Friday, August 27, 2021

Stargirl Season 2, Episode 1: Summer School: Chapter One

This week, it's the big Season 2 premiere of Stargirl!

I gotta say, when the show debuted last year I honestly wasn't expecting much. I figured it'd be another terrible, subpar woke-fest like the detestable Batwamen, filled to the brim with man-hating SJW screeds and lectures. 

Surprisingly, that wasn't the case, as the show turned out to be quite good, and a breath of fresh air. The writing was sharp, the characters were likeable and well-defined, and series was surprisingly emotional and heartfelt. It was visually impressive as well, looking more like a film than a TV show. It was filled with beautiful cinematography, impressive fight choreography and movie-quality CGI effects. In short, I was amazed.

And I know it's a cliché at this point, but Stargirl most definitely subverted my expectations. The characters on the show were actually smart and made rational decisions— something not often seen on other Arrowverse shows. The plotlines went in surprising directions as well, as the series wasn't afraid to kill off major characters at completely unexpected times. Best of all, the villains were three dimensional, and felt like real people rather than comic book characters. What more could you ask for?

I'm hopeful they'll be able to keep up that quality in Season 2 as well. 

Season 1 debuted on DC Universe, one of the hundreds— make that thousands— of streaming services that are out there right now. For reasons known only to Warner Bros., it was decided to move Season 2 of the show to The CW

I was a bit worried by the news of this move, as The CW is notoriously cheap and its shows generally operate on a shoestring budget. I worried they'd slash Stargirl's budget, and we;d see an obvious drop in quality. 

Happily I didn't notice any difference in the Season 2 premiere, so I'm hoping they'll keep up the good work. Fingers, legs, arms and toes crossed!

So far Stargirl seems to be segregated from the rest of the Arrowverse, as Courtney & Co. are locked into their own world of Earth-2. I think that's a great idea. It simplifies and streamlines the stories, as there's no crossovers or tedious baggage from the many other shows. In fact I hope they keep her on her own Earth for the length of the series!

As for this week's episode, there's not a lot in the way of action. Instead it spends most of its runtime reintroducing the characters and setting up their conflicts and story arcs for the rest of the season.

Note that I'm not complaining here, as that's actually a good thing. Despite the fact that there's not a lot that happens, it was still a compelling hour (well, more like forty two minutes) of TV.


The Plot:
Prologue: Melody Hills, Indiana— "Decades Ago"

A young girl named Rebecca asks if she can go to a birthday party across the street. Her mother says no, as she's being punished. Angry, hurt and resentful, Rebecca sits on the porch and glares at the party house.

Suddenly a young boy appears and says his name's Bruce. He invites her to the party, but Rebecca says she can't go. Bruce tells her to ignore her mother, and eventually Rebecca sneaks across the street with him. She sees a pile of presents on the porch, and Bruce goads her into taking one.

Rebecca grabs a present and opens it on the lawn. Inside she finds a gross and dirty doll. She picks it up for some reason, and its eyes glow red. Rebecca turns and sees Bruce holding a purple jewel to his eye, as he tells her she's a bad girl.

Rebecca's mother comes outside looking for her. Figuring she sneaked over to the party, she marches across the street. There she screams as she finds Rebecca dead on the lawn. The camera pulls back to reveal Rebecca's mailbox, which reads "McNider."

End Prologue.

In present day Blue Valley, the new Justice Society— consisting of Stargirl, Wildcat, Hourman and Dr. Mid-Nite— patrol the city. Fortunately for the town, they don't find any criminal activity. Stargirl wants to make another sweep just to make sure, but the others insist on calling it a night. They try to tell her that with the members of the Injustice Society either dead or behind bars, there's no point in patrolling anymore.

Cut to sometime later, as Courtney's in her basement poring through old JSA files. Pat comes downstairs and asks what she's doing, pointing out it's 4 AM. She says she has a responsibility as Stargirl to keep the town safe. Pat tells her she needs to find a balance between superheroing and a normal life, and sends her off to bed. A second after they leave, the Green Lantern's er, lantern begins to glow.

The next morning, Pat & Barb announce that they're all going on a two week family vacation at a lake house in Yellowstone Park. Courtney's aghast, as she wants to keep patrolling. Mike's not crazy about the idea either, as he hoped Pat would show him how to drive his STRIPE robot. Unfortunately for the two of them, they're outvoted by their parents.

Elsewhere, Beth Chapel's at home, desperately trying to repair and reboot the Chuck AI in her Dr. Mid-Night goggles (which were damaged by Icicle in the Season 1 finale). Unfortunately it doesn't work. Beth's parents enter, and she hands out the breakfasts she made for them. After they rush off to work, she accidentally spots a stack of divorce papers on the counter.

Rick drives through the forest surrounding his house on the way to school. As the radio reports a rash of food-related robberies, he sees a couple of recently-felled trees. He gets out to investigate and finds several empty syrup jugs— as well as a massive, booted footprint. He realizes Solomon Grundy (the ISA's muscle) is hiding out somewhere in the woods.

Meanwhile, Yolanda stops by a church on the way to school, and enters a confessional booth. A priest asks if she's ready to talk, and she says she'd rather just sit in silence. After a time she exits the booth, and starts having unsettling visions of killing Brainwave in the Season 1 finale. She runs from the church in a panic. 

Courtney catches up with Yolanda and tells her she'll be gone for two weeks. Sensing something's off, she asks if Yolanda's OK. She says no, as she doesn't deserve to be Wildcat after what she did. Courtney tries to console her by saying Brainwave would have killed them all if Yolanda hadn't taken him out first. Yolanda says that doesn't make it right.

Courtney then sees Cameron Mahkent (the son of the late Jordan Mahkent, aka Icicle), and starts to go talk with him. Yolanda stops her, saying he might find out how his father died.

At his garage, Dugan asks his friend Zeek to mind the place while he's on vacation. Zeek asks what's in the storeroom (where STRIPE is kept), and Dugan nervously says it's just storage and there's no reason to ever go in there.

Later at school, one of Rick's teachers tells him he aced his final, and demands to know how he did it. He says for once he actually studied, but she doesn't believe him. She says she's going to make him take a new test in front of her, but he refuses. She threatens to flunk him, and he tells her to go ahead as he storms out.

Meanwhile, Courtney, Yolanda and Beth are eating lunch in the cafeteria. They notice Beth's not her usual perky self, and she says it just "Last Day Of School Blues," which of course isn't a thing. Just then Artemis Crock (daughter of Sportsmaster & Tigress) enters, and seemingly swings a hockey stick at Courtney. She springs into action and attacks, pinning Artemis to the floor. Artemis asks what the hell, as she was simply handing the stick to a nearby friend. Principal Sherman (the late Principal Bowin's replacement) tells Courtney to come with him.

Cut to Courtney, Pat & Barb in the Principal's office. He tells her parents that she's fitting in nicely (other than today's fight), but is flunking two classes. If she wants to become a Junior, she'll have to go to summer school. Cue sad trombone.

Outside the office, Barb says Courtney promised her schoolwork would come before superheroing. She says now because of Courtney, the family vacation's canceled. A disappointed Dugan says she's gonna have to decide if putting on the mask is worth messing up the rest of her life. Courtney says at least she's not quitting like he did, then realizes she crossed a line. He tells her there'll be no Stargirl for two weeks, while she focuses on school.

Elsewhere in Nevada, Sylvester Pemberton enters a diner. A waitress named Maggie asks what he'd like, and he says he needs to talk with her ex-husband. When she asks which one, he says, "The one who likes stripes."

Back in Blue Valley, Courtney walks dejectedly down the street. She sees Cameron prepping to paint a mural, and decides tot talk with him. Across the street, Cameron's grandparents Lily & Sofus watch. Lily doesn't approve of Courtney, but Sofus says to leave them alone, as Courtney's making Cameron smile for once.

Pat goes to the garage to tell Zeek he won't need his help after all. As he enters, he sees (to no one's surprise) the storeroom door's open. He rushes in and sees Zeek tinkering with STRIPE. Zeek's impressed with Pat's handiwork, and has all sorts of ideas to upgrade the giant robot. Pat protests, but Zeek hurries out to get his toolbox.

Rick goes out into the woods and sets out three large buckets of chicken near Grundy's footprints. He goes back to his car, and we see a huge shadowy figure approach the food.

Later that night, Beth prepares a romantic meal for her parents, complete with wine & candlelight. Clearly she's hoping to rekindle their romance and keep them from getting divorced. Cut to hours later, as she's sitting dejectedly at the table, all alone. Poor Beth!

Suddenly Beth hears Chuck's voice coming from her goggles. She rushes over, puts them on and excitedly greets her old friend. Unfortunately Chuck doesn't recognize her and instantly shuts down. She begs him not to leave her too, but he doesn't respond.

Meanwhile, Courtney's in her bedroom going through her yearbook. Just as she sees her nemesis Cindy Burman's photo, she hears a noise downstairs. She grabs her staff and goes down to investigate. She spots someone creeping through the kitchen, carrying the Green Lantern's lantern.

Courtney attacks the intruder, and there's a big setpiece battle inside the Dugan home. Courtney blasts the intruder with her staff, accidentally destroying half the kitchen. The intruder fires back with green energy from the Lantern. Courtney finally asks the intruder is, and she replies she's Green Lantern's daughter.

Pat, Barb & Mike hear the commotion and rush downstairs. Pat looks around at the destruction and asks what the hell's going on. Courtney says it was a misunderstanding.

Cut to Cindy sashaying through the high school after hours. She opens the secret door leading down to the Injustice Society's subterranean lair. She takes out photos of Artemis Crock, Isaac Bowin and Cameron Mahkent and lays them out on the table. She then pulls out a photo of Mike and sets it down too. She holds the Eclipso diamond to her eye and a voice from within it says it's ready to serve. Cindy tells it, "Let's go recruiting."

• As with virtually every episode of Stargirl, this one starts with a flashback. Lots to unpack in this prologue...

First of all, according to the onscreen caption, this flashback takes place "Decades Ago."

I assume they deliberately worded it vaguely to keep from establishing a specific date. Based on the cars and clothing though, it's clearly set in the 1950s.

They do a pretty good job getting the details right— with a couple obvious exceptions. First up is that Schwinn Sting-Ray bike at the left of the screen. Yeah, bikes didn't look like that in the 1950s. Sting-Rays were invented in 1963, but didn't become super popular until the 1970s.

The doll Rebecca steals has a suspiciously late 1960s hairstyle and outfit as well. Whoops!

The episode spends a surprising amount of time setting up Rebecca, only to summarily kill her off. That makes me wonder if maybe she'll be back at some point later in the season. Otherwise, why devote so much of the runtime to her?

On the other hand, the show did the exact same thing with Joey Zarick in Season 1's Icicle, only to knock him off as well. So maybe she's not coming back after all.

I loved the subtle bit of CGI the producers used to make Bruce suddenly appear behind Rebecca. It made an already creepy kid even more unsettling. Kudos!

By the way, according to the Official Arrowverse Wiki, Bruce's last name is Gordon. In the comics, Bruce Gordon was the original host of Eclipso. 

It's a long story, but Gordon was a scientist who went to the jungle to observe a solar eclipse. While there he was attacked by a tribal sorcerer, who stabbed him with a black diamond and threw him off a cliff (!). Gordon somehow survived, and afterward would turn into Eclipso whenever an eclipse occurred. Looks like the writers did their homework!

When Bruce manifests Eclipso, his eyes glow red (of course) and the right two thirds of his face darken, as if they're... well, eclipsed. 

This is in line with the comic version of Eclipso, who's face is similarly shaded.

• Based on the mailbox seen here, Rebecca was apparently the daughter of Charles McNider, aka Dr. Mid-Nite. As a further clue, at one point Rebecca's mom tells her, "Well your dad's out on call, so you're stuck with me," implying that he's off on Justice Society business.

If Beth ever manages to repair her goggles and get the "Chuck" AI (which is basically a copy of Dr. Mid-Nite's consciousness), he's probably gonna want revenge on Eclipso for killing his daughter "years ago."

• In the comics, Eclipso's soul was trapped inside a black diamond called "The Heart Of Darkness." In early issues he had to possess someone in order to act, but in later ones he was an independent "vengeance demon" that used the diamond to control others.

Based on what little we've seen of him so far in Stargirl, it looks like they're going with the early possession route. Although that could very well change at any time.

At the end of the Season 1 finale, we saw Cindy Burman rooting through William Zarick's (aka The Wizard) stuff, till she found Eclipso's black diamond. So how did Zarick get it? Was he possessed by Eclipso at some point in the past? Or did he find the jewel and use it to manipulate others? Hopefully we'll get some answers later in the season.

• Since this scene takes place right before the last day of school, that means it's probably sometime in June. I'm betting Rick, Yolanda and Beth must be absolutely sweltering in those heavy costumes (complete with capes)! No wonder they wanna call it a night! Naturally Courtney wants to keep going, because she's wearing what amounts to a swimsuit and is probably perfectly comfortable.

• At one point grills Dugan about old ISA villains, hoping to find one the new JSA can deal with:

Courtney: "Per Degaton?"
Dugan: "Uh... the Flash banished him to an alternate timeline."
Courtney: "Whatever... that means. Uh, okay, um... Blackbriar Thorn."
Dugan: "Uh, Green Lantern destroyed him in '88."
Courtney: "Uh... Baron Blitzkrieg?"

As you might expect by now, the villains Courtney name drops are all from the comics. 

Per Degaton was a lab assistant for the Time Trust, a group of scientists studying time travel in the 1940s. He eventually killed Time Trust member Doctor Zee, and stole his time machine to try and change history for his own benefit. He frequently worked with fellow villain Vandal Savage, and often clashed with the Justice Society and the All-Star Squadron.

Degaton has actually shown up in the Arrowverse, as he appeared in Season 1 of Legends Of Tomorrow. In the episode Progeny, the Legends encountered Degaton as a child, and had to decide whether to kill him then or let him grow up to murder millions of innocents.

I wonder... Dugan says the Flash banished Degaton to an alternate dimension. What if he ended up on Earth Prime, and is the same version the Legends had to deal with?

Blackbriar Thorne was a High Priest of the Druids Of Cymru thousands of years ago. When his tribe was massacred by Roman forces, Thorne escaped by hiding in the forest and transforming himself into wood. 

Millenia later, Thorn's body was unearthed by an archeologist. The Druid then woke and joined the Injustice Society, where he uses his magic against the JSA.

— Baron Blitzkrieg was a Nazi officer who was blinded and disfigured by a prisoner in a concentration camp. Doctors were able to somehow restore his sight, but not his face. They performed further experiments on him, giving him super strength, invulnerability, optical blasts and the ability to fly. Blitzkrieg also worked with Vandal Savage and battled the All-Star Squadron.

Nice Continuity: Mike still has the paper route Pat got him back in Season 1. Dugan threatened to get him a route in Icicle, and then in Shiv Part One we saw him delivering papers for the first time.

Blue Valley must have an unusually large population of seniors who still subscribe to the physical newspaper.

• At one point we get a closeup shot of the paper Mike's peddling. Again, lots to unpack in this three second scene.

Wow, look at that front page headline about the Taco Whiz being vandalized! Riveting stuff! Someone's definitely winning a Pulitzer for that story!

I kid, as that's pretty much what the headlines look like in my hometown as well.

Also, this headline ties neatly into the next scene, as it's clear Solomon Grundy is alive and well and lurking around Blue Valley, as he's clearly the one who broke into the Taco Whiz.

Also of interest is the secondary headline stating "A New Way Forward For The American Dream." According to the story, "The Organization Works To Find A New Path After The Passing Of Its Visionary Founder."

If you'll recall, last season The American Dream was the brainchild of Jordan Mahkent, aka Icicle of the ISA. He set up the foundation to ostensibly revitalize Blue Valley, creating jobs and making it a great place to live again. 

Unfortunately it was all just a front for his nefarious plan to dominate the country and run it the way he (and the ISA) saw fit.

Now that Jordan's dead, I don't quite understand how the foundation's still open. Who's running it now? Who's paying the bills? Where's their money coming from? Is the original mission statement still in effect? 

These are all great questions, that of course are never addressed here. Maybe in a later episode?

Lastly, there's one more front page story that reads, "Blue Valley Police Searching For Man In Home Shooting." Hmm. Is that something related to the ISA? I don't remember anyone getting shot last season, so maybe it's just a random story. 

• Rick discovers Taco Whiz wrappers in the woods surrounding his house, as well as a massive footprint. From this he realizes Grundy's still at large and is the one robbing fast foot places to survive. 

Get used to footprints and other circumstantial evidence like this that only hint or suggest Grundy's presence. I have a feeling we won't actually see him again till the season finale. Realistic CGI creatures ain't cheap!

Speaking of money— Once Rick realizes Grundy's hiding in the woods, he starts bringing him several buckets of chicken every night. So where's he getting the money for that? A bucket of KFC is around fifteen bucks. How's a teen like Rick— who doesn't have an actual job— afford to blow $45 a day on chicken?

• Feeling guilty after killing Brainwave die last season, Yolanda goes to church on the way to school. She enters a confessional booth but just sits in silence. A few seconds later a priest enters the next booth and asks, "Do you want to talk today, my child?"

Woah, wait a minute... Not a Catholic here, but I was under the impression the confessional was supposed to be anonymous. So how's the priest know Yolanda's in there? Can he see her?

I guess maybe she's been stopping by every morning at the same time for weeks, and after a while the priest knows her schedule and expects her.

As she's leaving the church, Yolanda begins having visions of Brainwave's death, and freaks the hell out.

So what's happening here? Is she simply suffering from PSTD after killing Brainwave? Or is there something more sinister going on here? Brainwave was a powerful telepath with numerous psychic abilities. What if he used his powers to implant his consciousness into Yolanda's head right before he perished? Maybe these visions are Brainwave's mind beginning to assert itself.

I'm betting we're gonna get a Dark Yolanda storyline, in which she's taken over completely by the remnants of Brainwave.

One last thing about Yolanda and what she did. For years now I've been pointing out that murder doesn't seem to be a crime in the Arrowverse. That's certainly the case here. Yolanda straight up murdered Brainwave last season— not in self defense and not to protect the innocent, but in pure, unadulterated revenge. And of course she faces absolutely ZERO legal consequences for her actions.

• As Yolanda and Courtney walk to school, they pass a movie theater (remember those?) that's currently playing The Adventures Of Mark Merlin.

As with ALL the films shown at this theater, this one's based on a very obscure DC Comics character.

In the comics, Mark Merlin was sort of a "supernatural detective," and the nephew of famous stage magician The Mighty Merlin. After solving his uncle's murder, he inherited his mansion, magical equipment and even his assistant Elsa. He used his uncle's "Magic Eye" device to cast illusions, as he and Elsa battled the supernatural foes.

• Dugan calls his old pal Zeek (that's the way it's spelled on his hat) and asks him to watch the garage for him while he's on vacation.

I smell some cheap plot trickery here. Dugan's business isn't a bustling gas station, it's a garage that repairs classic cars. He could have easily closed it down for two weeks. The only reason he asks Zeek to mind the store is so he can start snooping around and discover STRIPE for comedic effect.

By the way, Zeek's no stranger to the show, as he first appeared in Season 1's Wildcat, and again in Hourman And Dr. Mid-Nite.

• Looks like Blue Valley High has a new principal already. Principal Sherman here replaced Anaya Bowin, aka the Fiddler, another member of the ISA. She was killed last season by Tigress. She was also the mother of Isaac Bowin, one of Courtney's classmates.

• As we saw in the Season 1 finale, Sylvester Pemberton, aka Starman, is seemingly alive and well again (after having been killed by Icicle in Pilot). Or at least someone or something that looks like Sylvester. 

As he sits outside a diner in Nevada, we see Sylvester pause for a moment, then check himself out in the rearview mirror. Sylvester seems to be pretty self-possessed, so it's entirely possible he's just making sure his hair's in place and there's no further meaning to this action.

Or it could be he's a villain with some sort of shapeshifting or illusion-casting ability, and he glanced in the mirror to make sure he still looked like Sylvester. Stay tuned to find out if I'm right or reading WAY too much into nothing.

• Inside the diner, Sylvester's greeted by a waitress named Maggie. He tells her he's looking for her ex-husband— aka Stripesy, aka Pat Dugan.

So unless Dugan's been married more than twice, this means that Maggie has to be Mike's mom!

• Courtney sees Cameron Mahkent staring at the Blue Valley Tires sign and asks what he's doing. He says, "I thought it could use a makeover— for my Dad."

ACKKK! I love this mural— especially its retro advertising look and the way the Stargirl Art Department made it look like it's been there for fifty years. I hate to see 'em cover it up. Especially since, based on his previous artwork, Cameron's probably going to replace it with sappy paintings of flowers. Feh!

• In the Season 1 finale, I wondered what was gonna happen to the kids of the defeated and dead members of the ISA. I figured Sportsmaster & Tigress probably got away and were still at large. Looks like I was wrong about that, as this week their daughter Artemis confirms they're both in prison. So who's taking care of her? I'm assuming she's staying with relatives, as it seems unlikely the authorities would let a minor live on her own.

The Fiddler was killed, leaving her son Isaac Bowin an orphan. He must be living with local relatives as well, since he's still going to Blue Valley High.

And after the death of Icicle, I predicted that his son Cameron Mahkent would be raised by his evil grandparents. I got that one right, as this week we see that's exactly what's happening.

So do Cameron's grandparents Sofus & Lily know Courtney's secret identity? Or that her brother killed their son Jordan? I'm gonna bet no. They weren't present for the JSA's battle with the ISA. Plus if they did know, it's unlikely they'd let their grandson fraternize with Courtney. Heck, they'd probably try killing her themselves!

So what was up with Lily's comment that Courtney's a "wicked girl?" Is it because she spurned Cameron's advances when he came to dinner last season?

• To no one's surprise, Zeek breaks into Dugan's backroom and finds STRIPE.

I loved the way Zeek just took over STRIPE, and came up with plans for all sorts of upgrades— whether Dugan wanted them or not!

I love the way Zeek just takes over STRIPE, and comes up with plans for all sorts of upgrades-- as Dugan seems powerless to stop him:

Zeek: "Dugan! I knew you were building something. A robot!"
Dugan: "Yeah..."
Zeek: "Don't tell me what it's for. I don't need to know. Sometimes, a man just needs himself a robot."
Dugan: "The thing is..."
Zeek: "You know, I built a flamethrower out of a propane tank and a BB gun. I bet you could fit one right in the palm of that there robot's hand."
Dugan: "What? A flamethrower?"
Zeek: "Yes, sir. To start."
Dugan: "Okay, well, the thing is, Zeek, this is a private project..."
Zeek: (not even listening) "Yeah. Right."
Dugan: "It's kind of a hobby that I'm..."
Zeek: "Mm-hmm. Okay."
Dugan: "...kind of keeping to myself..."
Zeek: (talking over Dugan) "Right. Great."
Dugan: "...that I really..."
Zeek: "I will go get my tools!"
Dugan: "...rather other people didn't know about it."
Zeek: "Lovin' this partnership!"

Zeek seems like a lot more fun this season, and I'm looking forward to seeing more of him this year. He and Dugan make a good comedic team.

• Poor Beth! She knocks herself out cooking a romantic dinner for her parents, desperately hoping to rekindle their romance and stop them from getting divorced— only to be stood up by both of the inconsiderate clods.

As sad as it is, I love this particular scene. It's filmed as a time-lapse, starting with an excitted Beth standing on one side of the room as she puts the finishing touch on the meal, and ending with her on the other side,  dejectedly nibbling on a piece of bread.

I'm not 100% sure, but I don't think there was any CGI involved here. It looks like they just slowly panned the camera around the dining room, giving actress Anjelika Washington time to walk out of the dining room, then sprint around the set and re-enter it on the other side and sit at the table— all in one unbroken shot. I'm assuming a stagehand probably swapped out the tall candle on the table for a spent one as well, to help complete the illusion.

• At one point Courtney looks through more old ISA files, and glances at a photo of the Thinker.

Note that this is now the THIRD live action version we've gotten of this D-list character. The first Thinker was the Big Bad in Season 4 of The Flash, and we just got another one in the recent The Suicide Squad movie. That's a lot of versions for such a lame character!

• Courtney hears a noise downstairs and discovers an intruder stealing Green Lantern's lantern. We then get an impressive setpiece battle between her and the Intruder.

Fight scenes have been few and far between for the past year, thanks to The CW's pandemic safety protocols. The Flash has replaced fight scenes with the Care Bare Stare, as Barry Allen now loves his opponents to death. Legends Of Tomorrow, which was once filled with impressive fight choreography, has given up on such scenes altogether. So it was nice to finally see any kind of fight scene in an Arrowverse show!

• As the Intruder carries Green Lantern's lantern past the camera, we see a series of energy particles emanating from it.

Those particles are honest-to-goodness Kirby Krackle!

Legendary comic artist Jack Kirby was famous for filling his panels with hundreds and hundreds of dots, meant to indicate roiling clouds of intense energy. Over time, fans dubbed this effect Kirby Krackle. I can't believe the show finally gave us the Krackle in live action! Awesome!

Not A Nitpick, Just An Observation: At the end of the episode, Cindy Burman enters the ISA's underground HQ, and glances at the team portrait on the wall. From left is the Wizard, Tigress, a barely visible Shade, Sportsmaster, Icicle, Brainwave, the Gambler, the Fiddler and Grundy behind them all. Note that four of the members— Wizard, Icicle, Brainwave & Fiddler— are now dead. Dragon King, though not pictured, is presumed dead as well. The rest are missing or incarcerated.

• Cindy begins leafing through photos of possible recruits for a new ISA of her own. First up is Artemis Crock, daughter of Sportsmaster and Tigress. Artemis seems like she's more interested in playing sports than becoming a supervillain. That might change though when Cindy tells her that Courtney and her friends helped put her parents behind bars. 

Next up is Isaac Bowin, son of the Fiddler. He'd definitely be join up, as he's a psychotic little sh*t who tried to kill a classmate with a freakin' tuba last season!

Then there's Cameron Mahkent, son of Icicle. Last season we saw that Cameron either has or is developing powers identical to his father's. He seems like a sensitive and well-adjusted kid though, and not out for revenge. Again, Cindy could very well change his mind.

Lastly— and ominously— Cindy gazes at a photo of Mike!

So why Mike? Why would Cindy ever think she could turn him to the Dark Side? Welp, back in Icicle, Courtney "borrowed" a bunch of equipment from the JSA's old HQ, and passed it out to her friends. Among the items she took was the magic ink pen housing the genie-like Thunderbolt entity.

I predict that at some point Mike's gonna find the pen, become the Thunderbolt's new master and demand to become a member of the new JSA. But something will happen to give control of Thunderbolt to his friend Jakeem, which would align with the comics. 

I'm betting this will send Mike into a spiral of anger and resentment, and make him vulnerable to Cindy's recruitment drive— especially if she's got the Eclipso diamond to help manipulate his emotions. Again, stay tuned to see if I'm right.

Even if this is where the writers are going though, I don't see any possible way Cindy could know about it. So once again, I'm not sure why she thinks she'll be able to add him to her little roster.

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