‘Stargirl’ Episode 2 Review: “S.T.R.I.P.E.”

In this episode, Courtney and Pat team up as full-blown superheroes, becoming campy Captain America and Iron Man archetypes.

DC Daily Reviewed the series last week. Video above.

Last week’s pilot of Stargirl left me compelled for more but also feeling somewhat annoyed; It’s not a bad story, just a very vanilla one. The episode plays it safe and utilizes many-a-super-heroic tropes that I think we’ve all seen before: from the misfit character with no friends to the grand destiny chosen for greater heroic deeds. Although I like the show’s promise of its premise, I cannot help but feel lukewarm about its setup.

This episode of Stargirl only exacerbates that concern. It’s obvious by design and color scheme that Stargirl and S.T.R.I.P.E.S. is a nod to another heroic duo in Captain America and Iron Man — an All-American and a Metal-Man respectively — I cannot help but feel like the world needs to establish its own identity. Stargirl needs to step away from what has been done before.

This episode is a small step towards that direction.

Courtney and Pat talk about the responsibilities that come with being a hero.
Credit: DC Universe

In “S.T.R.I.P.E.,” Courtney (Brec Bassinger) continues her battle against a surviving member of the Injustice Society of America. As a result, Pat, in wanting to help his stepdaughter not only as a dad but a fellow hero, reveals intel including the sad truth about what happened to the Justice Society — including his good friend, Starman.

While this unfolds, Barbara is happy to see her daughter and new husband finally bonding, allowing her the time to take charge of her life more at work and in town — at least, until things become complicated.

Because hero and secret identities cross! Hands are revealed! And nefarious plots come to light, putting loved ones in the line of fire.

More than anything, we learn that there’s something special about Blue Valley as it seems that everyone here is both old fashioned, and yet, interconnected. This episode is purely a backstory look into the roots of the JSA and IJSA. It also humanizes Pat by ironically putting him inside of a rusty tin can and reveals surprisingly complicated layers to Brainwave.

Pat with his Iron S.T.R.I.P.E. robot he built to combat bad guys.
Pat with his Iron S.T.R.I.P.E. robot he built to combat bad guys. Credit: DC Universe

Probably the most entertaining thing about this one was the transformation of Courtney and Pat into their heroic forms: one decides to stitch Starman’s old costume together, the other makes an embarrassingly clunky robot that’s more Iron Giant than Iron Man. Both are getting into parallel antics and excuses of ‘falling down the stairs’ while going through the beats of their developments. (with a nice “You’re the best around” Karate Kid montage that again plays towards the campiness of the series).

The most annoying thing about this episode is Pat’s son Mike and his video game high school? That feels out of place, especially in an old-fashioned All-American town.  I also cannot pin down where Mike’s accent seems to come from for the life of me — if it’s New York or Bostonian? — as Pat doesn’t have any trace of it.

I also dislike how ‘convenient’ the writing is for this series. Frequently, villains “stumble” upon heroes too coincidentally, and, instead of natural drama, we’re thrown into conflict mostly by accident — like overhearing a conversation or having the villain’s kids interact in school with heroes with perfect serendipitous timing — in a not so well-established game of cat and mouse.

Still, we get a good couple of action scenes with Stargirl in this one, whose style is still fun to watch. Though it’s obvious this show desperately seeks to attract a youthful audience, I’m not sure how well it is doing in succeeding. What is working is that the show is entertaining enough.

Christian Angeles
Christian Angeles
Christian Angeles is a screenwriter who likes sharing stories and getting to meet people. He also listens to words on the page via audible and tries to write in ways that make people feel things. All on a laptop. Sometimes from an app on his phone.

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