Is anyone already missing the Shadowlands on DC’s Stargirl? The supernatural purgatory had all the surprising cameos and character development we were missing. “Summer School: Chapter Eleven” was a return to form for Stargirl. Granted, the trope of the Shadowlands being in black-and-white has been done to death, but it worked perfectly during this chapter, especially with the elements that showcased colors (like the blood). The darker scenes very much had a Pleasantville vibe to them. This chapter was a fun and thought-provoking hour that tied Stargirl Season 2 together quite nicely.
Courtney may be the hero of the story, but as we’ve discussed in the past, she’s made many mistakes. Naturally, some of those mistakes and losses would result in her having guilt about her less-than-perfect superhero run. I loved that Stargirl highlighted everything that Courtney could be sad about, like her absent dad, the deaths of Joey’s family, and what happened to her friends in the JSA.
“Summer School: Chapter Eleven” picked up all the slack from the last two seasons and made Courtney confront all her issues. She’s done bits in the past, but this journey was one big emotional weight. She finally had to acknowledge the consequences of being a superhero and how she played a part in everything—it’s something I worried Stargirl wouldn’t do, but the decision here paid off.
It’s great to have Joey and his family return for a cameo. The Zaricks were one of the more heartbreaking stories of Stargirl Season 1 because The Wizard truly seemed like he wanted to be good and do well for his family and the people of Blue Valley. Plus, Joey could’ve been a trusted friend to Courtney and joined the Justice Society of America (like Brainwave Jr. before he was murdered). Stargirl has gifted us with many surprising cameos, so it’s fun to have these nostalgic reminders pop up now and then.
That includes Yolanda and Rick’s appearances in their Eclipso nightmare. Look, they may be series regulars, but they haven’t been seen for so long. At this point, any appearance gives us hope that their characters aren’t fully gone and will return one day in the future. Crossing my fingers, this will happen! Courtney needs to realize it’s not her fault what happened to her friends. The ISA and Eclipso would’ve killed hundreds to thousands of people; Wildcat and Hourman did what they felt was necessary to save lives. Unfortunately, it didn’t seem like the internal conflict will be over any time soon.
One of the best things about “Summer School: Chapter Eleven” came from Cindy’s scenes with Courtney and her personal growth. Let’s get this upfront: Cindy Burman is still a villain, and the JSA should be cautious of what she does after the Eclipso final battle. As of right now, there’s a chance—a very good chance—that Cindy could be redeemed and become any ally. Cindy facing her past, like the horrors caused by The Dragon King and her accidentally killing her mother, were huge hurdles that she overcame to find some peace. I loved especially her having the heart-to-heart with her dying mother before she had to leave the Shadowlands; the scene was the closest she would ever have to apologize for the sins of the past. It’s a very sympathizing moment for this villain.
There’s still a lot to go for her to unpack her baggage, but she’s starting to see who the true villain was and how she can change for the future. If Courtney hadn’t pulled her out of the Shadowlands, it’s reasonable to deduce that Cindy would’ve died there. Cindy loved killing the fake Courtney and Dragon King, but the guilt and Eclipso’s manipulation would’ve eventually consumed her. Hopefully, Courtney going back to save Cindy will create some small bridge between them. Courtney didn’t have to do what she did, even with her being a superhero. She did it because she wanted to protect and help Cindy—that’s something Cindy can’t disregard.
It’s a shame that The Shade died on “Summer School: Chapter Eleven,” but his farewell was a fitting end to his story arc. Richard Swift found the redemption his character needed by doing one last act of goodness to help the JSA and Barbara. He’ll always be a neutral anti-hero who will prioritize his wants first, but he wasn’t an evil villain like we’ve had on Stargirl before. I wish we had more of the character; his scenes mostly consisted of him teasing the JSA, offering little tidbits of information, or the big battle to find Eclipso. The Shade was underutilized during Stargirl Season 2—he could’ve done so much more for the overall story.
Now that the original Doctor Mid-Nite is in the real world, will he know how to stop Eclipso once and for all? The JSA doesn’t have The Shade around to offer the extra support, so the team needs someone with inside knowledge about stopping the supervillain. Dr. Charles McNider is a super genius, and since Beth currently has the mantle of being Doctor Mid-Nite, Charles could help fight and provide all the intel. It’ll be interesting to find out what puzzles the original Doctor Mid-Nite can offer about the past, like during the big battle against the ISA and their earlier encounters with Eclipso. Since most of the JSA members are together again, let’s cross our fingers Stargirl gets right into the action to stop Eclipso in a thrilling end.
DC’s Stargirl airs new episodes Tuesdays at 8 p.m. EST on The CW and streams Wednesdays on cwtv.com.