Sunday, July 12, 2020

Stargirl Season 1, Episode 8: Shiv Part Two

This week on Stargirl, we get the conclusion of the show's first big two-part episode. 

And what a wrap up it is! Icicle gets his revenge, Henry Jr. fully realizes his powers, the JSA does just fine without Courtney, Beth steps up and proves she's a valuable member of the team, and best of all, we find out whether Cindy knows Courtney's secret or not. 

And those were just the major revelations! There were plenty of satisfying little emotional moments as well. It was a lot to pack into a scant forty minutes! On any other series, the events of this episode would have played out over the course of sixteen weeks or more!

Somehow the writers managed to give everyone something to do in this episode. It was especially gratifying to see the new JSA members shine this week, after pretty much sitting out the previous outing.

So far I'm very impressed with the show's pacing. Unlike other Arrowverse shows I could name, Stargirl moves along at a very brisk clip, and doesn't drag its storylines out over the course of an entire season. Story arcs are introduced and resolved long before the audience has a chance to become bored with them. If only more shows would learn from Stargirl's example (cough The Flash cough).

Lastly, some very good news for Stargirl fans— the series has officially been renewed for a second season! Huzzah! That's awesome. Hopefully the producers will be able to keep up the same level of quality we've enjoyed so far in Season 1.


The Plot:
We begin with Dugan in the Racer, roaring through Blue Valley at night. He guns it up to 80mph and crashes into a telephone pole.

Cut to Jordan and Barb, who've just finished their business trip in Oakville. They're having dinner to celebrate a successful acquisition for The American Dream. Jordan tells Barb he couldn't have done it without her. He excuses himself, saying he wants to visit an old friend while he's in town. Right after he leaves, Barb gets a call from Dugan, who says there's been an "accident."

Courtney wakes in a Blue Valley Hospital bed, wondering where she is and how she got there. She sees Dugan sitting at her bedside and asks what's going on. He says he brought her to the hospital, told them she'd been in an auto accident and then crashed his car to make it believable. Courtney feels guilty, knowing how much Dugan loved the Racer.\

Dugan says to forget about the car and tells her what's going to happen next. He't taking her home later that night (?), where she's going to get plenty of rest. He says Cindy Burman targeted her for a reason, and must be the daughter of an ISA member. He promises to find out who her parents are— ALONE.

Dugan also says it's high time they told Barb what's going on. Courtney begs him not to tell, as Barb will freak out and forbid her to be Stargirl ever again. She doesn't want that taken away from her, and says they can come clean once the ISA is wiped out. She makes Dugan promise to wait before telling Barb. Against his better judgement, he agrees.

Elsewhere, Cindy tells her father Dragon King that she found Stargirl. Rather than praise her, he scolds her for attacking instead of alerting him. He asks if she killed Stargirl and she says, "Probably." Dragon King says Stargirl's alive, as he sent his drones to recover her body and they found nothing. He's furious with CIndy for taking her "graduation uniform" and his staff, as her impulsive actions risked exposing the entire ISA.

Cindy tries to tell him about Stargirl, but he refuses to listen. Dragon King says she'll never get a seat at the ISA table now, and orders her to go home and do nothing until he calls for her. When she balks, he threatens to remove his hood, and she immediately complies.

At Dugan's garage (which is apparently the new JSA HQ), Rick, Yolanda and Beth discuss what happened to Courtney. Rick wants to retaliate against Cindy immediately (natch). Beth says Cindy's parents might be ISA members, and they need to be cautious. Beth and Yolanda eventually manage to calm him down. Beth says she has a plan to gather intel on Cindy's parents.

Dugan wheels Courtney out of the hospital. Along the way they pass Brainwave's room, and Courtney sees Henry Jr. sitting at his bedside. She says hi to Henry, but he gets up and closes the door in her face. Well!

Sometime later we see Courtney bedridden at home. Mike brings her some pizza rolls and apologizes for snapping at her in the previous episode. He says he's not used to having to share his dad with anyone, and is glad she's his new sister.

Dugan goes down to the basement, where he opens the wooden case containing the Cosmic Staff. He has a heart to heart talk with the Staff, saying he knows they've had their differences in the past (!), but that they both care about Courtney. He tells the Staff that she's not as experienced as Sylvester Pemberton (aka Starman) was, and asks it to pull her AWAY from danger instead of toward it. The Staff doesn't respond, so Dugan closes the case and goes upstairs. The minute he's gone, the Staff begins glowing.

Barb comes home and Dugan fibs to her, saying he let Courtney drive his car and she crashed it. He admits it was a bad idea and assures her everyone's OK. He seemingly comes to a decision as he steels himself and says they need to talk about something. Barb says she's too tired to talk after her trip from Oakville, and says it can wait till morning.

Speaking of Oakville, a man named Ed Reilly enters his hotel room there and is surprised to find Jordan waiting for him. Jordan introduces himself, and says her knows Reilly works for Bannerman Chemical— a soulless company that pollutes the environment in the name of profit. Jordan says Bannerman caused his wife Christine's death, and that Reilly knew what was happening but told no one. Reilly tries to leave, but Jordan, aka Icicle, freezes him solid.

The next day Henry Jr.'s having more of his headaches, and searches his father's desk for pain pills. He finds a key but ignores it, and finally locates a bottle of pain medication. He fumbles the lid open, spilling the pills all over the desk. Suddenly one of the pills levitates as Henry Jr. stares at it in fascination.

Elsewhere, Rick and Yolanda are staking out the Burman house. Dugan approaches them and asks what they're doing. They nod toward the house, where Dugan sees Beth knocking on the door. He runs over and tries to stop her. Just then Cindy's stepmom Bobbie Burman answers the door.

Beth asks if Cindy's home, claiming she offered to show her some cheerleading moves. Dugan lies and says he's Beth's adoptive father. Bobbie tells them Cindy's not home, but hungry for any kind of company, she invites them in anyway.

Meanwhile, Courtney's still recovering in bed. Barb knocks on her door and says she has a visitor from school. Courtney's then stunned (to say the least) when Cindy Burman enters with a box of chocolates! Cindy apologizes for snapping at her at the Homecoming Game, saying she was having a really bad day. She sits on the bed with Courtney and they share the chocolates she brought. Having no other choice, Courtney tries to muster a smile and be friendly.

At the Burman house, Bobbie brings out some snacks. Beth puts on her goggles and has Chuck scan Bobbie. Unfortunately he finds ZERO info on her (!). Beth asks for some water, and while Bobbie's gone she and Dugan look around for clues as to who Cindy's father might be.

Bobbie returns with the water, and Beth asks to use the restroom. She walks through the house, scanning everything with her goggles. Chuck notes it's very sparsely furnished for a family home. She finds a door with a security keypad, and Chuck analyzes it and tells her the code. Beth enters it, the door opens and she goes through.

Elsewhere, Cindy eats most of the candy she brought Courtney. She tells her she thinks they're both a lot alike, and says she's glad to have a friend.

Beth wanders through the vast ISA tunnels under Blue Valley. Rick & Yolanda try to contact her, but there's too much interference. She rounds a corner and hears Solomon Grundy growing in his cell. Beth says "NOPE!" and instantly turns back. Smart girl!

Cindy says she should go and let Courtney rest. She stops at the door and does a Columbo, turning to Courtney and saying, "Sorry, I forgot to mention I really like your Staff, Stargirl!" Courtney's flabbergasted, as she actually thought Cindy didn't know. Cindy tells her not to worry, as her secret's safe with her. She says she won't share it with her dad, but she does plan on killing all of Courtney's friends. On that note she takes her leave.

Courtney immediately texts Yolanda, and tells her that Cindy knows she's Stargirl. Yolanda texts back that Dugan and Beth are in Cindy's house. Unfortunately her texts then cut out.

Beth exits the tunnel and returns to the hallway just as Cindy's limo pulls up to the house. Yoldana's finally able to contact Beth, and warns her that Cindy's coming. Beth says she's not leaving till she finds out who Cindy's dad is, and goes up to her room. Yolanda and Rick suit up, fearing they'll need to bust in and rescue Dugan and Beth.

Meanwhile, Dugan's under the sink, repairing Bobbie's garbage disposal (which admittedly sounds like a euphamism). Cindy barrels through the kitchen and tells Bobbie she's going up to her room. Fortunately she doesn't see Dugan behind the counter.

Chuck scans Cindy's room, but can't find any evidence of her father. Finally Beth sees a photo of an Asian man on Cindy's mirror, and Chuck says it's Dr. Shiro Ito, a scientist who was tried and executed for war crimes in 1947. 

Beth takes the photo and hears Cindy coming. Panicking, she looks for a place to hide. Suddenly she hears tapping at the window and sees Wildcat waving. She pulls Beth out the window just as Cindy enters her room. Cindy hears noises outside, but when she looks out the window she sees nothing.

Downstairs, Bobbie starts coming on to Dugan, who's still under the sink. He nervously says the disposal's fixed and he's gotta go as he runs from the house. He meets up with the others. Beth shows him the photo she found of Dr. Ito, and Dugan recognizes him. He tells them they need to leave before someone spots Yolanda in her Wildcat costume.

Elsewhere, Courtney fears her friends are in trouble after their texts cut out. She goes downstairs and grabs the Cosmic Staff, but it won't budge. Apparently it took Dugan's plea to heart and is trying to protect her. She tells it that Dugan and the others are in danger, and it finally allows her to move it.

Back at the King house, Henry Jr. practices his new telekinetic powers. He uses his mind to pick up the key he found earlier, trying it in every lock in the room. He sticks the key in a bookcase, which opens to reveal a secret room behind it (which we saw back in Pilot).

Henry Jr. sees Brainwave's costume, along with his mother's photo and stacks and stacks of videotapes. He also finds a file on Cindy. He opens it and sees a note from Dragon King, saying he'll have Cindy monitor Henry Jr. for any sign of powers. Henry's shaken to his core and runs out of the house.

Cindy looks around her room and realizes someone's been in it. Suddenly Stargirl bursts through the window and attacks her. The two begin fighting again, and Stargirl knocks Cindy out the window. Just then Henry Jr. drives up and sees Stargirl fly down and attack Cindy. He's surprised when Cindy fights back, extending knives from her wrists and slashing at Stargirl.

As the two fight, their savage thoughts overwhelm Henry, and he grabs his head in pain. He "hears" Cindy thinking that she's going to kill Stargirl. Suddenly he unleashes a psychic blast that throws the girls apart.

Cindy goes after Stargirl again, but just then she's grabbed by three of Dragon King's drones and dragged down into a manhole in the street. Henry asks Stargirl what she did with Cindy. She tells him it wasn't her, and then realizes he has the same powers as his father. She feels him reading her mind and discovering her secret identity.

Henry grabs his head and runs off. We pull back to see Dragon King watching all this on a monitor.


• There's a lot to love in this episode, which is not something I'm used to saying about The CW's superhero shows. Let's run through them, shall we?

— I love that the new JSA has accepted Dugan as their de facto leader. Apart from Courtney, they all seem to respect and even listen to him.

— I loved Mike timidly apologizing to Courtney after snapping at her last week. Their reconciliation was positively adorable. Mike even admitted how illogical it is that he tells his Dad he doesn't want to spend time with him, even though he secretly does.

— I loved Dugan's scene with the Cosmic Staff. I gotta admit, when I think of great actors, Luke Wilson's name isn't at the top of the list. I've always considered him satisfactory at best.

That assessment may have been in error. This week, Wilson somehow managed to have a heartfelt conversation with a freakin' inanimate rod! Now that's a good actor!

— I loved Dugan and Beth pretending to be father & daughter. They were hilarious together! Here's hoping the show pairs these two again in future episodes.

— I loved Bobbie Burman's obvious excitement at having someone normal to talk to even if they were complete strangers. Hers must be a tense and lonely existence.

— I loved when Beth was exploring the ISA tunnels and heard Solomon Grundy growling. She immediately stopped in her tracks, uttered a terrified "Nope!" and got the hell out of there. Just like a normal person would in that situation!

— I love the slow, deliberate awakening of Henry Jr.'s telepathic powers. Other shows would have had him develop his powers in a single episode. The way they've done it here is much more realistic, and doesn't feel like it's been dragged out.

— Lastly I loved the scene in which Cindy visits Courtney as she recovers in her room. We'll get into that in more detail below.

OK, that's it for now! Back to our regularly scheduled nitpicking!
• This is the shortest episode of the series so far, clocking in at a mere 40:38. Oddly enough it doesn't seem shorter, as there's a LOT going on in it!

• So Dugan crashes his beloved Racer into a telephone pole—at 80 mph, mind you— to provide a believable alibi for Courtney's injuries. Man, he's lucky to be alive! Cars of that vintage had metal dashboards and didn't come with seat belts! It's a wonder he didn't split his head open like an overripe pumpkin!

• Despite how it looks in this scene, there's no way in hell that the show actually crashed Dugan's 1955 Buick Special. A tricked out, restored antique auto like that could easily be worth $35,000 or more, and I refuse to believe they'd total it for one brief scene.

Most likely they found a similar car in a junkyard, painted it up to match the Racer and then crashed it. The fact that we only see it in the dark and never close up pretty much confirms that theory.

• At one point we see Jordan and Barb in a restaurant, celebrating their successful business meeting in nearby Oakville. Several things here:

First of all, it looks like I was wrong. In last week's review I predicted that once Jordan got Barb alone, he'd start hitting on her and tell her she could do better than Dugan. Then I said she'd likely refuse and Jordan would give her an ultimatum— put out or get out.

To my great surprise, NONE of that happened! Jordan did take Barb out for dinner, but he left after the main course to go kill the guy who indirectly caused his wife's death. 

I thought for sure they were leading up to a sexual harassment storyline, but it looks like I was wrong. Maybe that'll happen later in the season? They've given us too many hints that Jordan's into Barb to just drop the matter.

Secondly, at the beginning of the Jordan/Barb scene we get an establishing shot of Oakville. The town looks practically identical to Blue Valley, so I figured they probably shot it in Dallas, Georgia, where most of the series is filmed.

Nope! Turns out that Oakville's a piece of video clip art that anyone can buy over on Shutterstock! You can even see the same people and cars go by!

I'm continually amazed at how often the various Arrowverse shows use clip art like this. Nothing wrong with it, mind you— after all, that's what clip art's for! It just strikes me as funny that a big time network show's using the same resources that I can use. It makes perfect financial sense though—after all, 
it's far cheaper to pay $500 for a piece of footage rather than send out a large and expensive film crew to shoot five seconds of video.

Lastly, what the hell's up with Jordan and Barb's comically tiny restaurant table? Look at that thing! There's barely room for both their plates! They probably had to keep their drinks in their hands for the whole meal because there was no room to set 'em down.

• At the hospital, Dugan tells Courtney that Cindy deliberately went after her for a reason. Wait, did... did we skip a reel? How does Dugan know Cindy attacked Courtney? She slithered away well before he entered the gym at the end of Shiv Part One, and clearly never saw her.

Did Courtney deliriously mention Cindy's name while she was unconscious?

In a similar vein, Rick, Yolanda and Beth all inexplicably know about the Stargirl/Shiv battle as well. Maybe Dugan called them while we weren't looking.

• At Dugan's garage, the rest of the JSA find out that Cindy attacked Courtney. Predictably, Rick demands they retaliate instantly.

Sigh... I hope Rick isn't going to do his "Hothead Who Wants To Strike Before Thinking" routine every week, because that's gonna get old real quick!

By the way, is it a good idea for Dugan to store STRIPE right in front of a bank of windows like that? Even if the windows are frosted, the robot's still gonna cast a shadow on them at night when the lights are on. How long before Zeke tows a car to the garage, looks at the windows and says, "Hey Dugan, is that a giant robot standing in your workshop?"

• As Courtney leaves the hospital, she sees Henry Jr. sitting at his comatose father's bedside. She says hi to him, and Henry slowly gets up, walks across the room and shuts the door in her face.

Why's Henry Jr. being such a dick to Courtney? Sure, she blew up his car in Pilot and fried his dad's mind in S.T.R.I.P.E., but HE doesn't know any of that. As proof, before he was injured, Brainwave scanned his son's mind to find out who attacked him and learned that Henry Jr. honestly didn't know.

As far as Henry Jr.'s concerned, Courtney's a normal everyday teen. So again, why's he so rude to her here? Just a general dislike for her?

• It's nice to see there's still something in the world that can scare Cindy.

She visits Dragon King in his underground lair and tries to tell him she knows Stargirl's secret identity. He's too furious with her to listen, and chillingly tells her, "
Return home. And do nothing until I call for you, do you understand? Do not make me remove my hood."

His last sentence actually startles Cindy so much that she obeys him without question!

Jesus Christ! Just what's underneath that hood anyway? I wonder if they'll ever show us? If I had to guess, I'd say probably not. After a buildup like that, anything they could come up with would be a disappointment. They might give us a shot of the back of Dragon King's head as he reveals his true face to Cindy or another character, but I doubt we'll ever get a full-on look at him.

• Seems like Dugan and Courtney could find a better place to store the Cosmic Staff than in an unlocked wooden crate sitting in the middle of the basement. How long before Barb or Mike wander down there, become curious, open the crate and see the Staff?

• Dugan has a heart to heart talk with the Cosmic Staff, asking it to be less impulsive and try to pull Courtney away from danger rather than taking her towards it.

During his monologue he says, "the thing is when you came into Starman's life, he was already an adult, right? Sylvester had been running around as the Star-Spangled Kid for years. He had experience. Sylvester knew what to expect. But Courtney... Courtney's got a lot to learn."

Dugan gets this history lesson partially right. As I mentioned before in Pilot, in the comics Sylvester Pemberton was indeed the Star-Spangled Kid. Like so many Golden Age heroes though, he had no powers other than a good right cross. Starman was a completely different character, whose real name was Ted Knight (not that Ted Knight!). Starman didn't have a Cosmic Staff, but he did have a smaller Cosmic Rod which performed most of the same functions.

At one point in the comics, Starman gave his Rod to the Star-Spangled Kid. Later the KId integrated the rod into his suit, and started calling himself Skyman.

For reasons known only to the creators, the show's taken the Star-Spangled Kid and Starman and merged them into one. TV Star-Spangled Kid becomes the new Starman instead of Skyman.

• In Oakville, Jordan gets his revenge on Ed Reilly, the man who was inadvertently responsible for the death of his wife Christine. Their conversation contains a couple of Easter eggs from the comics.

Jordan tells Reilly, "I hear you've done quite well for yourself over at Firebrand Chemical." That's likely a reference to Golden Age superhero Firebrand.

In the comics, Rod Reilly was a millionaire who fought crime in a pink see-through blouse. Yes, the 1940s were a different time. Note that like most Golden Age heroes, Firebrand had no actual powers other than the ability to punch villains. Rod's father was named Ed— just like the character in this episode.

There was also a female Firebrand named Danette Reilly, who premiered in the 1980s. She was the sister of Rod Reilly, and unlike him, she actually had fire-based powers.

Jordan then mentions that Reilly used to work at Bannerman. In the comics, Rex Tyler, aka the original Hourman, worked at Bannerman Chemical.

• As Henry Jr.'s psychic powers continue to expand, we get an establishing shot of the King Manor.

Turns out it's also a piece of Shutterstock video clip art, that anyone can buy!

• Courtney's "star fetish" is on display again in this episode. Note the star-festooned hat hanging from her bedpost.

• Beth needs to get prescription lenses for her Doctor Mid-Nite goggles. Every time she uses them she has to carefully take off her glasses, fold and put 'em away and then meticulously slip the goggles over her head. By the time she does all that the ISA could have killed all her teammates!

• Chuck scans Dugan and says, "Pat Dugan is fourteen pounds heavier than my last interaction with him." Com-O-Dee!

• Speaking of weight, Chuck states that Bobbie Burman is a wispy 116 pounds. That seems awfully low to me, but according to the internet it's well within the ideal weight limits for the average 5' 5" female. 

• After Chuck scans Bobbie, he states he can't find any records of her anywhere. This brings up the question of whether she's a real person, or an artificial construct— like an android or something.

We get a clue as to what she may be when Dugan asks Bobbie what she does. She replies, "I'm a mother. A homemaker. I used to do other thingsbut there's nothing as important as raising a child."

That comment indicates she's most likely a real person after all and Dragon King somehow scrubbed all records of her for some reason.

• In Shiv Part One, Cindy straight up killed one of Dragon King's minions just to make a point. He angrily told her it takes two weeks to condition one of them, and she just wasted all that effort.

Dragon King's conditioning comment made me wonder if the minions are real people that he possibly kidnaps and brainwashes, or if they're some kind of artificial life form that takes two weeks to grow. I noted that if they're real people, then Cindy just straight up murdered someone.

We still don't know for absolute sure what the minions are, but the comics might give us a clue.

In Stars And S.T.R.I.P.E. #1, we see two brothers out vandalizing the Blue Valley town sign. Suddenly a manhole cover opens Dragon King's minions rise up out of the sewer and grab the boys.

A few pages later we see the two brothers have been turned into more of Dragon King's minions.

As I said, this all happens in the comic, but it's a pretty good bet it's what's going on in the show as well. Which means Cindy really is a murderer at sixteen.

• Bobbie's curious when Beth puts on her Doctor Mid-Nite goggles. She and Dugan fumble an explanation:

Bobbie: "What is that you're wearing?"
Beth: "Oh, these? Oh, my vision is bad, beyond LASIK bad, so sometimes I wear these."
Dugan: "She's actually as blind as a bat. I shouldn't be laughing, but, yeah, she can't see a thing."

This is a reference to the comic book version of Beth Chapel, who was blinded in a chemical explosion while working at her hospital, and became the new Doctor Mid-Nite.

• Usually whenever Beth puts on her Doctor Mid-Nite goggles, the lenses glow with a green light as Chuck displays various readouts on them. Oddly enough they don't glow the entire time Beth chats with Bobbie. What a lucky break!

• As Beth snoops around the Burman house, she finds a security keypad next to a door. Chuck hacks the device and says the code is "1999."

By now we know all numbers on this show have some kind of significance, and this one's no different. 1999 is the year the Stargirl character first appeared in DC Comics.

• By far the best part of the episode was Cindy visiting Courtney in her room. Everything about this scene was absolutely perfect— from Cindy's attempt at a heartfelt apology, Courtney's feelings of sheer terror as her archenemy sat on her bed, to Cindy's casual revelation that she knows Stargirl's big secret.

The tension between the two was thick enough to cut with a chainsaw, as the audience wondered whether Cindy was aware of Courtney's secret identity or not. For a minute there I honestly thought Cindy didn't know, and that her friendship toward Courtney was genuine. And that Courtney would have to spend the rest of the season being forced to hang out with Cindy.

And then they twisted the knife and had Cindy reveal she'd known Courtney's really Stargirl all along! On any other Arrowverse show, the question of What Does Cindy Know would have been dragged out for an entire season. Or more! To its credit, Stargirl rips off the bandaid and gives us an answer almost immediately, leaving the audience reeling.

See, Rian Johnson? THIS is how you subvert expectations! If you're not gonna do Storyline A, then you gotta give the audience Storyline B.

Kudos to actress Meg DeLacy as Cindy Burman. She did an excellent job here, skillfully playing out this scene so the audience was never quite sure whether she'd hug Courtney or kill her. Well done!

And good on the writers for allowing Cindy to see through Courtney's inadequate Stargirl disguise. I know it's a convention of superhero shows that a tiny mask or a pair of glasses can completely obscure a character's identity. Having Cindy immediately recognize Stargirl's shock of curly blonde hair as Courtney's was a breath of fresh air.

• I know Blue Valley's a small town, but this episode proves it must be REALLY tiny! 

After Cindy leaves Courtney's house, she pulls up in front of her own mansion a scant FORTY FIVE SECONDS later! Holy crow! Normally I'd chalk this up to time passing in between scenes while we weren't looking, but the characters were texting with one another the whole time Cindy was in transit— meaning the two girls live less than a minute apart.

• Yolanda and Rick are staking out Cindy's house when they see her arrive. They decide to suit up in case they need to rescue Beth and Dugan.

So... did Yolanda put on her Wildcat costume over her street clothes, or did she just strip down & change right there in the bushes— in front of Rick?

• When Cindy enters her home she bellows, "Mom, what's for dinner?" After the way she treated Bobbie in the previous episode, doesn't it seem odd that she'd call her "Mom?" Courtney & Mike both call their stepparents by their first names, so you'd think a psychopath like Cindy would have a whole host of unpleasant monikers for Bobbie.

• Beth sneaks into Cindy's room, which she's decorated with tons of photos... of herself. Who does that? Who would plaster their walls with their own face? I certainly wouldn't. I already know what I look like, and don't need to be reminded of it! I guess this is to imply that Cindy's a pathological narcissist.

• Chuck scans Cindy's vanity and finds she stores her knife cleanser next to her beauty products. A couple things here:

First of all, I'd expect someone as vain and self-absorbed as Cindy to have a LOT more hair and makeup paraphernalia than the small amount we see here.

Secondly, although it sounds like a joke, Blue Lube Knife Cleanser is a real product! Mind blown! The only difference is that "Bluelube" is apparently all one word over on Earth-2.

• While searching for info on Cindy's dad, Beth runs across the photo of Doctor Ito taped to her mirror.

We saw this photo before, when Cindy was putting on her Halloween costume in Hourman And Dr. Mid-Nite. That's awesome! I love how this show gives us seemingly unimportant and mundane details that end up becoming crucial later on. It rewards the viewer for paying attention.

According to Chuck's readout, Doctor Ito was born in 1901. That makes him 119 years old here in 2020! He seems to be getting around pretty well for someone who's well over a century old!

Back in Hourman And Dr. Mid-Nite, we found out that Dr. Charles McNider (aka Doctor Mid-Nite and the creator of the Chuck AI) was born in 1914. That made him a whopping 96 when he was killed in 2010.

Obviously there's something odd going on with the members of both the JSA and ISA in regards to their age. Something besides just having good genes.

In the comics the JSA & ISA characters debuted in the 1940s, yet they're all relatively youthful and still fighting crime today. That's because in All-Star Squadron Annual #3, the JSA fought a magical villain named Ian Karkull. As a result of that battle, the characters absorbed magical energy from Karkull, which dramatically slowed their aging processes. 

I'm assuming something like that must have happened to the JSA & ISA here in the Arrowverse. Either that or the inhabitants of Earth-2 routinely live to be three hundred years old!

• I kind of hate to point this out, because I really do love this show and the FX are generally top notch. Sadly they dropped the ball in this scene though.

Late in the third act, Henry Jr. finds an old fashioned key in his father's desk drawer. He uses his newfound telekinetic powers to levitate the key and see what it opens.

In the past, they'd have accomplished this floating effect by dangling a real key from a fishing line in front of an actor's face. The hovering key we see here is all CGI, added to the scene in post. How do I know this? Because Henry Jr.'s supposed to be looking directly at the key, but he's actually staring intently at a spot several inches below it! Whoops!

His eyeline isn't just slightly off either— it's really blatant! I don't understand why the FX guys just didn't move the key down a couple inches, so he's actually looking at it.

• Henry Jr. meets his density!

As I've said numerous times now, in the comics Henry decides not to follow in his father's villainous footsteps, and becomes a superhero who calls himself Brainwave Jr. 

I'm hoping that's what'll happen here on the show, in order to give Henry Jr. a redemption arc. This week he finds out that everyone he knows and loves has been lying/betraying/manipulating him, so that could turn out to be the push he needs to side with the new JSA.

• At the end of S.T.R.I.P.E., Brainwave suited up in his green costume and attacked Courtney. She blasted him in the head with the Cosmic Staff and fried his brain. 

Then in the next episode (Icicle), we saw Brainwave lying comatose in a hospital bed. I wondered how he got there. Did Courtney & Dugan drop him off in front of the ER? Did the hospital staff find Dr. Henry King lying there wearing a supervillain costume?

Turns out that Courtney & Dugan apparently just left Brainwave for head after frying his mind. The Wizard then found Brainwave, removed his costume, put his street clothes on him and laid him down in front of the ER.

Then in this episode, Henry finds the secret room in Brainwave's study. When he opens it, he sees his father's costume inside. So... that means that after the Wizard dropped Brainwave off at the hospital, he must have broken into his house, opened the secret room that he apparently somehow knew about, and hung up the costume inside it! Pretty thorough!

• Henry Jr.'s world continues to implode when he finds a letter from Cindy's father Doctor Ito, revealing she's only dating him so she can monitor him for signs of telepathy. Ouch!

In case you're wondering, the letter reads, "Dear Dr. King, I appreciate you agreeing to my proposal. My daughter, Cindy, will watch your son well. Cindy's very good at watching things. I'll alert you to any changes, and, again, thank you for the opportunity. With respect, Dr. Shiro Ito."

Wait, what? That's some odd phrasing there in that letter, as it implies Doctor Ito doesn't know Brainwave and only recently began working with him. That would mean Dragon King was never a member of the ISA until a few months ago. Around the time Henry Jr. broke up with Yolanda.

This is a MAJOR revelation, as I assumed Dragon King was part of the ISA all along. Now that I look at their official portrait though, I notice he ain't in it! I guess it checks out.

So apparently Dragon King and the ISA have BOTH been operating in Blue Valley for the past ten years, completely independent of one another. Even more amazing, both have vast subterranean complexes underneath the town, which are separate as well. Sure, why not?

I'll leave it to you to decide how likely any of that is.

• Fearing that Cindy's harming her friends, Stargirl flies across town and attacks her again. Last week I noted that Cindy, aka Shiv, had spring-loaded knives up her sleeves. I sarcastically called the knives "the perfect accessory for an unstable, self-absorbed psycho like her."

Welp, it's even worse. In this episode we find out that she doesn't have spring-loaded knives strapped to her forearms. Instead the blades are part of her body, and she can extend them from her wrists— much like Wolverine's claws over at Marvel! Holy Crap! 

Apparently this is another of the powers that Dragon King gifted to his daughter in order to "protect" her. And no doubt how she accidentally killed her real mom.

• Once again, this show's incredibly faithful to the comics. Especially with the Stargirl/Shiv battle at the end, which looks like it jumped directly off the printed page.

Cindy being dragged underground by her father's minions is directly from the comics as well. The same thing happened in Stars And S.T.R.I.P.E. #7.

Great Attention To Detail: As Cindy's dragged underground, we see the Stargirl Prop Department went to the trouble to make a manhole cover that reads "Blue Valley Utility Department!" I'm consistently amazed at just how much labeling and sineage is on display in this series. Well done, guys!

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