Stargirl Season 1 Episode 8 “Shiv Part Two”
Director: Geary McLeod
Starring: Brec Bassinger, Yvette Monreal, Anjelika Washington, Cameron Gellman, Trae Romano, Amy Smart, Luke Wilson, Neil Jackson, Neil Hopkins, Joy Osmanski
Runtime: 45 minutes
Generally, the approach to crafting a two-part episode, especially in an action-adventure series, is to have the first part build up tension and anticipation, maybe culminating in one or two big developments, before the real fireworks come in the second half. Stargirl doesn’t entirely break away from that format but it doesn’t follow it to the letter either. “Shiv Part Two” is still a tense, exciting episode and it ends on another literally explosive confrontation between Courtney and Cindy but it’s not quite as packed or surprising as “Part One” was. That’s not inherently a good or bad thing, but it is unusual enough to be worth commenting on.
Part of the reason for the less rapid-fire pacing of “Part Two” is that unlike its predecessor which had a lot of other things on its mind in addition to Cindy and Courtney, it mostly puts these things to the side to focus more exclusively on its heroine and villainess, even if Henry Jr. also winds up in the middle of things. Mike’s outburst from last week is reversed by a nice apology to Courtney while she’s laid up after her fight with Cindy, which she and Pat are claiming was a car crash. Barbara is predictably upset about her daughter being hurt and this will likely add even more friction between her and Pat, especially as she had to cut her business trip short, but this isn’t really a focal point either. Nor is Janitor Justin, who doesn’t even appear, but is discussed when Cindy tells her father about being stopped from killing Stargirl.
Instead, the episode revolves around the simultaneous stories of Cindy paying an unexpected visit to a recuperating Courtney while Pat and the JSA kids infiltrate the Burman house. The latter plot is also very good but the former is without a doubt the best part of the episode. Cindy plays dumb for most of her visit to Courtney’s house, pretending that she’s none the wiser about Courtney’s alter ego and that she’s there to apologize for her harsh reaction to Courtney needing to reschedule their social plans. Meg DeLacy is excellent in this sequence. The mean girl persona she gives Cindy is so well-established that she was already a generally intimidating presence even before her backstory was revealed but is even more so now that Courtney and the viewer are both hanging on her every word to see what she really knows or doesn’t know. The causal way in which Cindy reveals that she knows exactly who Courtney is just as she’s leaving is chilling and perfectly delivered by DeLacy. Yes this sequence results in the “villain tells the hero they’re not that different” cliché rearing its ugly head but it’s less annoying here because the prior episode actually did significant, solid work establishing their similarities.
Cindy tells Courtney that she’s only keeping her secret to avoid being “sidelined” by her dad and that she’ll be back as soon as she kills all of Courtney’s friends, who themselves are currently staking out Cindy’s house after discovering her identity. Pat shows up to tell them to leave out of concern for their safety but Beth has already gone into the lion’s den, pretending to be a friend of Cindy’s in hopes of looking around the house for any intel. Pat goes in to get her and the two are forced to play father-daughter in front of Bobbie. It’s a fun way to let Anjelika Washington and Luke Wilson stretch their comedic muscles and they bring great awkward energy to the characters’ bumbling. Beth does manage to find a picture of Dr. Ito and even enters the underground hallway leading to his lair before sneaking out a window with Yolanda’s help just as Cindy arrives (Pat is hidden from Cindy’s view while fixing a sink for Bobbie). It’s a wonderfully tense sequence that works mostly because unlike in similar situations on other shows it feels possible Beth and or Pat really could be caught. This two-parter proves the show isn’t scared of letting characters in on key secrets sooner than one might expect which helps make it feel much more unpredictable.
Pat and her friends make it out of their stakeout unscathed but Courtney doesn’t know that and despite her injuries sets out to take Cindy down before she can hurt them. Seeing our hero crash in through a window to attack someone, in their normal-looking home was shocking, even with the knowledge of Cindy’s villainous nature and really sold the desperation Courtney was feeling. But an even bigger whammy came at the end of the fight, when Henry Jr., having just discovered both that he has telekinesis and his father’s lair, stumbles upon his girlfriend trying to kill a young masked woman. His telepathy then spikes out of control, and, overwhelmed by the rush of conflicting thoughts he gets from both girls, releases a massive energy blast. The prospect of a greater focus on Henry isn’t in itself enticing (no offense to Jake Austin Walker, the writers just haven’t given the character much to do other than get headaches and be confused) but the potential complications it could make to the JSA/ISA conflict are. Overall, “Shiv Part Two” is another impressive episode that further demonstrates Stargirl’s solid handle on pacing and building tension.
- As she gets up. Cindy is dragged into a sewer by three of her father’s masked servants. Something tells me Dragon King isn’t as forgiving of disobedience as Pat.
- The moment where Rick catches Beth after she jumps out the window is very rom-comy. Could we be seeing the start of our first inter-JSA romance?
- Cindy is more evil for evil’s sake, which is fun, so a brief scene in which Jordan kills the owner of a chemical company whose indifference towards safety standards contributed to the death of his wife serves as a reminder that Stargirl does more gray ambiguous villains also.
Stargirl Season 1 Episode 8
Stargirl completes its two-parter in fine fashion by developing an interesting dynamic between Courtney and Shiv while setting another ISA kid up for a more prominent role.