Stargirl – Season 3 Episode 6
“Chapter Six – The Betrayal”
Stargirl cranks up the interpersonal drama as secrets are revealed and characters are left unsure who they can truly trust.
With an episode title like this and a recap featuring some of the season’s most dramatic moments, you’d think we’d be in for 40 minutes of high drama. However, like many of the episodes’ titular events, it takes a while to arrive and isn’t quite as significant as initially suggested, but also becomes a key part of the story.
After discovering the identity of Courtney’s crush, Pat and Barbara visit the boy’s grandparents to try to feel out their intentions. The tension of the scene is palpable from each couple being not entirely sure how much the other knows, heightened by the two women being the more aggressive. Anger and concern cause their masks of civility to momentarily slip while their husbands attempt to keep them reined in. It’s also the first time there’s been any hint of discord between the sinister Norwegians, as Sofus seems more concerned about Cameron’s happiness, even if him remaining so means being with the girl partially responsible for their son’s death, while as far as Lily is concerned the only thing that matters is their grandson taking his place as the latest scion of their family’s nebulously defined legacy. It’s possible that he’s merely trying to convince his wife to postpone the matter until a more appropriate time, but since the pair haven’t had the greatest amount of characterisation it’s difficult to get a definite read on them, so it’ll be interesting to see if anything comes of this.
While this goes on, Courtney continues encouraging Cameron to develop his abilities, gaining enough control to conjure an ice sculpture of his father. It serves as another reminder of Cameron’s feelings about his late parent, along with how difficult it’s going to be to convince him of the truth. The musical themes soundtracking the pair’s growing relationship are still reminiscent of those of a Disney movie, representing the innocence of their emotions and how carefree their lives might have been had circumstances been wildly different.
Yolanda has been somewhat sidelined this season, her main presence mostly being a part of group scenes, so it’s nice for her to have at least one moment where she’s the focus. Visiting the church confessional to be absolved for breaking into Cindy’s house, she speaks to Father Thomas, who might well be the least judgemental Catholic priest in the history of recorded fiction, and warns her to not let herself fall into the trap of judging others in the same way her family did to her. She tries breaking back into the house to return the laptop, but Cindy had already noticed its absence and was waiting for her, leading to the inevitable fight between the pair. It’s all the more compelling from how inelegant it is, the anger and resentment each girl has for the other coming out violent and unfiltered. After it spills outside and Rick appears heralded by a soaring car courtesy of his newfound amped-up strength, things might have gotten worse for Cindy had Courtney not then descended in a cosmic blaze like a falling star.
The brief lull reveals the scales on Cindy’s arm, and this is precisely the point when this should have been first shown to the audience, since what the heroes have thusfar learned ties into this, and us already knowing about Cindy’s transformation and waiting for them to catch up lessens the impact of the reveal. Cindy being told she’s just like her father clearly hits her harder than any of Yolanda’s punches, and you can understand her reluctance to trust the others with the truth of what she’s going through.
The fight and revelation lead to the invocation of the episode’s title, which turns out to not be the sudden reveal that one of the heroes has actually been secretly a traitor all along and working for a powerful villain, but rather the coming out of that most damningly unforgivable of transgressions according to any character in any TV show: lying. The world could be ending in an unstoppable nuclear firestorm triggered by an invading armada of alien Anarachnoids from the Interplanetary Empire of Ganymede, but the fact that somebody considered it imprudent to reveal a piece of information the moment it became pertinent is always the only thing that really matters. It might be a traditional plot development, but that doesn’t stop it from also being incredibly irritating.
What makes it even more galling is that Courtney had good reason to not tell the others what she was doing with Cameron. She was already on thin ice on account of her implicit trust in Cindy, and with the hostility Cameron received from them, Rick in particular, for the crime of walking up to the table they were all sitting at, it would have done her few favours to reveal she wanted him to develop the same powers Icicle had. There’s also the point that if people are only judged by their parents then most of them would be on the receiving end of suspicion, what with Yolanda’s mum and dad being sanctimonious hypocrites, Courtney’s biological father a freeloading grifter, and Rick’s uncle an abusive drunk. Yet nobody judges them by those standards and they’d consider it unfair if anyone did. Yes, concerns that Cameron is being corrupted by his malevolent grandparents are valid, but that’s all the more reason to give him the benefit of the doubt and establish whether he needs help and then offer it if he does. The situation even has a precedent in Henry; even though he was a sadistic bully he still managed to make a choice to turn things around, ultimately dying something resembling a hero.
In the aftermath, Sylvester manages to be as useful as he’s been all season, giving Courtney some decent advice about team discord and how to deal with it, reinforcing how much she has come to look up to him. Pat, on the other hand, seems genuinely hurt that she considers Sylvester a more significant mentor than he is despite all the training and advice he gave that she frequently ignored, or the multiple time he’s saved not only her life but also the rest of the team. He has the good grace not to mention it out loud, but it’ll be surprising if this isn’t explored further.
Elsewhere, Mike and Jakeem continue navigating their adolescent obsession with Cindy, leading to a hilarious scene that sees them coming to Zeek for advice. The philosophical mechanic doesn’t really get used very much, but whenever he’s featured you know it’s going to be fun. After leaving his food to one side with a dramatic flourish to give them his full attention, hearing him monologue on the improbable intricacies of his love life was a fantastic distraction, even if the crumbs of wisdom related were largely lost on the young boys.
We also head back into the mysterious lair of the Watcher, still doing little more than enigmatically growling in between observing myriad monitors and passing the time by doing a jigsaw that seems to be gradually revealing a stylised image of a human skull. This grants further legitimacy to my contention that the figure is Mister Bones, what with a skull being all that anyone can see of his face, and there also being little point in him appearing in the stinger of the previous season if there were no plans to use him this time around. Hopefully, it’ll come to something soon because we’re now pretty much halfway through the season yet the main plot has so far advanced very little.
“The Betrayal” is another character-heavy episode with some great scenes, but one that causes the story to begin losing focus. It’s not helped by having a dramatically clichéd plot point at its core or the hypocrisy of the heroes being so apparent, but now that everything is out in the open everyone can actually discuss their issues like rational people and move past them, hopefully towards some answers about what is actually going on.
- the tension in the scene where Pat and Barbara talk to Cameron’s grandparents
- Yolanda getting some focus
- the fight between Yolanda and Cindy
- Zeke’s ramblings to Mike and Jakeem
- Sylvester being directly helpful for once
- the main plot starting to lose focus
- the frustrating emphasis on lying when more important things are going on
- the hypocrisy of characters not extending others the same trust they expect
- the badly timed reveal of Cindy’s metamorphosis
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