Review: ‘Stargirl: Frenemies’- “The Blackmail” (S3 Ep3)

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Welcome back Star-fam to another breakdown of all the action and WTF moments as the latest mystery unfolds in this season of Stargirl. So far we’ve not only uncovered a murder in Blue Valley but have started to compile the list of potential suspects, that is, the Justice Society of America has. However, to whittle down the list, or confirm our suspicions, we need two more bits of information, opportunity, and motive.

In the latest episode of Stargirl: Frenemies “The Blackmail” audiences learn more about some key players in Blue Valley and how they may (or may not) play into the Gambler’s death. “The Blackmail” starts to lay down some pieces of the bigger puzzle for this season, which is so much better than the murder Frenemies started with.

Writing Stargirl: Frenemies “The Blackmail” is Taylor Streitz, who has been involved with this series since the pilot. Serving as executive story editor on thirteen episodes throughout the first two seasons and writing four episodes, Streitz seems like a great choice for this episode that dives deeper into the human connection between characters.

Taking up the director’s helm is Walter Carlos Garcia, an individual who has directed for Stargirl before (Stargirl: Summer School: Chapter Six) as well as serving as a stunt coordinator for 24 episodes of the series. He’s also worked on films such as Captain Marvel, Ant-Man and the Wasp, and the upcoming Netflix film The School of Good and Evil. So together, did these two bring another great chapter to the Stargirl: Frenemies season?

[Warning: Spoilers from Stargirl: Frenemies “The Blackmail” and the previous two episodes are below]

The JSA receives an anonymous tip in “The Blackmail”

As mentioned a few times in the second episode, “The Suspects”, by different JSA members, whoever has The Gambler’s laptop was his killer. So how shocked were you when in the closing moments Cindy Burman (Meg Delacy) was shown to not only have the computer but to be once again in the Injustice Society bunker? Shocked might be the wrong word, perhaps I was just disappointed that she didn’t share that with the JSA, which felt like a huge deal.

It’s clear that Cindy needs it for a reason, exhibited by her desire to crack into The Gambler’s file on her father. Although not all hope is lost because I am firmly in the headspace that Cindy is not evil nor was she the one responsible for the murder.

As well, now that she has the computer, she’s putting it to good use by providing information to the JSA about some of the wrongdoings within Blue Valley. The Justice Society of America isn’t aware the information is from Cindy, but perhaps at this moment that is splitting hairs.

Stargirl: Frenemies "The Blackmail" Cindy
Cindy Burman (Meg DeLacy). Stargirl (CW/WB).

The information Cindy provides anonymously to the JSA through Beth Chapel’s (Anjelika Washington) goggles is that The Gambler was blackmailing Larry Crock (Neil Hopkins) and Paula Brooks (Joy Osmanski), although the who he was blackmailing took a bit of detective work from the JSA to figure out. The discovery of the blackmail leads once again to a difference of opinion within the group of heroes, with Courtney (Brec Bassinger) wanting to speak to the Crocks instead of choosing violence. But not everyone is on board with that plan.

What’s the problem with Sylvester Pemberton?

This season has done such a good job at showing the dichotomy of the superhero life and none more so than for Starman himself, Mr. Sylvester Pemberton (Joel McHale). In the last episode, Sylvester had a heart-to-heart with Pat Dugan (Luke Wilson) and Courtney about the impact Starman and superheroism had on his life, which didn’t leave much else of a life for him to live. So when “The Blackmail” opens up, we see him seeking a new life and identity in Blue Valley. This search for new life leads to a fantastic moment between Sylvester and Yolanda (Yvette Monreal), where the latter seeks a connection to the Wildcat before.

Did Anyone else notice how he didn’t like the coffee but enjoyed the tea at the diner? Seems like something we should keep in the back of our minds. I think perhaps Sylvester’s return is connected with the Shade (Jonathan Cake), the only other person so far that has commented on the tea at the dinner. Seems to be something there, however not all the pieces to the puzzle are present. But I digress.

Part of Sylvester is this kind, sweet man who wants to do right and protect those he cares about. But there’s another side, one that is wreckless and rather scary. The fight that follows after he learns of the blackmail from Cindy is one of the best-choreographed scenes in the series but also shows how sinister Sylvester can be. There’s a moment in that fight that sent chills down my spine, which speaks to the acting chops of McHale. I don’t think he’s the killer, but I think there is a lot more to the story that we aren’t being told.

Blue Valley’s community in Stargirl: Frenemies “The Blackmail”

Osmanski still manages to be one of the best parts this season as Paula Brooks. The idea of domestic life is incredibly overwhelming and watching her lean on Barbara (Amy Smart) has been my favorite storyline.

I won’t lie, when Barbara shows up at Paula’s induction ceremony into the rotary club brought a tear to my eye, because these two women have developed a friendship where once they were enemies. I suppose that is playing into the theme of this season, but I truly hope it stays that way.

Stargirl: Frenemies "The Blackmail" Barbara
Barbara (Amy Smart) from Stargirl. (CW/WB).

Towards the end of the episode, after the fight Sylvester and the Crocks have in the grocery store, information is revealed that changes the trajectory of the story and the mystery at large. Perhaps we can cross one or two people off the suspect list before the credits roll.

Final thoughts on Stargirl: Frenemies “The Blackmail”

This season continues to build on its momentum, which started off with quite a lot already. You can tell we are speeding towards the end, however, I think the mystery of who killed The Gambler will be solved way before the season finale.

I think this episode was fantastic, however perhaps a little light on the action. However, the action we did got was phenomenal and possibly the best fight we’ve seen all season. The mystery of Sylvester intrigues me so much more than the murder because his presence feels like a bigger problem for the JSA than that of The Gambler’s death. Don’t miss the ending shot, because like all puzzles, every piece is necessary and the last one is a big one.

Stargirl: Frenemies airs Wednesdays at 8 pm est on the CW and the next day on the CW app. Have you watched it yet? What are your thoughts on the episode? Let us know on social media! And if you need a refresher of episode two, check out my review and breakdown of “The Suspects”!

Review: Stargirl: Frenemies “The Suspects” (S3 Ep2)

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