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Stargirl Season 1 Episode 9 Review: Brainwave

That was quite the one-two punch.

It took a couple of episodes, but it seems Stargirl has officially found its stride as Stargirl Season 1 Episode 9 continued the show's track record of airing solid, quality hours of television.

That alone is a feat worth celebrating.

The biggest shock of the episode is somewhat of a toss-up as the last few minutes were packed with twist after twist.

I'd say Barbara finding out about Courtney and Pat's superhero antics probably tops the list only because the parental figure rarely ever learns the truth about such secrets until the end of the second season, like on Buffy the Vampire Slayer, The Vampire Diaries, and Teen Wolf.

While Barbara doesn't have the whole story yet, it's only a matter of time, as it'll be hard to explain the Cosmic Staff without getting into the nitty-gritty details of the Justice Society of America.

Even Courtney couldn't come up with a plausible way to talk herself out of this one.

Given that Pat has been harping on about wanting to tell Barbara the truth for several episodes, it seems obvious in hindsight, viewers should have expected this.

However, with so much else packed into this episode, there didn't seem to be any time left to pull the rug out from under the audience.

Courtney: What if we use the staff to help prove that Jordan Mahkent is Icicle? Maybe it can recognize his scent or energy.
Pat: We’re not doing anything else until we tell your mother everything.
Barbara: What is that? What the hell is that?
Pat: It’s uh…

I guess we -- or at least I -- was wrong.

The interesting thing will be to see where things go from here.

Barbara most likely won't be too happy that Courtney has been diving in headfirst into all of these dangerous situations or that Pat seemingly let Courtney put herself in harm's way.

What remains to be seen is if Barbara has the power to hinder Courtney's involvement in fighting the Injustice Society of America.

Ever since Courtney discovered the Cosmic Staff and presumed that Starman is her father on Stargirl Season 1 Episode 1, no one has been able to temper Courtney's impulsivity.

There have been moments where she exercised caution, but it usually goes at the window at a moment's notice.

Barbara may be the one person who can control her daughter, but Courtney's not going to give up being Stargirl easily.

She considers it her birthright and her destiny, and not even Barbara's forbiddance may be enough to stop her.

I could hear Henry’s thoughts in my head. He had no idea what was going on. He was screaming for it to stop. He was so scared, and I was scared too. I could feel everything he felt. He was lonely, confused, sad. I wasn’t expecting that. He’s not like Cindy or even like his father. I know what he did to Yolanda was awful. I want to ask him to help us. I know it’s a risk, but if he can read minds, he could tell us who else is in the ISA.

Courtney

Again, the only thing that may make Courtney hesitate is if Barbara's life is in danger, which is a very real possibility now that Brainwave is awake.

Yes, the other big plot twist of the episode was that Brainwave emerged from his coma after Henry killed the impostor of a lawyer.

Now that Brainwave is awake, it's only a matter of time before he tells the ISA about Stargirl's true identity, putting Courtney and her family in eminent danger.

Until now, Courtney has been able to operate under the radar for the most part because no one knew her true identity.

However, with each passing episode, more and more people continue to learn the truth, making it all the more likely that she and her family will end up in the crossfire.

In addition, this knowledge will provide the ISA with the opportunity to take the fight to Courtney, finally allowing them the chance to play offense rather than defense.

They'll have no qualms about killing a teenager based on past interactions and eliminating Stargirl, and the rest of the new JSA, will essentially all but guarantee they'll face no opposition in enacting their massive brainwashing operation.

However, it's also possible Courtney could be the one to strike first, now that she knows Icicle's alter ego.

Courtney: I think Jordan is Icicle.
Pat: What?
Courtney: The plate was scalding hot, and he touched it and was fine.
Pat: He touched a hot plate? I don’t know, Jordan Mahkent. Are you sure?
Courtney: If Jordan is one of them, does that mean Cameron is too? Like Cindy?
Pat: I don’t know.

While the evidence supporting Jordan Mahkent being Icicle is circumstantial at best, that won't stop Courtney from confronting him.

As this series has repeatedly established, she's brash and, at times, a reckless protagonist.

And know that she knows the identity of the man who killed her "father," she won't let anything get in the way of getting revenge justice.

Elsewhere, this episode finally gave viewers more depth into who Henry King Jr. is.

From the start, he's been portrayed as a high school jock and bully.

However, this episode did a good job of starting to flesh out his backstory, something that is expected to continue on Stargirl Season 1 Episode 10 as the episode is entitled "Brainwave Jr."

And while Henry is still the grade-A jerk who didn't apologize to Yolanda for the dissemination of her nudes to the entire school, Courtney may be right in that he's not the monsters that his father or Brainwave are.

He's by no means a saint, but he's not completely beyond redemption.

Granted, redemption is loosely defined here, and while Henry did kill the lawyer, if you watch the scene carefully, you can see how scared and horrified he is by what just happened.

Henry has had no one to explain to him what's happening or teach him how to control his abilities.

Brainwave: When he died I felt better until I read the next mind and the next. Jealousy, rage, spite, deviance. No matter whose mind I peer into vile thoughts fill up their brains and in turn mine. I have learned the truth about humanity: At their very core, people are monsters. I hate them.

He has had to piece together things himself and master his powers on his own.

Due to his inexperience and lack of control, he can be forgiven for his actions.

In the real world, that would be harder, but in the television landscape of things, accidental killings are easier to move past, especially if the perpetrator is still learning about his or her new reality.

It's also pertinent that Henry seemed receptive to some of Courtney's assertions during their conversation at the hospital.

Having a supervillain for a father can't have been easy, and a lot of Henry's preconceived beliefs are shaped by Brainwave.

He may not have been ready to team up with Courtney and co., but he did listen to what she had to say and even considered some of what Courtney said might be true.

Or at least he might have been, had Yolanda not further proven Brainwave's point by threatening to kill him.

That move on Yolanda's part, coupled with Brainwave waking up, means it will be all the more difficult -- though not impossible -- for Henry to do the right thing.

Though the odds aren't looking good for Henry right now, viewers shouldn't count him out just yet.

There's a piece of information the series hasn't revealed yet regarding Henry's family that could come into play at some point in the future.

Courtney: Help us find out who else is in the Injustice Society, then we can stop them from killing anyone else. You know they kill people, right Henry? Joey Zarick, his dad, my dad.
Henry: Yeah, well maybe they all deserved it.
Courtney: Joey deserved it? Do you really believe that?
Henry: He was a nice kid.
Courtney: Yeah, he was. Why aren’t you?
Henry: You know what it’s like to hear everyone’s thoughts? It’s hell on earth. You think I’m a jerk, well trust me, everyone else is worse. If my dad hurt anyone, he had a reason to. People are monsters. Deep down, they’re ugly and greedy and hateful and twisted. That’s the truth.
Courtney: Life isn’t that black and white, Henry. People can be bad, but people can be good too and kind and compassionate. Maybe some of the thoughts you read, maybe, they are bad. I mean, sometimes we’re hurting or afraid and we think awful, awful things. Have you tried looking a little deeper? I bet you’d find something better.
Henry: I really doubt it.
Courtney: Behind the pain and the fear, it’s all about love. People want to love and be loved. I think you do too.
Henry: What makes you think that?
Courtney: Look where you are. Yolanda told me the way your father treats you, and you’re still at his side.

That discovery could make Henry rethink some of his alliances, or at least make him question some of the things he holds to be true.

Fans of the comics should know what I'm referring to, but I don't want to spoil it just yet.

It's also possible the show won't incorporate this aspect into the series, but it'd be great if the writers did purely because of how it shakes things up and causes other characters to re-examine things.

Lastly, while Courtney did consult Pat and the new JSA before attempting to recruit Henry, she should have given more consideration to Yolanda's and Rick's viewpoints before asking.

Sure, it's progress that she asked at all, but her teammates did have legitimate reasons for being wary of recruiting Henry.

Even if Henry wasn't Brainwave's son, he still bears some of the blame for Yolanda's nudes being sent around the school.

Courtney knows how much that hurt Yolanda, but she didn't even stop to consider how much of a betrayal recruiting Henry would be for her new friend.

Recruiting Henry required a lengthier conversation between the pair, and even if Courtney decided to still go ahead with it, she should have at least acknowledged where Yolanda was coming from.

However, Courtney acted like it was a done deal and didn't take much stock in what Yolanda or Rick had to say.

It's not to say that Courtney made the wrong decision, as Henry could certainly be an asset if he joins the new JSA.

Rick: People don’t change, Court. On the surface, maybe, but never deep down.
Beth: That’s not true or fair. Look at all of us – Yolanda, me, you – we’ve all changed. Why not Henry?
Yolanda: Henry is his father’s son. He didn’t think twice about ruining my life. He’ll end up hurting all of you.
Rick: I’m with Yolanda. Helping you against Cindy could be a trap. He could be planning to serve us up.
Courtney: Sometimes, you just have to take a leap of faith.
Rick: Right before you fall on your face.
Courtney: I put faith in all of you, and I’m still on my feet.

It's just that Courtney handled the matter poorly, which is disappointing, especially since Yolanda was her first friend in Blue Valley.

Now, Courtney risks losing that and a new JSA team member, all in favor of something that may not even work out in the end.

But then again, Courtney has never been one to think things through, so it's not too surprising.

Some stray thoughts:

  • It seems most of the viewers were right in guessing that the ISA's plan for Project New America involves massive brainwashing to create, well, a "new America." What remains to be seen is why. Does the ISA just want to be able to control everyone so no one can stop them?

    Or, is there something deeper at the core? Is it possible that the ISA believes this "new America" is for the greater good, that all the killing and mind control is OK because the ends justify the means? Only time will tell.

  • The mystery surrounding Justin was revisited this week. Some fans can probably put together where he fits into all of this, but what's more concerning is his mental state. Justin doesn't seem to be all there, and that could end up being a liability for the new JSA.

  • It's nice to finally learn why the ISA chose to settle Blue Valley beyond it being a town in the middle of nowhere. Is it farfetched that the settlers of Blue Valley created secret tunnels throughout the town? Sure, but it's at least a viable answer to a loftier question.

So what did you think Stargirl Fanatics?

What was the biggest plot twist of the episode?

Which side will Henry end up on?

Should Courtney have recruited Henry in the first place?

Hit the comments below to let me know your thoughts. If you happened to miss the latest episode, remember you can watch Stargirl online at TV Fanatic.



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