This week DC's Stargirl, "Summer School: Chapter Eleven" has slowed the pace again, delivering a tense, somewhat predictable & drama-filled installment that sets all the pieces in motion for an explosive final two episodes. After being tricked into summoning Eclipso (Nick Tarabay) Shade (Jonathan Cake)last week, despite Jennie's (Ysa Penarejo) help, Courtney (Brec Bassinger) finds herself stranded in the harsh "upside-down" of the Stargirl- verse known as the Shadowlands.
Inside the Shadowlands, where we spend most of the episode is set, Courtney runs into Cindy (Meg DeLacy) who has been surviving since Eclipso sent her there six episodes ago. While avoiding attacks from Cindy's dad, the Dragon King, Dr. Midnite (Alex Collins) pulls Courtney through a portal into the Star-cave and explains to Courtney that due to the loss of his daughter to Eclipso & their shared appreciation of Absynthe, that he and Shade are friends. That's why he placed Dr. Midnite in the Shadowlands, to protect him. Jenni is able to use her ring to find Shade in a movie house, where Pat (Luke Wilson) and Barb (Amy Smart) convince the ailing Shade to open a doorway to the Shadowlands, but Courtney has to find Cindy first. Eclipso, in his young Bruce Gordon form, taunts her by showing her Yolanda's (Yvette Monreal) depressive state and visiting Rick (Cameron Gellman) in jail, blaming Courtney for the state their lives are in. Eclipso points out that he has irreparably tortured and hurt everyone Courtney loves- forcing Courtney to break down and admit that she hates Eclipso, finally breaking through her brightness. Has Eclipso defeated Stargirl? Shade just barely manages to keep the doorway open long enough for Courtney, Cindy, and Dr. Midnite to escape through the doorway before he turns to smoke.
I'm going to hand out some points for boldly starting the episode in black and white, initially shocking and confusing viewers. A few more points for Alex Collins taking over the role of Dr. Midnite for Henry Thomas. Alex embodies Charle McNider and I am looking forward to his role in the rest of the season. A few more points for Dragon King's eyes closing like a lizard's. This barely noticeable detail adds to the terrifying torture scene. Honestly, I have to subtract a few points for the pace of this episode. Personally, I do l enjoy the tension building, but the show itself is slow right now. Some fantastic moments are offset by the slow pace. I don't feel we needed a full episode to catch our breath, but hopefully, we will need it for an action-packed final two episodes. Writers Paula Sevenbergen & Robbie Hyne manage to tap into nearly every teen's deepest fear that their parents don't really want them. When Shadowland Barb is telling Courtney that she didn't want a child, that her life would be better without her, really hits in the gut for teens and adults as well. Director Sheelin Choksey gets notice for invoking a heavy Nightmare on Elm Street mood while Courtney is in the Shadowlands. Touches of other classic horror films such as Frankenstein and Psycho are palpable in the atmosphere as well.
This week DC's Stargirl slows down the pace quite a bit. Although packed with exciting plot points and beats, this somewhat predictable episode falls a little flat for me. Mostly serving as a jumping board for the exciting final two episodes, "Summer School: Chapter Eleven" left me, for the first time this season, wanting more. However, now that Dr. Midnite and Cindy have joined the team, at the apparent cost of losing Shade, the JSA may finally be able to defeat Eclipso. Don't count old Shade out just yet, don't forget there were two pillars of smoke on that map.