Sunday, June 28, 2020

Stargirl Season 1, Episode 6: The Justice Society

This week on Stargirl, the new Justice Society finally makes its debut as the team goes on its very first mission. As you might expect, things don't go as planned.

There's a lot to like in this episode, 
and I'm continually surprised and amazed at just how good it is. OK, so it's not Emmy-winning material, but it's head and shoulders above anything else the Arrowverse is doing right now.

I particularly enjoyed the many interactions between the various characters this week— specifically the ones between Courtney and Dugan. After five episodes she finally realized he's simply trying to protect her, and grudgingly gave him her respect. Actors Brec Bassinger and Luke Wilson have some great onscreen chemistry together, making their scenes all the more believable.

Other standouts this week were the scenes in which the new JSA discover a casualty and realize they're not playing dress-up, as well as the team completely ignoring Courtney's orders during the battle with the ISA. I even liked the little bonding moments between Barb and Mike, despite the fact they had nothing whatsoever to do with the plot. Good stuff!

Sportsmaster and Tigress were front and center this week, and made a surprisingly effective and deadly duo. Somehow the show managed to do something I never thought possible— make a goofy character like Sportsmaster seem cool!

Stargirl's been a light on action so far, instead choosing to painstakingly and methodically introduce the various characters and establish their relationships with one another. Note that I'm not complaining here, as this slow burn approach has actually paid off handsomely. Now that we've had time to get to know the characters, we actually care what happens to them when they're placed in danger. Writing 101!

All that said, it was great to finally see the show cut loose and give us some impressive action scenes.

I'm glad the team lost their first battle and got their collective asses handed to them in this episode. Winning their initial skirmish would have been way too convenient and unrealistic. By having them lose, they've learned in no uncertain terms that they're not ready for superheroing yet, and need a lot more training.

This week we also get a few more clues as to just what the Injustice Society's up to with their Project: New America. Unfortunately at this point it feels uncomforatablyu close to somethign The Flash already did two seasons ago. Hopefully the Stargirl writers won't go that route and will give us something original.


The Plot:
We open on the Blue Valley High football team practicing. One of the players runs down the field, expertly dodging opponents and scoring an impressive touchdown. Suddenly a player named Brian tackles the first, completely blindsiding them. The first player whips off their helmet, revealing she's really... a girl! GASP!

The girl turns out to be Artemis Crock, the best athlete in the entire school. She's also the daughter of Crusher Crock and Paula Brooks (who are secretly Sportsmaster and Tigress of the Injustice Society). The two are in the stands watching her practice, and react to the late & illegal tackle of their daughter.

Artemis argues with Brian, saying he only tacked her because he doesn't think she belongs on the team. When he agrees and belittles her, she hauls off and punches him in the face. Her parents cheer her on from the stands (!). Coach Hank then benches Artemis for hitting Brian. Crusher and Paula glare intently at the coach, then give each other a knowing look.

Later that night, Coach Hank walks to his car and is confronted by Crusher and Paula. He tells them he's seen parents like them before and they don't intimidate him. He says he'll bench Artemis for the entire season if he has to. Crusher smiles and smashes the coach's head in with a baseball bat, Negan-style. Holy crap!

Courtney, who's apparently been out patrolling as Stargirl, flies home on the Cosmic Staff. She enters through her bedroom window, and is startled to find Dugan there waiting for her. He tells her he knows she stole the Justice Society gear from their HQ, and points out the items don't belong to her. She counters by saying he wasn't doing anything to find the ISA, so she felt she had to do it herself.

He says he figured out she gave Hourman's hourglass to Rick (since he punched his uncle's truck in half). Courtney says she gave it to him because Rick is actually Hourman's son. This is news to Dugan, who never knew Rex Tyler and his wife had any kids. She says the Tylers weren't in a car accident, they were murdered by Solomon Grundy. When Dugan asks how the hell she knows that, she tells him Beth got the info from Chuck— the AI in Doctor Mid-Nite's goggles.

An exasperated Dugan asks who else she passed out JSA tech to, and Courtney sheepishly says she gave Yolanda the Wildcat costume. Dugan tells her she's putting her friends in grave danger, and they're all going to end up dead like Joey Zarick. He orders her to get the items back from Beth and Yolanda, while he gets the hourglass from Rick. He says he thought she respected him a little more than this, and takes the rest of the gear and stashes it in a trunk in the basement.

Elsewhere, Jordan Mahkent (aka Icicle) wakes in his bed and groggily reaches over for his late wife Christina. He realizes she's not there, and never will be again. He gets a text from Principal Bowin (aka the Fiddler, or perhaps Virtuoso), saying the "gym rats" (meaning Crusher and Paula) are at it again. He staggers down the hall, and his son Cameron comes out of his room and asks if he's OK. He tells him to go back to bed.

Jordan find Crusher and Paula in the woods, burying the Coach's body. He notes this is the third coach they've killed in two years. Crusher says they all had it coming. Jordan says he needs them both to be focused, and to get their costumes ready because they're going into action. Crusher says it's about time.

The next morning, Dugan sees Mike working on a volcano for his school's Science Fair. Of course he waited till the last minute to start, and for some reason is making it out of leftover Halloween candy. Barbara says she'll come to the Fair if she can get out of work, but Mike begs both parents to stay away.

Rick walks to school and sees Dugan waiting for him at the side of the road. Dugan tells him he knew his real father, and they need to talk.

At school, Courtney steels herself and starts to ask Yolanda to give back the Wildcat costume. Before she can though, Yolanda shows her videos of Ted Grant— the original Wildcat— telling her how he made a comeback after being falsely accused of fixing a fight. She says if he can overcome, so can she, and thanks Courtney for giving her the costume. Courtney smiles and excuses herself.

She then goes to the library to get Doctor Mid-Nite's goggles from Beth. She finds Beth there, having an animated conversation with Chuck. She tells Courtney that Chuck's her best friend, and thanks her for "introducing" her to him. Again, Courtney smiles and leaves.

Dugan takes Rick to his garage, where he shows him his uncle's truck. He says he knows he used the power of Hourman to punch it. He says Rex Tyler would have never abused his power that way. He knew how addictive it was, and that's why he limited it to one hour per day.

Rick demands to know why Dugan hasn't tried to stop the ISA. Dugan says he's trying, but he doesn't know who or where they are. He shows Rick his father's journal, saying it appears to be written in some sort of code. He asks Rick if he can make sense of it, but unfortunately he can't. 

Dugan asks for the journal and the hourglass back, but Rick says he's keeping them both. When Dugan objects, Rick asks him what exactly his function was in the JSA. He says Dugan's had ten years to find the ISA but hasn't done anything. He tells him he's useless and walks out.

At school, Courtney sees Yolanda and Beth having lunch together. Courtney finally gets the nerve to ask them for their JSA items, saying Dugan wants them back. Both girls say the JSA is the best thing that's ever happened to them, and they're not returning the items. They both storm off, leaving Courtney alone.

Cut to the football field, where Crusher and Paula are observing the new football coach (that was fast!) talking with Artemis. Stephen Sharpe (aka the Gambler) approaches and says Jordan has a mission for them. They're to provide security at Empire Enterprises while he hacks into their system and steals satellite codes for the machine the ISA is building.

At the science fair, Mike stands alone with his volcano, secretly envious of the other students whose parents are doting over their displays. To his surprise Barb enters, apologizing for being late. He activates his volcano, and chocolate "lava" erupts from it. Barb laughs and says his volcano smells delicious, and Mike smiles. Awww...

After school, Courtney sees Yolanda, Beth and Rick together. She suggests they all go talk to Dugan about their items. Rick asks what she'd do if Dugan demanded she give back her Cosmic Staff. Courtney doesn't have an answer for that, which pretty much settles the matter.

Rick asks Beth to see if Chuck can decipher the code in his father's journal. Chuck scans it, but says it's meaningless. Just then Chuck says his archenemy the Gambler is attempting to hack into Empire Enterprises. Rick and Yolanda say this is their big chance— they can capture the powerless hacker, interrogate him and find out about the ISA. Courtney says they should tell Dugan, but the others refuse, saying he's worthless. Courtney gives in, but insists they all wear their costumes to protect their identities.

Jordan and Cameron share a sad "celebration" of Christina's birthday in the diner. Thinking it's one of their birthdays, a waitress brings them a piece of cake with a candle in it. Jordan tells Cameron to blow out the candle and make a wish. He does so, and it appears he has powers as well.

At the Dugan's, Mike and Barb eat the remains of his candy volcano while watching The Three Stooges. Barb says he would have won first prize if the judges had only tasted his display. Dugan enters and ask if Courtney's home. Barb says she's out with friends, and Dugan realizes what that means.

Cut to Stargirl, Wildcat, Doctor Mid-Nite and Hourman as they approach the Empire building. Chuck confirms the Gambler's inside, attempting to hack into the system. Stargirl asks if they're sure about doing this. Hourman says he is, and activates his hourglass. Stargirl tells them to follow her lead, but Hourman ignores her and heads for the building.

He starts to punch down the door, but Stargirl says that'll only set off an alarm and alert the Gambler. Chuck analyzes the door and tells Doctor Mid-Nite the entry code. She enters it and the door opens.

Inside the Gambler hears a noise and goes to investigate. He finds a cat scampering around the building, chuckles and returns to his hacking.

The team enters the building and look around. Inside they find a dead security guard sprawled on the floor. They all stare intently at him, suddenly realizing this isn't a game.

Suddenly they're confronted by Sportsmaster and Tigress, who recognize the costumes of their old foes, the JSA. Chuck tells Beth that the two are the ISA's attack dogs, and says they're extremely dangerous. Stargirl tells the others to lure the villains outside, but everyone ignores her as Hourman charges at Sportsmaster while Wildcat attacks Tigress.

Despite Hourman's immense strength, Sportsmaster's more agile and experienced, and easily mops the floor with him. Wildcat has her hands full with Tigress as well, as the older villain is much more adept at fighting. The Gambler radios the villains and tells them he'll have the codes in five more minutes.

Stargirl goes to help Hourman, throwing her Staff at Sportsmaster. The two tussle a bit, and Sportsmaster knocks her backward. Just then Hourman lifts up a car and intends to throw it at Sportsmaster. The villain throws his baseball bat, knocking Hourman down and causing him to drop the car. Stargirl uses her Staff to prop up the car long enough for the two to escape.

Tigress uses her crossbow to pin Wildcat to a wall, and prepares to deliver the killing blow. Beth watches helplessly, wondering what she can do to save her friend. Chuck points out a nearby fire extinguisher, so Beth grabs it and sprays it at Tigress, giving Wildcat time to free herself and run.

Outside, the two sides face off against one another. The Gambler radios the villains that he has the codes, so Sportsmaster hits an explosive hockey puck toward the others. It sticks to the Cosmic Staff, which shoots into the air to protect Stargirl. The puck explodes, severely damaging the Staff. It stops glowing and falls dead to Earth. Stargirl catches it and looks helplessly at it, wondering what to do next. After a beat the Staff begins glowing again. Phew!

The teens realize they're all WAY out of their element, and make their final stand against Sportsmaster and Tigress. Just then the Calvary arrives as STRIPE lands behind them, lending his support to their team. The villains see they're outnumbered, so Sportsmaster hits an explosive badminton birdie at them. When the explosion dies down, the two villains are nowhere to be seen.

Later at Dugan's garage, Rick, Yolanda and Beth admire STRIPE. Rick admits there may be more to Dugan than he thought. 
Courtney tells Dugan the team how frustrating it was when the team ignored her and refused to follow her orders. He eggs her on a bit, until she realizes she's saying everything he's been telling her for weeks. She apologizes and says she finally gets it.

He tells her they were lucky tonight, as things could have gone worse. He also says he has no choice now but to let them keep their costumes and begin training them.

Deep below The American Dream building, the ISA meets in their underground HQ. The Sharpe tells Jordan they have the codes and the equipment that Doctor Ito requested for Project: New America. Crusher points out it's all useless without Brainwave to power it (I guess?). He mentions they have bigger problems, as he and Paula just fought a new JSA. The group wonders who they could be, and Jordan says it's time to find out.


• This is the first episode that doesn't begin with a flashback sequence.

• Wow, Blue Valley has a girl on their varsity football team! That's pretty progressive for such a small little backwater town.

Actually it's not as rare as it once was, as there are well over 2,000 girls on various football teams around the country.

• I thought it was pretty funny that anytime Crusher and Paula are displeased with a coach, they simply haul off and kill him! Problem solved!

Looks like football coaches at Blue Valley have about the same life expectancy as Defense Against The Dark Arts teachers at Hogwarts!

Oddly enough, despite the fact that they're cold blooded murderers, they're inexplicably filled with school pride, and order the Gambler to pick up his carelessly discarded litter!

• Looks like the school still hasn't replaced the sign that Courtney destroyed in S.T.R.I.P.E. That could be because even though she blasted it a month ago our time, only a week or so has passed in the world of the show. 

• Dugan's surprised when Courtney tells him that Rick is actually Hourman's son, claiming he was unaware that Rex Tyler ever had a kid. Hmm...

Rick was six when the Tylers were killed in 2011. That means he was born in 2005— a full five years before the JSA members were killed by the ISA. That's plenty of time for Dugan to find out Hourman had a family. Just how well did he know Rex? Either Dugan, aka Stripesy, didn't get invited to many JSA meetings, or Hourman was notoriously secretive about his personal life.

Awesome Scene #1: There were a ton of wonderfully written scenes in this episode, making me appreciate just how good this series is (especially when compared to the rest of the Arrowverse!).

Dugan confronts Courtney after she steals the JSA gear from their HQ and starts recruiting her own team:

Dugan: "You've put these kids in real danger. You need to get everything you took back."
Courtney: "I can't just take the hourglass from Rick. It belonged to his dad."
Dugan: "I'll talk to Rick. You get Dr. Mid-Nite's goggles and Wildcat's costume and you bring them back here, do you understand that?"
Courtney: "Pat, I can't just take..."
Dugan: "Or do you want your new friends to wind up like Joey Zarick? Do you? I know you don't respect me much, Courtney, but I thought it was more than this."

Ouch. That last line really hurt! You could just hear the sadness and bitter disappointment in Dugan's words. Well done, guys!

• This week we get another deliberate and obvious look at the pink pen in Courtney's pencil cup. It's only a matter of time before the Thunderbolt shows up on the series!

• After Crusher & Paula kill Coach Hank, they dispose of his body in the woods. Somehow Jordan knows exactly where to find the two and scold them. Apparently they must dispose of all their victims in the exact same spot!

Also, they kill Coach Hank late at night, probably around 10 pm or so. Principal Bowin texts Jordan about the murder very early the next morning, and he confronts them before the sun comes up. How'd Bowin find out about it so quickly? Did the "Gym Rats" call her and confess what they did at 3am?

Lastly, the day after Hank's death we see a brand new coach introducing himself to the football team! Apparently it only takes twenty four hours to locate, interview and hire a new football coach! This is the third coach in two years though, so maybe by this point Principal Bowin has the process streamlined!

• In Wildcat, Yolanda mentions that her mother confiscated her phone after "The Incident" that shamed her family.

This week Yolanda's got a phone again! Either her mother relented and gave it back to her, or she went out and got one on her own. Or maybe the writers just forgot what they said in Wildcat!

• Yolanda shows Courtney old newsreel footage of one of Ted Grant's (aka Wildcat) boxing matches. Back in Wildcat, we saw that Yolanda had a photo of an old-timey boxer taped to her bedroom mirror. 

At the time I said the boxer in the photo was probably an uncle or grandpa— because it'd be too huge of a coincidence if she was a fan of Ted Grant and then just happened to inherit his old costume, codename and powers.

But it looks like that's exactly what happened!

• Beth's life continues to make me feel sad. Just listen to this conversation she has with Courtney in the library:

Beth: "Oh. Hey there, Stargirl!"
Courtney: "Hey! Watch the code-names in public!"
Beth: "Don't worry, no one ever pays any attention to what I'm saying anyway... Except Chuck. Seriously, Court, thanks so much for these. Chuck's so cool. He makes everything more fun. We talk for hours. I've never met anyone who listened to me... until him."

A couple seconds later she tells Chuck, "You are a riot. You're like my best friend!"

Wow. This sad teen girl's best friend is a freakin' artificial intelligence housed inside a pair of goggles! If you don't think that's heartbreaking, you're already dead.

• In the library, Chuck recommends Fahrenheit 451 to Beth. She then says, "You bought the first edition off the stands? Wow, you are old.”

Last week we saw a readout in the goggles claiming that Charles McNider— aka Doctor Mid-Nite and the person the Chuck AI was based on— was born in 1914. That means he was a whopping NINETY SIX YEARS OLD when he was killed by the ISA in 2010! Glad to see the show's acknowledging that.

As I pointed out last week, in the comics the various JSA members were exposed to some sort of magical energy that slowed their aging processes. I'm assuming something similar happened here in the world of the show.

Oh, and just in case you're wondering, the first edition of Fahrenheit 451 was published in 1953.

• Awesome Scene #2: Dugan chats with Rick about his real father Rex Tyler.

Dugan: "You should leave the journal with me, Rick."
Rick: "You? This was my dad's. I'm keeping it."
Dugan: "You need to leave it with me. The hourglass, too."
Rick: "Why?"
Dugan: "Because I don't think you're ready for it, Rick."
Rick: "You don't know me any better than you knew my dad."
Dugan: "I know that he invented the hourglass. The power inside it. I also know how much he respected that power. He knew how addictive that power could be, and how tempting it was to use it in all the wrong ways. Limiting the powers was his idea. One hour a day. And I never saw him abuse it. Not like you have."

In the comics I always thought it was lame that Hourman's powers only lasted sixty minutes a day. But Dugan's explanation for the time limit is absolutely brilliant, and makes perfect sense!

Rick: "You look at me like everyone else around here does. Like I'm trash. Like I'm not worth a damn."
Dugan: "No, Rick. You're wrong. That's not at all how I look at you."
Rick: "Courtney said you were her dad's sidekick. But you've had this journal for how long and you didn't figure it out? You didn't know my parents were murdered, you didn't know about me. I gotta ask you, what the hell did Starman use you for? 'Cause as far as I can tell, you don't do anything."

That's a well-written exchange too, as it perfectly demonstrates the two men's approach to the problem. Dugan wants to slowly and methodically investigate the ISA— like a mature and responsible adult. Rick on the other hand wants to rush headlong into the fray without thinking. Just like an impatient teen would.

Again, well done, writers!

• Back in S.T.R.I.P.E., Dugan, Barb & Courtney went to Blue Valley High's Open House. I wondered why Mike wasn't with them, since it was his school as well. In this episode we find out that Mike doesn't go to BVH— he's still in middle school! My bad! I didn't think he was that young. 

Apropos of nothing, Mike's school team is called the Blue Valley Red Devils. I dunno, I thought that was kind of funny.

Actually it would have made more sense if the team were the Blue Valley BLUE Devils. Back in the 1980s DC published a comic starring Blue Devil, a Hollywood stuntman who becomes a superhero after a supernatural blast melds his body with his high-tech demon costume. Yeah, that was a thing!

• Awesome Scene #3: Mike and Barb's bonding moment at the Science Fair.

Mike looked so sad and forlorn at the Fair, as he stood there alone and unnoticed next to his exhibit. His attitude completely changed though when Barb showed up, and he excitedly showed her how his volcano worked.

They were so sweet and wholesome together that I'm not even going to complain that this scene was completely superfluous and had absolutely no bearing on any of the plots.

• This is some hardcore nitpicking, but whatever. For a guy who's a fitness buff and runs his own gym, Crusher seems awfully... slight of build. You'd think he'd be shredded and built like Dwayne Johnson. Maybe he's going for definition and not bulk.

• This week the Dallas theater is playing the movie Strange Adventures

That's a reference to the DC comic of the same name, which was first published in 1950 and ran for a whopping 244 issues. Strange Adventures was an anthology book, that generally featured sci-fi stories. It also introduced numerous Silver Age DC characters, such as Captain Comet, Star Hawkins, The Atomic Knights, Animal Man, Enchantress and Deadman. The book was cancelled in 1978.

In 2004, the book was revived as a six issue miniseries and retitled JSA Strange Adventures. It featured various members of the Justice Society in fantasy & sci-fi settings. I'm assuming the theater marquee is referencing this particular iteration of the book.

• At the diner, a cheery waitress overhears Jordan & Cameron mention a birthday. Not realizing they're talking about their late wife/mother, she brings them a hunk of birthday cake with a candle in it. Ouch! Rather than send it back, Jordan tells Cameron to blow out the candle and make a wish.

As Cameron does so, note that we see a slight wisp of his frigid breath! Apparently he's inherited his father's icy powers! Uh-oh!

The question now is whether Cameron will follow in his father's cruel, villainous footsteps or join Courtney and her new JSA. From what we've seen of Cameron so far he seems to be a decent person (he helped out Yolanda by camouflaging the graffiti on her locker). I'm leaning toward him becoming a hero and opposing his father.

Irrational Rant Time! This has nothing to do with the episode itself, and I'm gonna sound like a lunatic here, but that's OK. At the Dugan house, Barb and Mike bond some more by eating junk food and watching The Three Stooges on TV. 

If you look closely, it appears that this Stooges short is in widescreen. And if you look even more closely, it's clear that the image has been stretched horizontally to fill up the entire screen.

AAAAAAAARRRGH!!! WRONG! Wrong, wrong, wrong!

ALL Stooges shorts were filmed in the 4:3 aspect ratio, meaning the image was four units wide and three tall. When PROPERLY displayed on a widescreen TV, there should be black bars on both sides of the image.

Unfortunately many TV stations— as well as viewers— find the bars unsightly or distracting, so they stretch the image to fill the entire screen. This results in characters who look like they're four feet wide. 

It's ugly, unnatural and downright stupid. I absolutely HATE this stretched out Silly Putty look. Whenever I see a show that's been artificially widened like this I change the channel and refuse to watch it. And if I go to someone's house and they've set up their TV like this, I want to knock 'em out with a blow dart and fix their screen while they're unconscious.

Told you it was irrational!

Awesome Scene #4: Courtney asks the gang to give back their JSA gear.

Courtney: "Guys, wait. Please!"
Yolanda: "Please what, give up being Wildcat? I already said no."
Beth: "And I'm not giving up Doctor Mid-Nite. He's my friend, Courtney."
Courtney: "I know how important it is to you. I... I see that. So, maybe we can just go talk to Pat?"
Rick: "I just did. And I don't get him. What did your dad see in him? What do you?"
Courtney: "There's more to Pat than you know."
Rick: "I've got one question for you, Courtney. If Pat asks for your staff back, are you giving to him?"
(Courtney hesitates as the others look expectantly at her.)
Rick: "I didn't think so."

I love how with one simple question, Rick makes Courtney realize what she's asking the rest of them to do. Great job, guys!

• Justice Society, Assemble!

At the beginning of the episode, Dugan scolded Courtney for stealing the JSA equipment and took it away from her. He then packed all the gear in a trunk in the basement. 

Later on when Rick, Yolanda and Beth decide to go after the Gambler, Courtney tells them they need to wear their costumes to protect their identities. Next time we see them, they're all suited up.

This means Courtney busted into Dugan's trunk and stole the JSA equipment a SECOND time!

• In the comics, the Gambler was the most unimpressive and least dangerous "super" villain ever. He was basically good at gambling (natch!) and was a master of disguise. Oh, and he was skilled with a Derringer and throwing knives.

That's it! That's all it took to be a villain back in the 1940s when this character was created.

Fortunately they've updated the character here on Stargirl to make him more relevant and formidable. According to Chuck, the Gambler is a master strategist, a genius when it comes to probabilities and a programming whiz. He's also wanted for fraud, conspiracy and murder. And he still has his Derringer in its spring-loaded wrist strap!

I'm all for this change. If ever there was a character in dire need of an upgrade, it's this one!

• Chuck says the Gambler was Doctor Mid-Nite's archenemy. That's a definite change from the comics, where he was the main foe of Green Lantern.

• The gang arrives at Empire Enterprises, and Hourman starts to knock the door down. Doctor Mid-Nite tells him to wait, and uses her goggles to determine the keypad entry code is "1941." That's the year the Justice Society premiered in All Star Comics #1.

• Awesome Scene #5: The new JSA sneaks into Empire Enterprises and find a dead security guard inside.

I absolutely LOVED the scene, as the camera slowly pans across the team, giving us a good look at their faces. It's evident from their expressions that they've all just realized this isn't a game, and they're in wayyyyyy over their heads here. Well done!

• As the gang looks for the Gambler, they turn down a hall and are confronted by Sportsmaster and Tigress (you can just glimpse them in the far background behind Stargirl's head). 

Incredibly, Courtney then turns her back on the two villains so she can give orders to her team! Holy crap!

Even more incredibly, Sportsmaster and Tigress are polite enough not to attack while she's in such a vulnerable position, and wait till her and the team are ready.

 I've always thought Sportsmaster was the dumbest idea for a villain in all of comics. A sports-themed bad guy? Jesus! Amazingly, this show somehow managed to make him seem cool, as well as an actual threat.

• Why the hell doesn't anyone on Team Stargirl recognize Tigress as Paula Crook, their school's gym teacher? She's not even wearing a mask, for corn's sake! All she did was paint one eye black! I guess that's all it takes to obscure your identity over on Earth-2!

• As I mentioned in the intro, so far the series has been a little light on action— so it was great to finally see some proper fight scenes and stunts this week.

And what awesome stunts they were too! A little heavy on the wire-fu maybe, but they looked so good I'm willing to give 'em a pass.

Best of all, everyone got a chance to shine against the JSA— even Beth! Well, sort of.

I think the most impressive stunt of them all was Stargirl's half-backflip or whatever it's called. I don't know if that was actually Brec Bassinger doing it or her stunt double. Either way, it looked amazing.

We used to get fights like this each week over on Legends Of Tomorrow, but they dried up when they slashed the budget a couple seasons ago. So it's nice to finally see some proper superhero battles in a superhero show.

• Ah, it wouldn't be an Arrowverse show without inconsistently-used superpowers! In the already heavily mentioned S.T.R.I.P.E., Courtney uses the Cosmic Staff much like a giant raygun, blasting Brainwave across the parking lot and obliterating the school sign with a powerful energy beam.

This week she fights Sportsmaster and Tigress, and although there are a hundred opportunities for her to blast both of them into next Tuesday, of course she doesn't. Instead she forgets the Staff is a powerful long-range weapon, and uses it like a bo to fight the villains up close and personal. Feh.

Of course if she had used the Staff properly and fried the bad guys with it, the battle would have been over in thirty seconds— which is no doubt why she didn't do it.

• STRIPE arrives just in the nick of time to save the new and inexperienced JSA from Sportsmaster and Tigress. At long last we FINALLY get this iconic shot of the team that we first saw at the end Crisis On Infinite Earths, Part Five! 

Even though I loved this scene, I gotta ask— how the hell did Dugan know that Courtney and the others would be at Empire Enterprises? Whoops!

Awesome Scene #6: In the garage, Courtney complains to Dugan about her undisciplined team.

Dugan: "Listen, I wanted to..."
Courtney: "I know. I know. Just thank God you showed up."
Dugan: "Really?"
Courtney: "Oh, you would never believe them, Pat. I had a plan, to stick together and we would nab the Gambler and interrogate him and... they didn't do any of it. They didn't listen to a single word I said."
Dugan: (pretending to be outraged) "Seriously?"
Courtney: "Serious."
Dugan: "What, like, it went in one ear and out the other?"
Courtney: "Right out the other."
Dugan: (pouring it on now) "And it seems to me, based on what you're telling me, that you're trying to help them."
Courtney: "I'm just trying to help them."
Dugan: "I mean, that's gotta be kind of frustrating."
Courtney: "So frustrating."
Dugan: "And even maybe a little annoying."
Courtney: "Oh. A lot annoying."
Dugan: "Yeah."
Courtney: "They're going to get themselves killed."
Dugan: "Yeah. I mean, that's my sentiment exactly!"
(Courtney stops, realizing what Dugan's doing.)
Courtney: "I see what you did there."

I loved this scene too, as Courtney FINALLY understands Dugan's point of view and what he's been trying to tell her for the past six episodes. It's a fun little moment between the two, and both Luke Wilson and Brec Bassinger play it perfectly.

It's taken us six episodes, but we've at long last we've reached the point where Dugan agrees to mentor/train the new team. It's about time!

• At the end of the episode, the Injustice Society meets to discuss what to do about this new JSA. Icicle, Sportsmaster, Tigress, Fiddler (or maybe Virtuoso) and the Gambler are all in attendance. Note there are three empty seats. One's obviously for Brainwave, who's still in a coma in Blue Valley Hospital. The second's likely for Dragon King, who didn't show up for some reason. The third was most likely reserved for the Wizard, who won't be coming back!

I thought it was interesting that this week we find out that the various ISA villains don't consider themselves friends, but simply members of a team. Despite that lack of camaraderie, they're still far more effective than the new JSA.

• In Wildcat, Principal Bowin entered Brainwave's hospital room and played her violin, obviously attempting to use her sonic powers to bring him out of his coma. From that I said it was clear that Bowin was actually the Fiddler of the ISA.

Then last week in Hourman And Dr. Mid-Nite, Dougan told Courtney that the Fiddler was an Irish male. I pointed out that in the comics, there's a female character of Indian descent called Virtuoso, who somehow acquired the Fiddler's violin and now has the same powers he did. I wondered if Bowin was actually Virtuoso and not the Fiddler.

In this week's episode we do find out that Bowin was actually married to the Fiddler! Unfortunately it's still unclear as to whether she calls herself the Fiddler as well, or if she goes by Virtuoso.

• During the ISA's meeting, we get a smidge more info the "Project: New America" that Icicle's been talking about for the past few episodes. The Gambler says they have the satellite codes and the equipment that Doctor Ito requested. Sportsmaster points out though that without Brainwave, Project: New America is Project: Nothing.

From this, it kind of sounds like the ISA may be planning to use satellites to enhance Brainwave's powers and mind-control everyone in the country.

If that's true, that sounds a LOT like The Thinker's plan over on The Flash. In Season 4, Clifford DeVoe, aka The Thinker, created and absorbed the powers of twelve different metahumans. He then hijacked one of STAR Labs' satellites, intending to use it to boost his mental powers in order to erase and reprogram the minds of everyone on Earth. He'd then become ruler of the entire planet.

Hopefully there's more to Project: New America and it won't be just a rehash of that The Flash plotline.

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