Sunday, August 30, 2020

Give It Away, Give It Away, Give It Away Now

This Week In Dumb Ideas, CBS announced they're planning to air Star Trek: Discovery on regular network TV.

OK, for those of you who're blissfully unaware of Discovery (how I envy you), the series premiered in 2017 on the CBS All Access streaming service. It was meant to be their crown jewel, and draw huge numbers of subscribers to the platform (Narrator: It didn't).

Because the show didn't air on broadcast TV, it wasn't bound by network rules. It didn't have to conform to the standard forty two minute content limit for one hour shows, so episodes could be as long as they needed to be. Some were fifty minutes, some sixty five, etc. 

Discovery also didn't have to worry about censorship, so the writers immediately began peppering the series with tons of "shits" and "fucks." Words which up to that point had been alien to Star Trek.

Cut to 2020 and the end of the world.

Thanks to the pandemic, all TV series were forced to shut down production for the past sixth months. That's created quite a problem for the CBS television network, as their new fall schedule is full of holes.

In order to plug one of those unsightly gaps, CBS has decided to air Season 1 of Discovery on regular over the air network TV. That sounds like a GREAT idea!

First of all, Discovery's three years old at this point. Everyone who wants to see it probably has by now. So CBS is basically airing reruns. Why not dust off old M*A*S*H and Dallas episodes and air those two while they're at it?

Secondly, originally Discovery aired exclusively on CBS All Access, which ain't free. It's a paid streaming service. So people who shelled out their hard-earned cash to watch it are gonna be pissed now that it's showing on up free TV.

Lastly, the show's gonna have to be heavily edited for broadcast TV. As I said above, the episodes vary in length, so they're gonna have to cut out a ton of content to whittle 'em down to forty two minutes. There are no ad breaks on All Access either, so Discovery episodes don't ever "fade to commercial." I expect the breaks are gonna be clumsily and abruptly inserted between scenes.

Lastly, there's all the charming profanity that's so prevalent in the series. All those totally necessary shits & fucks will most DEFINITELY have to be edited out for network TV.* So how will they handle this? Cut out any scenes with profanity altogether, or bleep the offending words?

Add it all up, and these numerous edits are gonna make the already mediocre series even MORE unwatchable. CBS must really be desperate for content if they think this is a good idea.

* Yes, I'm aware that profanity's nothing new in Trek. Spock began cursing in The Voyage Home, and Data uttered a worried, "Oh, shit!" in Generations. In both cases though, this cursing was seen as out of the ordinary. Spock was attempting to "fit in" with primitive 20th Century natives, and Data was having trouble adjusting to his emotion chip. It wasn't seen as the norm.

R.I.P. Chadwick Boseman

R.I.P. Chadwick Boseman, who died this week at the much-too-young age of forty three.

If I'm being honest, I wasn't a fan of the Black Panther movie. I know it's the most important thing that ever happened in many people's lives, but sadly it left me cold, and I thought it was mediocre at best.

That said, I have newfound respect for Boseman. He was diagnosed with Stage III colon cancer in 2016. That means he had it and was dealing with it all through the filming of Captain America: Civil War, Black Panther, Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame

And yet he never once complained or let on that he was suffering. In fact he even secretly visited sick kids in the hospital all through his battle with the disease. We should all have such strength, determination and class.

Tuesday, August 25, 2020

Justice League: The Snyder Cut, Or Be Careful What You Wish For

It's finally here! The trailer no one wanted for the film that no one asked for— Justice League: The Snyder Cut! 

Actually that's not true. Ever since 
the execrable Justice League movie premiered in 2017, fans have been asking— nay, DEMANDING— that Warner Bros. release Zack Snyder's original version of the film.

Snyder directed the bulk of the film, but stepped down after the untimely death of his daughter. Joss Whedon was then brought in to shoot "just a few scenes" to finish the movie.

That's the version Warner Bros. desperately wants us to believe. Those who actually worked on the film tell a different tale. One in which the studio was so displeased with Synder's work that they fired him and hired Whedon to try and salvage the picture. 
According to crew members, Whedon reshot a whopping NINETY PERCENT of the film. 

Reaction to the movie was mixed to say the least. The film grossed $650 million worldwide against its massive $300 million budget. That sounds great until you realize that due to marketing and other hidden costs, movies need to gross twice their production budget before they show a profit. Justice League ended up costing Warner Bros. around $60 million.

Immediately after it premiered, the chants of "Release The Snyder Cut" began. After three years, Warner Bros. apparently got tired of the constant whinging and gave in. They rehired Snyder and handed him a whopping $30 MILLION to finish his vision of the film.

I honestly don't understand this at all. Snyder's version was reportedly so terrible they hired another director to fix it! And even then the finished product was virtually unwatchable. So imagine what the original version must be like! Why would anyone want to see a movie that's worse than an already bad one?

Anyway, with all that out of the way, the trailer for Justice League: The Snyder Cut or Zack Snyder's Justice League or whatever the hell it's called debuted this week. And what a trailer it is, too!

First of all, Snyder apparently has some sort of weird boner for late singer/songwriter Leonard Cohen. He used his song Hallelujah a few years ago in Watchmen, and it serves as the soundtrack for this trailer as well. Jesus, find a new song already, Synder.

My favorite part of the trailer comes is the first few seconds, when we get a good glimpse at the movie's villain Darkseid.

Darkseid was created by talented artist & writer Jack Kirby back in 1971, and has become DC's version of Thanos over at Marvel.

Wow. Just look at this stunningly lifelike character, who's realized through the finest CGI that 1997 had to offer!

Jesus Christ! That... that can't possibly be a finished shot from this redo, can it? You're supposed to put finished shots in the trailer, DC! Not anamatics or works-in-progress. Wow. These look like PS1-era graphics!

Think back to Infinity War & Endgame, and how absolutely real Thanos looked in every scene. Now check out Darkseid again. He looks slightly less realistic than characters from Reboot!

Are ALL the FX in The Snyder Cut gonna look like this? Because if this is what $30 million dollars buys these days, the movie's gonna get laughed off whatever screen it appears on.

After seeing the trailer, I have a feeling this is going to be a case of "Be Careful What You Wish For."

Monday, August 24, 2020

What Happened To The Art Of Movie Poster Design: Tenet

There was a time when theater lobbies across the land were filled with exciting movie posters featuring top notch illustrations like these. Sadly, that time is long past. These days the cineplex walls are littered with poorly Photoshopped one sheets that wouldn't be accepted in an introductory design class.

It's been a while since we've played "What Happened To The Art Of Movie Poster Design" here at Bob Canada's BlogWorld. Most likely because it's been a good six months since there've been any new movies and corresponding posters released. You know, what with the whole end of the world thing and all. 

There've been a few posters that've trickled out in the past week or two though, and brother, were they well worth the wait! Let's get to 'em, shall we?

Yes, it's film auteur Christopher Nolan's latest sci-fi opus, Tenet. As near as I can tell from the trailers, it's about a man with the power to reverse the movie projector so it looks like everything's happening backwards. Groundbreaking!

Warner Bros. is going all in on this film, as they just released not one, not two, but TWELVE different freakin' posters!

Obviously Warner must have fired all the designers in their Marketing Department at the beginning of the lockdown, and were forced to hand the assignment over to an unpaid intern.

Faced with a task for which they were never trained, this resourceful intern just took a bunch of screencaps from the trailer, pasted the movie's title over them at an oblique angle, uploaded them and then went back to diddling with their phone. Heck, they may have actually used their phone to cobble them together!

The entire process probably took fifteen minutes, tops.

Seriously, these are NOT movie posters. I'm not even sure what you'd call them. Thumbnails? Photoshop "sketches?" Placeholders to be used until the real art is finished?

Go back and look at those real posters at the top of the page. Note how they draw you in, and cause an emotional reaction. When you see the Jaws poster, you fear for the swimmer's life, as you know she's a goner. Likewise, The Thing poster features some unseen horror that explodes right at you, invoking fear and unease.

Compare them to these Tenet "posters." The only reaction I'm getting from them is one of boredom and apathy. They don't tell me a thing about the movie, and I'm too busy stifling a yawn to care.

A movie poster is supposed to pique the audience's curiosity— to the point where they HAVE to see the movie to find out what the images are all about.

Are any of these so-called posters compelling you to see the movie? Or are they just making you scratch your head in confusion for a few minutes before you go back to arguing with anti-maskers on Facebook?

Sunday, August 23, 2020

Stargirl Season 1, Episode 13: Stars And S.T.R.I.P.E. Part 2

First off, an apology: Sorry this review is almost two weeks late. I've been really busy the past recently, as that whole "working for a living" thing got in the way. Hey, at least I'm working!

This week on Stargirl, it's the big Season 1 finale!

And Holy Crap, what a finale it was! I was more than a little concerned that this episode would suffer from the dreaded 
The Best Of Both Worlds Syndrome— you know, when the first half of a two parter is amazing, while the second drops the ball and is a dismal disappointment. 

Fortunately I needn't have worried. Stars And S.T.R.I.P.E. Part 2 is a worthy followup to Part 1. It's filled with action, epic setpiece battles and amazing FX, as well as surprise twists and revelations. It's also an emotionally satisfying episode, as it ties up most of the series' dangling storylines as well as setting up Season 2.

That's not to say it's perfect though, as the episode stumbles a few times before making it to the finish line (which we'll get to below). Overall though I was quite please with it, as it was a highly enjoyable finish to a surprisingly wonderful season.

Stars And S.T.R.I.P.E. Part 2 has a VERY strong air of finality about it— at times it felt more like a SERIES finale than a season one. It makes me wonder if they filmed this episode before they were picked up for a second season, so they shot it to serve as a potential series ender?

I gotta admit, I was very surprised by how much I liked Stargirl from the start. As I said back in Pilot, I almost skipped watching it, as I was expecting it to be another bitter and unpleasant "Man Bad, Wamen Good" SJW-fest like the unwatchable Batwoman.

Happily that wasn't the case. Stargirl turned out to be a breath of fresh air— it's an enjoyable and entertaining fantasy-adventure, reminiscent of 1980s Spielberg. Imagine that! A superhero series that's actually FUN, instead of being a grim & gritty mope-fest.

I was also quite surprised by how the series consistently subverted my expectations. Over and over the show took stale, hackneyed superhero cliches and somehow managed to turn them on their heads in unexpected ways. 

For example, once the Cosmic Staff chooses Courtney, she's convinced her father was the late Starman. Who would have thought her real dad would turn out to be a deadbeat grifter who was still alive? And who would have thought the Injustice Society's "evil" master plan would involve adopting solar and wind power, as well as providing free universal healthcare to the country? That's awesome!

Hopefully Season 2 will continue this tradition and continue to surprised us all.

Now the bad news. Stargirl's second season won't air until sometime in 2021. Or will it?

As the world circles the drain and the pandemic continues to rage across the country, states nationwide are grappling with the question of whether to reopen or not. A few weeks ago North Paulding High School decided to open its doors. A concerned student then posted this photo, showing hundreds of mostly unmasked students packed shoulder to shoulder in the hallways. Holy crap!

Shortly after this image went viral, a couple things happened. First of all, the student who uploaded the photo was suspended for five days for "violating school policy," which is another way of saying "exposed the truth." After public outcry, the school reversed the suspension.

Secondly, to absolutely no one's surprise, since the photo was posted at least six students and three staff members tested positive for Covid-19. The school's since switched to online learning, thank the gods.

So what does any of this have to do with Stargirl? Welp, North Paulding High is located in Dallas, Georgia— the very town in which Stargirl is filmed! Yikes!

It's unknown at this time if the cast and crew will want to return to a possible viral hotspot, and whether this could potentially delay the shooting of Season 2. Stay tuned!

And then there's the situation with DC Universe. A couple years ago megaconglomerate AT&T bought up Time Warner Inc., which owns Warner Bros., which of course owns DC and all its respective interests.

AT&T doesn't mess around, and when they see an unprofitable division they eliminate it— with gusto! And that's just what happened last week. AT&T cleaned house and laid off roughly one third of the executive staff at DC Comics.

They also eliminated DC Direct, which manufactured the company's merchandise and collectibles. 

And that's not all— AT&T also shuttered DC Universe, the streaming service that produces such shows as Titans, Doom Patrol and... Stargirl! Gulp!

Earlier in the season it was announced that Stargirl was moving from DC Universe to The CW, and Season 2's already been announced, so... it should be safe. No idea what'll become of the other shows at this time. 

Don't celebrate too hard just yet though, as moving to The CW practically guarantees that Stargirl will suffer a severe budget cut. I guess a cheap show's better than none at all though.

OK, enough bad news. On with the review!


The Plot:
Three Minutes Ago...

At Blue Valley High, Mr. Levine hears a commotion on the football field and strides purposefully toward a gathering crowd. He sees Isaac Bowin, son of the late Principal Bowin, savagely beating the crap out of a bully with his tuba. Levine breaks up the fight and asks Isaac what his mother would say about his actions. Isaac says she told him to do it, and of course Levine doesn't believe him. He drags Isaac off toward the Principal's office.

Just then the ground begins shaking and the football field splits open, revealing a vast underground chamber beneath the school. A massive antenna array, complete with three enormous satellite dishes, rises up out of the chamber. The array begins broadcasting Brainwave's signal across the country. Mr. Levine and all the other adults are hit by the psychic wave and become mind controlled by the ISA.

Cut to Main Street, as everyone in town under the age of eighteen stares up at the sky, transfixed. Jordan (who's obviously wearing some sort of protection against the signal) walks down the street, smiling smugly as his plan's finally set into motion. He sees a little girl trying to snap her father out of his trance, and tells her not to worry. He says when her father wakes he'll think differently and will be a good person. The girl says her daddy's already a good person, and Jordan tells her she'll understand soon.

Meanwhile, Stargirl and Dugan (inside the STRIPE robot) have infiltrated the ISA's underground complex. Suddenly Dugan's affected by the wave, and STRIPE begins attacking Stargirl.

Elsewhere in the tunnels, Justin stands motionless as Hourman and Wildcat try to figure out what to do.

Barb & Beth are inside The American Dream, attempting to shut down the ISA's computer system. Barb becomes transfixed by the wave as well, and Beth wonders what to do. The Gambler hacks into Beth's Doctor Mid-Nite goggles and says the ISA's brainwashing plan will be complete in less than thirty minutes. He says Barb will be OK, unless she's one of the unlucky 25% who fight back— in which case she'll die.

Cut to Mr. Levine on the football field, as he begins bleeding from his ears and drops dead.

In the tunnels, STRIPE chases after Stargirl as she blasts him. She stops and yells to Dugan, saying he's been there for her ever since they moved to Blue Valley, and she thinks of herself as his daughter. This causes STRIPE to suddenly stop in his tracks. Inside we see Dugan, struggling with Brainwave's mind control. He begins bleeding from his ear...

In the office, Chuck posits that the ISA are wearing earpieces that block Brainwave's signal. Beth asks if there are signal blockers in the ISA's tunnels. Chuck confirms this, but says they've been deactivated. He tries to switch them on, but is stopped by the Gambler.

Beth says if they could distract the Gambler long enough, Chuck could activate the blockers and save Dugan and Justin. Chuck suggests they hit him where it'll hurt most, and accesses the Gambler's various bank accounts. He begins draining them and donating the Gambler's millions to various charities. While the Gambler desperately tries to save his fortune, Chuck's able to activate the blockers.

Dugan immediately snaps out of it, and STRIPE stands down. He apologizes to Stargirl, and says he heard everything she said. Justin goes back to "normal" as well, and runs off to "slay the Dragon." Hourman and Wildcat follow him.

Unfortunately there are no blockers inside The American Dream, so Barb's still being brainwashed. Beth tells the others they need to disable the Machine before it permanently alters Barb.

The Gambler warns Jordan that the JSA is trying to interfere with their plan. He says he knows, and is heading off to take care of them once and for all.

Hourman tells Wildcat that once they destroy the Machine, he's going to kill Solomon Grundy. She reminds him that's not their mission, but Hourman says he wants to make sure the monster doesn't create any more orphans. Wildcat says killing is wrong and against God's plan. Hourman says God shouldn't have let Grundy kill his parents then. Hear, hear!

Hourman, Wildcat & Justin enter Dragon King's chamber. A few seconds later, Stargirl and STRIPE join them. They're all surprised to find the chamber empty. Stargirl points to a wooden door, and says according to the map the Machine is on the other side. They head for the door just as Icicle, Dragon King, Sportsmaster and Tigress enter.

The two teams charge at one another, and there's a big epic setpiece battle. Stargirl fights Icicle, Justin parries with Dragon King, Hourman scuffles with Sportsmaster while Wildcat tangles with Tigress (of course). Halfway through the battle, the Gambler says he's going to even the odds a bit, and remotely unlocks Grundy's door. The monster flings the door open and roars, as we finally get a good look at him in all his CGI glory.

During the battle, Justin and Dragon King smash into Cindy's cell door, breaking the lock. The two move away, and we see Cindy's hand slowly open the door. Dragon King knocks out Justin and slowly raises his sword. Just as he's about to deliver the killing blow, Cindy 
stabs him through the chest with one of her wrist daggers. He drops dead to the floor, and Cindy quips, "Shouldn't have locked me up... Daddy." Dayum!

Meanwhile, Hourman & Wildcat are losing to their foes. Stargirl comes to their aid, and together they knock out Sportsmaster & Tigress. They then team up and battle Icicle. Stargirl manages to subdue him, and STRIPE says he'll make sure he stays down while the others deal with the Machine.

Just then Grundy appears and knocks STRIPE across the room. STRIPE tells Stargirl to go, while he and Hourman take care of Grundy. Wildcat slices through the keypad and opens the door to the Machine. Before they can both enter, Cindy attacks Stargirl. She tells Wildcat to go on without her while she deals with Cindy.

Wildcat runs down a corridor, and is confronted by a squad of Dragon King's drones. She charges at them, slicing them to ribbons.

In the Synaptic Amplifier chamber, Brainwave senses that the battle's not going well. He tells the Gambler to "loop his signal" (???) while he deals with the JSA. The Gambler contacts Icicle, and tells him he needs to stop Beth before she ruins their plan. Icicle painfully gets to his feet and heads for Barb's office.

Wildcat kills all the drones except for one. He moves toward her, and just as she's ready to slash him he whips off his hood and reveals he's Henry Jr. (!). She's stunned to see him, as she watched him die a few episodes back. The two embrace, as Henry explains that the cave in didn't kill him and neither did Brainwave. He says he's been hiding for days, posing as a drone and thinking only of Yolanda (hmm...). Henry asks Yolanda where her friends are, and she instantly stiffens. She slashes his throat, saying they're Henry's friends too.

Henry Jr. clutches at his throat, and as the mental illusion drops we see he's actually Brainwave. GASP! He collapses to the floor, and Yolanda calmly stands over him. She says that thanks to him she had to watch Henry die. So now she's going to watch HIM die as well. Cold!

Elsewhere, STRIPE battles Grundy, who rips off the robot's arm (of course) and literally beats him with it. He shoves STRIPE against a wall, then rips his legs off as well. Finally Grundy pries open STRIPE's chest, revealing a cringing Dugan inside. Just as he reaches for Dugan, Hourman appears and punches Grundy across the room.

Stargirl and Cindy continue their fight. Stargirl finally gets fed up, says, "I don't have time for this" and uses the Cosmic Staff to fire a mighty energy blast at Cindy. She's blown across the room, where she smashes into a wall and is knocked unconscious. So why doesn't she immediately do this to every villain?

Stargirl runs into the corridor, where she sees Wildcat standing over Brainwave's lifeless body. Wildcat admits she killed him, even though she knew it was wrong. She then shakes it off and the two enter the Synaptic Amplifier chamber. They're both stunned by the vastness of the space and the massive array towering far above them.

Stargirl flies up out of the chamber and uses the Staff as a cutting torch, slicing the array to bits. For some reason she flies back down into the chamber, and she and Wildcat then begin running as the enormous satellite dishes fall into the chamber and destroy the walkway they're on.

The Gambler watches in seething anger as the Synaptic Amplifier goes offline. All over Blue Valley, the adults are freed from Brainwave's control. The Gambler deletes all his computer files and leaves.

Back in Barb's office, she suddenly snaps out of her trance as well. Just then Jordan enters, furious at what the JSA's done. Beth radios Stargirl and tells her to hurry to the office. Jordan gestures, and Beth's goggles begin freezing solid. Chuck screams out in pain (?) as he "dies." Jordan blasts Beth against the wall, knocking her out (there's a lot of knocking out in this episode). He then grabs Barb and drags her out of the office.

Elsewhere, Hourman tells Dugan to go save his wife. He then turns to Grundy, saying he has five minutes of superstrength left and he's gonna use it all on the monster.

Stargirl & Wildcat make it to Barb's office. They find Beth there, cradling her shattered goggles. Stargirl asks where her mother is.

Cut to clock tower atop The American Dream. Jordan drags Barb up there, and tells her to look out at Blue Valley. He says the town was dying when he arrived, but he managed to turn it around and save it. He says his wife died because people didn't think the right things, and he can still save the country— but he needs Barb and Courtney to help him (?). Barb watches Jordan's sanity slip away before her eyes, and says his wife would be horrified by what he's become.

Jordan yells that Barb didn't know his wife, then hugs her as he says he's going to kill Dugan and Courtney. He says she can think about that "on her way down" and starts to shove her off the tower. Just then Dugan shows up (Huzzah!) and tells Jordan if he wants to kill him, to take his best shot.

Jordan points out that Dugan has no powers, and he says he's there to protect his wife. When Jordan asks with what, Dugan says, "Our daughter." Right on cue, Stargirl appears and zaps Jordan.

Back in the tunnels, Hourman savagely beats the crap out of Grundy. He raises a large piece of rubble, intending to mash the monster's head with it. Instead of fighting back though, Grundy flinches and covers his face. He's been completely beaten, like a whipped dog. Hourman hesitates, and yells at Grundy to fight back. Eventually he discards the rubble. He calls Grundy a stupid animal, and tells him to leave and never come back. Grundy slinks away. Justin comes up and comments that Rick "spared the beast." Rick lies and says his "hour of power" was up anyway.

On the tower, Jordan's had enough and ices up. He battles Stargirl, grabbing her Staff and attempting to freeze it solid. This time she's able to fight back, and the Staff resists his icy powers. Beth exits the building just as Hourman and Justin emerge from the tunnels. They look up and see the scuffle going on atop the clock tower.

Stargirl tells Jordan he'll never save America because he's filled with too much hate. They struggle, and suddenly the Staff lets loose with a massive blast. Courtney and Jordan are both blown from the tower, and Barb falls over the railing as well. Fortunately Dugan manages to grab her hand.

As Stargirl falls to the ground far below, Wildcat suddenly appears on top of the tower. She leaps off, catches Stargirl and lands like a cat on the pavement. Jordan's not so lucky. He crashes to the street, causing chunks of ice to fly off his body.

Dugan pulls Barb back over the railing, and they kiss for the first time in the series. Seriously!

On the ground, Stargirl thanks Wildcat for saving her. Behind them, a seriously injured Jordan struggles to his feet and starts to fire an ice blast at the two. Suddenly Mike arrives in Justin's pickup truck and plows into Jordan, shattering him into a million pieces (?).

Later on, the JSA sit in the bleachers and stare meaningfully at the football field, which has now been closed up. Rick tells Courtney that he feels fine, as he's finally learned to control his anger. Beth mourns for Chuck, and the others tell her they'll figure out a way to repair him.

Dugan, Barb and Mike see Justin packing up his truck. Dugan asks what he's doing, and Justin says he's ashamed that he did nothing during the battle and failed to slay "The Dragon." Dugan assures him he helped them plenty (wellllll...) and says there'll be other dragons to slay. Justin tells Dugan that Starman would be proud of him. The other JSAers gather around, as Justin says he's going to look for his horse, as well as try to find the other Seven Soldiers Of Victory. He thanks them all and drives off. 

Barb wonders how the authorities will explain what happened in Blue Valley. Dugan says they always come up with a story. Cut to a news report claiming an earthquake struck Nebraska, causing a malfunction in a weather satellite (????). How that explains the fact that most of the country was hypnotized for half an hour isn't addressed.

In the ISA meeting room, a shadowy, top-hatted figure watches the news broadcast. He says to himself that Jordan's plan was always folly. The room then fills with a thick black smoke or fog, as the camera zooms in on the ISA portrait, centering on the Shade.

Cut to the storage locker of William Zarick, aka the Wizard. Cindy desperately searches through a stack of boxes till she finds what she's looking for— a purple, diamond-shaped gem. She looks at the gem and says, "I see you in there... Eclipso." An evil laugh emanates from the stone.

Six Weeks Later.

It's Xmas at the Dugan house. Barb bakes cookies, while the rest of the JSA hang out. Courtney takes Dugan aside and gives him the present she intended for her real father, ten years ago (as seen back in Pilot). She says it's something she's been waiting to give him for a long time. He opens it and we finally get to see what was in the box— a coffee mug emblazoned with "World's Best Dad." Dugan says he loves it, and the two embrace.

Mike sets up a camera and takes a photo of the entire extended JSA family. Later Courtney hangs the photo on her bulletin board. She hears a noise and sees the Staff tapping on her window.

Cut to Stargirl riding the Staff over the snow-covered landscape. They fly up to the water tower, and she lands on top of it, surveying the town. A few minutes later STRIPE— having apparently been rebuilt-- flies up and sits with her.

Meanwhile in North Hollywood, a man pulls up to an apartment building. He finds the building manager and says he's looking for Pat Dugan. The manager says Dugan moved out months ago, and asks the man's name. He says he's an old friend, and we see it's Sylvester Pemberton. GASP!

• Like almost every episode of Stargirl, this one begins with a flashback. This episode features the shortest one yet— back to three minutes ago!

• The episode begins with an overhead shot of the Blue Valley High football field, complete with a good look at the Prairie Dogs mascot. I want a t-shirt of this, now!

I also want— nay, DEMAND!— STRIPE action figures in various scales. NECA can make a 7" or 8" version, and Hot Toys or ThreeA can make a 18" tall 1/6 scale version. Get on this immediately, Warner Bros!

In the previous episode, Isaac Bowin cries because a bully called him "Tuba Turd" and tore his band uniform. Principal Bowin basically ordered her milksop son to man up, telling him a tale of his father (the original Fiddler), who silenced his bully by stabbing him in the ear with his violin bow. After hearing the story, Isaac takes a long, hard look at his tuba...

Sure enough, in this episode we see he's used his oversized instrument to beat the living crap out of his tormentor! Note the bully's blood on the edge of the tuba bell. Nice attention to detail!

Last week I predicted that in this episode, Isaac would find his mother's body inside the Dugan house, assume Courtney killed her and swear vengeance against Stargirl. He'd then pick up his mother's discarded magic violin and become the Fiddler 3.0.

OK, so that didn't happen here. But it's got to eventually, right? This scene is obviously setup for Isaac becoming a supervillain in Season 2. If not, then why the hell's it here?

The question is, will Isaac become the new Fiddler, or will he use his instrument of choice and be the Tuba-er? If I had to guess I'd pick Fiddler. It'd look downright silly if he was controlling people with "oompa" tones from a giant tuba!

Some fans are suggesting the writers are grooming Isaac to become the Music Meister. Eh, I don't think so. The Music Meister first appeared in 2012's Batman: The Brave And The Bold animated series. There he had the power to control others through his singing voice, not a musical instrument. So far Isaac hasn't shown any vocal talent.

There's also a Music Meister in the Arrowverse, who appeared in Star-Crossed on Supergirl and Duet over on The Flash. Oddly enough this version of the character is basically an other-dimensional god, and has no musical powers per se— he just thought it'd be funny to make the Flash & Supergirl sing all the dialogue in their crossover (Narrator: It was not fun at all).

• I LOVED this shot of the ISA's Synaptic Amplifier rising up from beneath the football field! Talk about epic! As I've said before, they're throwing a poop-ton of money at this series, and it definitely shows. These are some movie-quality FX here, that wouldn't look out of place in Infinity War! Take a bow, Stargirl FX Team!

• So who's this guy? As the crowd flees from the football field, he purposefully strides into the center of the frame as the camera deliberately gives us a good long look at him. Obviously the producers want to make sure we see him. 

Unfortunately I don't recognize him. Is he a comic book artist or writer? Someone behind the scenes? Father of the writer or director?

• In the previous episode, it was stated that any adult who fought against the ISA's brainwashing wave would suffer from brain shutdown and immediately die. Chuck estimated that 25% of the populace would resist, resulting in a whopping 25 MILLION deaths!

Actually that's probably a conservative estimate. The signal will no doubt cause that many deaths, but think of the millions more who'll die as a result of collateral damage.

Look at the image above. Note how every adult on Main Street is frozen in their tracks, completely transfixed. Oddly enough, the cars are all motionless as well, as Brainwave's signal was apparently polite enough to cause all affected drivers to brake to a stop.

OK, so car crashes and pileups won't be a factor during the reprogramming. But what about planes in flight? The pilots will be hypnotized just like these people, as their planes corkscrew into the ground. 

All over the country, people will go into trances and topple off ladders, drown in pools and fall into heavy machinery. The death toll's gonna be more like 50 million!

Didn't think of all that, did you, writers?

• As Jordan walks past the movie theater, we see it's currently playing The Haunted Tank!

In the comics, The Haunted Tank was a feature that appeared in DC's G.I. Combat from 1961 through 1987. The story concerned Lt. Jeb Stuart, a WWII soldier in command of an M3 Stuart tank and its crew. The tank was haunted by the ghost of Confederate general J.E.B. Stuart, who was sent back to Earth to watch over and protect his namesake.

That whole Confederate thing don't fly here in supersensitive 2020, so if there ever was a Haunted Tank film, dollars to donuts they'd alter the premise and make J.E.B. Stuart a Northern general, rather than one who fought on the wrong side.

This scene also gives us our best look yet at the three Easter egg movie posters outside the theater— The Unknown Soldier, Prez and GI Robot. I went into great detail about these obscure titles back in Brainwave Jr., so I won't repeat it again here— except to say that these posters have seemingly been in front of the theater for two years and counting!

Here's a much better full-on look at the three movie poster mockups. They look as good or better than most of the gawd-awful art that currently lines cineplex lobbies these. Well, back before the world ended and movie theaters became extinct, that is.

• "I love you 3000!"

Jordan spots a little girl on the street who's worried about her hypnotized dad. He tells her not to worry, as her father will soon wake and begin thinking "the right way."

As everyone and their dog has no doubt pointed out by now, the little girl is played by actress Lexi Rabe. You may remember her as Morgan, daughter of Tony Stark and Pepper Potts in a little film called Avengers: Endgame! She's one of the few people who can brag that they've starred in two different comic book universes!

• Thanks, Opening Credits, for spoiling Henry Jr.'s unexpected return!

OK, I get that it's probably SAG law that all the actors have to be listed at the beginning of an episode, but that doesn't make it any less frustrating. I can't tell you how many times a character's surprise appearance has been ruined by these credits. 

I generally try not to look at them, or cover the bottom of the screen with my hand when they start appearing. I accidentally looked at this one though, and then knew that Henry would appear at some point. Imagine how big a surprise it'd have been without this stupid-ass credit ruining things?

• The saga of the ISA's coverage map continues! Last week we saw this graphic, showing the projected range of the Synaptic Amplifier. Note that it covers two thirds of Texas, and sharply follows the Idaho and Illinois borders for some reason (since the signal's radiating from a central point, it seems like the affected area should be a simple circle, but what do I know?).

In this episode, Jordan stares at the map shortly after Brainwave begins sending out his signal. Note that the blue coverage area is quite small in this scene. This actually makes sense— the signal will eventually cover thousands of square miles, so it's only natural that it'd take a while to spread out from Blue Valley. Well done!

A few minutes later we see the signal's now covering a LARGER area than originally projected! It's now covering ALL of Texas (does any of it seep over into Mexico?) and has spread past Illinois, into my home state of Indiana! It still comes to a screeching halt a the Idaho border though.

I'm perfectly fine with this! The original map was an estimate, not a precise calculation. Plus last week Brainwave mentioned that his psychic abilities were amplified after he absorbed Henry Jr.'s powers, so his signal is probably spreading much farther than they anticipated. Again, good job, Stargirl Graphics Department!

• Last week Beth used her goggles to display a holographic map of the ISA's underground lair, so the JSA could plan their attack. I had fun pointing out that the map hung completely motionless in mid-air, despite the fact that Beth's head freely swung and bobbed around the entire time.

In this episode she uses the goggles to display another holographic readout, but for some reason, this time the display's perfectly matched to her head movements! Go figure.

• At one point Chuck manages to activate jamming devices in the ISA tunnels, which frees Dugan and Justin from the ISA's brainwashing signal. Unfortunately this doesn't help Barb, who's in her office and still being mesmerized by the wave.

What if Beth stuffed something in Barb's ears? Would that block the wave? Chuck displays a graphic showing that the signal's auditory and not psychic in nature, and enters through the ear canals. Seems like it'd be worth a shot to try and block Barb's hearing.

• I loved that the JSA hit the Gambler where it hurt him most— his money! In order to jam the ISA's signal, Chuck distracts the Gambler by draining his many bank accounts and transferring the contents to various charity organizations! Ouch!

• Kudos to the Stargirl stunt coordinator for coming up with this amazing battle scene between the JSA and ISA. I keep saying it, but this is some movie-quality stuff here. I love how the scene appears to be one continuous shot, and gives us a good look at each of the JSAers pitted against a villain. Well done!

• Who's THIS guy now? During their battle with the ISA, a random blonde man enters the frame and tussles with Stargirl.

I keed, I keed. I know this is supposed to be Icicle attacking her, but woof! Stargirl features some amazing fight choreography, and they usually do a great job hiding the stunt doubles (because they're generally wearing masks!). This was NOT one of those times. 

This particular stuntman doesn't resemble actor Neil Jackson in any way, shape or form— and to make things worse, he doesn't even attempt to hide his face! It's right out there in the open, for anyone to see.

• Since the series began, Jordan's been the deadliest and most powerful member of the ISA. Think back to Icicle, where he fired a couple of small blasts at STRIPE and completely incapacitated him. He also coated an entire bridge with a sheet of ice and killed the Wizard by freezing him solid with a single touch. 

Later we saw he didn't even have to touch someone to kill them! In Shiv Part Two, he froze a guy from across the room simply by breathing his icy breath in his general direction!

Based on these examples, it's clear that Jordan is extremely lethal and virtual unstoppable.

Compare that to this episode, where suddenly he's been seriously depowered. During the big setpiece battle between the JSA and ISA, Jordan once again fires several ice blasts at STRIPE. For some reason they do absolutely no damage to him the giant robot this time.

Later on he fires an ice blast at Beth, but rather than freezing her solid, it simply knocks her back against the wall (???). In fact the only JSA member Jordan manages to kill in this episode is Chuck!

So what the hell happened? Why's Jordan suddenly so weak and ineffectual here?

Obviously it's because the writers realized they'd seriously overpowered Jordan, to the point where he was literally unbeatable. How do you stop someone who can freeze you solid just by looking at you funny? 

Clearly they had to hobble his powers significantly to give the JSA a fighting chance against him, and hope the audience wouldn't notice the sudden change. But we noticed, writers. We noticed.

• As I've been predicting for weeks now, the producers were waiting till the season finale for the big Solomon Grundy reveal. I gotta say, it was definitely worth the wait, as Grundy's quite an impressive CGI creation.

The character of Solomon Grundy's been around forever, as he first appeared in 1944's All-American Comics #61. In the late 19th Century, a merchant named Cyrus Gold was murdered, and his body tossed into Slaughter Swamp (an apt name!). Decades later, the gasses and other substances in the swamp somehow reanimated his corpse. Gold was now a huge, shambling monstrosity with no memory of his former life. 

He stumbled into a hobo camp, and when asked his name, could only remember the Solomon Grundy nursery rhyme— hence the moniker he now uses. 

Grundy became a persistent foe of the Golden Age Green Lantern, as his body— which was now composed largely of wood and other detritus from the swamp— was immune to the hero's power ring.

Grundy's intelligence has varied greatly over the years in the comics. Sometimes he's able to reason and speak simple sentences, other times he acts like a mindless beast. His size has fluctuated over time as well. Originally he was more or less human sized, but in recent years he's grown to monstrous proportions.

Although it might seem like Solomon Grundy is DC's answer to the Hulk, he was actually created two full decades before Marvel's jade giant. It does seem like Grundy's become more Hulk-like as the years have passed though.

• We get a couple of good closeups of Grundy's mug in this episode. Maybe it's just me, but I think he bears a striking resemblance to Lurch, of The Addams Family fame. Coincidence or deliberate? Or am I seeing things that aren't there?

• Back in Brainwave Jr., Rick & Beth infiltrated the ISA tunnels. They came across Grundy's cell, and Rick— ever the hothead— tried to rip the door off the hinges so he could singlehandedly kill the monster that murdered his parents.

Turns out Rick wasn't strong enough to open the door, and ended up severely weakening it instead. I was positive that thanks to Rick's boneheaded actions, Grundy would break free in the season finale and attack the JSA.

Oddly enough, Grundy does get loose and attack— but not because of Rick's actions. The Gambler deliberately unlocks Grundy's cell so he can wreak havoc on our heroes. 

So what the hell was the point of showing Rick weaken the door if it wasn't going to come into play later on? What am I missing here?

• In last week's review I predicted that Cindy would escape and attack Stargirl at the most inopportune moment possible. And sure enough, that's exactly what happened. It's not like I'm some clairvoyant— story-wise it was inevitable. Why would they keep showing her in her cell for weeks if she was never going to return?

I did NOT expect her to kill her dad though! That was most definitely a shock. Dragon King himself admitted he's died before though, so I wouldn't count him out just yet. Look for him to get better and return in Season 2.

• I've said it before, but it never stops being true: It Wouldn't Be An Arrowverse Show Without Inconsistent Superpowers!

Cindy attacks Courtney, preventing her from shutting down the Machine. After five or ten minutes of battle, Courtney finally gets fed up and says, "I don't have time for this." She then fires a massive energy blast at Cindy, which hurls her across the room and knocks her out cold.

So why didn't she do that to begin with? Why waste time in a drawn-out battle? In fact, why doesn't she just blast EVERY villain she meets from the get-go and be done with it?

• At one point during the big setpiece battle, Brainwave— who's still hooked up to the Synaptic Amplifier— senses the commotion in the other room. He then tells the Gambler to "loop his signal" for five minutes while he goes and deals with the JSA.

Wait, WHAT? The whole point of the ISA's Machine is that it takes Brainwave's psychic signal, amplifies it and beams it across the country to brainwash the populace. If it's possible to record his signal and play it over and over for half an hour, then why the hell did Brainwave hook himself up to the Machine and seemingly endure excruciating pain as he was struck over and over by electrical arcs? It... it doesn't make any sense!

• Wildcat heads for the Machine, but is confronted by an entire squad of Dragon King's drones. She then goes medieval on their asses, straight up murdering them all— except for one. The final drone whips off his hood and reveals he's really Henry Jr.! Gasp! A couple things here:

First of all, I knew from the start that we weren't seeing the real Henry Jr. here. His return felt wayyyy too easy and convenient, even for a comic book show. Plus, actor Jake Austin Walker said in an interview that he was done playing Henry, as returning for real would cheapen the character's death.

Secondly, a lot of fans have commented on Yolanda's hypocrisy in this episode. A few minutes earlier she scolded Rick for threatening to kill Grundy, adamant in her belief that murder is morally wrong. Then a couple scenes later she savagely slashes Brainwave's throat and calmly watches him die.

Eh, I don't see this as a contradiction or a mistake. I think Yolanda— who we've seen is a highly religious person— really does believe killing is wrong. But seeing Brainwave take the form of Henry sent her over the edge. She obviously still has strong feelings for Henry, and was incensed that the man who murdered him was now perverting his memory. Naturally she'd want revenge on Brainwave.

So while her sudden moral reversal makes a certain amount of sense, the timing of it seemed very rushed. Her actions might have had more weight if her "No Killing" policy hadn't been introduced this week, minutes before she murders Brainwave. 

And what about the drones then? How's Yolanda justify slaughtering them? Eh, you got me there. I've no idea how she reconciled that to herself. Maybe she thinks they're zombies and not really "alive?"

• Brainwave's death in this episode came as no surprise to me. I predicted he'd die this week, if for no other reason than because he was simply too powerful and dangerous. He could easily kill the entire cast from a distance without even breaking a sweat. The writers really had no other choice than to bump him off. 

I WAS surprised to see Jordan die this week though. I thought for sure he'd rebuild the ISA and return in Season 2.

• STRIPE takes on Grundy to give Stargirl and Wildcat a chance to destroy the Machine. Of course during the battle the monster savagely pulls off STRIPE's limbs.

I think it's State Law that any time there's a giant robot in a movie or TV series, it HAS to get at least one arm torn off.

• I love this shot of Dugan cowering inside STRIPE after Grundy rips open the robot's chest. Well done!

• I was blown away by the scene in which Stargirl uses the Cosmic Staff to slice up the ISA's massive antenna array. Once again, this episode featured some top notch, theatrical-level FX.

I had to chuckle at the end of the scene though. For no good reason, Stargirl flies back down onto the ramp right as the football field-sized dish crashes into the cavernous pit below. She then has to run like crazy to keep from getting crushed by it. 

What the hell? Why not just hover another ten seconds and THEN land on what's left of the ramp?

• After Stargirl destroys the array, the Gambler watches in frustration as Brainwave's signal goes offline with just four minutes & fifteen seconds to go. Kudos to the writers for not stopping the countdown at the typical one second mark!

• Jordan barges into Barb's office and confronts Beth. As I mentioned above, Jordan's once formidable and deadly powers have been greatly diminished in this episode. He gains a little bit of his old strength back in this scene though, as he simply gestures at Beth from across the room and freezes her goggles solid. So why didn't he do that when he was battling the JSA earlier? Just point and freeze 'em all in their tracks?

Ah, I get it. We're doing the old "Powers Vary According To The Needs Of The Script" routine.

Also, as the goggles ice up, Chuck frantically calls to Beth for help. He then utters a blood-curdling scream as he "dies." So artificial intelligences can scream in pain. Got it.

• Jordan drags Barb to the top of the clock tower, and she watches with a mixture of horror and fascination as his sanity slips away before her eyes.

I dunno... I felt Jordan's personality change happened a little too quickly. 

Think back to the beginning of the episode when he's walking down Main Street. Jordan's cool, confident and assertive as he reassures a little girl that the world will soon be a better place. Unlike typical supervillains who want to subjugate and conquer the world, Jordan genuinely wanted to help it, and make it a better place. He was going about it in the wrong way of course, but that's beside the point. Strip away the hypnosis, death and coercion, and his plan was almost... sane.

Then in a heartbeat all that self-assuredness suddenly evaporates as he turns into a cackling lunatic who tries to kill the woman he's obsessed with. I get that they had to cram a lot of plot into the episode's scant forty minutes, so they couldn't spend a lot of time on Jordan's downfall. But it seems like he goes crazy almost instantly.

On the other hand, I guess it makes a certain amount of sense. He's been living and breathing Project: New America for ten years, and a pack of teens just destroyed it in a matter of minutes. Who wouldn't go nuts after that?

• Dugan appears in the nick of time, just as Jordan's about to toss Barb off the clock tower. Quite rightly, Jordan points out that Dugan's no threat to him, as he has no powers and no STRIPE robot.

Um... how does Jordan know that STRIPE was destroyed? He left the party before Grundy tore him apart. I guess when he saw Dugan standing unprotected he assumed the robot was demolished?

• I gotta say, I like Hourman's hoodless look in this episode. I appreciate the fact that his costume is comic-accurate, but honestly that hood looks kind of goofy when translated to live action. Not to mention dangerous in a fight! He should just ditch it and go with a simple mask instead.

• Hourman picks up a chunk of rubble, intending to crush Grundy's head with it. He changes his mind after realizing the pitiful creature's been totally defeated. Several things here:

First of all, Hourman's really lucky that his timer didn't run out while he was holding that giant rock over his head! Crunch!

Secondly, once again this show subverted my expectations. I assumed Hourman would battle Grundy and ultimately kill him. I did NOT expect him to beat the monster into submission, nor for Grundy to beg for mercy! That was definitely an unexpected, and much more interesting outcome. Well done, Stargirl writers!

Lastly, the fact that Hourman allows Grundy to slink away practically guarantees that we'll see him again in Season 2. In the comics, Jade— a member of Infinity, Inc.— saved Grundy's life, causing him to become loyal to her. He then acted as sort of an ally to the Infinity team for a few issues.

Could the writers be cooking up a similar plot for Grundy here on the show? Stay tuned!

• Since the series began I naturally assumed that whenever Jordan powered up, he simply formed a layer of ice over his body. Apparently that's false, as this episode demonstrates in no uncertain terms that his body literally transforms into ice.

That... that doesn't make any sense. And it raises a thousand questions, like how the hell does a body made of frozen water even work? What happens to his organs? How about his brain? How could a brain made of ice transmit neurological signals?

Whoever came up with this cockamamie notion, your writing is bad and you should feel bad.

• After falling from the tower, Jordan painfully gets to his feet, intending to attack Stargirl. Suddenly Mike drives up and smashes him into a million pieces. A couple things here:

Ever since he was first introduced, Jordan's been the most three dimensional character on the show. Yes, he's a bad guy, but he loves his family, falls for Barb and genuinely wants to make the world a better place. Unfortunately they play his death for maximum yuks by having Mike plow into him with perfect comedic timing!

Secondly, Icicle falls from the top of the 200 foot tall clock tower, hits the ground at around 70 mph and survives. A few seconds later he's hit by a truck traveling at just 30 to 40 mph and is shattered to smithereens. Got it.

I suppose we could be generous and say the fall weakened his structural integrity, making it easier for the truck to obliterate him. It still seems sketchy though.

Last week Mike appeared out of nowhere and incapacitated Sportsmaster, saving Dugan in the process. This week he rescues the team from Icicle. Looks like Mike's developed his own superpower— the Perfectly-Timed Sneak Attack!

So will Mike now be traumatized by the fact that he just committed vehicular homicide? He doesn't seem that upset about it, as he even spouts an action movie one-liner after killing Icicle!

• Oddly enough, the ISA's Machine is destroyed with a full NINETEEN minutes of runtime left in the episode! And Jordan's killed with nearly TWELVE minutes to go! How odd. When I saw how much time was left, I honestly thought my clock had stopped!

Obviously they wanted that extra time to wrap up all the storylines, but still... it felt a bit off to me to resolve the ISA arc so early in the episode.

• After the ISA's defeated and Dugan rescues Barb, the two embrace and kiss. I swear to Thor this is the first time the two characters have ever demonstrated any physical affection in the entire series!

 In one of the episode's many tag scenes, we see the JSA's somehow managed to close up the massive football field doors. I guess they went back down to the tunnels and searched for the controls?

• I've been pretty critical of Rick all season, due to his constant anger issues and overall recklessness. Not only were his tantrums tedious to watch, but they made him a legitimate danger to his teammates. 

Thankfully by the end of this episode it seems he's finally grown up a bit and learned to reign in and control his seething anger. It's about time! Now maybe next season they'll give him a new, less annoying story arc.

Note Yolanda sitting off by herself in this scene. She's obviously brooding over the fact that she killed Brainwave, and is distancing herself physically as well as mentally from the rest of her teammates. Could this be the start of a "Dark Wildcat" plotline in Season 2?

• Beth sits in the stands, mourning the loss of Chuck. Courtney & Rick assure her they'll figure out a way to fix him. They'd better! Because without Chuck, Beth's virtually useless. She has no powers to speak of, and her only function is to relay whatever Chuck says to the rest of the team.

Surely if Dugan can build a giant mech out of old car parts, he could fix a pair of high-tech goggles?

• Kudos to the Stargirl Graphics Department, who went to the trouble to label the school buses in the show! Well done!

• I was honestly expecting Justin to contribute more to the final battle than he did. Instead he's knocked out halfway through the fight, robbing him of the chance to get his revenge against Dragon King. He doesn't even suit up in his old Shining Knight armor!

This is odd, as they've literally been building up his character and teasing his big reveal since the Pilot. But once his true identity's revealed, he does little or nothing for the rest of the season. In fact it makes me wonder why they included him at all. Yes, I know he was in the comic, but at least there he actually did something and contributed to the cause.

I kind of wish they'd waited till Season 2 to introduce Justin, so that once the other character intros were out of the way they could devote a proper amount of time to his story arc.

• Barb wonders how the media will explain the fact that two thirds of the country blacked out for half an hour due to the ISA's signal.

We then see a news report on this very topic, as the anchor says, "The National Weather Service confirmed that it was an earthquake that struck Nebraska yesterday. This tremor ultimately caused a malfunction in a weather satellite. Government officials say that the satellite has been fixed, and an event like that recurring again is impossible."

How that explains the fact that most of the country was in an hypnotic trance for half an hour isn't addressed. Nor is it clear how an earthquake on the Earth's surface could possibly affect a satellite in orbit.

I'm inclined to think this cockamamie explanation was deliberately ridiculous, and the whole scene was meant as a joke. I guess it's supposed to be a satirical comment on the news media? Or something? I dunno.

• After the Machine's destroyed and the ISA defeated, a shadowy figure watches a news report in their conference room.

Based on his top hat, cane and the thick black fog emanating from his body— oh, and the camera slowly zooming in on his face in the ISA portrait— it's safe to say this is The Shade.

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

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

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

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

Of course at this point it's unknown what version of The Shade we'll be getting on the show. Back in Wildcat, Dragon King told Jordan that he "wouldn't betray him like The Shade did." That sort of implies we may be getting the modern, morally ambiguous version.

• In the final minutes of the episode, Cindy rummages through the Wizard's storeroom and eventually finds the Eclipso gem. So many questions here...

How is Cindy aware of Eclipso in the first place? Has the ISA worked with him before? And how does she know to look for the gem in the Wizard's storage locker? Why would she be privy to its contents?

These items remain unanswered for now, and I'm assuming they'll be adequately explained in Season 2.

So who's Eclipso, I hear you asking? He first appeared in 1963'S House Of Secrets #61. He's the spirit of God's Wrath, and a powerful agent of chaos. He inhabits the black gem, and is released whenever anyone handles it. Once freed, he possesses his victims, giving them near omnipotent powers. Anyone possessed by Eclipso manifests a moon-shaped shadow on one side of their face.

Does this scene mean Cindy will become possessed by Eclipso in Season 2?

It should be noted that in the comics, Eclipso caused the deaths of Beth Chapel and Yolanda Montez! That's definitely... ominous! I don't think they'd kill off those two here on the show, but then again I didn't expect them to bump off Henry Jr. either, so...

• Cindy being free to find the Eclipso gem brings up a good question— why the hell didn't the JSA call the cops and have her locked up? Are we still going with Dugan's, "For All We Know The Cops Are Controlled By The ISA" excuse? Cheezus!

Since Cindy wasn't arrested, it's safe to assume Sportsmaster and Tigress weren't either. Surely they won't stay in Blue Valley after this. I have to assume they'll skip town with their daughter Artemis after this episode. 

What about Isaac Bowin, now that he's been orphaned. Does he have relatives, or will he become a ward of the state? 

Cameron Mahkent will probably be raised by his evil grandparents now that Jordan's dead.

• Earlier in the season, it seemed like the writers were setting up the appearance of original JSA members Johnny Thunder and Thunderbolt.

In Icicle, Courtney raids the JSA's old HQ and takes several of their costumes and artifacts, including a pink pen. Dugan warns her that the pen is the most dangerous item of all, as it contains the Thunderbolt— a powerful, genie-like creature. JSA member Johnny Thunder used the pen to control the Thunderbolt.

In the comics, the pen was passed on to a young black man named Jakeem Williams, who for reasons later changed his last name to Thunder.

In Wildcat, Mike informs Barb that he's invited his friend Jakeem to dinner! Based on that, it seemed like a given that we'd see the Thunderbolt as some point during the season. Nope! Apparently they're saving that storyline for Season 2.

Man, Mike's already pissed that the Cosmic Staff chose his stepsister instead of him. Imagine how furious he'll be if his friend picks up the pen and gets the power of the Thunderbolt!

• At the end of the episode, Courtney presents Dugan with the Xmas gift she bought for her real father ten years ago. Dugan takes a look at it and says, "Thanks for the re-gift, jerk!"

I kid. It's actually quite a sweet and moving scene, as Courtney demonstrates that she's accepted Dugan as her true father, and he deserves the gift more than anyone in her life. Dugan's touched when he opens it and sees it's a "World's Greatest Dad" mug. Awwww...

Note that if you look close, the wrapping paper on the gift is creased and scuffed, as if Courtney really has been keeping it for a decade. Well done, Prop Department!

• Mike sets up a Polaroid camera and takes a picture of the extended Dugan family. Believe it or not, Polaroids are still a thing in 2020! The model Mike uses is a Polaroid OneStep+ 1-Type, and can be yours for $140 bucks!

After Mike takes the photo, Courtney pins it to her bulletin board. Note the photo of the girl at the bottom left. That's Courtney Johns, sister of Geoff Johns, who co-created Stargirl. Johns modeled the character after his late sister, who was killed in the 1996 TWA Flight 800 disaster.

• Stargirl decides to go for a quick spin on her Cosmic Staff, to admire the snow-covered Blue Valley landscape. It's a beautiful scene, but... I really wish Courtney would go back to riding the Staff like a surfboard, as she did in Pilot. Sitting on it sidesaddle like a polite little witch just looks silly.

• Eventually Stargirl perches atop the Blue Valley water tower and surveys the town. A few minutes later she's joined by Dugan in the STRIPE robot. Several things here:

Does the Staff keep Stargirl warm? Let's hope so, otherwise she's gonna freeze her ass off in that skimpy suit. Especially when she's sitting on top of a cold steel water tower!

Glad to see Dugan rebuilt STRIPE. And according to the onscreen caption, it apparently took him less than six weeks!

Lastly, STRIPE's lucky that his massive feet don't punch a hole in the water tower when he lands on top of it! He's definitely heavy enough— when he first sits down, the tower sways back and forth alarmingly!

• The episode ends with the unexpected return of Sylvester Pemberton, aka Starman.

Oddly enough, this scene was allegedly filmed for the end of the Pilot episode! Holy cow! That wouldn't have made a lick of sense to include it there! Thank the Maker they stuck it here in the final scene of the season where it belongs.

So what do we think here? Is this really Starman, who somehow cheated death after being stabbed in the chest by Icicle ten years ago? Many fans are assuming he's some sort of shapeshifter who's merely impersonating Sylvester. 

Meh... I honestly don't see the writers going down that road. That's a little too comic booky, even for this show. On the other hand, maybe it's true. Surely if Sylvester was still alive, the Staff would have sensed his presence and sought him out instead of Courtney!

If he is the real Starman, then what the hell's he been doing for the past decade? And when he eventually shows up in Blue Valley next season, is he gonna want his Cosmic Staff back?
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