DC’s Stargirl is unique for its sunny disposition. Led by the charismatic and bubbly Brec Bassinger as Courtney Whitmore/Stargirl, the first season of the series was a bright light in a darker landscape of superhero shows. But this year, the darkness is coming to Blue Valley, which is evident from the first scene of “Summer School: Chapter 1.” Creator Geoff Johns has cited Nightmare on Elm Street as a major reference for season 2. The new focus on the horror and darkness lurking under the perfect suburban town fits perfectly with the Elm Street influence, and it’s sure to make season 2 memorable. Without further ado, let’s dive in to what happened as Courtney adjusts to a life without the JSA.
The episode opens decades prior to the present day with a young girl, Rebecca McNider (daughter of the original Dr. Mid-Nite), banned from attending a neighborhood party after behaving badly at the store. As Rebecca watches the fun from the other side of the street, another child, Bruce, walks up to her. There’s something off about him as he urges her to follow him to the party, noting her mother isn’t there.
Rebecca follows him and finds a stack of presents outside a mysterious house. Bruce encourages her to pick one, hinting that maybe one will contain the doll she wanted from the store. Rebecca opens one to find the doll of her dreams — but it turns demonic in front of her. Bruce appears holding the gemstone Cindy had in the season 1 finale, telling Rebecca she’s been a bad girl. A short while later, Rebecca’s mother goes to the party looking for Rebecca and screams. We don’t see what she sees, but we can assume poor Rebecca doesn’t make it.
Back in the present, the new JSA are fighting crime — if you count nearly killing a raccoon in an alleyway to be fighting crime. Courtney believes there’s still evil to fight, but the rest of the crew isn’t convinced. All their major enemies are either dead or incapacitated, and unlike Courtney, the rest of the JSA wants to stop nightly patrols until there’s a real reason for them. They head home, with Courtney staring at ISA documents until early morning.
Pat sees her, and they argue about the amount of time she’s devoting to being Stargirl. He tells Courtney that the villains she is researching were dealt with by other heroes. Pat reminds her that part of being a superhero with a double life is to actually have a double life — she needs to focus on being Courtney as much as she does on being Stargirl. Courtney insists that she’s fine and that since the staff chose her, she needs to feel like she’s worthy of it. As the two leave the basement, we see a mysterious green object glow.
Pat and Barbara schedule a two-week family vacation to Yellowstone to give Courtney a break, which upsets both Courtney and Mike. Mike wants to help Pat with S.T.R.I.P.E., still wanting to be a part of the team. Courtney doesn’t want to leave her Stargirl duties for two full weeks. The kids are overruled as the parents include the family dog as the tiebreaker vote. The other JSA members aren’t having a great time themselves. Chuck still isn’t working, so Beth doesn’t have her full Dr. Mid-Nite powers. Even worse, she finds her parents’ divorce papers. Her parents demonstrate they know nothing about her life as both rush out the door, showing just how lonely Beth is.
Yolanda is dealing with a lot of guilt surrounding Brainwave’s death that leaves her questioning her ability to be Wildcat. She even visits the confessional booth at church. Yolanda discusses this with Courtney, revealing that she still hears Brainwave’s dying sounds over and over. They see Cameron, and Courtney wants to talk to him. As far as Cameron knows, his father’s death was an accident. Courtney and Yolanda debate whether to tell him what really happened, with Yolanda reminding Courtney of what happened with Henry.
While all this is going on, Rick encounters resistance to his newly reformed ways. He does well on an exam, only to have the teacher accuse him of cheating based on nothing more than his reputation. Rick is also keeping a secret from the JSA: he is feeding Solomon Grundy in the woods. Rick didn’t kill him in the season 1 finale like he led them to believe.
Courtney is still on edge when Artemis approaches. She mistakenly believes Artemis is going to attack her before poor Artemis clarifies that she was just trying to give back her field hockey stick. The principal calls Pat and Barbara, and the bad news keeps coming as the principal reveals that Courtney is failing two classes. The family trip is off, with Courtney stuck in summer school. Pat reminds Courtney that their family is also a team and that she’s letting them down. Courtney lashes out and says she doesn’t want to quit like he did. Pat bans Courtney from all Stargirl-related activities for two weeks. We also see Sylvester Pemberton, a.k.a. Starman, seeking out Pat’s ex-wife to find Pat (and the staff). Still feeling guilty, Courtney finally talks to Cameron, not revealing what happened with his father yet.
Courtney’s forced vacation doesn’t last long. That night, a mysterious figure breaks into the Whitmore house looking for the glowing green object. Courtney discovers her, and they fight in a fantastic sequence. After destroying half the house, Barbara and Pat arrive and break them up. It turns out the stranger is a hero herself: Jenny, the daughter of Green Lantern. She’s back to get the Green Lantern from the basement.
Cindy Berman makes her triumphant return, set to the great music cue “Break the Rules” by Charli XCX. She’s holding the same gem we saw in the flashback and has big plans to create a new ISA. Her top candidates? Artemis, Cameron, Isaac … and Mike! Will she succeed in dreaming up a new supervillain force with the help of the the entity within the stone?
DC’s Stargirl airs Tuesdays at 8 p.m. ET on The CW. You can find our other coverage of the show here.