Stargirl season 1, episode 12 review: Stars and S.T.R.I.P.E. Part One

DC's Stargirl -- "Stars & S.T.R.I.P.E. Part One" -- Image Number: STG112a_0173r.jpg -- Pictured: Neil Joy Osmanski as Tigress -- Photo: Jace Downs/The CW -- © 2020 The CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved.
DC's Stargirl -- "Stars & S.T.R.I.P.E. Part One" -- Image Number: STG112a_0173r.jpg -- Pictured: Neil Joy Osmanski as Tigress -- Photo: Jace Downs/The CW -- © 2020 The CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved. /

“The battle is nigh.” Minor spoilers for Stargirl season 1, episode 12 follow.

With Courtney overcoming her insecurities and embracing the mantle of Stargirl once again in the latest episode of the DC Universe show, the JSA is ready to bring the fight to the ISA before their plan starts.

With Brainwave remembering who Courtney and Pat are though, Sportsmaster and Tigress set out to kill them before the ISA’s plan even begins.

Final preparations

Even with Tigress and Sportsmaster on the hunt for Whitemore/Dugan clan, that doesn’t mean that final preparations aren’t in order for the rest of the JSA. In fact, they only have twelve hours before their world gets blown to smithereens by the ISA, or at least, that’s what they think will happen. What can they actually do about it though? Well, that all comes down to Rick deciphering his father’s journal.

A good portion of this episode is not dedicated to Stargirl prepping the JSA with a pep talk or something like that, which absolutely would have been the easy trope to fall back on. No, the prepping in this episode comes mainly from Rick and his final steps to decipher the journal. He has a nice moment with Justin that Rick from even two episodes ago would not have done, but the shining part of this episode regarding Rick comes from a scene between him and Pat. It’s a genuinely wonderfully scene that finally gets Rick to smile and it’s genuinely heartwarming.

There’s also some emotional preparation that needs to happen before going up against the ISA and it’s nice to see that happen here as well, at least, partially. Yolanda and Beth have a moment together that could have been extrapolated a bit more than it was as it just ends after the conflict of the scene was introduced. For Mike and Courtney though, they have a better resolution to their issues because she is finally able to be honest with him. It’s a good scene for Mike as it allows him to get a lot of thoughts out into the open, as well as for Courtney as she no longer has to lie to him. It’s obviously not going to be the end of their problems together, but it’s a nice resolution for now.

The endgame

On the ISA’s side though, we finally understand the true endgame of what they’ve been planning for the entire season. We’ve seen glimpses of it in Dragon King’s zombie-like henchmen, but now everything is revealed. With that reveal though, it comes with the nuance that the show has portrayed Jordan with for the entire season.

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What this episode does is that it basically pulls a card from the Black Panther playbook and it makes the villain, or villains in this case, pushing for actual change to happen. Where Black Panther uses this method to cause change in the hero, Stargirl uses it a bit differently here. It allows for the JSA to be self-aware that maybe the ISA is right, but the show quickly dissuades that notion without disproving the motivations of the ISA.

In short, the ISA is carrying a plan that is motivated for the right reasons, but they are going about it in the absolute worst way possible and millions of people will get hurt or killed because of it. This creates a nice bit of nuance for the show, even if it is done through a manifesto narrative device, which is only a fraction better than a cliché villain monologue.

The ISA against itself

While their plan is coming to fruition though, this episode also shows that most of the members of the ISA don’t actually like each other. It’s a nice inverse of the JSA, who are all friends that bicker and fight constantly, but have each other’s backs at the end of the day. The ISA on the other hand act mostly cordial around each other, but can’t really stand each other and that is most clear with Sportsmaster and Tigress here.

Even though they are only in a few scenes of this episode, it’s very clear that they don’t actually care about the rest of the ISA and only care about themselves and their daughter. This can then seemingly be applied to the rest of the ISA, which was previously shown when Jordan killed William Zarick, which is expounded upon here.

Then there’s Dragon King. This is pure speculation, but it feels like he’s been playing the ISA the entire time and that he will turn on them almost immediately once the brainwashing is finished or that his machine isn’t doing what Brainwave thinks that it’s doing. He has always felt like he was playing by his own rules this season and it felt that way again in this episode.

B+. <em>Stargirl</em> heads into its first season finale with another solid episode, even if it had a few missed opportunities.. Stargirl. S1E12. Stars and S.T.R.I.P.E. Part One

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Stargirl returns to DC Universe next Monday, August 10, and The CW next Tuesday, August 11, at 8:00 p.m for its season 1 finale. Are you looking forward to “Stars and S.T.R.I.P.E. Part Two”? Let us know in the comments below!