The sophomore episode of Stargirl, “S.T.R.I.P.E.” is all about accepting one’s identity and role in the bigger picture.
Pat Dugan (Luke Wilson) works towards becoming a superhero in his own right as the pilot of his Walmart brand Iron Monger suit, otherwise known as S.T.R.I.P.E. He’s still Stargirl’s sidekick, but his value as a combatant and a superhero is much stronger as S.T.R.I.P.E than Stripesy. He’s even treated to his own workout montage with “Crusher,” the sports themed member of the Injustice Society Of America (the two are clearly unaware of their alter-ego’s at this point in time.)
Courtney Whitmore (Brec Bassinger), Pat’s stepdaughter, takes a more proactive approach to crime fighting this week as well. She annihilates several sewing machines in an inventive and bubbly costume creation montage, before accepting her identity as Stargirl.
The Injustice Society of America are also fleshed out more this week, and while their true plans and motivations are only hinted at, their story deals with their purpose and reason for being in Blue Haven. I for one cannot wait to see Solomon Grundy unleashed, and I’m dying to learn more about the mysterious “Project New America”, a mysterious conspiracy that seems key to the town’s immediate future.
Brainwave, effectively the leader of the evil team up, surprised me yet again with his imposing presence and malevolent aura. The scenes he shared both with his son and with fellow JSA member, Wizard, were highlights of “S.T.R.I.P.E.” Christopher James Baker imbues Brainwave with such energy and tension that he elevates a character who could have been a run of the mill telepath into one of DC’s most exciting new villains.
Even Barbara Whitmore’s (Stargirl’s mother) storyline is about figuring out how she fits into the framework of Blue Valley. She works for The American Dream, a Blue Valley organization described as the backbone of the town by the high school’s principal. Barbara’s suggestions on how to improve the towns are quickly shut down by the organization’s corrupt leader, a man who clearly isn’t used to or appreciative of outside input.
As I said before, this episode is all about our characters finding their niche in Blue Haven. While the roles that our cast of characters will fill is a fluid thing and subject to change over the course of the show’s run, it’s exciting to see interpersonal relationships begin to form, even between more ancillary characters like Barbara and Steven Sharpe, AKA Gambler (Head of The American Dream). This simple yet relatable exploration of identity and belonging is fairly universal, making “S.T.R.I.P.E.” a fantastic bottle episode, at least thematically.
While I did really enjoy episode two of Stargirl, it wasn’t perfect by any means. The dialogue came across as clunky and forced on several occasions, and that seems to be due to a combination of weak lines in the script and Brec Bassinger’s performance. Bassinger is great as Courtney, but her line delivery could use some fine tuning.
Additionally, the comedy didn’t land consistently this week. A few jokes brought a smile to my face, but just as many left me scratching my head. This was the last Geoff Johns-written episode until “Stars and S.T.R.I.P.E.S. Part Two”, so I’m holding out hope for the other writers’ comedy. Expect humor on par with The Arrowverse and not Harley Quinn and you won’t be disappointed.
While this episode didn’t blow me away like the pilot did, it was still a lot of fun and delivered a strong message. The action and CGI was good for TV, but nothing compared to WB’s theatrical DC projects. A tantalizing mystery surrounding The American Dream and Project New America was set up, and we were reminded how fun a good supersuit montage can be. All in all, “S.T.R.I.P.E.” was an unbalanced, but satisfying sophomore effort for Stargirl.
Stargirl Episode 3 Preview
KEEP READING: STARGIRL PILOT REVIEW: A CHARMING ADDITION