Director – Michael Nankin
Writer – Colleen McGuiness
As a long standing fan of the JSA, it is fair to say I was in absolute fanboy heaven whilst watching Icicle, the 3rd episode of Stargirl. I didn’t dare to dream that a tv show would ever portray the JSA brownstone in a manner that surpassed Absolute Justice, the wonderful event episode of Smallville in 2010. However, once again, this wonderful new show has found a way to excel. As our fledgling duo take a trip to JSA HQ, we were treated to a scene that contained more Easter Eggs than viewers could possibly know what to do with. The iconic round table? Check. Costumes, props, wonderful artistic renderings of the line up? Check. I would’ve been happy with an entire episode set solely in that room. As a plot point, it was also highly effective as, in addition to highlighting the past of the JSA and its heritage, it provided Courtney with the equipment needed to start forming her Justice Society of America 2.0! I can’t wait to see a new generation of heroes don the iconic costumes and jump into action. I just hope old Hooty goes to a good home!
The main crux of the episode was of course expanding on the backstory and motivations of the head of the ISA, Jordan Mahkent aka Icicle. In a clever narrative choice, flashing back eight years to show the more human side of the man, forged by personal loss, helps to make the ostensibly evil man a slightly more sympathetic character. During the course of this episode he commits one of the most despicable crimes imaginable, yet on the flip side he is shown to be a loving father and family man. One gets the feeling that this is going to be one of the most intriguing television villains in recent memory. Huge credit must go to Neil Jackson for his performance, effortlessly switching between being genuinely charming and nice, to being a stone cold killer, utterly driven and capable of murdering anybody that doesn’t fit in with his plans.
The theme prevalent so far in this show is very much one of the sins of the father being visited on their children. Whether it’s the Mahkent dynasty, Courtney’s inheritance of the staff and her relationship with Pat or the tragic events that are visited upon the Zarick family, the sense that the new generation are paying for the actions of their elders is palpable. One such example of that is really telegraphed here via the early signs of a romance between Courtney and Cameron Mahkent. Regardless of how that starts to blossom, their diametrically opposed heritages mean that they are doomed before they even start. The layers of such storytelling are very effective in adding substance to a show that is expertly walking the line between a light, fun teen show and something much more grand and dark.
As a 13 episode season, this show will almost certainly avoid the same pitfalls as shows such as Supergirl and The Flash, by not having to pad out 23 episode seasons with utter filler. The storytelling can be tight, with no wasted screen time whatsoever. Providing the standard of the show continues as it has done so far, then this could be a real crown jewel in the DCTV portfolio. Everything about it feels on the mark. The casting, the writing, the direction and the tone. All spot on to date. Bring on next week and the genesis of the new JSA line up!