Stargirl’s “Brainwave Jr” is an undisputed series’ best

Picking up where last week’s episode left off, Henry’s dad, Brainwave, has awakened in the hospital with a case of amnesia, not remembering the last ten years of his life. Henry sees this as a chance to rehabilitate his father, but the ISA takes it upon themselves to repair his mental block and return him to his villainous ways.

Meanwhile, the Dugan family undergoes some turmoil of its own as the cat is out of the bag and Courtney’s mom learns of her daughter’s superhero shenanigans and the dark, seedy underbelly of Blue Valley she’s been blind to.

I say this without hesitation or doubt, “Brainwave Jr.” is the single best episode of Stargirl’s run so far. The examination of a character poised on a razor’s edge, ready to fall to one side or the other… good or evil was so enrapturing. Christopher James Baker did such an amazing job with the part, bringing various levels of cynicism, self-doubt, anger, and optimism when needed. It would have been so easy for another actor to simply dismiss the role as fluff, but Baker truly gives it his all making Henry a character who, while he had done some terrible and could potentially do worse, was always someone you could sympathize with.

What’s more, the episode was well-written on every level. Barbara’s reaction to learning that her daughter and husband were side-job superheros was incredibly well acted and believable… there was no acceptance, no understanding, just a rightful sense of betrayal as she had every right to feel. Her reaction of immediately throwing Pat out of the house was understandable and, as I said, felt incredibly authentic.

The action in the episode was finely choreographed and and a lot of fun to watch. It was great to see Courtney be able to handle herself without her staff and I appreciate the fact that the episode didn’t need to hammer us over the head with this story trope, but rather just let her go to work.

Rick is still an idiot, though.

The ending was intense, amazing, outstanding, and every other positive adjective I can come up with. It was heartfelt, intense, and brought Henry’s journey to an incredible conclusion and, what’s more, maintained that wonderful optimism that Stargirl has cultured and nurtured throughout its run even in the darkest of moments. There was so much happening and, yet, still managed to hit all of the emotional notes it needed to.

So well done.

“Brainwave Jr.” is not only the best episode of Stargirl, but just an outstanding hour of television all together.

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