Stargirl season 1, episode 9 review: Brainwave

Stargirl -- "Brainwave" -- Image Number: STG109b_0097r.jpg -- Pictured (L-R): Brec Bassinger as Courtney Whitmore and Luke Wilson as Pat Dugan -- Photo: Mark Hill/The CW -- © 2020 The CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved.
Stargirl -- "Brainwave" -- Image Number: STG109b_0097r.jpg -- Pictured (L-R): Brec Bassinger as Courtney Whitmore and Luke Wilson as Pat Dugan -- Photo: Mark Hill/The CW -- © 2020 The CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved. /

“He was so scared. And I was scared too.” Minor spoilers for Stargirl season 1, episode 9 follow.

After breaking up the fight between Cindy and Stargirl, Henry begins to come to grips with his newfound powers and the legacy of his father on the latest episode of the DC Universe show.

Courtney thinks that he can be brought over to the JSA’s side though and only has to convince the others to let her.

The new telepath

After beginning the series with showing Henry as the stereotypical jock bully who also betrayed Yolanda’s trust, it really felt like there was no way that Henry ever could have become sympathetic. Yet, here we are, nine episodes into the season and that’s exactly what happens in this episode. It makes Henry a sympathetic character. Sure, he’s still very unlikable, but he becomes a much more rounded out character here.

The most apparent theme is this episode revolves around the idea that the world isn’t black-and-white. There are no easy answers to who people are as they contain multitudes, which is exactly why this episode works so well on the Henry front. For the entire show so far, we’ve been shown the kind of person Henry is and, that is to say, he’s a pretty bad person. While that doesn’t necessarily change here, he becomes so much more three-dimensional and a character worth investing in. The music choice for when he’s learning for about his powers, “Insane in the Membrane” by Cypress Hill, really doesn’t work at all though.

The scene that particularly illustrates this is when Courtney goes to try and recruit Henry into the JSA, despite the wishes of Yolanda and Rick. It’s a great scene that helps display both Courtney and Henry’s thought processes and how they see the world around them. It’s an extremely nuanced conversation between the two, but it never feels out of place. It truly feels like two teenagers, who are still trying to find their way in the world, trying to articulate their thoughts in the best way they know how. It’s never dumbed down and feels incredibly real.

A rift in the JSA

With Courtney moving to attempt to recruit Henry to the JSA’s cause, this unsurprisingly causes a rift to form between the team. Yolanda and Rick think that it’s a stupid idea, while Courtney and Beth are optimistic for the best-case scenario. It’s yet another great way that this episode demonstrates that the world isn’t as black-and-white as some people make it out to be.

Without diving into spoilers, there are some great moments that illustrate the thematic elements with both Yolanda and Rick. They’re heroes, but that doesn’t mean that they automatically act in a certain way. Even if they have costumes, they’re still human and live in a world of grey.

With Yolanda in particular, especially when it comes to Henry, she has a blind spot filled with hatred. There’s not much done with it here, but it creates for an interesting dynamic for the decisions that she makes here. She doesn’t necessarily act like a hero, but she never fully gives into her desires. It’s fine line for a character to walk and it’s handled well here.

Dragon King’s plan continues

After being pelted at with hints for the past several episodes, we finally get to know what the plans for Dragon King, and the ISA, are moving toward. For any readers of Stars and S.T.R.I.P.E., the revelation won’t be particularly shocking as it basically the same as in said series. However, what Stargirl has done that the series didn’t was make the plan much more believable.

Over the past eight episodes, the show has laid the groundwork in small increments as to what the final plan for the ISA truly is and every little piece and hint begins to come together here. Almost everything that one may have thought, “Why is this being shown?” leads to the plan as stated in this episode and it organically comes together. Everything for the endgame of the plan to the actual implementation of it in the story itself, so far at least, is much better handled than it was in the comic.

Stargirl. S1E9. Brainwave. B+. <em>Stargirl</em> presents its most nuanced thematic episode yet and ends with one of the most suspenseful scenes of the show yet. A scene that won’t be spoiled here.

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Stargirl streams on DC Universe in Mondays and airs on The CW on Tuesdays. Did you enjoy this week’s episode? Let us know in the comments below!