'Stargirl' Episode 8: Has Brainwave been subconsciously suppressing his son's abilities all along?
Henry King Jr has spent his life being intimidated and suppressed by his father, but with his father in a coma, Henry's abilities are now coming to the fore
Spoilers for 'Stargirl' Season 1, Episode 8 'Shiv Part Two'
To avoid confusion, this article will refer to Henry King Sr. as "Brainwave" and Henry King Jr. as "Henry."
Brainwave (Christopher James Baker) has been testing his son, Henry King Jr (Jake Austin Walker) for any manifestations of superhero powers for all of Henry's life, but it's only now that Henry's abilities are starting to manifest. The question is, what has changed in Blue Valley to finally unlock Henry's psychic potential? The reason might lie in the fact that his father has been in a coma for most of the season - Brainwave might have just been holding his son back.
This might seem contradictory to what we've seen of Brainwave. He holds his son up to a high standard and asking his son to be able to tell what he's thinking is obviously a common occurrence in the King household. Brainwave is a textbook narcissist, he's named his son after himself and there's no higher honor than that for a man who thinks as highly of himself as Brainwave does. It's obvious that Brainwave wants to raise his son to be another version of himself but that might be where the problem lies.
Brainwave might subconsciously see his son as a threat. Henry is at the age where it seems like he's growing fast, mere years away from becoming a full-grown adult. One of the fears that comes with raising someone to be just like you is the fear that that person will then replace you. This is especially true for a villain as cold-hearted as Brainwave, who is likely to believe there is only room for one at the top. To this end, it is likely that Brainwave has been suppressing his son in more ways than one.
We've seen indications of this. Henry is afraid to talk openly to his father, like when he's afraid to admit that his car got wrecked by a girl. Brainwave intimidates his son and it would not be surprising if he shamed his son for his lack of mental fortitude. He even contacted a fellow villain, the Dragon King (Nelson Lee) to have the Dragon King's daughter Cindy Burman (Meg DeLacy) keep an eye Henry for him. Brainwave is all about control and when your powers are guided by your thoughts and feelings, Brainwave's powers might have interpreted his need for control as a need to make Henry less powerful, keeping Henry's powers dormant.
Henry's headaches began not long after Brainwave was in a coma. There have so far been no other significant changes in Henry's life that might have activated his powers. In keeping with the themes of the show, Henry has spent most of his life being held back by his father, but with Brainwave held in a coma for an indefinite period of time, it's time for Henry's powers to come forth. We know from the synopsis and episode titles of upcoming episodes that Henry takes on the mantle of a new Brainwave - meaning that Brainwave's treatment of his son became a self-fulfilling prophecy.
The next episode of 'Stargirl' airs July 13 on DC Universe and July 14 on The CW.