Length: 13 episodes (42-53 minutes each)
Cast: Brec Bassinger, Yvette Monreal, Anjelika Washington, Cameron Gellman, Trae Romano, Meg DeLacy, Amy Smart, Luke Wilson, and Hunter Sansone.
Premieres on Warner TV (StarHub Ch 515; Singtel Ch 306) on 11 August. New episodes air every Wednesday at 9pm
4 out of 5 stars
This review covers episodes 1-4 of Stargirl Season 2.
What do superheroes do when there are no more supervillains left to fight? Stargirl's second season explores this in its first few episodes, as it shows Courtney Whitmore (Brec Bassinger), the civilian identity of Stargirl, attempting to figure out who she is without a supervillain threat to rally against even though she has friends and classmates who also have secret identities as superheroes and supervillains. This is also where the appeal of Stargirl lies, with its high school setting and astounding number of super-powered beings in a small town. The hit series returns for a second season, set during summer school, as Courtney and some friends attend classes during summer vacation. The new season sees powerful enemies rising, the discovery of some formidable new allies, as well as the trials and tribulations of being a teenager.
Stargirl is a superhero drama that revolves around a teenager girl who finds a powerful staff and goes on to lead a new generation of superheroes. The second season revolves around the rise of a deadly new threat — Eclipso — even as an old rival sets out to form her own team of superheroes to oppose Stargirl's Justice Society of America. In the meantime, Stargirl finds herself learning to juggle her civilian life and her superhero one, in an effort to balance the two.
With Season One's introductions and set-ups out of the way, Season Two is now comfortable enough with Courtney's family to give us more interesting dynamics between them. The Whitmore family is the emotional core of the show, as it explores the challenges that come with a second marriage as well as having a superhero in the family. Gone is the plot point of keeping Stargirl's identity a secret from her mother Barbara (Amy Smart) and stepbrother Mike (Trae Romano), and the family finally gets to function as one unit now. That's not to say that it's all a bed of roses, as they do bicker (like all families do) and some members still face the pain of isolation. But there's a feeling of tighter bonds and cheerful optimism, which is ultimately what Stargirl's character is about.
In contrast to this happy family, the show goes into more emotional territory when it reveals that a character's parents are going through a divorce. As someone who grew up with parents going through divorce, I felt it was an authentic and genuine look at how a teen would react to such an event. Although it's a secondary plot thread, I could identify with this character's inability to articulate feelings about the divorce, how it subtly and not-so-subtly affected other parts of life, and this character's naive but futile attempts to get the parents back together again. As those with divorced parents know, there's rarely a happy ending to such a scenario, and Stargirl isn't the type of show that will downplay the seriousness of such an event by having the parents happily reconcile at the end (the storyline was not resolved in the episodes that this reviewer watched) . This was probably the most emotionally wrecking part of the season, and you truly feel for this character, who struggles to understand what is happening.
As teased in the trailers, the big bad for the season is Eclipso, depicted in the series as a disembodied force that possesses others and is capable of bringing out the worst in people. Although not all that much of the villain is shown in these four episodes, he looks to be an interesting villain and the catalyst for the formation of another supervillain group. This rival group, headed by an old nemesis of Stargirl, promises to test the Justice Society of America both physically and emotionally, by dint of the members who will be recruited for said group.
We also get a fun episode which brings back several villains from the first season, and puts them in an unlikely alliance with our heroes. It's another display of how comfortable the show is with its premise and characters now, that it can execute such wacky scenarios and still retain its premise of being a show about high schoolers who are secretly superheroes. It neatly involves both Stargirl's superhero life and civilian life, tying the two together in this story.
If you watched the trailer with high expectations that a certain superhero with a powerful green ring would join the team, you may find yourself disappointed. Said superhero does appear in the series (and like all the other superheroes, this is a new character who takes on the mantle of a legacy character) and we get to see some measure of this character's potential. However, from the number of special effects required to depict this character properly in just one episode alone, it's clear that this will not be feasible for an entire season's worth of appearances. Nevertheless, it was a good acknowledgement that this character exists, and now we're just waiting for another exceptionally fast superhero to make an appearance.
Stargirl's second season takes everything that we like about the series and expands on it, even as it covers new territory and provides deeper emotional resonance. Stargirl and her friends look like they'll have their hands full dealing with new threats this season. But then again, they also make powerful new allies, so perhaps the odds won't be that stacked against them after all.
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