Stargirl Review Season 1, Episode 4: Wildcat

WARNING, spoilers ahead (yes, this is that kind of review).

This episode starts us off with another flashback (much akin to the ones from early Arrow episodes) that gives us a backstory on Yolanda Montez, and how she became so antisocial and despondent after seemingly being betrayed by her boyfriend, Henry King. As we move into present day, Courtney is taking stock of her recently acquired JSA artifacts, looking for new members to recruit to fill the roles of the deceased heroes. Pat confronts Courtney about re-populating the JSA, and his stance on not bringing anyone new into the fight, hoping to discover the identities of the ISA members in town and alert the authorities when he does. At school, Courtney begins considering Yolanda as a potential recruit for the team, possibly sympathizing with her situation and seeing similarities in her own life. Pat speaks with a clearly distraught Denise Zarick (the Wizard’s wife) at his shop, and works on her truck, a short meeting that will have an impact on him throughout this episode. Meanwhile, the Icicle meets another member of the JSA, The Dragon King, who pledges his loyalty to Project: New America and asks for the Wizard’s body. He seems to the be the ISA’s resident mad scientist and someone who will play a big role in the Icicle’s plan.

We move then back to Blue Valley High, where Yolanda and Courtney’s story will dominate the rest of the episode. Before this however, Denise meets Pat once again at his shop and tells him she is leaving Blue Valley. She leaves him with an ominous warning not to trust anyone in the town before heading off. At the high school gymnasium, Courtney and Yolanda seem to bond over their common dislike of Henry King (and Courtney’s destruction of his car) which leads Yolanda to meet up with Courtney at her house. There Courtney explains her role as Stargirl and shows her the Cosmic Staff which freaks out Yolanda, who nonetheless tries on the Wildcat costume. While at first reluctant, Yolanda begins to see new possibilities in the Wildcat persona, exploring the powers that the suit offers her. Stargirl brings the new Wildcat up to speed on what has been going on in Blue Valley and the ISA. The two go to the hospital to see if they can spot any ISA members visiting Brainwave. We get to see Wildcat in action after she scales the side of the building and breaks in to check the hospital records of who has been visiting the senior Henry King. While there, the two see their school principle drop by on the comatose king and play the violin for him. While the thought of being the new Wildcat, and the mystery of the ISA in Blue Valley is enough to make Yolanda think twice, she believes her future lies in getting past her recent episode and finding the girl she used to be. This is seemingly shot down by her family in the next scene when her apology to her family is shot down by angry parents. Looking like she is getting ready to crawl back in the hole that she has been in the last few months, Yolanda finds the Wildcat suit by her window (left there by Stargirl) which gives her hope for a future, and makes her realize that maybe it’s time to look ahead instead of to the past. We then cut to Yolanda looking through Courtney’s window, having accepted the Wildcat mantle. The last scene of the episode centers on Pat finding Denise Zarick’s truck, smashed and broken in the town junkyard with her son’s magician’s hat in the front seat.

Episode 4 cuts back and forth between characters quite a bit, much like the previous episodes, but not quite as cleanly, and seems to take away from the main part of the episode, the recruitment of Yolanda Montez into the JSA as the new Wildcat. Because of this, Yolanda and Courtney’s relationship seems a little rushed. With something as important as bringing in a new teammate, I think the showrunners should have focused on this solely for this episode. Yolanda’s backstory was very traumatic for the character, having her private photos texted to her school mates, a moment of betrayal that hurt her and her family very deeply. And while parts of this are shown, we don’t get a sense of why her parents are so unforgiving, what they went through to get them to this state where they won’t forgive their own daughter. I think exploration of this could have set up the tension within Yolanda’s family, and show part of the pain that she experiences comes from home and not only from being at school with the bullies who pick on her. Yolanda is searching in part redemption, bur also for an understanding of where she goes from here, not unlike Courtney is doing as well. Courtney is also dealing with family issues and looking to find out who she is and where she is headed as Stargirl. This could have been done in a much more meaningful way if the episode had not been peppered with smaller vignettes of other characters cutting through this storyline. I think there is a lot of time wasted during the hospital scene, which doesn’t seem to accomplish much except to introduce the school’s principal into the mystery of the ISA and Blue Valley. Better time could have been spent with both Yolanda and Courtney interacting in other ways, or Yolanda exploring Wildcat’s legacy and finding meaning her life through that legacy. In the comics, Yolanda and Ted Grant (AKA Wildcat) have a deep connection. He is her Godfather, and her father’s best friend. This could have brought the JSA connection full circle for Yolanda and tied it in to her family issues at home. I was disappointed that this wasn’t explored more fully. The episode gives us a few Easter eggs like Johnny Thunder’s pen and the connection to Michael’s friend, Jakeem, but I will expand on that in a future review. And while I wasn’t happy with the other intercut storylines taking away from the main story, I think Pat’s interactions with Denise Zarick offer a foreshadowing of the dark secrets overhanging Blue Valley, and the introduction of the Dragon King definitely makes me want to see more of him in the future.

I give Episode 4 a C for trying.

I will see you guys at Episode 5!

The Experience Is Everything!

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