Stargirl Season 1 Episode 10 Review: Brainwave Jr.

Television

Oh, Henry King, Jr., we hardly knew you, and now, we never will.

Stargirl Season 1 Episode 10 took one of its biggest risks by killing off Henry, or rather Brainwave, Jr.

It’s the first major deviation from its source material, and it was both unexpected and well-executed.

Taking cues from the comics for most of Stargirl Season 1, there was an expected route the show would take.

Sure, some of the backstories were different, but most of the mythos remained the same.

So, it was quite the shock when The Powers That Be decided to unexpectedly kill off a series regular, especially after he had just joined the fight.

With this new development, anything viewers thought they knew goes out the window, as the writers just proved they’re not following any particular playbook.

Now, anything can happen, and it’s an exciting thought to behold, as the possibilities from here are limitless.

While the culmination of Henry’s arc and subsequent death were great, my only complaint is that everything happened a little too fast and was wrapped up too neatly.

Fans of the comics shouldn’t be surprised that Henry teamed up with the new Justice Society of America, as in the comics, Henry, upon learning he has psychic abilities, attempts to undo some of the evil that his father has done by using his powers for good.

Rick: Wait to go, Court. You’ve just given away our identities to the enemy.
Courtney: Henry’s not the enemy.
Yolanda: Yes, he is.
Henry: Look, if it helps, she didn’t tell me anything. I read her mind.
Courtney: Which he’s not going to do anymore.
Beth: That’s only polite.

And while Henry’s reasoning for siding with the new JSA at the beginning is slightly different — he wants to save Brainwave from Icicle’s influence and avenge his mother — it still puts him on the side of good.

But what isn’t that good is how quickly Henry switches sides.

Part of the reason Stargirl Season 1 Episode 9 was so enthralling was because viewers got to watch Henry struggle.

The battle for good and evil waged within him, and it would have been great to explore that further.

However, instead of Henry wrestling with those feelings for another episode or so, the writers decided to have him almost immediately team up with the new JSA.

Any lingering inner turmoil is neatly shoved under the rug when Henry learns Icicle is the real monster in all of this.

And even though Henry’s alliance with the new JSA could be construed as trying to rescue Brainwave from reverting back to his former self rather than firmly choosing “good,” Henry doesn’t hesitate when he realizes his father is now a lost cause.

He essentially abandons trying to save Brainwave and joins the rest of the new JSA as they try to escape as if his conflicting feelings from the previous episode were nothing other than a momentary blip.

Henry: Dad, listen to me. I know what these powers did to you: How they warped what you believe in. But people aren’t monsters. I don’t want to fight you. I love you.
Brainwave: And I love you. Let me train you. The power, Henry, you have no idea.
Henry: No, you’re better than this. Mom knew you could be good. She believed in you. I know you loved her, and I know Jordan killed her because she saw the good in you too.
Brainwave: Junior, Jordan didn’t kill your mother. I did.
Henry: You?
Brainwave: I had to make a choice. Don’t make me choose again son. Stand by my side or not at all.
Henry: I will never stand by your side.
Brainwave: Good-bye son.

It’s at this point that Henry makes a decision, something that is only solidified when Brainwave reveals he was the one who killed Mary.

That revelation makes it impossible for Henry to second guess his newfound allegiance, even when Brainwave openly asks Henry to join him.

This all takes place over the span of an entire episode, and the entire story arc feels rushed.

This would have been a more satisfying storyline if it was allowed to breathe for another episode or two, thus allowing viewers to get to know Henry a little better and become more invested in him as a character.

Then, when he ultimately died, his death would have been more devastating.

His death is great because of what it represents.

Not only is it a departure from the source material and a reminder that no character is truly safe, but it raises the stakes of the show.

With Courtney and co. seeing Henry die right in front of them, it further confirms just how dangerous this fight really is.

It may seem cool on paper to play the superhero, but being an actual superhero comes with very real stakes.

His death, though, could have been even greater, and it’s a shame the writers didn’t take advantage of something that was right in front of them.

However, Henry dying at this point in the season does ramp things up for the remaining three episodes.

Henry: I wish you could read my mind.
Yolanda: Why would I want to do that?
Henry: I know how much I hurt you, and honestly, I’d do anything to take it back.
Yolanda: Well you can’t.

Everything has been pointing to the season ending with the Injustice Society of America carrying out their plan for Project New America with the new JSA poised to fight them.

Things are bound to come to a head, and killing off Henry ensures that eventual fight will be all the sweeter when it happens before the close of the season, as it’s now personal for the entire new JSA, not just Courtney, Pat, and Rick.

Elsewhere, Barbara adjusted to the news of Courtney and Pat’s superheroics in a somewhat typical parent fashion but proved she isn’t just like every other clueless parent on a genre series.

Usually, when the parent or guardian learns the truth about superheroes or the supernatural, their first instinct is to prohibit their child’s involvement, which, of course, creates drama.

However, Barbara took things a step farther by wanting to get the heck out of dodge, which was a nice change of pace.

Most parents seem to “forget” that teenagers don’t usually do what they’re told, so it was refreshing that Barbara had the forethought to figure out that leaving Blue Valley would do more to hinder Courtney’s involvement.

Having been Courtney’s mother for 15 years, Barbara knows her daughter well enough to know that simply telling Courtney ‘no’ and to go to her room weren’t going to be enough.

Barbara further proved how smart she is when she secretly recorded Icicle and his parents speaking in Norwegian.

At that moment, she still wasn’t entirely sure what was happening — or even if any of this was real — but she wasn’t going to let an opportunity to learn more pass her by.

Pat: Look, I realize this is a lot to process.
Barbara: If this lunacy of you being an assistant superhero…
Pat: Sidekick. I was a sidekick.
Barbara: If this is remotely true, then our whole marriage is a lie
Pat: That’s not true, Barb. Everything we are together is real. This family is real.
Barbara: You dragged my daughter into this insanity. You told her that her father was Starman.
Pat: I wanted this stuff to stay in the past. None of this was supposed to happen.
Barbara: Tell me one thing Pat, one true thing. When Courtney was hurt and you took her to the hospital was that really from a car accident?
Pat: No.
Barbara: You need to go.

She truly is a strong, independent woman who deserves more credit than the audience, or at least I, was giving her.

She also doesn’t need Pat to protect her from all of this, having proved she is more than capable of handling whatever craziness comes her way.

Yes, Pat should have told her the truth from the beginning; there’s no getting around that.

And yes, there were many opportunities for him to rectify that mistake, namely when Courtney got hurt.

But even though he was in the wrong, his heart was in the right place. He was just trying to do what he thought was best and made every decision out of love for Barbara and Courtney.

Hopefully, Barbara will realize this once she gets past all the anger and betrayal but that could take a while.

However, viewers shouldn’t count out the couple just yet because, while things look bleak, they’re still better than the shitstorm that’s about to rain down on Courtney.

Though initially believed that this would be the installment where the ISA learned Stargirl’s true identity, that revelation was circumvented by giving Brainwave temporary amnesia.

Daddy, daddy, daddy, daddy, she’s here. That bitch is here. Let me out. C’mon. Let me out. I want to kill her. Please, please, let me. Please.

Cindy

Stargirl Season 1 Episode 11, though, is sure to be the one, as Brainwave, thankfully, has his memory back.

If not, that would just be poor execution on the writers’ part, as the suspense of when the ISA will find out about Courtney is losing steam fast.

Too many people now know the truth, and the big “reveal” can’t really be stretched out that much further.

Some stray thoughts:

  • Did this episode confirm that Starman isn’t Courtney’s father when Sam Kurtis replied to Barbara’s email, or could there be some other possibility, like someone pretending to be Sam Kurtis? Before this episode, I’d say the series would stay true to the comics, but after Henry’s death, I’m not sure what the answer is.

    The next episode could provide a definitive answer as the synopsis states that Courtney’s life is turned upside when someone from her past — possibly her true father — arrives in Blue Valley. 

  • Cindy begging Dr. Ito to let her kill Courtney was hilarious on every level. Meg DeLacey slayed in those brief scenes, and I hope Cindy is let out/escapes soon.

  • How cute was it that Courtney hugged Henry when she discovered they were “cousins.” That moment helped counteract the sadness when Yolanda told Courtney they were no longer friends, which isn’t that surprising since Courtney chose Henry over Yolanda yet again.

  • When Dr. Ito’s “face” was revealed, did anyone else think he looked like an ugly Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle? I’m sure it was supposed to be scary, but I just kept laughing because it was so outrageous.

So what did you think, Stargirl Fanatics?

What are your thoughts on Henry’s death?

Did you also underestimate Barbara?

How much longer can the series drag out the secret of Stargirl’s identity.?

Hit the comments below to let me know your thoughts. If you happened to miss the latest episode, remember you can watch Stargirl online at TV Fanatic.

Jessica Lerner is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter.

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