The second season's fourth episode of The CW's Stargirl, titled simply enough "Summer School: Chapter Four" is still going strong. Touching most of the bases from the last episode and still balancing the light and dark tones throughout the episode, but both are getting darker. Hot off the heels of last week's action when the JSA not only loses their first confrontation with the Shade, who we now know is looking for the Black Diamond but also accidentally lost the Thunderbolt.
Writer Taylor Steitz is focused on the parents this week. With exception of the Eclipso tutorial, all the stories this week revolve around the JSA and their uncertain relationships with their parents. From the cold open to Beth trying to help her parents get back together, to the comical date night, the theme of parents keeping secrets is all over this episode. Director Lea Thompson again uses negative space and lighting to balance the foreboding evil that is coming. The darkness is becoming more literal as the scenes get darker. Pay attention to the lighting changes when Shade or Cindy comes into the frame. Lights go off in the background, Jonathan Cake (still brilliant) hiding in the shadows. Meg DeLacy's (Cindy) wardrobe has even taken a darker tone.
Standouts in this episode include the returning Sportsmaster and Tigress. Recently announced as Season Three series regulars Neil Hopkins (Larry "Crusher" Crock) and Joy Osmanski (Paula Brooks), respectively, escape prison and highlight the second act with Luke Wilson (Pat) and Amy Smart (Barb) in what could only be described as "Date Night". Just normal folks comparing parenting tips and troubles with supervillains. It is the lighthearted moments like this one that set a tone that perfectly fits the DC Golden Age characters and viewers will be interested to see where these two are headed. It is also time to recognize Meg DeLacy as Cindy Burman. With more screen time this week, DeLacy is dealing with some issues herself whilst trying to recruit all the misfit toys that have been rolling around Blue Valley, flowing from troubled to evil flawlessly as we see her ISA grow.
Points for the ominous bass drops sound design this week. Viewers will feel it more this episode. Points for the wardrobe this week. Pay attention to Cindy's outfits as it becomes darker throughout the episode and seems to foreshadow something bigger. Points for "Date Night" balancing the fun and tension. This scene is a great example of why this show is better than most superhero shows. Even amidst the darkness, there needs to be light. Points off for stretching out the lie that Pat and Barb are telling. They will tell eventually and we know it, maybe they could telegraph the 'secret' a little less.
The CW's DC's Stargirl is way above average for a superhero show as Thompson delivers another triumph with this episode. The devil is in the details, or in this case the shadows, as the darkness is creeping not only into the story and themes but into the scene as well. Courtney (Brec Bassinger) enters into an uneasy alliance with Shade he tells her that "Bad isn't the same thing as evil." Stargirl knows that she will have to face Eclipso, but who can she rely on? Her Parents? Shade? As the tone and themes get darker the comedy is highlighted to keep the audience off-balance and unprepared for what Cindy and Eclipso have in store.