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

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Hey there Star-family, how are we doing after that explosive premiere episode of Stargirl’s third season? Those last few minutes of “The Murder” have been haunting me for weeks now, as this mystery continues well past the first six episodes in this season. There are also some major ramifications from the closing moments, which audiences will begin to see unfold in episode two. This season has definitely risen as one of my favorite seasons of Stargirl so far and I can’t wait to explore it weekly with you in these Stargirl: Frenemies debriefing and look ahead articles.

Sitting in the director’s chair for Stargirl: Frenemies– “The Suspects” is Andi Armaganian who is no stranger to superhero shows and the Arrowverse as a whole. She’s served as both director and editor on quite a few episodes of Supergirl, Arrow, DC’s Legends of Tomorrow, The Flash, and even Smallville. She also directed seven episodes of Stargirl across its three seasons, including last week’s season 3 premiere. “The Suspects” also sees the return of Robbie Hynes, who has written before for the show. So with these two leading the charge and a murder to solve, how does Stargirl: Frenemies – “The Suspects” handle the mystery? Rather well in my opinion.

[Warning: some spoilers from Stargirl: Frenemies– ”The Suspects” and the premiere episode are below]

The murder and a flashback in Stargirl: Frenemies– “The Suspects”

So who had the murder of The Gambler (Eric Goins) on their Stargirl bingo card? I for sure didn’t, because his death just felt entirely out of left field. The majority of the first episode established that The Gambler was attempting to right some wrongs in his life and turn over a new leaf, which not many in Blue Valley seemed to believe. His death also cast some major doubt on one of the other reforming villains in town, as Cindy Berman (Meg DeLacy) was standing over his corpse, literally holding the smoking gun. To say I was screaming at my television as the first episode faded to black would be an understatement.

Instead of picking up from that moment, the second episode decides to flashback twelve hours to show us the last day of The Gambler’s life, with bits woven between the present-day storyline. This flashback gave viewers two huge pieces of information to mull over. One is that the new leaf that The Gambler was turning over and his desire to connect on a different level with the world was indeed genuine. The other was the greater mystery he stumbled on unintentionally.

Stargirl: Frenemies- "The Suspects"
Yolanda (Yvette Monreal) and Courtney (Brec Bassinger) from The Suspect. Stargirl (CW/WB)

So the gambler has a daughter, a daughter that no one seems to believe exists. Many of the residents of Blue Valley think this daughter is a ploy. Another evil scheme from the man who always has a trick up his sleeve. However in the private moments that audiences got to witness the Gambler alone in his trailer, he was found writing a letter to his daughter and searching for her on his computer. He may not be the father of the year, but he was genuine in his desire to find his daughter.

During the flashback, we also see that the Gambler discovered that someone, or something, was watching the superpowered residents of Blue Valley, through the use of a camera network. One of these cameras is pointed directly at the trailer The Gambler is living in, a discovery that I would bet led to the ending of his life.

The Cindy Burman problem and other drama

Eventually, the story returns to the final moments of “The Murder” as the Justice Society of America looks shocked by Cindy Burman holding the gun. This singular event sends ripples through the JSA, as Courtney (Brec Bassinger) and Beth (Anjelika Washington) believe Cindy to be innocent, taking her for her word. However, Yolanda (Yvette Monreal) and Rick (Cameron Gellman) are angered with Cindy and annoyed with Courtney’s unrelenting optimism about the villains in town.

The Cindy problem consumes a lot of this episode, as it seems the young heroes of the JSA are torn on what to do, and the presence of Sylvester Pemberton (Joel McHale) continues to complicate matters. Rick and Yolanda seem to hold Sylvester in higher esteem, many times asking what he thinks when they disagree with Courtney’s choices. Also during this episode, we see Courtney coming to terms with quite a bit of knowledge and change, one of them being that Starman is back.

Stargirl: Frenemies- "The Suspect" Starman
Sylvester (Joel McHale) and Courtney (Brec Bassinger) in The Suspects. Stargirl (CW/WB)

Many times Sylvester takes the cosmic staff without consulting Courtney, leaving her feeling iced out in her own superhero group. Eventually, the two work this situation out, but it takes a bit of time, and even then, Starman isn’t exactly thoughtful of Courtney’s time or feelings. However, how they come together and the training sequence between the two is just top-notch.

Courtney is also wrestling with feelings of her own father, which are brought up through the letter The Gambler wrote his daughter. The abandonment issues are beginning to rear their heads once again, as Courtney makes some decisions based on emotion and not necessarily on logic. She wants The Gambler to be a good person, not necessarily because he is a good person, but because she wants her father to reach out to her in a similar way. This desire also becomes one of her motivating factors during this season.

The Crocks try new things in Stargirl: Frenemies– “The Suspects”

Some of the best parts of this episode are the scenes between Barbara Whitmore (Amy Smart) and Paula (Joy Osmanski). Paula has become such a fantastic comedic relief for the show because she is having such a difficult time adjusting to an average life. She doesn’t understand the desire to fit in, however, is doing just about anything for her family, even if it makes her uncomfortable. It’s also slightly heartwarming to see her attach herself to Barbara in a weird friendship.

The thing I love about Barbara is how good of a person she is. She’s a great mother, and a fantastic wife, and wishes to help everyone she can. Even though she is slightly nervous about being around Paula, which is entirely understandable, she takes a page out of Courtney’s book and helps anyways. Watching these two individuals baking a cake had me laughing until there were tears in my eyes. If you love this friendship as much as I do, hold onto your hats, because it only gets better.

Final thoughts on Stargirl: Frenemies– “The Suspects” and looking forward

This episode was fantastic for me, possibly topping the first episode of this season. Truly, these two episodes feel more like a two-part premiere, with the stories so closely tied to one another. I love the addition of Joel McHale to the cast, who is bringing some great depth to Sylvester. There are very happy and joyful parts, however, Sylvester is starting to show a dark side in this episode. There are hints that this existed prior to his return, but I think there is something else going on tied to his resurrection.

The thing about The Gambler’s death is that right now, so many people are suspects with motive and ample time to commit it. It’s hard to eliminate anyone, even though like Courtney I want to believe that Cindy Burman is innocent. There’s nothing like a solid redemption arc to tug at my heartstrings. Also, what’s going on with Cindy and that substance she drank early in the episode? Hmmm, maybe we shouldn’t rule her out just yet.

Stargirl: Frenemies currently airs Wednesdays at 8 pm est on The CW. Have you watched the episode yet? Let us know what you think on social media! And if you haven’t already, or need a refresher of last week’s premiere episode, check out my review!

Review: Stargirl Season 3 Premiere and Look Ahead

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