'Stargirl' Episode 11: Courtney makes the discovery that being a hero has nothing to do with her legacy
Spoilers for 'Stargirl' Season 1 Episode 11 'Shining Knight'
Right from the start, Courtney Whitmore (Brec Bassinger) was both assured that her long-lost father was Starman (Joel McHale) and her connection to him meant that it was her destiny to become a hero. She modeled her costume after him, her superhero name, and took on the villains that killed him, all to honor his legacy. Throughout the season, everything seemed to be supporting this idea. Themes of legacy came up time and time again, and most importantly, the Cosmic Staff chose her as a worthy successor after a decade of lying dormant.
This episode, however, we find out that Courtney has no direct connection to Starman at all. Her father is just an ordinary man named Sam Curtis (Geoff Stults) who, all in all, is less of a hero than he is a selfish and opportunistic swindler. Naturally, this revelation shakes Courtney to her core. She has risked her life, the lives of her friends and her family in the belief that being a hero was her destiny. But now she finds that she wasn't meant to be a hero at all — she only chose to be one.
It's that choice, however, that ultimately is Courtney's greatest strength. She has always been the shining beacon of heroism. She single-handedly formed an all new generation of the Justice Society, convinced Pat Dugan (Luke Wilson) to train them and work on their side and formed a threat to the Injustice Society that might be standing between them and their plans of eventual world domination. She has always pushed through through sheer force of will with a stubbornness that has frustrated everyone around her, but it's those very qualities that the Cosmic Staff recognized in her, encouraging her to be a hero.
After her father's visit shook her faith in herself, Courtney was unable to activate the Staff again. It wasn't until she had her mother, Barbara Whitmore (Amy Smart), and Pat both by her side that she was able to restore faith in herself and wake up the Staff with more power than we've ever seen it channel before. In the end, it wasn't a legacy that makes Stargirl a hero but the faith in herself that comes from the support of her family that does so - a family that's both found and born into.
It's that, more than legacy, that the series has been trying to illustrate. All the villains of the series become so after either losing their family or in growing distant from their family members. Cindy Burman (Meg DeLacy) never had the love of either of her parents. Henry King Jr (Jake Austin Walker) turned to the dark side when his father was in a coma, but immediately turned back towards the side of good when he saw how loving his amnesiac father could be. Yolanda Montez (Yvette Monreal) and Rex Tyler (Cameron Gellman) are the members of the Justice Society who are closest to become villains themselves - and they are both the ones with the least supportive families until the one they find in the JSA.
It's a powerful lesson that's been running through the entire series, that comes to a head when Stargirl channels that support into the Cosmic Staff. As is the case with most superhero shows, her inner empowerment strengthens her more literal powers - and the Injustice Society is about to face a more powerful Stargirl than they've ever seen before.
The next episode of 'Stargirl' airs on Monday, August 3, on DC Universe, and Tuesday, August 4, on CW.