020

Stargirl Season 1, Episode 3: Icicle

This week on Stargirl we get the best episode yet in the short history of the series. It's also the darkest episode yet, as we get two VERY unexpected deaths and the brutal and sadistic Icicle returns to Blue Valley. 

Once again I'm really enjoying the "dual storylines" going on in this series. There's the teen characters with all their high school drama of course. But we also get a bevy of adult characters, who have their own problems and story arcs. It's an interesting format, and I can't remember seeing anything like it on any other show in recent memory.

Also this week, Courtney finds out that superheroing isn't all fun and games— and sometimes it has deadly consequences. It's a harsh lesson for her to learn, and unfortunately she still doesn't seem to be taking her new role as seriously as she should. Look for more death and heartache before the season's over.

Lastly, this week we get a good look at the Justice Society Headquarters, and get some more backstory on the various members. That's always a good thing, though I wish we'd see some actual flashbacks with the members, instead of just hearing Dugan reminisce about them.


The Plot:

We begin with a flashback to eight years ago in Blue Valley. Jordan Mahkent (aka Icicle) and his family are gathered around his dying wife Christina's sickbed. Jordan brings his young son Cameron in to say goodbye to his mother. He gives her a drawing of a flower, and she manages to whisper that she loves him right before she has a seizure. Cameron runs into the hallway and cowers, traumatized by the experience.

Jordan holds his wife and hisses that he'll make the world pay for what it did to her. She tells him to finish his mission to "fix" the country and make it safe for their son. She says if anyone tries to stop him, to destroy them. She then up and dies. 

Jordan storms out of the house and screams in rage, as everything around him freezes.

Cut to the present day. 
At the Dugan house, Courtney packs her Stargirl costume in her backpack and goes down to breakfast. Dugan reminds her and his son Mike about family dinner night, and emphasizes how important it is that they show up (Plot Point!). 

Courtney tells Dugan that now that they've eliminated Brainwave, she wants to hunt down the rest of the Injustice Society Of America. Dugan says they got incredibly lucky with Brainwave, as he could have easily killed them both. He tells her they need to slow down and make a plan. Courtney reluctantly agrees, but tells Dugan to keep his eyes open, as the ISA members could be anyone in town (cue ironic slide whistle).

Meanwhile, Henry King Jr. sits at the bedside of his comatose father Henry Sr. (aka Brainwave). Suddenly a coffee cup moves on its own, implying there may be a light on in Brainwave's 
attic after all. Henry Jr. takes his father's hand, and is then startled to see Jordan staring into the room. Jordan stands there for a moment, then turns and leaves. 

Jordan phones Councilman William Zarick (aka The Wizard), but he ignores the call. His son Joey shows him a new card trick he's practicing for the school Talent Show. William praises his trick, and tells him how to make it even better by distracting the audience. Denise Zarick enters and tells Joey to have a good day at school. She and Zarick happily watch their son as he hurries off. 

Jordan calls back, and once again Zarick ignores him. Denise asks if everything's OK. Zarick says it's fine, as he pulls a rose out of thin air and gives it to her.

Courtney arrives at school and sees the other students staring at the destruction that she and STRIPE caused in their battle with Brainwave the night before. Justin, the school janitor, leers at her again as she hurries inside. 

Courtney reaches her locker just as Joey runs up and asks her to pick a card. She picks the Three Of Clubs and puts it back in the deck. Joey then causes the Seven Of Hearts to rise from the deck, and enthusiastically asks if that's her card. Joey's so earnest and excited that she doesn't want to disappoint him, so she lies and says yes. She turns and sees that Cameron (who's now a teen as well) saw the whole thing, and knows she "stretched the truth" to please Joey.

Courtney walks down the hall and sees Yolanda starting at her locker, which has the word "SLUT" painted on it. She offers to help Yolanda clean it off, but she tells her to leave her alone and runs off. 

Elsewhere, Dugan stops by the hospital to make sure Brainwave's still comatose. Dr. Bridget Chapel walks over and asks if she can help him. Dugan claims to be an old friend of Henry's and wanted to know if he was OK. Bridget says Henry was the cornerstone of the hospital, unaware he was secretly a member of the ISA. She's taken aback when Dugan stupidly asks where they found Henry, and what he was wearing when they did. She says he had his lab coat on, and Dugan realizes Brainwave isn't the only ISAer in town.

Zarick returns home from the office and finds Jordan waiting for him on his porch. Jordan tells him Brainwave's in a coma. Zarick admits Brainwave came to see him a few nights ago, ranting that a girl using Starman's Cosmic Staff attacked his son. Jordan wonders why Zarick didn't inform him immediately, and he says he didn't see the need, as Brainwave said he'd take care of it. Zarick says Brainwave was never a team player, and resents the fact he always had to clean up after him.

Jordan taunts Zarick, saying he thinks small and doesn't use his magic powers to their full potential. He tells Zarick he's hunted down everyone who exposed his wife to the toxin that killed her, and did it because he promised her he'd make the world safe for everyone's children. Zarick says there's nothing in the world more important to him than his son Joey. Jordan says that's as it should be. He then says he's back and in charge again, and will take care of Stargirl.

Meanwhile, Dugan gets a call from his son Mike's school, saying he's been playing videogames in class. He brings Mike home, takes away his games and tells him he's getting a paper route, which is apparently still a thing in Blue Valley.

At The American Dream building, Mr. Sharpe (aka The Gambler) calls a meeting and announces that Jordan's back. Jordan goes on about how his immigrant parents came to this country seeking a better life, yadda yadda, and he wants to make Blue Valley a model city. He says Step One is to revitalize downtown, which will include tearing down the local theater.

Barbara frowns, saying when she grew up in Blue Valley the theater was where the whole community gathered. Sharpe says the place has lost money for years and is coming down. Jordan surprisingly changes his mind and agrees with Barbara, telling Sharpe to let it stand and find a way to make it profitable. Sharpe complies, glaring at Barbara the whole time.

Back at the school, Courtney sees someone's painted flowers over the "SLUT" on Yolanda's locker. She then sees mean girls Cindy and Jenny taunting Yolanda. Courtney rushes up and tells them to piss off and chases them away. Rather than being grateful, Yolanda tells Courtney to leave her alone, as she's only going to make things worse.

Later in class, Courtney notices Cameron doodling flowers in his book. She asks if he's the one who fixed Yolanda's locker, but he only smiles and says, "Maybe."

At The American Dream, Jordan enters Barbara's office and sees her arranging photos of her family. He stares intently at a photo of Courtney for a few seconds (creepy!), then invites Barbara to join a task force meeting he's heading at 6:30 pm. She says she'd love to, but it's Dugan Family Dinner Night. He tells her he understands and says America was built on family values such as hers.

Courtney walks home from school, and passes Rick Tyler (son of the late Hourman) leaning against a wall while day-drinking. He glares as she walks past. She takes a shortcut through the park, and suddenly the wind picks up and the temperature drops. She sees a large icy star frozen into the ground. 

Courtney runs home and tells Dugan what happened, saying it's obviously a threat from Icicle. He warns her that Icicle's extremely dangerous, and the only thing that was ever able to hurt him was the Cosmic Staff. Naturally Courtney wants to immediately go after him, as he's the man who killed her father. 

Dugan says Icicle's obviously laying a trap for them. Just then the Staff floats in by itself and begins glowing. Courtney says even IT wants revenge. She tells Dugan she's going after Icicle with or without his help. 

Cut to Courtney riding on STRIPE's back. They land in the park, but of course the ice has melted. Suddenly STRIPE's hit with several icy blasts and freezes up. He tells Courtney he can't move, and she takes off into the woods on her own.

Back home, Barbara rushes in, all set for Family Dinner Night. She's dismayed to find Mike's the only one there.

Courtney runs through the woods, and the Staff warns her of an incoming ice blast. She manages to deflect it, knocking the blast into the nearby lake, which causes it to freeze up. Icicle then appears, and Courtney tries shooting him with the Staff. Unfortunately nothing happens, as it was frozen by the blast as well.

Jordan lifts his hand, ready to kill Courtney. Just then STRIPE's big metal fist flies through the air and punches Jordan in the gut. It carries him clean across the lake, dumping him on a bridge before it returns to STRIPE.

Just then the bus carrying the students back from the Talent Show crosses the bridge. Joey's on the bus, and he tells his friend Beth Chapel he feels like his magic's getting stronger. Icicle sees the bus coming, and for no good reason he ices up the bridge. The bus begins slipping and sliding, crashing through the guard rails as its back half hangs precariously over the edge.

The bus then begins tipping over the side, as Joey slides down the aisle and lands against the emergency door. Fortunately, STRIPE's finally able to unfreeze himself and flies toward the doomed bus. He catches it just as it falls, as Joey stares right at him. Back on the shore, Courtney uses the Staff (which has apparently thawed) to create a flash of light that temporarily blinds Joey and the others, to prevent them from seeing the giant robot.

STRIPE deposits the bus safely on the bridge and flies back to shore. The stunned students exit the bus and mill around. A shaken Joey takes out his deck of cards and shuffles it to calm himself. Icicle sees a truck coming, and again, for no good reason, blows a breeze of cold air toward the bridge. The wind blows a card out of Joey's deck and he runs to get it, stepping directly into the path of the oncoming truck. The driver tries to stop, but slides on the ice and kills Joey. Back on the shore, Courtney and STRIPE watch in horror.

Later that night, Denise tries calling Joey. Just then a disheveled Zarick enters the house and stands silently in the doorway. Denise instantly realizes her son's dead, and breaks down in tears. Zarick heads to his wall safe, pulls out his wand and grimly stalks out of the house.

At the garage, Courtney tells Dugan that Joey was the first kid in the whole school who was ever nice to her. She vows to make Icicle pay for what he did. Dugan says he wants to show her something. Cut to STRIPE flying her to the Justice Society Of America's Headquarters, which is presumably in LA.

Inside the HQ, he shows her the meeting room, complete with large paintings of the JSA members on the wall. Below each painting are items that belonged to the various members, such as masks, helmets and weapons. He tells Courtney to take a good look around. He says the JSA was far more powerful than either of them, and now they're all dead. He says the two of them don't stand a chance against Icicle and the ISA.

Courtney suggests finding a new Hourman or Doctor Mid-Nite, but Dugan says no one can take their place. She says that's not true, as she replaced her father Starman. Dugan's adamant, saying that no one can defeat the ISA. He tells her there'll be no more Stargirl and STRIPE unless he says so.

Elsewhere, Zarick goes to Jordan's manor and pounds on the door. Jordan answers and Zarick barges in. He ignites his wand, points it at Jordan's head and demands to know if Joey's death was an accident or by design. Jordan says he's sorry about Joey's death, as he grabs the tip of Zarick's wand (heh) and freezes it. He says he did it for Joey, as Zarick's entire body freezes solid, and Jordan gently lays him out on the floor. Jordan's parents walk in, look completely unsurprised and say they'll clean up the mess.

The next day Denise sits alone in her house, as a news report says private services were held that morning for both Zarick and Joey. Zarick's death was ruled as a "heart attack."

At The American Dream, Jordan meets with his task force. Barbara enters and Jordan warmly welcomes her. At the Dugan house, Mike asks why Barbara isn't at the compulsory family dinner, and Dugan tells him to shut it (uh-oh).

Cameron returns home and tells Jordan he was at a memorial service for Joey. Jordan embraces his son, and sends him off to his room. Jordan's parents tells him that his Project: New America will keep his son and all children safe.

Later Courtney broods in her room, thinking about Joey. She makes a decision, takes the Staff and flies back to the JSA HQ. She grabs various items such as Wildcat's mask, Doctor Mid-Nite's helmet, Hourman's hourglass and Green Lantern's ring. She tells the Staff they're going to do some recruiting.


• I've mentioned in the previous two reviews, but it's worth a repeat. For some reason, Stargirl premieres on the DC Universe streaming service the day before it airs on The CW. The first two episodes clocked in at 54 and 51 minutes, respectively. That's great! The more content, the better!

Unfortunately when these two episodes were broadcast on The CW, they were significantly shorter. The network chopped a good TEN MINUTES of content from each, which is a massive amount when you're talking about a TV show.

They didn't just cut out fat or fluff either. They excised scenes that introduced major characters, established their relationships with one another and set up future plot points.

Happily, that doesn't seem to be the case this week. Both the streaming and broadcast versions of Icicle are the same length— approximately 44 minutes.

• The episode begins with a flashback to eight years ago, as Jordan Mahkent's wife lays dying in her sickbed. He brings his son Cameron in to see her.

It's a poignant and touching sequence, featuring a family facing a life-altering crisis. It's also incredibly similar to the opening scene of 2014's Guardians Of The Galaxy. Wait, did I say "similar?" I meant "shot for shot recreation."

— As Guardians opens, Meredith Quill's dying, and her family's gathered around her hospital bed. Her father brings her son Peter in to say his goodbyes.

In Icicle, Christine Mahkent's dying, and her family's gathered around her bed. Her husband Jordan brings their son Cameron in to say his goodbyes.

— In Guardians, the dying Meredith gathers the last of her strength to tell Peter she loves him.

In Icicle, the dying Christine admires a drawing Cameron made for her, and gathers the last of her strength to tell him she loves him.

— In Guardians, Meredith takes a final breath and then dies. Young Peter's so traumatized he runs from the room and flees the hospital.

— In Icicle, Christine goes into cardiac arrest seconds before she dies. Young Cameron's so traumatized he runs from the room and cowers in the hall.

About the only difference here is that in Guardians, Peter exits the hospital and is abducted by Yondu's spaceship.

See, what'd I tell you? The two scenes are practically identical! I don't know if the Stargirl producers just outright swiped the opening from Guardians, or if it was supposed to be an homage. Or maybe there're only so many ways to film a young boy saying goodbye to his dying mother, I dunno.

• I love the Dugan family's retro-looking kitchen! I wish I knew where to go to buy a teal refrigerator, blender and radio!

• As I mentioned last week, much of Stargirl is filmed in the town of Dallas, Georgia (just outside of Atlanta). This establishing shot of the Blue Valley Hospital isn't in Dallas though...

It's actually a sample of Shutterstock video clipart, that anyone can buy. It looks like The CW FX Team used CGI to add the name of the hospital to the exterior and then called it a day. Smart! Using clipart was likely much more cost effective than sending out an entire film crew to shoot five seconds of location footage.

• Inside the hospital, we see Henry King Jr. dozing in his comatose father's room. A couple things here:

First of all, the sleeping Henry's jolted awake when his coffee cup suddenly moves for no reason. As we all know, Henry's father is secretly the supervillain Brainwave, who has powerful telepathic and telekinetic abilities. Unfortunately for him, last week his mind was fried by Stargirl's Cosmic Staff, and he's been in a coma ever since.

The fact that the coffee cup moved by itself indicates Brainwave may not be quite as comatose as we thought, and he's struggling to regain consciousness. Bad news for Stargirl!

Secondly, there's a purple candy bar wrapper sitting on the table next to the coffee cup. It's nearly impossible to see, but the name on the bar is "Nodello." That's a reference to Martin Nodell, the artist who created the look of the Golden Age Green Lantern. Too bad we didn't get a better look at it.

• I really liked the way that Zarick and Jordan are portrayed in this episode— as opposite sides of the same coin. 

When the Injustice Society decided to lay low and hide out in Blue Valley, it appears that Zarick ended up "going native." He made a brand new life for himself, becoming a respected member of the community and even ran for City Councilman. He has a loving wife, a son he dotes on and a house with a white picket fence. He's definitely trying to put his violent past behind him and live the small town life. He even manages to be likable in this episode!

Compare that to Jordan, who's equally devoted to his family but remains a cold, calculating, remorseless killer. But despite his villainy, he honestly sees himself as a hero, believing he's the only one who can save the country from itself.

It's a surprisingly deep and nuanced take on supervillains and people in positions of power, and not something I'd normally expect from a superhero show! Well done, writers!

• A thought just occurred to me about this show's timeline. OK, the Injustice Society killed the JSA ten years ago. Shortly afterward, the villains presumably all moved to Blue Valley and adopted new identities. Both Zarick and Jordan have sons who look like they're at least sixteen. That means at least two members of the ISA were married and had kids well before they killed the JSA! 

Does that seem right? Did they really dress up in costumes, fight the JSA and then go home to their families like nothing happened?

• Creepy Janitor makes another appearance this week, showing up to leer menacingly at Courtney again. We've seen him before, as he briefly appeared in Pilot when she first entered the school. He actually gets a first name this week, as his work shirt reads "Justin."

As you might expect, this isn't just a throwaway character, and this is all setup for an eventual big reveal. Highlight the text below if you don't care about spoilers and really want to know just who he is. 

In the comics, Justin The Janitor is actually Sir Justin, aka Shining Knight. He was a member of the Seven Soldiers Of Victory, a team made up of Guardian, Zatanna, Klarion The Witch Boy, Mister Miracle, Bulleteer, Frankenstein (?) and Shining Knight himself. There was an earlier team with a different lineup, but we won't worry about them right now.

During a battle with Nebula Man, the Seven Soldiers were thrown back to random points in time and stranded there. They were eventually rescued by the JSA and brought back to the present day. Unfortunately for Sir Justin, the ordeal gave him amnesia and he ended up working as a janitor at Blue Valley High!

I'd say it's a good bet something similar's going to happen here on Stargirl.

• Something occurred to me while watching this week's episode. Take a good, long look at the dozens of extras packing the halls of Blue Valley High. Due to the current world-ending pandemic, I have a feeling that crowd scenes like this are now a thing of the past. Can't practice social distancing when you have fifty actors packed into a tiny hallway set! Next season we'll probably see three or four students in the hallway, and they'll all be six feet apart.

• Kudos to whoever cast Wil Deusner as Joey Zarick. He's so earnest and enthusiastic that you can't help but like the kid. Plus he got along great with his dad, and was completely unaware that he used to be a deadly supervillain. This made his death all the more shocking and unexpected.

• Speaking of Joey, he practices his card trick on Courtney by asking her to pick a card from the deck. She draws the Three Of Clubs.

He then produces the Seven Of Hearts from the deck and confidently asks if that's her card. Joey's so exuberant and adorable that she can't bear to crush his spirit, so she lies and says yes.

Then in the third act, Joey's hit and killed by a truck (!). The impact sends his deck of cards flying, and we see the Three Of Clubs floating through the air. Joey finally got the trick right! Irony, thy name is Stargirl!

• I dunno about anyone else, but I spent a good part of this episode thinking that Cameron...

...was actually Rick Tyler (who'll eventually become the new Hourman). The two actors look so similar (to my eyes, at least) that it took me till the end of the episode to realize they were two different people.

• Early in the episode, Mean Girl Cindy Burman paints the word "SLUT" on Yolanda's locker. A bit later we see that Cameron, who's apparently a budding artist, has painted over the word and turned it into a string of flowers.

That's nice of him and all, but... WHEN THE HELL DID HE FIND TIME TO DO THAT? Take a close look at the flowers he painted. They're not just slapped onto the locker, they're carefully composed and skillfully shaded. It had to take at least an hour to paint them on the locker— maybe even longer. How the heck did he accomplish all that— in the middle of a school day— without anyone seeing him?

• During a meeting at The American Dream, Jordan says, "But this past year I have traveled across America from town to town and I have seen factories that are abandoned. I've met people in need. In Littleville, Colorado. In Hatton Corners, Indiana. And so many other forgotten communities."

As you might expect, those towns are comic book references. Littleville was the setting for the Dial H For Hero comic, while Hatton Corners was the birthplace of the original Teen Titans.

• This nitpick is kind of hard to talk about without sound, but I'll do my best. Jordan visits Zarick at his home, scolding him for "thinking small" and not taking over the town. At the end of the scene, Jordan says, "But I'm back in charge now. And I'll take care of this... Stargirl" as he turns and leaves. Watch closely as the camera holds on Zarick for several seconds. Oddly enough his lips move, but no sound comes out of his mouth!

It's obvious that Zarick had another line here, but the producers chose to mute it in editing for some reason. Why they let the camera linger on his ventriloquist act for so long though, I have no idea.

During their battle last week, Courtney zapped Brainwave into a coma. Next time we see him he's lying in a hospital bed, and Dr. Chapel tells Henry Jr. that "they found him outside the ER."

Quiet rightly, I assumed that Courtney and Dugan must have dumped him in front of the hospital and then took off.

This week Dugan goes to the hospital to check on Brainwave, and talks with Dr. Chapel about him:

Dugan: "Well, where did they find him?"
Chapel: "Just outside the emergency entrance."
Dugan: "Right. So, what did he have on?"
Chapel: (taken aback by this bizarre question) "His... lab coat."
Dugan: "Right. 'Course. Yeah."

This means I was totally wrong about Courtney and Dugan dropping off Brainwave at the hospital. Apparently they just left him lying in the middle of the Blue Valley High parking lot, and buggered off back to their home! 

Jesus, that's a bit harsh! Yeah, the guy's a supervillain, and he did just try to kill them both. But leaving him for dead like that...

Then during Zarick's meeting with Jordan, he says, "Brainwave has never been a team player like me. I was the one who cleaned everything up. Got him to the hospital, took care of the costume, came up with a story."

So Zarick's the one who actually dumped him in front of the ER. Mystery solved!

• Dugan's working on STRIPE when he gets a call from Mike's school. We see he's wearing a pair of welding goggles.

I'm betting that was a reference to Jack Knight. He became Starman in the comics back in the 1990s, and was the one who passed the Cosmic Staff to Courtney Whitmore. 

• I loved the speech Dugan gave to Mike about videogames:

Mike: "What am I supposed to do in my room without my games?"
Dugan: "You know, I was in the middle of real important work, Mike, and when I was your age, we weren't playing games in class."
Mike: "Yeah, back in your day, you didn't have any video..."
Dugan: "You see, that's where you're wrong. It was actually the golden age of video games and I was down at the arcade playing Asteroids, Donkey Kong, Dig Dug, Defender, Spy Hunter, you name it. But my personal favorite was made by the Rolls-Royce of video game manufacturers. Atari."
Mike: "A what?"
Dugan: "The game was called Paperboy, Mike, and I used to play it all day, every day, until one afternoon my father came to me and he said..."
Mike: "You were adopted."
Dugan: "No. He said, 'Son, you need to stop feeding quarters into that machine and go make some money of your own. You like this game Paperboy, how about you try the real thing?' So, he got me a paper route."
Mike: "Does this story ever end or does it just keep going on forever?"
Dugan: "It continues. It doesn't have an ending because you, Mike Dugan, are gonna take up that great family tradition. You're getting a paper route!"

The best part about this exchange is the revelation that Dugan is no stranger to videogames, as he played them himself in his youth. It gives him some welcome character development and backstory, and is much more interesting than if he'd just summarily denounced them. Plus he played all the same games I did! I used to play Paperboy all the time back in the day!

By the way, I guess paper routes are still a thing in Blue Valley! I guess I could see that happening in a small town like that.

• At one point Rick Tyler day-drinks while leaning against a wall that's emblazoned with a Blue Valley Tires sign (the town's biggest industry). 

Hats off to The CW Design Department, as this sign perfectly captures the look and feel of the 1940s - 1950s advertising aesthetic. It looks completely authentic, and if I didn't know better I'd think it was a real sign for an actual company. Even better, they somehow managed to weather the sign, like it's been on the side of that building for six decades! Well done, guys!

If for some reason you ever want to recreate this scene, you can find this wall at 109 W. Spring Street in Dallas, Georgia.

• Courtney takes a shortcut through the park on her way home from school, and discovers a message that Icicle left for her. So how the hell does he know that Courtney's really Stargirl, and that she'd be going through the park?

Earlier in the episode Zarick told Jordan that Brainwave's son "was attacked by someone using Starman's staff." He then goes on to say that Brainwave said the new Starman was a girl, and that he'd take care of her.

A bit later he enters Barbara's office and sees a photo of Courtney on her desk.

So... are we supposed to believe that Jordan saw Courtney's photo, realized she and Barbara just moved to the area and from that deduced she's Stargirl?

Apparently so! It's not like he created the star shape and hoped Stargirl would see it. The wind begins blowing and the temperature drops as Courtney enters the park. That means he was hiding and waiting for her to specifically walk by, and then made the star.

I gotta say, that's a pretty intuitive leap Jordan made about Courtney. I guess that's why he's the ISA leader!

• Courtney tells Dugan about the frozen star in the park, and convinces him to come and see it for some reason. Predictably, once they get there the ice has all melted. Even so, wouldn't there be a star-shaped plot of dead grass in the park now?

• "A kid's lookin' right at me!"

I think I finally figured out why I like the design of STRIPE so much...

It's because he reminds me of Frankenstein Jr., which was one of my favorite cartoons as a kid.

• This is some heavy duty nitpicking, but whatever. Something about this shot of STRIPE landing in the forest just doesn't look right to me. Watch how his foot rockets slow his descent, then cut out while he's still a good six to eight feet off the ground. For some reason he continues to hang in midair for a couple of seconds before he comes crashing down. 

That... that doesn't seem right. He should have fallen the rest of the way the instant the jets shut off. Yet somehow he remains suspended like a feather.

Told you it was heavy duty!

• Courtney and Dugan both watch in horror as Joey's hit and killed by a runaway truck on the bridge.

It's a tragic, shocking and totally unexpected scene. It's also completely undercut when we get a reverse angle of Courtney, and see just how freakin' far away she is from the bridge. Jesus Christ! She and Dugan are AT LEAST a quarter mile away! How in the name of myopia could either of them possibly have witnessed Joey's death? Heck, it's impossible to even see any people at all from that distance, much less tell who you're looking at!

• After learning that his son Joey's been killed, a shaken Zarick marches upstairs, opens his wall safe and pulls out his magic wand.

For a minute I was sure Zarick was going to use the wand to try and bring Joey back to life! Now THAT would have been interesting! Especially if he magically resurrected him, but Joey didn't come back quite... right. Like a Monkey's Paw situation.

• Holy sh*t! I was definitely NOT expecting Jordan to kill Zarick this week! Especially since we're only three episodes into the series! The show's gone to great lengths to set up Zarick's character and establish his relationship with his family and the Blue Valley community, so I naturally assumed he'd be around for the entire season. Way to subvert our expectations, guys! I officially have no idea where this series is headed!

• Jordan's parents seem completely calm and unaffected by the fact that their son just murdered a man in the foyer. I'm guessing this isn't the first time they've had to "clean up" after him.

• To demonstrate just how dangerous the superhero life can be, Dugan flies Courtney to the old JSA Headquarters.

Although we don't know for sure where the HQ is, it's a good bet it's somewhere in LA. We saw the ISA kill the JSA members there in the very first episode, and in this scene it looks like STRIPE's approaching a major metropolis. So until I find out otherwise, I'm saying it's in LA.

We don't know exactly where Blue Valley is located in Nebraska, so we'll just say it's somewhere in the center. A quick trip to Google Maps reveals that Nebraska is over 1,300 miles from LA. THIRTEEN HUNDRED MILES. Did Courtney really ride that far perched on STRIPE's back?

How long would a little jaunt like that take? Welp, there's likely a limit as to how fast STRIPE could fly, since he has a teen girl on his back who's exposed to the elements. Any faster than a hundred miles an hour and she'd likely have trouble breathing. That means it probably took them THIRTEEN HOURS to get there! Does that seem right? Did Barbara wonder where they both disappeared to for over twenty six hours?

Then in the final seconds of the episode, Courtney returns to the HQ to grab the various JSA items. Apparently she flew back there herself by riding on the Cosmic Staff. Again, did she really ride it 1,300 miles and back?

• Inside the JSA Headquarters we see their round table, which is surrounded by portraits of the various members. We see Starman and Johnny Thunder...

Doctor Fate and the Flash...


Doctor Mid-Nite...

And lastly, Green Lantern. There's also an image of Hourman, which isn't seen here.

We saw Sandman in the first episode, and Dugan's mentioned Hawkman and Hawkgirl before, but none of them seem to have portraits in the meeting room.

Note that the portraits all look VERY similar to the work of comic artist extraordinaire Alex Ross. I don't think it is Ross' work (maybe he wanted too much money to license it?), but it's most definitely influenced by him.

• Beneath each JSAer's portrait is a pedestal containing their various equipment, such as Doctor Fate's magic helmet, Green Lantern's power ring, etc. When Courtney starts to touch one of the items, Dugan screeches at her, saying, "Everything in this room is dangerous!"

Hmm. The Cosmic Staff is most definitely a dangerous relic, and Dugan stored it in his home for safekeeping. So why's he left all these other equally hazardous items unguarded here for the past ten years? In an abandoned HQ where anyone could swipe them?

• Among the relics in the room is Doctor Mid-Nite's pet owl (who's named "Hooty" in the comics). Courtney wonders what it's doing there, and Dugan says, "There's something special about him. I don't know what, but every time we'd come here, that owl, he'd fly right to Doctor Mid-Nite and land on his arm. He doesn't know Doctor Mid-Nite's dead. He's been waiting for him for years."

Hmm. I assume he's not been waiting inside the abandoned HQ since the JSA were wiped out. Presumably Hooty can come and go at will, so he can feed out in the wild.

Also, it's probably not a good idea for Courtney to get too attached to Hooty. Owls in the wild only live nine to ten years. They can live up to twenty eight years in captivity though. It's been ten years since Doctor Mid-Nite died, and he likely had the owl for quite a while before that, so... tick tock!

• All through the episode, Dugan and Barbara make a big deal out of Family Dinner Night, and insist that Courtney and Mike participate. Barbara even sits out of an important work meeting in order to make it home in time for dinner. Then when she gets home, she finds Dugan and Courtney have run off (on superhero business), and Mike's the only one there.

At the end of the episode, we see Barbara was apparently so pissed off by her family that she went back to work and attended Jordan's meeting after all.

We then cut back to the house, where Dugan and Courtney finally showed up for dinner. Barbara's conspicuously absent though, as her chair's empty. Then when Mike asks why she doesn't have to suffer through Family Dinner Night, Dugan snaps, "Not tonight, OK?"

I love this scene! It's so well done and directed. With little or no dialogue, we instantly understand there's some friction between Barbara and Dugan, as they're both letting their work interfere with their home lives. Good job!

Hopefully this scene isn't a harbinger of serious marital trouble to come!

• To absolutely no one's surprise, Cameron turns out to be Jordan's son, and the kid we saw get traumatized at the beginning of the episode. The question is, will he follow in his father's footsteps and become a supervillain, or join up with Team Stargirl? 

He seems like a genuinely good person in this episode, so I'm betting he'll become a hero, which will lead to an epic clash with his father.

• In the final shot, Courtney jumps on the Cosmic Staff and rides it all 1,300 miles to LA. There she breaks into the JSA HQ and steals, er, I mean borrows their old equipment, intending on using it to outfit a team of new recruits.

Among the items she takes are Wildcat's cowl, Hourman's hourglass and Doctor Mid-Nite's helmet. It's hard to tell from the way the scene's shot, but it looks for all the world like she also takes his owl Hooty with her as well! I guess she just stuffed it in her duffel bag along with the rest of the items?

She also grabs Green Lantern's Power Battery, but oddly enough not his ring. The Battery ain't no good with out the ring, Court!

About that Power Battery— it's actually a prop replica you can buy from DC Direct! The Prop Department just took one, gave it a coat of paint, aged it up a bit and used it on the show. Cool!

The final item Courtney takes is the pink pen, which Dugan tells her is the most dangerous artifact in the whole HQ.

In the comics, the pen contained the Thunderbolt, which was sort of a glowing pink genie. It was controlled by Johnny Thunder, and granted his wishes when he'd utter the words "Cei-U," which sounds like "say you." Johnny often blundered his way into trouble and had to be rescued by the Thunderbolt. Later on the pen passed into the hands of Jakeem Williams, who eventually changed his last name to Thunder.

Given the amount of screentime this pen gets in this episode, it's a good bet we'll see the Thunderbolt at some point during the season.

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