Thursday, June 18, 2020

Stargirl Season 1, Episode 4: Wildcat

This week on Stargirl we finally get the first of Courtney's new Justice Society recruits, Yolanda's tragic origin story, some insight into Henry Jr., the introduction of a cool new ISA villain and the sad end to Denise Zarick. All in the space of forty three minutes! Whew!

Wildcat was written by James Robinson, who's penned many a book at DC Comics. He wrote The Golden Age miniseries, and more importantly created the 1990s Starman comic. That book introduced the Jack Knight version of Starman, the Cosmic Staff and a revamped Shade.

The highlight of the episode was definitely Yolanda's story arc. It was a perfectly told cautionary tale on the evils of oversharing on social media, with a dash of cyberbullying thrown in for good measure. After seeing what happened to her, you'll never want to post on Facebook or Twitter ever again!

Now that Courtney's stolen, er, I mean borrowed the JLA's old equipment, apparently she's going to start recruiting her classmates to form a brand new super team. From this I can already see how the rest of the season will play out— we'll get a couple more episodes in which Courtney recruits more members, there'll be a training and a first mission episode, and finally they'll wrap up the season by confronting Icicle and the rest of the Injustice Society.

So far Courtney's being very careless about her secret identity, and who she invites into her little superhero club. I can definitely see that blowing up in her face. How long before she does something stupid like recruiting Cameron Mahkent, and his father Jordan finds out who she really is?

I was hoping that after Joey's senseless death at the hands of Icicle, Courtney might become a bit more cautious in her superheroing. Alas, she's just as reckless this week as she's always been. Which makes his death even more meaningless. Why kill him off if she's not going to learn from his demise?


The Plot:
We begin with a flashback to three months ago, as Yolanda Montez wakes and gets ready for school. She proudly puts on a "Vote Yolanda" button and goes down to breakfast, where she's warmly greeted by her entire family. She arrives at Blue Valley High, where it's clear she's the Most Popular Girl In School. She meets her boyfriend Henry King Jr. (son of Brainwave), and the two walk hand in hand down the hall. They stroll past mean girl Cindy Burman, who used to date Henry. She glares menacingly at Yolanda.

That night Yolanda's studying and gets a text from Henry, who asks him to send her a sexy photo. She refuses. but he eventually talks her into it. Against her better judgement, she removes her top, snaps some photos and sends them to him.

The next day at school, Henry's looking at his phone when Cindy walks up, grabs his phone and looks at it. Henry hurriedly takes it back. Later that day at an assembly, Yolanda makes her big campaign speech for class president. Cindy's in the audience, and somehow sends Yolanda's nude photo to the entire school. The audience sees the pic on their phones, and all begin laughing and jeering. Yolanda wonders what's happening, then sees the photo on her phone as well. She runs off the stage as Principal Bowin yells for everyone to settle down.

In the present, Courtney sits in her room and stares at the items she stole, er, I mean borrowed from the JSA HQ in the previous episode. She picks up the pink ballpoint pen— which Dugan told her was the most dangerous relic of them all— and of course clicks it. Nothing happens, so she casually tosses the pen in a pencil cup on her desk. 

She then goes through her yearbook, looking for suitable candidates to help her fight the Injustice Society. She sees photos of Yolanda, indicating she was once super popular and even dated Henry King Jr.

Courtney goes down to breakfast, and she and Mike both grimace as their parents kiss. Mike says he's bringing his friend Jakeem home for dinner. Barbara suggests Courtney invite a friend as well, and Mike taunts her, saying she doesn't have any friends.

Before Dugan leaves for work, he takes Courtney aside and says he knows what it's like to lose a friend (meaning Joey, who was killed last week). Courtney says Joey wasn't her friend because he was killed before he got the chance to be. She says they need to recruit a new Justice Society to prevent any more deaths. Dugan tells her it's too dangerous to involve anyone else, and he'll alert the authorities about the Injustice Society. Courtney asks what if the ISA ARE the authorities? Dugan has no answer for that.

At school, Yolanda accidentally runs into Henry. She mumbles a "sorry" and hurries off. Cindy sees her and asks what she said to Henry, saying it was probably something obscene. Courtney sees Cindy harassing Yolanda and tells her to knock it off. Cindy tells Courtney to watch out, saying, "she'll never see her coming." Cindy walks off, and Yolanda tells Courtney to just leave her alone.

Dugan goes to his garage, where a wrecker drops off Denise Zarick and her ailing SUV. She says she couldn't stand sitting alone in her empty house, so she went for drive and the car conked out. Dugan offers his condolences on the death of her husband and son, and Denise hurriedly says she's going for a walk. Dugan says it shouldn't take long to get her SUV running.

In the vast ISA Headquarters deep below The American Dream building, Jordan meets with fellow ISA member Dragon King. He tells Jordan he'll never betray the team like the Shade did, and says he's been "working on his daughter" (who's secretly Cindy Burman, but we're not supposed to know that yet). Jordan says he's accelerating his Project: New America and will provide Dragon King with anything he needs to complete his machine (whatever that is).

Dragon King says he never liked The Wizard (aka William Zarick) and is glad he's dead. He then asks if he can have Zarick's body, and Jordan says why not.

Courtney walks past the gym and sees Yolanda working out with a punching bag. She spots Courtney and tells her to stop following her around. Courtney says she can't, because she needs her help. She tells Yolanda that something sinister's going on in Blue Valley and she needs help to fight it. She invites Yolanda to dinner at her house, promising she'll stop bothering her if she comes. Yolanda says maybe, but she's not making any promises.

Later on Yolanda returns to her home. Her formerly loving family now ignores her, as her grandmother won't even look at her and mother breaks the silence only to tell her to go straight to her room. Her brother's the only one who's still civil to her. She says she was invited to a friend's house for dinner, but her mother tells her she's still grounded. 
Yolanda asks how long this is going to go on, and her mother says until she decides otherwise.

The next day, Courtney goes back to the gym and sees Yolanda boxing again. She tells Courtney she doesn't want to be her friend. Courtney confesses that she accidentally blew up Henry's car, hoping that'll pique her interest. Unfortunately it doesn't, and Yolanda walks away.

Courtney says she knows what Henry did to her, and that she thinks she's brave for continuing to come to school every day. Yolanda hisses that she never should have sent him those pictures. Courtney counters that Henry never should have shared them.

Yolanda says she knew Henry could be a jerk, but he was always nice to her. She says now her parents won't talk to her or bring her to church, and her whole life has changed. She says she can't help hating Henry now. Courtney asks if she'd like to see how she blew up his car. Yolanda says yes.

Elsewhere, Denise stops by Dugan's garage. He sees notices her suitcases in the back of her now-running SUV, along with her black cat in a pet carrier. She tells she wanted to thank him for his kindness, and says she's leaving Blue Valley for good. She tells him Zarick didn't have a hear attack, then abruptly stops, claiming she's said too much. She warns him not to trust anyone and drives off.

Later at the Dugan house, Courtney takes Yolanda to the basement and shows her the Cosmic Staff. She says it belonged to her dad, Starman. Courtney's a bit miffed when Yolanda says she's never heard of him OR the Justice Society. She says her dad was a superhero and now so is she, and Yolanda quite rightly thinks she's insane.

Courtney takes her to her room and puts on her Stargirl costume. She gives her the Wildcat cowl and costume, but Yolanda says they both smell bad. Eventually she talks her into putting them on. Just as Yolanda complains that the costume's too baggy and ill-fitting, it begins glowing and conforms to her figure.

The two girls look up Wildcat on wikipedia (which is apparently a thing on Earth-2), to see what his powers were. The site says he had razor sharp claws. Yolanda holds out her hands and sure enough, long claws pop out of her gloves. She tries them out by slicing through the Dugan's toaster (?).

Courtney then reads that Wildcat had cat-like agility and always landed on his feet. Yolanda jumps onto a fence, walks across it like a tightrope and does a perfect backflip off it. Cut to the two on top of The American Dream building. Yolanda starts to jump off the tall building, but hesitates at the edge. Stargirl finally has a moment of clarity, realizes what they're doing and stops Yolanda from jumping.

Back at the Dugan house, Mike finds the slashed toaster and calls for his dad. Don't worry, I'm betting this seemingly incongruous scene will become important later on.

Courtney tells Yolanda about the ISA and how Icicle killed Starman. Yolanda gulps and says she has to get back home before her parents realize she's gone. Courtney points out that they can't ground her any more than they already have.

Just then they see Henry drive by, and Courtney bets he's going to the hospital to see his comatose father Brainwave. Courtney says she's desperately trying to figure out who else in town is a supervillain. Yolanda says anyone who visits a supervillain in the hospital is probably one themselves. Courtney says that's a brilliant idea, and suggests they sneak into the hospital, find the visitor register and see who all's been to see Brainwave.

They arrive at the hospital, where Courtney says she'll create a distraction while Yolanda sneaks in. Why she feels the need for a distraction is anyone's guess. Yolanda uses her claws to scale the side of the brick building. She climbs through a window in the Intensive Care Unit. Just then a nurse enters, and Yolanda quickly hides behind a door.

Elsewhere, Courtney enters a utility closet and starts to shut off the power to cause her distraction. The Staff pulls her away, and she realizes cutting the juice in a hospital full of patients on life support is a bad idea. Instead, the Staff begins trashing the closet. The nurse hears the commotion and investigates, allowing Yolanda to sneak over to the desk and check out the visitor log. She takes it and heads to Brainwave's room.

As she enters his room, she sees Henry sitting at his father's bedside. She extends her claws and raises her arm, and for a few seconds looks like she might actually slash him. Then she realizes Henry's crying, and lowers her arm. She bumps into a cart, making a small noise. Henry turns to look, but doesn't see Yolanda clinging to the ceiling.

Meanwhile, Beth brings dinner to her mother, Dr. Bridget Chapel. Her mom tells her she doesn't have to bring her dinner at work every night, but Beth says she doesn't mind. Dr. Chapel tells Beth she should be out with her friends. Beth proudly exclaims that her parents are her best friends, and Dr. Chapel shuts her down right quick, telling her that's not true. Wow!

Back in Brainwave's room, Henry finally leaves and Yolanda drops to the floor. Courtney appears outside the window, sitting on the Staff. Before Yolanda can join her, Principal Bowin enters the room. Jesus! There's a lot of traffic in this poor comatose man's room! As Yolanda hides again, Bowin takes a violin from a case and begins playing over Brainwave. When she finishes she looks expectantly at him, but nothing happens. She takes her violin and leaves.

The two girls exchange "what the hell" glances, and Courtney figures Bowin must be a supervillain too. Courtney floats down to the ground on the Staff, while Yolanda climbs back down the wall. Unknown to both of them, Beth witnesses their superheroics and recognizes Yolanda. Uh-oh!

Back in Courtney's room, the girls go over the visitor log, but find nothing suspicious. Bowin didn't even sign in, so the whole escapade was a bust. Yolanda then tells her it's been real, but she can't be her Wildcat. She says she needs to get her life together before she puts on a mask and pretends to be someone else, and gives Courtney the costume back.

Yolanda goes home, and her parents are surprised to see she was out while she was supposed to be grounded. She tells them she made a horrible mistake, trusted someone she shouldn't and brought shame to their family. She says she's learned from her mistake though, and is done apologizing. She asks for their forgiveness and help to move forward, so she can be the Yolanda she was.

Amazingly, her mother tells her she can never be the old Yolanda, as she's disgraced the family and herself. Her father tells her to go to her room and stay there. Her brother Alex walks out as well, in support of her sister.

Yolanda goes to her room and sits on her bed, crying. She looks over and sees the Wildcat costume lying under the window, along with a note from Courtney saying, "I can't do this alone."

Cut to Courtney's room. She hears a noise outside, and sees Yolanda— in costume— staring through the window as she gives her a thumbs up.

The next day, Dugan goes to the junkyard and asks the owner Zeek if he has any construction equipment. Zeek jokingly asks if Dugan's building a time machine, and points in the direction of the equipment. As Dugan walks through the rows of vehicles and parts, he sees a familiar-looking black cat walk past. As he stops to pet it, he looks up and sees Denise's SUV, which looks like it's rolled over several times. He looks inside and sees Joey's magician's top hat lying on the seat.

• Unlike the first two episodes, this one clocks in at around forty two minutes, and it doesn't appear anything was chopped out in the broadcast version. Good.

• The opening montage is a perfect example of how to visually tell a story. Despite the fact that none of the characters utter a single word, the audience learns everything it needs to know about Yolanda and the shocking event that ruined her life.

Note that before The Incident, Yolanda's actually smiling (first time we've ever seen her do so) and everything's bright and bathed in golden yellow light.

Her bedroom mirror's lined with family photos, showing us how well they all get along.

In fact her entire family dotes on her, smiling as she enters the room and proudly displaying their "Vote Yolanda" class president buttons. Once again, everything's still lit with that golden light.

She even has a devoted boyfriend in Henry King Jr., who seems to genuinely care about her. Note the ominous sign of things to come though, as the evil Cindy Burman (in the purple sweater) glares at Yolanda for "stealing" her boyfriend Henry.

Then immediately after Yolanda's disgraced, her family's attitude toward her completely changes. They virtually ignore her, grunting out a few curt words only when necessary. 

Also, observe how the lighting's changed. Everything's now dull, gray and desaturated. 

OK, so maybe it's not subtle, but it works! As I said, the entire sequence is brilliant in its simplicity, and perfectly tells the story through pictures rather than words. Well done!

• Everyone's piling on Henry King Jr., denouncing him as a Grade-A asshole for asking Yolanda for nude photos and then posting them online for the whole world to see.

From what we've seen of him so far, Henry's definitely no boy scout. But here's the thing— I think he's innocent in this particular case! Let's examine the evidence.

During the flashback, Yolanda gets a text from Henry, who asks her to send him a "sexy pic." A couple things here:

First of all, Yolanda isn't totally blameless here. A sexy pic could easily have meant a shot of her wearing lingerie while lounging in a provocative pose. SHE'S the one whose mind thought "X-rated centerfold" and started snapping nudes of herself in the mirror.

Secondly, I'm not convinced that Henry's the one who requested the pics in the first place. Yeah, it says "Henry" at the top of the screen, but I don't think it was actually him. Instead I think Cindy somehow spoofed Henry's account and posed as him, as part of her revenge plot against Yolanda.

As evidence that Henry's innocent (of this incident at least), I offer his first appearance in Pilot. He approaches Yolanda and taunts her by saying, "You guys smell that? Smell something? Smells like... slut. Take any new pictures you'd like to share with us?"

OK, he's clearly being an asshole here. But why would Henry think taking nude photos was slut-like behavior if HE was the one who requested them?

As further proof of his innocence, I offer this shot of him and his friends as Yolanda walks by. Notice he's not leering or ogling at her here, he simply smiles like he's happy to see her. Same goes for his friends— they're looking at something on his phone, but it's definitely not her photos. If they were, they'd be whooping and hollering and pointing at Yolanda as she walked by.

Compare that to this shot in the auditorium, after Yolanda's photos get broadcast to everyone. Henry's clearly shocked and stricken by the shots. In fact I'm convinced this is the first time he's actually seen them, and he's wondering what kind of girl he's hooked himself up with.

And his friend is DEFINITELY looking at her nude photos this time, as he's predictably gawking at his phone and slapping Henry on the shoulder in a "Way to go" gesture.

We know Cindy's the one who uploaded the photos, as we clearly saw her do so in this scene. As I said, I'm convinced she was behind the entire smear campaign, and Henry's been wrongly accused. He may be a jerk, but I believe he's blameless in this one instance.

In the comics, Henry Jr. developed telepathic powers like his dad Brainwave, but put them to good use by joining a team called Infinity, Inc. 

I'm still leaning toward my theory that the writers have a similar redemption arc planned for TV Henry. 
I could definitely see him finding out the truth about his father and turning over a new leaf to try and clear the family name. Who knows, he may even become a member of Team Stargirl before it's over!

I've been wrong before though, so... check back to see if my theory holds water.

• When we see the photos taped to Yolanda's bedroom mirror, there's an old black & white shot of a boxer. That's obviously a shoutout to Ted Grant, the original WIldcat. In the comics (and presumably in Stargirl as well), Grant was a world-class boxer who ended up becoming a superhero.

It'd be WAY too big a coincidence if Yolanda just happened to be related to Ted Grant, so I'm assuming this is a photo of an uncle or grandpa who was a boxer— to help explain her interest in the activity.

• At the end of last week's episode, Courtney raids the JSA HQ and takes several items of their old equipment. She very clearly just takes Wildcat's cowl, Hourman's hourglass and Doctor Mid-Nite's helmet.

Yet this week she spreads all the items out on her bed, and we see she took their ENTIRE costumes!

I guess we can chalk this up to "dramatic editing." She obviously took each hero's complete getup, but we were only allowed to see her grab select items.

Also last week I said it was hard to tell, but it looked like she may have taken Doctor Mid-Nite's owl Hooty and stuffed him in her duffel bag as well. I don't see an owl in her room in this scene, so I guess she didn't take him after all. Unless he's roosting just outside her window?

• In the previous episode, Dugan scolded Courtney when she started to touch a pink ballpoint pen in the JSA HQ, saying it was the most dangerous relic there.

Naturally she took the pen along with everything else. And of course because she's Courtney Whitmore, in this episode she actually clicks the pen despite Dugan's warnings. Fortunately nothing happens (yet).

I have a feeling we've not seen the last of the pink pen. I mentioned this last week, but it's worth a repeat— in the comics, a powerful genie-like creature called Thunderbolt lives inside the pen. He was controlled by JSA member Johnny Thunder. Later on, the pen and the Thunderbolt were passed on to a young black man named Jakeem Williams (who later changed his last name to Thunder).

In this episode, Mike tells Barbara he's invited his school friend Jakeem over for dinner. Obviously at some point we're gonna see Jakeem, he's gonna ask to borrow a pen from Courtney and... well, you can figure out the rest.

• Courtney looks through the Blue Valley High yearbook to find recruits for her new superhero team.

So where the hell did she get a yearbook? She's only been going to BVH for about a week at this point
— nowhere near long enough for the school to publish this year's book yet.

Additionally, this particular yearbook features tons of photos of Pre-Disgraced Yolanda, including shots of her and Henry together. Which means it has to be the previous year's book.

Based on this evidence, it's pretty clear Courtney stole an old yearbook from the school!

• I'm continually amazed at just how closely this show follows the Stars And S.T.R.I.P.E. comic on which it's based (as well as other DC books).

Take Courtney's wardrobe here. For the first half of this episode she wears a shirt that says "half-day" on it, whatever that means.

Amazingly, that shirt was pulled directly from the comic! They even included the black sleeves with the orange stripes! That is freakin' amazing!

 Is there some special significance to this shirt? Is it the name of the writer or artist's band or something? Why go to all that trouble to recreate it so exactingly?

And as you can see here, Cindy Burman was apparently a character in the Stars And S.T.R.I.P.E. comic as well— complete with the trademark white streaks in her hair!

• Back in S.T.R.I.P.E., there was a scene at the school Open House (which was cut from the broadcast version) in which Dugan runs into Denise. She's the wife of Councilman William Zarick (aka The Wizard) and mother of Joey— both of whom died last week. 

Dugan and Denise have a nice chat during the Open House, and I said the seemingly superfluous scene was obviously setting up a relationship between the two that would pay off later.

Welp, it's officially later. This week Denise visits Dugan's shop, implies something sinister's going on under the surface in Blue Valley and warns him not to trust anyone.

Good job, writers! Setup and payoff aren't that hard to do, but you'd be surprised by how little it happens in movies and TV shows these days.

• When Denise stops by Dugan's garage, he notices Joey's top hat sitting in a box in her SUV. 

Denise: "That's all I have left of my son. He so wanted to be like his dad."

Dugan: "Like his dad. His dad was a councilman, wasn't he?"
Denise: (nervously) "I gotta go."

This confirms that Denise knew her husband was secretly The Wizard of the ISA! I kind of figured he'd have kept his evil alter-ego from her, but apparently not!

• At the end of S.T.R.I.P.E., we got our first glimpse of the group portrait in the ISA's underground lair. In that review I noted it looked like there was a barely-visible shadowy figure between Tigress and Sportmaster, and assumed it was probably The Shade.

In this episode we get a closeup of the portrait, and it is indeed Shade there in the background.

In the comics, the Shade was introduced way back in 1942's Flash Comics #33. He was a member of the ISA, and had the power to control the "Shadowlands," an extradimensional mass of malleable darkness. 

In the 1990s, the Shade was revamped and became a major character in the Starman comic. He became a morally ambiguous character, who committed crimes but protected his hometown of Opal City. He even became a mentor to the Jack Knight version of Starman for a while!

Based on this scene from Pilot, Shade is presumably the one who killed Doctor Mid-Nite with a giant hand formed of blackness.

In this episode, Dragon King tells Icicle he won't betray him like the Shade did. Could that mean TV Shade became friendly toward TV Starman as well?

• We also get a much better look at the entire painting this week, and we can see what is presumably Solomon Grundy's massive form in the background, looming over everyone.

• This week we're finally introduced to Dragon King, another member of the ISA. A lot to unpack here!

First of all, I love the look of this character. He looks so comic-booky (in a good way!) and perfectly captures that old school Golden Age design aesthetic.

They definitely nailed his appearance here on the show, as it looks like he literally stepped right off the comic book page. I'm glad to see they're not ashamed of the source material, unlike some of the other Arrowverse shows.

In the comics, Dragon King was a mad scientist who worked with the Nazis in WWII. He was forgotten about for decades until he was revived in the Stars And S.T.R.I.P.E. comic. 

Note that here on the show, Jordan refers to Dragon King as Doctor Ito, who was a completely different character in the comics— one who again was a scientist in service of Hitler. Apparently they've taken two completely different characters from the comic and melded them into one for the show. Odd.

Secondly, check out Dragon King's creepy eyes with their weird, nictitating membranes. Disturbing! And if you look closely, it appears the skin around his eyes is green and scaly as well. Maybe Dragon King's been tampering with his own DNA?

At one point Jordan says, "I hear you've kept busy." Dragon King replies, "I've been working on my daughter, yes." 

Although we're not supposed to know it yet, Dragon King's daughter is actually Cindy Burman! Apparently this means he's experimenting on his daughter, and no doubt augmenting her strength or even giving her superpowers! Just what Blue Valley needs— an evil, superpowered high school Mean Girl!

Lastly, Dragon King asks Jordan for The Wizard's body. From that I presume he's going to experiment on it too? Will we eventually get a Zombie Wizard on the show?

• Courtney finally breaks through Yolanda's emotional wall and gets through to her. Yolanda then tells her how much her life has changed since the incident with the nude photos. 

Yolanda: "I never should've sent him those."
Courtney: "He never should have shared them!"

Note that Yolanda just gapes at Courtney after she says this. It's clear that this thought's never occurred to her until this very moment. She's been victimized by everyone around her— including her own family— for so long that she never once considered the fact that she's not the only one to blame here.

That's pretty deep concept for a superhero show!

• Yolanda seems to accept this brave new world of superheroes very quickly, doesn't she? 

When Courtney first tells her she's Stargirl and wants to recruit her to help fight the ISA, Yolanda looks at her like she's gone off the deep end. A couple minutes later she doesn't bat an eye as she's wearing a high tech catsuit and climbing up the side of a building.

Granted, the proof that superheroes are real is undeniable at that point, but it still seems like she acclimates to the idea a bit too fast.

• A lot of fans were irked that Yolanda had never heard of Starman or even the JSA. Eh, that didn't bother me. For one thing, the JSA were based in LA and Yolanda lives in a podunk little town in the middle of Nebraska. It's perfectly reasonable for her to be unfamiliar with them.

Think of the JSA like a professional sports team. There are some fans out there who live and breathe sports, and can name every player in every league, along with all their relevant stats. Then there are others (like me!) who couldn't even name all the teams in the NFL! Maybe Yolanda's one of those people, and just isn't into superheroes.

There's also the fact that the entire JSA was wiped out ten years ago. Yolanda was probably six years old when that happened, which would help explain why doesn't know who they are.

Lastly, it's possible the JSA fought crime "under the radar," meaning the general public may not have been aware of them and their exploits.

• Once Yolanda dons her costume, she asks what the original Wildcat's powers were. Hilariously, the two girls then look him up on wikipedia!

Actually that makes perfect sense, as it's exactly what anyone would do in real life. Also, apparently wikipedia's a thing on Earth-2 as well!

So what were Wildcat's powers? He had higher than normal strength, cat-like agility and could extend razor-sharp claws from the tips of his gloves. 

Note that in the comics, the original Ted Grant Wildcat had none of these powers. He was a world champion boxer, and like so many other Golden Age heroes, his only power was basically punching villains.

Later on Grant was hit with a magic spell that gave him "nine lives." This spell kept him abnormally young, as well as restoring him to life if killed.

The comic version of Yolanda Montez took over the role of Wildcat when Ted Grant was injured in Crisis On Infinite Earths. SHE'S the one who had the superstrength, agility and retractable claws.

• When Yolanda tests out her powers, note how the producers go out of their way to deliberately show her costume glowing as she demonstrates her newfound abilities. From this scene it's evident that it's her costume doing all the work, not her.

I don't think I like that idea. Given the amount of screentime devoted to Yolanda in this episode, it's obvious we're supposed to believe she's someone special. But this scene completely undermines that idea. ANYONE could put on the costume on and become the new Wildcat. Yolanda just happened to be the first person Courtney recruited.

She could have give the costume to Yolanda's grandma and the results would have been exactly the same!

Compare this to Courtney, who it turns out really is special. She's the daughter of Starman, and as such is the only person the Cosmic Staff responds to.

• For some reason, Yolanda tries out her new Wildcat claws on the Dugan's toaster (!). Later on, Mike tries to heat some Pop Tarts and reacts in horror when he discovers his beloved toaster's, er, toast.

Although it seems like a throwaway scene, I have a feeling it'll become important later on. I bet in the next episode, Dugan's going to see the toaster, recognize the slash pattern, realize that Courtney's recruiting a new JSA and confront her about it.

• As the girls huddle outside The American Dream building, they see Henry Jr. drive by. Apparently he got a new car already! The one Courtney blew up was a convertible. This one appears to be a hardtop. They're the same color though.

• Attention To Detail: When Courtney and Yolanda go to the hospital, the dumpsters are labeled "BVWS," which I assume stands for "Blue Valley Waste Service." They actually took the time to make signage for this fictional town's dumpsters! Kudos, guys!

• When Yolanda struggles to climb into a hospital window, you can see The American Dream building looming in the background. We saw it in the distance earlier during the scene between Dugan and Denise as well.

Was this an intentional motif on the part of the producers? If so, then that's actually quite brilliant. We know that The American Dream isn't the warm and sunny charitable foundation it pretends to be, as there's an ominous and sinister purpose to it. Seeing it as a constant presence in the background gives a subtle menace to the scenes.

• Courtney wants to create a diversion in the hospital, so she heads straight for a breaker box, intending to shut off the power. The Cosmic Staff pulls her away and Yolanda scolds her, saying, "No, are you crazy? There are people on life-support. I'm looking at one of 'em right now!" Courtney then realizes what she was about to do and sheepishly offers an "Oops!"

OK, so it's a funny scene. Unfortunately the nitpicker in me can't help but point out that it's also highly unrealistic, as there's no way in hell an hospital's power would be regulated by a single breaker box. Most hospitals have their own generator to keep the juice flowing when the utility company's power goes out— to ensure life support and other critical services keep running.

I know, I know, it's a comic book show about a girl with a magic staff. And this is what I complain about?

 After the Cosmic Staff stops Courtney from shutting off the power, it creates a diversion by trashing the hospital's storage closet. The night nurse hears a commotion coming from the closet and goes to investigate. She opens the door and sees the place in complete disarray. She then calls Robert the janitor and scolds him, saying he can't just throw stuff into the closet at random.

That... that doesn't make any sense. She clearly just heard a noise coming from the closet ten seconds ago. Why would she assume Robert trashed the room when he's obviously far enough away from it that she has to phone him?

• More Attention To Detail: The Prop Department not only came up with a logo for Blue Valley Medical Center, but they made a sign-in sheet as well— and even filled it out with fake names!

I wondered if there were Easter eggs in the names on the sheet, but unfortunately the only one I can make out is Henry King Jr.

Note that the far left corner seems to be for the time a person visited, not the date. If that's true, then Henry visited his father FOUR TIMES in one day! Does that seem right? He must REALLY miss his dad!

• Man, why are all the parents in Blue Valley such assholes to their kids? Beth lovingly cooks a special dinner for her mother and hand delivers it to her at the hospital. Dr. Chapel thanks Beth for the effort, but says she should be out with her friends. When Beth says her parents ARE her best friends, Dr. Chapel tells her in no uncertain terms that they're not.

Jesus Christ! OK, I get it— Dr. Chapel thinks it's unhealthy for Beth to hang out with her parents all the time. And she's annoyed by her daughter's constant chattering and clingy behavior. But surely there was a softer, kinder way to get her point across.

At this point the former Injustice Society members all show their kids more love and affection than the regular citizens of Blue Valley! Zarick positively doted on his son Joey, and even Jordan treats his son Cameron with obvious warmth.

• This is some heavy duty nitpicking, but whatever. Courtney tells Yolanda that Brainwave's currently in intensive care. Yolanda then sneaks into Brainwave's room and sees Henry there visiting him.

Yeah, that's just a standard, private hospital room.

I don't know how they do things in Blue Valley, but in the rest of the world THIS is what the Intensive Care Unit looks like. Trust me, I know. The number of beds in an ICU probably varies from hospital to hospital, but there's always a ton of monitoring equipment and paraphernalia next to each bed. Often times each patient gets their own dedicated nurse, who constantly bustles about checking readings and administering drugs and such.

• Yolanda sees Henry at his father's room, and is so overcome with hatred for him and what he did to her that she pops her claws and raises her hand, seemingly ready to strike.

Holy sh*t! Was she really going to kill him right then and there? Lucky for Henry that Yolanda saw him sobbing at that point, else he'd likely be missing his head right about now. Our hero, ladies and gentlemen!

• After Henry leaves, the girls are shocked by the bizarre sight of Principal Bowin entering Brainwave's room and playing her violin over him. After she plays for a while, she checks his condition, looks disappointed and leaves.

It's clear from this odd little scene that Principal Bowing is actually the Fiddler, yet another member of the ISA. In the comics, the Fiddler's music could shatter objects, create forcefields and most importantly, hypnotize people and affect their emotions. She's obviously trying to bring Brainwave out of his coma here, without much success.

Back in S.T.R.I.P.E., there was a scene at the Open House in which Principal Bowin bragged on her son Issac, saying,  "My boy here is quite the musician himself. He'll be better than I ever was. A real savant, and a cute one at that!"

From that statement I said it was evident they were setting up Isaac to be the new Fiddler, and he'd battle Team Stargirl. Now that we see his mom's already the Fiddler, I'm not so sure about him. I guess he could still take up her mantle— otherwise why bother pointing out that he's a savant— but it seems less likely now.

• As Courtney and Yolands exit the hospital in costume, they're spotted by a disbelieving Beth. Expect her to confront them about their secret identities in the next episode!

• Man, Yolanda's family really is the worst!

She stated her case calmly, intelligently and rationally, admitting that she made a horrible mistake and asking them to help her move on and get her old life back.

Unfortunately they refuse her plea, saying she disgraced herself and brought shame and dishonor to the entire family. Even worse, her mother tells Yolanda she can never go back to the person she was. 

Holy crap! What a caring and loving clan! Jesus, with all the talk about dishonoring the family name, you'd think they were Klingons!

Obviously Yolanda and her family are Hispanic. Many (not all!) such families are fiercely traditional, old fashioned and religious, and as such are overly concerned with the family honor. So as extreme and unpleasant as their reaction was, sadly it wasn't completely unrealistic.

It's still a sh*tty way for them to treat their only daughter though.

By the way, Yolanda's terrible family comes straight from the comics. The comic version of Yolanda had parents named Juan and Maria, and a brother named Jose. He's been dubbed "Alex" here on the show for some reason.

• OK, Courtney's note was cute. Note the star and cat doodles.

• At the end of the episode, Dugan's finds Denise's battered SUV sitting in the junkyard. Joey's top hat's in the seat and her cat's wandering the yard, but she's nowhere to be found.

The implication here is that Icicle (most likely) found out she was leaving Blue Valley, and "canceled her trip," if you know what I mean. Wow! The entire Zarick family's now been wiped out in the space of two episodes!

Of course now that Denise has been erased, it's a good bet that Dugan's in danger as well— especially after she told him something sinister's going on in town and not to trust anyone.

This Week's Best Lines:
There weren't any to speak of in the first few episodes, but this week we finally got a couple— most of which come from Yolanda.

Mike: "Hey, we got any Pop-Tarts?"
Dugan: "Eggs won't kill you, pal. The sugar might."
Mike: "Whoever died from too much sugar, huh?"
Courtney: "You're joking, right?"

Yolanda: "Don't you get it? I don't wanna be your friend."
Courtney: (blurting it out) "I blew up Henry's car."
Yolanda: "What?"
Courtney: "It wasn't on purpose, but..."
Yolanda: "You accidentally blew up a car?"
Courtney: "Yes. So..."
Yolanda: "So what?"
Courtney: "So the enemy of my enemy is my friend?"

(Courtney shows the Cosmic Staff to Yolanda. It glows brightly in the basement.)
Courtney: "This is what blew up Henry's car."
Yolanda: "Yeah, this is also what blew out our retinas. Turn it off!"

Courtney: "My dad was a superhero. I'm a superhero. I've got a costume and everything!"
Yolanda: (horrified) "Oh, God."

(Yolanda tries on Wildcat's old costume.)Yolanda: "It smells like gym class!"
Courtney: "It's authentic."
Yolanda: "So I have to wear this sad-ass cat suit, while you're, what, Miss America?"

Yolanda: "You want me to jump off of a building?"
Courtney: "I don't want you to. Wikipedia said Wildcat could jump off buildings."
Yolanda: "Yeah, well, anyone can go on wikipedia and say anything."

(Courtney and Yolanda see Henry Jr. drive by.)Yolanda: "Henry."
Courtney: "It's late, where's he going?"
Yolanda: "To see his dad, I'm sure."
Courtney: "Henry's dad is one of them."
Yolanda: "What?"
Courtney: "He's called Brainwave. He's a supervillain."
(Yolanda considers this for a second.)
Yolanda: "Actually, that makes sense, hmm."

Yolanda: "How long have you been doing this?"
Courtney: "Uh, I don't know. Like, a week."
Yolanda: "A week? And how long did your dad train you?"
Courtney: "Technically he didn't."
Yolanda: "Well, then, why am I listening to you?"

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