Stargirl – Season 3 Episode 11

Nov 18, 2022 | Posted by in TV

“Episode Eleven – The Haunting”

Stargirl focuses on the fallout of its big reveal from last week and addresses how each character deals with the revelation. 

How much you’ll get out of this week’s episode largely depends on how open you are to accepting Icicle’s return from the grave and its associated connotations of plausibility, since it has little else to offer other than justifying his return and addressing basic queries viewers will have of why it took so long and what this now means going forwards. The haunting to which the episode title refers to seems to be the supervillain’s year-long unseen observation of the town (without explaining his motives for such or how he was able to do so in a weakened and semi-mindless state), but like a lot of what comes up, it really doesn’t land.


The Wonder Twins reboot was not going well

You may recall that I didn’t make any great secret of how utterly disappointing I found the revelation, but I’ll do my best to not be too obnoxiously snarky about it. Given that superhero comics infamously treat death as a revolving door, over the decades there has been a myriad of spurious justifications for how countless characters have ultimately evaded the reaper’s scythe in order to re-establish their presence as status quo, and this one has the shards Icicle was shattered into melting into a semi-sentient puddle of water that spent the last year slowly reforming underground. Despite being inherently preposterous it seems like this at least is to be accepted as unassailable truth, since a couple of moments where nobody is watching Icicle see him in evident physical pain at the effort of holding on to his corporeal form.

It’s not the first resurrection that this season has explained away as the character in question not understanding the full extent of the powers at their disposal, and like Sylvester’s return, it appears that any further elaboration is not going to be forthcoming. While it certainly fits with the cheesy nonsense of the Golden Age by which this series is ultimately inspired, part of the adaptation’s setup was leaving such questionably-written nonsense behind, honouring the past by forging ahead, which more recent narrative choices seem to have forgotten.

There is also still the issue that while this explains how Icicle can still be alive, once again it doesn’t actually address what everyone else thought happened to him in the first place. Given the handwaving with which the issue was addressed in dialogue, it seems like we’re not going to get anything more detailed so will just have to go with it. Even those who knew the truth don’t get much of an explanation, merely the vague declaration that he spent a year letting his parents and son believe he was dead in order to protect them.


The prodigal son returns

Anyway, Icicle claims that his brush with death left him with a perspective that has shown him the error of his ways, leaving him with a desire to put the past behind him and move on, like those of his former allies who were still alive at the start of the season decided to do. It’s frustrating that he takes no accountability or responsibility for his actions or his legacy of violence and murder, and just as irritating is that we’re seemingly expected to accept this about-face in personality despite having just witnessed him murder two of his old teammates, making anything he says ring hollow.

While his return and zen calm seemingly serve to simplify the narrative as the season approaches its end by erasing the hostility and resentment the Mahkent family might still harbour towards the heroes, it also fundamentally cheapens the character work made regarding how they dealt with not only his death but also having to remain living in such close proximity to those they blamed for it.

As well as Icicle’s return, there is also the deaths of Sportsmaster and Tigress to address, in particular for Artemis. I’ve mentioned more than once that her presence has been somewhat insignificant this season to the point that she’s often seemed like little more than an afterthought, but here she gets some overdue focus. It’s important to remember that she might be a borderline psychopath with a love of picking fights with those she deems deserving of it, but she’s also a teenage girl who has just lost both her parents unexpectedly and violently, and as a result, has no idea how to properly process the intensity of feelings she has no experience in dealing with, such situations often seeing emotions alternate between overwhelming sorrow gnawing its way into the depths of your soul and a burning need to tear out the hearts of those you hold responsible. Barbara’s attempts to console her further reinforce her caring character, and that sometimes when there’s nothing you can do to alleviate someone’s pain, all you can do is simply be there.


Rage and sorrow

Other featured subplots are Rick’s absence addressed and suggested to be caused by his hourglass addiction, Yolanda calling her mother in an attempt to make amends, and Cindy deciding to return and help despite last week being adamant about working alone. It’s really feeling like this season was made with the advanced understanding that it might be series’ last and so like with, say, the fourth season of Babylon 5 in the ‘90s, tried to cram two years’ worth of narrative into a single run of episodes so the writers could say everything they wanted to. A notable idea in these side scenes sees Mike and Jakeem attempting to use the Thunderbolt to remove Icicle’s powers but being unable to do so as this would kill him, such requests being one of the few limitations of the djinn’s powers. It confirms that Icicle’s return to physical form is not something permanent but requiring a constant exertion of willpower in order to maintain, and will likely become significant in his second downfall.

To cap things off, the previous forty minutes’ meditations on mercy and forgiveness and the greater good are rendered moot at the reveal that Icicle and the Ultra-Humanite are actually working together, the tediously inevitable detail being the only thing other than atrocious writing that fits the multiple holes in the villain’s story. The goal of the pair is likely Icicle wanting to gain vengeance on the JSA for their defeat of him and the ruination of his decade-long plan, with the giant gorilla being along for the ride because reasons. That it’s not possible to reasonably guess the primate’s motive is indicative of a continuing issue, as we know literally nothing about him other than what others have verbally related, and so to have him presented as a threat large enough to require all available heroes and villains to defeat is still too nebulously defined to truly accept.

The villainous duo teaming up might have worked better had there been any true ambiguity over Icicle’s professed sincerity, but aside from Sylvester and his crazy eyes refusing to believe the villain could ever change – which was an inevitable reaction anyway – it seemed like we were expected to take him at face value and accept what he was saying. Like I mentioned last week, this isn’t misdirection, but rather just withholding information viewers could otherwise have used to make a prediction based on something other than cynicism at how well this plotline has actually been thought out. Whatever the case, things are beginning to slot in place for what the final confrontation has in store for us, and has a lot of ground to cover in its mere two remaining episodes.


Villains united


“The Haunting” is a disappointing justification of a poor narrative twist that undoes or renders moot much of the character work the season has thusfar produced, leaving the series with a lot to make up for in very little time if it wants its final conclusion to leave viewers in any way satisfied.

  • 4/10
    The Haunting - 4/10


Kneel Before…

  • Artemis being allowed to display recognisable emotion
  • Barbara attempting to comfort Artemis
  • the Thunderbolt being unable to remove Icicle’s powers


Rise Against…

  • the unconvincing justification of why Icicle stayed hidden for a year
  • no explanation of why or how Icicle was able to put up a spy camera network
  • Icicle’s apparent change in personality contrasting his murder of Sportsmaster and Tigress
  • Icicle’s reappearance cheapening his family forgiving the heroes for his death
  • the inevitability of Icicle and the Ultra-Humanite working together
  • still being expected to accept the Ultra-Humanite as a dangerous villain with no justification


What did you think? Select your rating in the “User Review” box below

User Review
4.67/10 (3 votes)

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