When you’re such a bad person that even Courtney Whitmore can’t see the good in you, you must be pretty bad. Spoilers follow for Stargirl Season 3, Episode 11, “Frenemies: Chapter Eleven: The Haunting .”
As Courtney (Brec Bassinger), Sylvester (Joel McHale) and the JSA plot to take down a major threat, the arrival of someone from their past sends shock waves through the town.
I’m still pretty shook after the way the Crocks died last week; I watched a guy put scissors in his eyes on Titans in gory detail, but this was way worse; watching the two characters lose hope, express their love in their last breath, and then disappear from the world entirely was a lot to take in. Stargirl doesn’t lighten up this week, either. As we close in on the show’s final episodes, we can see some of the plot threads the writers likely would’ve started to tug on in the fourth season.
Artemis has slowly grown as a member of the cast, and this episode is as much hers as it is anyone else’s. Stella Smith hasn’t gotten much chance to really act on Stargirl; her character has mostly been relegated to acting like an unhinged jock even as she tries to make good with the JSA. In this episode, we get a better idea of what the character could’ve been like with more time.
Courtney, Yolanda, and Beth help her track down her father’s mask, which is still right where Jordan killed him, and Stargirl doesn’t waste any time making the kids wonder what happened. Instead of making it an ongoing mystery for drama, the show obeys the previous rules it set up for Beth’s super goggles and they quickly know exactly what went down. She screams her heart out there; later, she’s in her home across the street from Courtney’s all alone, and after throwing a kettle weight through the wall she breaks down sobbing; Barbara finds her there, and it’s a genuine, heartwrenching moment.
Despite how little screentime she’s had, there’s a lot going on with Artemis that I wish we could’ve seen. The parent-child relationships on this show are central to just about every plot thread, and if we know only one thing about this character, it’s that it matters deeply to her what her parents think about her. When they literally broke out of jail to give her parental advice, she took it seriously and followed in her parents’ example when it came to reforming as well. With them now dead and gone, how would that change her for the worse or better? In the comics, she becomes the new Tigress in Young Justice, but here she’ll never get the chance.
The other character the episode focuses on is Jordan Mahkent and his return. Of course, his parents and the people at the American Dream association are excited that he’s returned, but what surprised me is how suspicious Cameron seems to be. Stargirl seems to be signaling a heel turn for the high schooler, and he’s in a very Anakin-esque place. He’s suspicious of everyone around him–did Courtney betray him? Did his father? He’s another one where a fourth season would’ve been great for his development.
Bringing back Jordan/Icicle, meanwhile, is smart. Of the ISA members from Season 1, he’s the only one who makes sense from both a logic and thematic perspective. Ice-based characters are notoriously hard to kill, and he’s the only one who bridged the gap between being the bad guy and thinking he’s the good guy. All his scenes are tense, and even Courtney who, just moments earlier, was talking about bringing the ISA and JSA together to fight the Ultra Humanite, doesn’t want to hear a word Jordan has to say.
On that note, that’s one of the few weird things in this season–the threat of the Ultra Humanite. The season has been so laser-focused on who killed the Gambler and who has been watching Blue Valley, and the fakeout with Mister Bones, that Ultra Humanite feels wildly underdeveloped for a Stargirl villain.
With just two episodes of Stargirl left, it seems like they would need more time to tie up the loose ends–there’s enough time to handle Icicle, but not Ultra Humanite, in a satisfying way; Rick’s super-steroid addiction feels like a bigger problem than they have time for. Similarly, the storylines involving Jakeem and Mike pursuing Cindy, and Sylvester dealing with his anger, just aren’t landing. There’s so much about this show that does work that these things that don’t almost stand out more as a result, but I’m still hopeful for an ending that feels like an ending despite the show’s premature cancelation.