Her Golden Age has come to an end, or has it? Brec Bassinger and Geoff Johns give DC’s STARGIRL a hearty series finale that pays homage to legacy while leaving enough of an open door to keep fans anxious for a possible return.
When DC’s STARGIRL entered the primetime live-action franchise that included a successfully connected television universe that included Arrow, The Flash, Supergirl, and DC’s Legends of Tomorrow the heroine was already a celebrated fan-favorite. In the capable hands of series showrunner Geoff Johns who had also introduced and conceived of the character that was a bridge to connecting the contemporary Modern Age of Heroes with its Golden Age, the Original Series starring Brec Bassinger in the titular role was poised for greatness.
As one of the few series launched on the DC subscriber service that would morph into HBO Max, DC’s Stargirl was uniquely positioned in that it broadcast premiered on a paid service, and then would run an encore presentation on The CW. Premiering after the fateful events of the 5-part epic “Crisis on Infinite Earths” adaptation, it wasn’t inherently clear if the new series was part of the Prime-Earth continuity, especially since after the conclusion of the event, a multiverse was allowed to exist and in a montage, Stargirl and her then not-formally introduced allies, were designated to exist on Earth-2.
But where ever in the Arrowverse, Stargirl existed, it wasn’t much of a concern with its fans, who had been gifted with an adventure series promising as much heart as it had spectacle. From the start, Bassinger gave a deeply rooted and endearing performance as Courtney Whitmore, an over-achieving girl-next-door whose life is shaken to its core when her mother Barbara (Amy Smart) marries Pat Dugan (Luke Wilson), unaware that Pat was once a sidekick to the Golden Age hero Starman (recurring guest star Joel McHale), and both served as members of the Justice Society of America.
Comic book fans have long regarded the mythic and storied history of the JSA, the first gathering of superheroes that predates the world’s greatest heroes teaming up in the Justice League. The JSA are the “originals”, the templates of which inspired the Silver Age of heroes as is most evidenced in the torch passing from Jay Garrick/The Flash of the Golden Age, to the Silver Age’s Barry Allen. When Stargirl opens, Pat and Barbara have uprooted their family, including Courtney and step-brother Mike (Trae Romano) from the West Coast to the suburbs of Blue Valley, Nebraska.
It isn’t long before Pat’s ulterior motives are revealed and the secret of Blue Valley is discovered, as Dugan follows a trail that leads him right to the hidden lair of the JSA’s most nefarious enemies in the Injustice Society, who have begun to scheme to undermine the American way of life and subvert their influence across all corners of the country. Courtney discovers the Cosmic Staff that once powered the hero Starman, and assumes a secret identity as Stargirl in homage. Pat keeps an eye on his excitable stepdaughter in the armored guise of the technological suit or armor, S.T.R.I.P.E.
Courtney’s new friends soon join the pair. Yolanda (Yvette Monreal) adopts the identity of the agile and animalistic, Wildcat, while Beth (Anjelika Washington) aligns with the paraphernalia and tech gear of Doctor Mid-Nite, and Rick (Cameron Gellman) inherits the Hourman’s hourglass, following in his father’s footsteps. Under the banner of the new JSA, Stargirl leads the group of young adventurer’s up against the still-active membership of the ISA, led by the Icicle (Neil Jackson). The villainous mastermind is determined to bring them down until Mike intervenes smashing their enemy into crushed ice!
Not The End...
Into the next two seasons, Stargirl and the rest of the JSA work to live up to the ideals of their predecessors and even come face-to-face with an adversary from their past that nearly tore them apart. The nightmarish emotional manipulation of Eclispo bared down on the group, threatening to break their spirits. In an effort to confront this enemy from their past, Pat recalls the difficult decision that the JSA had to make, and when founding member, Jay Garrick/The Flash (played by guest star John Wesley Shipp) refuses to side with the decision to take a life, it causes an irreparable rift between the group.
The appearance of Jay Garrick as portrayed by Shipp, who also plays the role of the veteran speedster on The Flash marks the instant that the suggestion that Stargirl exists inside a similar, if not the same continuity as the rest of the Arrowverse sends a defining moment that ties this continuity to rest of the primetime series (post-Crisis). It sends a signal of the significant legacy of all of these characters and how their heroics are all interconnected. Legacy is a virtue that Courtney is determined to protect, and in the Third Season of the series, she struggles to keep things from falling apart and losing everything.
With the return of Sylvester Pemberton (McHale) who was thought dead after the first battle with the Injustice Society that brought down the JSA altogether, the Cosmic Staff is torn between its bond to Courtney and the original Starman, but as it turned out Starman was an imposter! Icicle had also resurrected and returned to Blue Valley, but he wasn't alone -- plotting his revenge against the JSA and partnering up with the diabolical Dragon King and the intelligent albino ape known as the Ultra-Humanite. It couldn't have made for any DC television series's most perfect sinister plot.
Courtney's two worlds collide as she is faced with the difficult decisions of owning up to her leadership role and living up to the memory of those fallen brave costumed adventurers that have come before her unifying a new Justice Society under the banner of heroism and aspiring to protect those unable to protect themselves. The situation becomes even more emotionally charged when she begins to develop feelings for Cameron (Hunter Sansone), the son of Icicle, who is himself caught between a rock and a cold place. The Season 3 finale, skates into an extremely dramatic and climatic final confrontation between the JSA, Icicle, and the Ultra-Humanite as Starman!
Legacy of It All
Fans weren’t expecting that Stargirl would wrap up its adventures after Season 3. The creatives behind the show even shot two alternate endings, the one that aired that pushed the timeline up 10 years and featured a stunning exchange between Jay Garrick/The Flash (Shipp) and the now-reformed Richard Swift/The Shade (Jonathan Cake), proving that in some way, shape or form, the JSA’s heroic journey continues. When the cast shot that finale, Shipp and Cake were actually delivering it in a slightly different narrative that was more suggestive of a cliffhanger…
Potentially, it might have set up a story arc to launch into Season 4. In the original script, when Garrick arrives at the JSA hall of heroes, 10 years into the future, he fears that he may have overshot the timeline. Determined to set things right, he enlists The Shade and warns him that in order for them to set things right, they need to travel back in time — to the moment that Courtney Whitmore discovers the Cosmic Staff — and prevent her ever becoming Stargirl! It would have been an interesting season indeed, and one that would have generationally connected the JSA.
From all indications, Season 3 may have landed on a satisfying conclusion, but it also left enough open-ended that if the opportunity were to present itself, Stargirl and the JSA might be able to continue their escapades. Unlike some of the other DC primetime series that were canceled, Batwoman, DC’s Legends of Tomorrow, and Naomi ended and left major plot lines dangling and disgruntled fans scratching their heads. With the exception of Javicia Leslie donning her suit as Batwoman in the upcoming ninth and final season of The Flash, it appears the Legends days are done.
Perhaps DC fans may get their wish. DC’s Stargirl after all debuted on a subscriber service, and with HBO Max now the hub for all DC Entertainment content, maybe — just maybe — an eventual return is in cards. As indicated in the final shots of the season, this is not an end… the heroic journey continues!
DC’s STARGIRL | starring Brec Bassinger, Luke Wilson, Yvette Monreal, Cameron Gellman, Anjelika Washington, and Amy Smart is available to purchase on iTunes and other digital download platforms.
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