Review: Stargirl 1×10-“Brainwave Jr.“
[Editor’s note: This review may contain spoilers]
Director: Andi Armaganian
Writer: James Robinson
Starring: Brec Bassinger, Yvette Monreal, Anjelika Washington, Cameron Gellman, Trae Romano, Jake Austin Walker, Meg DeLacy, Neil Jackson, Christopher James Baker, Amy Smart and Luke Wilson
Reviewed by: Sean Blumenshine
After Barbara discovers what Pat and Courtney have been hiding, the JSA go into the tunnels with Henry to find Brainwave before he is corrupted by the ISA.
Everything between Henry Jr. and his father is fascinating in this. It’s interesting to see a better side of Brainwave and to learn about his marriage. The episode nicely makes Brainwave sympathetic before ripping it away to reveal how monstrous he is. And while that end result wasn’t exactly shocking, the build up to it was full of tension and dread. The final scene with Henry Jr. was heartbreaking and I commend the creative team for not having anyone scream “no” to the sky or anything. That last scene was the most tension-filled sequence of the show so far.
I love the subplot with Pat and Barbara. It’s understandable that Barbara would be furious that her husband and daughter would keep something so major from her especially considering that it puts Courtney in severe danger. I love that she found out right after Courtney got hurt so badly. But Barbara’s also reasonable. On other shows, Barbara being angry would have lasted half a season. Or an entire season in the case of Supergirl. But I like that she’s mature enough to recognize that something weird is going on and starts to help Pat. That’s an interesting direction and I appreciate that it gives Amy Smart a little more to do because she’s too talented to just be the mom.
I like that Rick gets so sidetracked by his vendetta. His friends needed him in that fight and he was more concerned with vengeance than the mission. I hope that becomes a future source of tension; Rick is only on this team for himself. There’s a sense of loyalty that he has to his friends now that he has them but even that gets shoved to the side when he sees Grundy. That’s an interesting dynamic for the team.
While the fight choreography was excellent and thrilling, I question the level of violence. Wildcat and Stargirl both spend a good chunk of their fight with Dragon King’s henchmen slitting throats with fake looking CGI blood spurting out. The show is vague about what exactly Dragon King’s minions are; I assume mind controlled people but I don’t know. Regardless, Yolanda and Courtney are especially violent. It’s bizarre to see these two teenage girls kill people with zero remorse or response. I don’t totally buy that Courtney, as upbeat and positive as she is, can callously cut someone’s throat open with no reaction.
This is an excellent episode and one of the show’s best so far. There’s a great balance of character, plot and action that’s difficult to pull off but the show makes look effortless. I have a minor gripe with the violence but it didn’t kill the experience for me. I loved watching it.