Stargirl’s on the Run and the Attack in the Penultimate, “Stars and S.T.R.I.P.E., Part One”

With her identity compromised and the ISA on the hunt for blood, Courtney and the entire Dugan family go into hiding, but when Rick discovers what the bad guys are actually doing, a plan to control the minds of millions of people, the new JSA hatch a plan of attack.

While the episode starts very strongly with some heavy and brutal fights that really play up the jeopardy that the Dugan family is in, “Stars and S.T.R.I.P.E., Part One” ends up being the weakest entry into the series so far. Keep in mind, though, that Stargirl has been consistently great since it first aired and, when I say that this is the weakest entry, that is not a huge insult as far as this series is concerned.

To be honest, it’s a good episode, but it falls prey to the curse of the two-part story structure that the “Shiv” episodes managed to avoid by keeping the rising and falling action inside the part one and part two episodes. Basically, each part of the two-parter had a beginning, a middle, and an end. “Stars and S.T.R.I.P.E.” didn’t do that and, in my opinion, it made for weaker storytelling.

But, it’s still very good.

It opens with an attack on the Dugans on two fronts by Sportsmaster and Tigress that is equal parts sadistic and brutal and truly sell how much danger that the family is in. The fights are fun, scary, and wonderfully choreographed out.

I really do appreciate what fun villains that Sportsmaster and Tigress are. They genuinely love what they do without resorting to the tired cliche of moustache-twirling villainy. Basically, they strike me as just… very competitive and, to me at least, I find that staggeringly hilarious. Super competitive supervillians. I love that.

While this episode provides some plot tidbits that pay off and finally jettisons not only the dreary dull Principal Bowins, but also the hackneyed idea of the Dugan family not knowing Courtney and Pat’s secret.

The ISA plan was also hysterical as it involved brainwashing people into rejecting racism, providing them with clean energy, and universal healthcare (are we sure we’re on the right side here?) but then, unsurprisingly, sacrifices 25 percent of the population. I could be wrong, but I think this is the first time I’ve ever seen liberals used as effective supervillains outside of Fox News.

Still, in the end, this… well, decent episode serves as nothing more than a springboard for the events of next week’s episode. Unfortunately, it never really had a chance to be great on its own, but if this turns out to be the “worst” episode of the season, Stargirl has nothing to be ashamed of.

Finally, is it just me or was anyone else having problems getting this episode off the DC Universe streaming service? I had to get it off of the ratchet CW app, commercials and all, and I feel dirty for doing it.

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