Stargirl – Season 3 Episode 5
“Chapter Five – The Thief”
Stargirl puts a hold on developing its mystery to instead focus on those involved in it, and how new developments are affecting various relationships.
Despite the title of the episode and the swift confirmation of who it refers to, not much of its events actually relate to the theft of the laptop and the culprit, and those that do are swiftly brushed past. Events kick off back at the murder, showing things from Cindy’s perspective a few minutes prior to the others showing up. Although she’s seen standing over Gambler’s body with her wrist blade out, we don’t actually see her do the deed, and with the blade conspicuously absent of blood it’s likely a further piece of misdirection to make her seem guilty, which paradoxically increases the likelihood that she’s innocent. Although it wasn’t really necessary, seeing her hiding the laptop right before she was discovered explains how she managed to get it away, seeing as when the others arrived her outfit was conspicuously absent of suspicious rectangular bulges.
Back in the present, she finally manages to bypass the computer’s obnoxious Dennis Nedry defences by managing to use one of Gambler’s old hacking devices against him. While it might seem overly complacent for a computer expert to leave such equipment unsecured, Gambler was certainly arrogant enough to believe himself undefeatable, so it may well not have not even occurred to him to prepare for such an eventuality. However, she’s interrupted by Sylvester, Yolanda and Rick on their ill-advised investigation into the tunnels from last week in search of evidence of Dragon King, and is forced to swiftly vacate the premises.
The trio’s discovery of the subterranean lair doesn’t come to anything in terms of developing the plot, but it does take Sylvester’s increasing volatility up a notch with his violent reaction to the giant painting of the supervillain team looking regally menacing (and continues to tacitly raise the question of who actually painted it, what with it showing the team in their supervillain guises). In a fit of rage destroys the opulent representation of everything he hates: the arrogance, the sanctimony, the memories of the friends he lost to fighting them, but the level of anger displayed is rather more than is warranted, and shows that just because he’s becoming aware of his own violent emotions it doesn’t necessarily mean that he’s in complete control of them, further suggesting that, to borrow a phrase, he came back wrong. However, it does lead to a rather sweet scene between him and Barbara. We’ve never really seen the two properly interact – certainly never by themselves – and the conversation about personal connections leading to Barbara simply stating that Mike is her son strongly states that family is more than just blood, and reminds us that while she’s rarely front and centre of events she’s still an indispensable aspect of the family dynamic at the very core of the show.
On the subject of Mike, Sylvester’s advice on overcoming his fears of inadequacy leads to he and Jakeem deciding that they and Cindy should team up. It’s pretty clear it’s not all down to thinking they’d actually make a good team, but is strongly motivated by their simply thinking she’s hot after seeing her beat up a pair of bullies, and although she reacts in much the way you’d expect she seems genuinely amused by the prospect rather than rejecting them out of spite. It speaks further of her growth that she chooses to spare them further humiliation and doesn’t make a spectacle of the interaction. Additionally, even though she claimed she went for the bullies because they were picking on people younger and smaller than them, the smile on her face afterwards suggests she likes the feeling of being able to do something for someone else without expecting anything in return.
Cindy also gives Courtney some actually good advice about Cameron, advising her to keep him in the dark about his father’s past, being well aware that knowing what you came from can screw you up. It’s a sentiment Courtney understands just as much, and while your biofather turning out to be a deadbeat thief is a far cry from your entire life being an illegal and unethical experiment in mad science, it highlights certain similarities between the two girls that may well become increasingly significant. It also seems like Cindy is starting to consider them to be actual friends, and what may well have begun as an act is developing into something genuine while she tries to look out for her.
As for the burgeoning relationship itself, it has moved past the Awkward First Moves stage and swiftly progressed to the Drama With The Friends stage, because this is a CW show primarily featuring teenagers, and the fact that there’s thusfar been so little in the way of relationship drama goes against the entire ethos of the channel. Despite Cameron being the son of the team’s first great enemy, it really shouldn’t take Courtney’s resolve to look for the best in people to give him the benefit of the doubt, although the hostility between he and Rick is still as frosty as his breath and forces some cracks in Courtney’s sunshine demeanour, seen when Rick voices concern with Sylvester’s rage issues, causing Courtney to snap at him. It’s actually a little shocking to hear her talk like that, as this is the first time we’ve ever heard her say something out of pure spite. While she might technically be right in Rick having anger management problems as well, he’s also best placed to understand what such emotions can do to a person and how it can make them act, this being exactly why they shouldn’t be trusted implicitly.
The theme of such a past is continued with Cindy’s revelation of Cameron’s secret attendance at an institution for kids with violent tendencies. It comes a little out of nowhere, since as I’ve mentioned on more than one occasion Cameron’s presence and thus character development has been a little too sporadic for him to have a proper presence in the series, it does present him as being more volatile than has been previously suggested, and that anger could well make him a danger if he finds himself unable to control his new abilities, or if he discovers the involvement his new girlfriend had in the death of his father, especially since he still believes in his benevolence. Although Cindy only brought it up to provoke a reaction from him, it’s too significant a detail to not come up again down the line so his potential turn to malevolence won’t seem quite as sudden.
Courtney has become determined to find a way to help him with his abilities, and Cameron has evidently gained enough control over his powers to manifest a small ice lodge like some metahuman version of wood whittling. However, it also seems that the boy’s grandparents still disapprove of the fledgling romance, although what drastic measures they’ll feel it necessary to take remains to be seen.
Sylvester gets inside one of Dragon King’s abandoned labs, with assistance from Beth via another painfully dated reference suggesting that rather than 2010, Sylvester actually died circa 1995. It’s an oddly mysterious scene as it never really comes to anything, only showing us Sylvester searching the dusty cabinets before walking off into a shadowy corridor. This is also the same lab that Cindy searches later, unable to find what she needs, seeming to suggest that Sylvester discovered something that we were kept in the dark about for a more dramatic reveal later. What it is, and what it’s even regarding, will be interesting to find out.
Beth’s ongoing issue of her parents being enthusiastic to the point of intrusion at her superhero life comes to a head, eventually having to ask them to back off. The situation would be difficult for anyone, but for someone like Beth who is so close to her parents, the guilt of doing so is silently shouted in between what’s actually spoken aloud. It’s an inversion of how she began the series prior to taking up the life of costumed heroism, with her parents being the only people in her life and practically begging her to make real friends, and now that she has they’re determined to insert themselves into it as much as possible. However, it doesn’t cheapen how poignant is the ask, and demonstrates that sometimes the most heartbreaking moments come from love. As I’ve mentioned before, Beth hasn’t been given a great deal to do this season, and while one meaningful scene doesn’t make up for that, the strength of it is certainly a step in the right direction.
The Crocks and their violent geniality briefly make an appearance, but it’s an inconsequential interaction and only serves to indicate how the season is struggling to balance its sprawling cast. Hell, it’s clear the writers have little idea what to do with Artemis and that she’s only still around because there was no plausible reason to separate her from her parents.
Although Sylvester was being sarcastic when he suggested Pat was implying he could be an example for the young team of what not to do, he seems to have decided that there’s some wisdom in this, explaining how his mistakes can be avoided to prevent them from falling apart in the same way the original JSA did.
Some more development with Rick’s quest to restore the hourglass comes from Sylvester. His suggestion of the problem being the artefact’s limiter fixes the issue of the inconsistency in the time its strength enhancement lasts, but we don’t need to recall Pat’s words from season 1 about how Rick’s father purposefully limited his use of the hourglass to guess that this is not going to end well, and that sooner rather than later he’ll discover the consequences of being constantly jacked up on magical sand.
It’s only in the final moments of the episode that its title theme comes back around, seeing Yolanda find the stolen laptop in Cindy’s house, where incidentally it seems nobody is bothered about either a teenage girl living by herself or that as far as the rest of the town is concerned her father and stepmother disappeared in mysterious circumstances. With Cindy about to be firmly back in the crosshairs of suspicion with no real way around them, there’s a chance we might even get an answer or two.
“The Thief” is all but completely absent of action, but still an engrossing episode from the character work, seeing cracks begin to show in friendships as personal introspection both vocal and silent relates characters’ deepest feelings. The ongoing plot also taking a back seat makes the story feel somewhat suspended in limbo, but sets itself up well for its continuation next week.
- further suggestion of Sylvester’s instability
- Barbara’s feelings on the importance of family
- Cindy’s actions demonstrating her character growth
- Sylvester’s mysterious scene in Dragon King’s lab
- Beth’s emotional scene with her parents
- little advancement of the main plot
- the season struggling to manage its large cast
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