Does slow and steady win the race?
Time will only tell as Stargirl Season 1 continues.
While Stargirl Season 1 Episode 1 did an excellent job of setting up the premise for the series, the exposition overshadowed most of the installment, making it seem like barely anything had happened by the end.
Having seen the first five episodes, I can attest that the series premiere would have worked better as a two-parter as Stargirl Season 1 Episode 2 moves the story arc forward at a not-so glacial pace.
Along with offering some more insight into the Justice Society of America, the second episode does a better job of introducing the first season's overarching plot and fleshing out some of the secondary characters.
But back to the series premiere, the pilot's downfall is its uneven pacing.
It's the weird experience where it simultaneously seems like no time has passed, but the episode keeps dragging on.
Again, much of that is due to the exposition-heavy plot, including a four-minute flashback of the JSA's demise at the start of the episode.
However, some of the possibly more filler-esque scenes still manage to work due to their allotted time.
Oh my god, what did you do? No, bad stick, bad.Courtney [to Cosmic Staff]
Is it really necessary for the plot to spend so much time with Courtney learning to master the Cosmic Staff?
No, but that breathing room produces some of the pilot's best seasons, as Courtney comes alive for the first time on screen, finally showing viewers why we should root for her.
Another problem is the lack of depth for most of the characters.
Sans Courtney and Pat, the rest of the ensemble is essentially one-dimensional puppets who barely even exist.
While the primary focus of the pilot is setting up the story, which in this case means heavily focusing on Courtney, Pat, and the JSA's past, the lack of basic knowledge about some of the characters is staggering.
Besides Courtney, Pat, Barbara, and Mike, I can barely remember the names of the other characters played by series regulars, some of whom didn't even have lines this episode.
That uneven distribution was more apparent upon second viewing, as it becomes clearer just how Courtney and Pat-centric the pilot really is.
Yet despite all these problems, where the pilot does shine is its lighthearted nature.
Superhero shows have become a dime a dozen, but Stargirl manages to breathe some life into this overstuffed genre through its easy, breezy tone.
There are still more serious moments through the installment, but the overall feel of the episode is less dark and gritty, and more light and fun.
Courtney: So your name was Stripesy?
Pat: Because of all the stripes.
Courtney: Yeah I got that. Someone really should have helped you brainstorm a better code name.
Pat: What’s wrong with it?
Courtney: Well, for starters, I highly doubt it intimidated the bad guys. I mean, look out, here comes Stripesy.
None of this is more apparent than when Courtney is getting acquainted with the very temperamental Cosmic Staff.
It's the happiest she's been all episode, as the pure joy Courtney experiences when practicing with the staff and seeing what it can do is palpable.
And while she is taken with the Cosmic Staff, having it in her possession doesn't make her a superhero outright.
Even with her gymnastics background, she's still out of her element when learning to control the staff and battling her first supervillain.
Like most teenagers with newfound superpowers, she jumps right into the action, not pausing to consider the possible consequences.
To be fair, she does exhibit more restraint than most -- after all, it was the Cosmic Staff that came knocking on her window and took her on a joyride -- but she still acts without thinking at times.
Fortunately, she has Pat to back her up, even if she wanted nothing to do with him initially.
Though he has been nothing but kind to her, Courtney initially sees Pat as trying to take the role of her father.
Starman: No, no, it’s over. The Justice Society must live on. Its legacy must survive. Someone with honor and strength must carry the torch.
Pat: I’ll try.
Starman: Not you. Someone with grace and heroism. I mean, you can’t do it. But someone out there will. It’s definitely not you. Pat, you’re a good friend.
With so many changes in such a short period, it's understandable why Courtney was put off by him at first.
If that attitude had continued, the character would have become instantly unlikeable, but she seems to warm up to Pat once he lets her in on his past.
Suddenly Pat is more than her new stepfather; he becomes a connection to her past, as Courtney thinks Starman is her long-lost father, which will serve as a driving force of the season.
Courtney sure seems to think so, even though Pat remains unconvinced.
For fans of the comics, this marks a possible departure to the canon; Starman (or Sylvester Pemberton) could turn out to be Courtney's father. In the comics, her father is a con-artist named Sam Kurtis.
At this point, it's unclear how true the writers will remain to the source material.
And while the series premiere does borrow heavily from Courtney's original origin story -- potentially indicating the series will remain faithful to the comics -- that could just as easily serve as a jumping-off point for the show.
Die-hard fans of the comics will have fierce opinions about any deviations, but for right now, I'm open to either explanation regarding Courtney's parentage.
Courtney: What if Starman was my father?
Pat: If he… if what?
Courtney: Starman died the exact night my father vanished.
Pat: OK, that would be the coincidences to end all coincidences if Starman was your father. It’s not in the realm of possibility.
Courtney: What about fate, Pat? Destiny? Maybe the stars aligned. Stars, Starman. It would make so much sense. My father never showed up that night because he died saving the world.
Having Courtney as Starman's daughter would clear up why the Cosmic Staff works for her, an answer that Pat doesn't seem to have.
Additionally, it would provide Courtney with a connection to her possibly late father and give her some much-needed answers about why he abandoned her and her mother when she was just a child.
On the other hand, if Courtney isn't Starman's progeny, that would say something more about fate and destiny, that you don't have to have this sort of legacy to be special, that anyone can step up to the plate and be a superhero.
This avenue would also mean Courtney would be more open to accepting Pat as a father-type figure, as he is the one who shows up for her as opposed to her biological father.
There are pros and cons to both scenarios, but it's unlikely fans will get a definitive answer until the season finale at the earliest.
After all, there'd be no reason to tune if we got answers right away.
Some stray thoughts:
I get that Pat is skeptical about Starman being Courtney's father, especially if the former superhero used an alias, but shouldn't the side-by-side photos of Starman and Sam Curtis have at least given some credence to Courtney's theory?
Or did Pat not really look at those pictures, because if he did, wouldn't he have at least acknowledged Sam Curtis is a dead ringer for Starman?
While this isn't set in the real world -- what with superheroes existing and all -- in what alternate reality does this take place that the pretty new blonde girl gets exiled to the loser table on her first day? That might be the most ludicrous part of this entire episode.
Though there were some significant issues this episode, the writers do a great job of ensuring viewers will want to stick around, if only to find out what Pat is doing in a Transformer-type getup. That was definitely not mentioned during his and Courtney's heart-to-heart.
So what did you think Stargirl Fanatics?
Was the series premiere a success, or did it miss the mark?
How was the pacing of this episode?
Is Starman Courtney's father?
Hit the comments below to let me know your thoughts. If you happened to miss the series premiere, remember you can watch Stargirl online at TV Fanatic.
Jessica Lerner was a staff writer for TV Fanatic. She retired in October 2021.