In this week’s episode of Stargirl, we finally get the answer to a major question that has been hanging over the season: why did the staff choose Courtney? Is it because she’s Starman’s daughter like she believes? Or is it something else? “Shining Knight” is one of the best episodes of the season so far. Brec Bassinger gives her best performance yet as Courtney is forced to reevaluate everything she has been through thus far, including her decision to create the new JSA. Stargirl also directly confronts the idea that it’s your lineage that makes you special, a la Star Wars, Harry Potter, or Game of Thrones. With just two episodes until the season finale, let’s take a look at what happened in “Shining Knight.”
We open on Janitor Justin, who is having some trouble with his memories. He asks a very freaked out farmer for help finding his “white steed,” and the only thing he remembers is Pat as Stripesy. He realizes he needs to find Pat. Meanwhile, on a bus into town, a mysterious man is holding a locket that looks identical to Courtney’s. He ends up outside the Whitmore home, waiting to knock at the door. After the events of last week, Barbara, Pat, and Courtney are understandably shaken. Barbara is especially upset at the idea that Brainwave killed his own son and wants to call the authorities. But Pat points out that any attention could be very dangerous right now. He wants Barbara to take Courtney and Mike away from Blue Valley, but she refuses to leave without him. Pat says if they stay, all of them will need to act like nothing’s wrong to keep Icicle from finding out the truth.
Just then the doorbell rings. Mike lets the man from the bus in, and he introduces himself as Sam Kurtis: Courtney’s father. She flatly denies this could be the case, but then he pulls out his locket, which matches hers. He says he gave one to her as a baby with his photo inside and kept the ones with hers. He’s sorry for missing all these years, but he’s here now. Courtney, not believing him, demands to speak to Pat alone. Barbara asks Sam why he’s waited all this time. She searched for him after that Christmas and never found him. Sam says he’s been thinking about reaching out for months. He wants to get to know his daughter before it’s too late.
Courtney and Pat are in her bedroom while she starts to panic. If she’s not Starman’s daughter, then why did the staff work for her? She’s hit by a wave of guilt, thinking that her actions caused Henry and Joey to die and that without being Starman’s daughter she had no right to get involved. Pat tries to reassure her, telling her the staff still lit up for her and there has to be a reason why. Starman’s daughter or not, she is Stargirl. But Courtney is devastated. Mike approaches, asking what’s wrong, and Pat uncharacteristically snaps at him. He’s hurt, and Pat tries to apologize before telling him that everything will be fine. Mike doesn’t look like he believes him.
Courtney goes back downstairs and tells Sam she wants to talk with him. He says he’ll walk her to school, and they chat. They recall the same memories of Courtney’s childhood (or at least up until he last saw her when she was four). He says he’d give anything to change the past and offers to take her to breakfast, which she accepts. Pat goes to the shop where Beth and Rick are waiting for him. Yolanda is at church praying for Henry, and Pat informs the group that Courtney is with her father, who isn’t Starman. Justin shows up, raving about his sword and Pat. He hallucinates that Pat is the Dragon King and that the rest are his minions and begins swinging his sword at them. But Pat is able to talk him down and promises to help him uncover his memories.
Jordan and Dr. King talk, with Jordan offering his condolences about Henry’s death. But Dr. King is not broken up about it. He tells Jordan that his memories have returned and that he knows Stargirl’s identity: it’s Courtney Whitmore. King wants to kill both Courtney and Pat, which Jordan is upset by. He’s concerned for Barbara, noting losing Courtney would devastate her. King coldly says he’s killed his son and wife for their project. He says he can simply erase all memories of Courtney and Pat for Barbara so she won’t be in pain. King says he felt his own power grow when he killed Henry, and he knows he can expand their project even further now. He tells Jordan that if he doesn’t deal with Courtney soon, King will.
Pat tells Rick and Beth that Justin is actually the leader of the group Seven Soldiers of Victory nicknamed the Shining Knight. His sword is Excalibur, and he’s from another time. Justin slowly recalls some of his past, which includes being taken from his time and stripped of his identity before ending up in Blue Valley. Pat takes Justin home to recuperate, telling Barbara that he fears the ISA is planning a mass brainwashing. Meanwhile, Sam says he wants Courtney to visit him in Los Angeles and have more of a relationship. He then “casually” mentions that the lockets are both worth a lot of money. If she gave him her locket, he could pawn both and put down a deposit on an apartment she could stay in. Courtney is visibly deflated as she realizes this was the true reason for Sam’s visit. Disillusioned, she gives him the necklace and heads home.
When she arrives, Pat is there to meet her. He says he’ll be there for her no matter what she’s feeling or needs right now, and she hugs him, crying. Pat goes after Sam, telling him Courtney’s locket meant the world to her and that she has worn it every day since he disappeared. Sam says he’ll make it up to Courtney later, but Pat tells him to never come back since he’s upset her. Sam then goes for the jugular, saying that Barbara still looks good but not as good as she did when he “had her” back in the day. Pat punches Sam in the face before walking away. Barbara has a heart-to-heart with Courtney as Courtney sits with the staff. Courtney is upset that she risked everyone’s lives for the “fairytale” of having Starman as a father. Barbara shares that she’s struggling. On the one hand, Blue Valley needs protection, and Courtney is needed. But Barbara is also worried about Courtney’s safety. Courtney reaches for the staff, but it doesn’t light up. This seems to confirm Courtney’s fear that she’s not meant to be Stargirl, and she sadly tells her mother she’ll leave Blue Valley when Barbara is ready.
At school, Courtney tells Rick, Beth, and Yolanda that she’s not Starman’s daughter and thus can’t be Stargirl. Yolanda and Beth point out that neither of them are the children of superheroes and yet they are Wildcat and Dr. Mid-Nite now. Courtney insists it’s different: the staff won’t work for her anymore. She’s done getting people hurt with her actions. The full class goes to an assembly honoring Henry. But when Dr. King gets up to speak, he reaches out to Courtney in her mind. He tells her he knows who she is and that she killed Henry. He dares her to come after the ISA, and a panicked Courtney rushes home.
She tells Pat that Brainwave knows who they are and frantically asks the staff to work for her. Pat takes her aside, and in a heartfelt speech tells her that it was never her potential connection to Starman that made the staff trust her. It was Courtney and her spirit that were worthy. She believed she was worthy to wield the Cosmic Staff, and she was able to. He says she just needs to believe in herself again and the staff will respond. He offers to leave her alone with the staff, but Courtney says she wants him and Barbara to be there. With her parents behind her, Courtney approaches the staff one more time, and it lights up more powerfully than ever. Justin rushes down the stairs, declaring the queen has risen. Jordan goes to King and acquiesces to letting King go after Courtney, Barbara, and Pat. King says he’ll also kill Mike, noting they can’t leave someone motivated for revenge behind. A timer reveals “T minus 12 hours,” but to what?
Stargirl airs Mondays on DC Universe and Tuesdays at 8 p.m. ET on The CW.