Review: DC’s ‘Stargirl’ Explores The Purpose Of The Shadowland

DC’s Stargirl season 2 episode 11 dives deep into the shadowland where Eclipso is from and what its full purpose is. Whenever the shadowland is shown, it is done so in black and white. At the end of the previous episode, Courtney is sucked in, just as Cindy was, and everyone presumes her dead. However, that is not the case.

The episode kicks off with her in a black and white Blue Valley where she is confronted by some of her darkest memories and guilts. She then finds Cindy, who is willing to explain to her everything that he has learned about this place – which is called the shadowland.

DC’s Stargirl Explores The Purpose Of The Shadowland

She explains that this place is where Eclipso was born. It is a void created by the darkness inside humanity and filled with fear, rage, and guilt. It needed something to feed on it all, and that something is Eclipso. Cindy describes it as a purgatory. It shows you things from your past. Horrible things that you did or experienced and, as Cindy says, mostly just depress you.

During one such vision, Courtney sees her mom, Barbara, saying that she could have had a better life if she didn’t get pregnant. Cindy witnesses this and the two start to bond because of all of the horrible things they both went through while growing up.

Courtesy of The CW

Cindy is pulled into a vision and Courtney ends up coming across someone viewers assumed would be showing up this episode – Doctor Charles McNider. He pulls her from the abyss and explains that what she was seeing is the pure shadowlands. He has lived there for years and only survived because the goggles show him the truth. Without them, he too would have been consumed.

Back in the real world, Jenni is confessing that she thinks what happened with Courtney is her fault. She thinks if she wasn’t afraid the ring would have saved Courtney from Eclipso. Doctor McNider speaks to Beth through the goggles and tells her that Courtney is alive. He also says that he suspects The Shade can open the doorway to the Shadowlands and bring them back.

Meanwhile, Doctor McNider and Courtney are having a heart-to-heart. She wonders why The Shade would ever help them, especially since he is the reason they are both trapped there. Charles explains that when Eclipso killed his daughter, The Shade came to him and confessed that he felt responsible for it. The two drank together and McNider told him it was not his fault. He says that The Shade was never like the other ISA members and even considered himself and Charles to be friends. He believes The Shade put him in the shadowlands to protect him from the ISA that night and never intended to hurt him.

Pat and Barbara go to see The Shade in the Blue Valley theater thanks to Jenni using the power of the Green Lantern ring to find him. The Shade is watching an old film and is very surprised to hear that Charles McNider is alive when Pat tells him. He seems genuinely happy and agrees to open a door to the shadowlands to try to save him and Courtney. He does it using the movie screen to look at the shadowlands and find them, which proves to be a very cool effect.

When they see Courtney they call to her. She is tempted to walk through but decides she wants to find Cindy and bring her back too. She tells them to hold it open a little longer and disappears into the abyss.

Instead of getting to Cindy though, she ends up in a vision where she is in Yolanda’s bedroom. Yolanda is sitting sadly and thinking about all the horrible things she has done — all because of Courtney. Little boy Eclipso is there as well and he tells Courtney he wants to play a game called whose life did you ruin? He then proceeds to also shows her Rick in jail, saying that he is only there because of her.

When that doesn’t seem to accomplish what he is trying to do, he starts attempting to make her mad at him. He pushes her buttons by talking about how he has tortured and hurt everyone she loves. When he brings up her father, and that is what gets her. He finally pushes her to say that she hates him. Meanwhile, The Shade is struggling to keep the doorway open.

Courtney finally gets to Cindy through sheer perseverance and fighting the urge to give into her anger. When she finds her, she sees her being tortured by her father. She helps her break away from him but before they can go anywhere else, Cindy is stopped by a vision of her younger self killing her mother when she lost her temper — all because of the experiments her father did on her.

The main point of this seems to be so that Courtney will see what happened with Cindy when she was younger. This is sure to make their bond even tighter, and truly help them to understand one another. Courtney lets Cindy know that she has found a way out, but that they have to leave now — and they do.

Courtney, Charles McNider, and Cindy just barely make it out of the shadowlands before The Shade collapses and so does the door he created. It is clear that The Shade is very weak. He is happy to see Charles again and apologizes for trapping him in the shadowlands on accident.

When Pat asks him if there is anything they can do for him he says yes, for them to tell everyone he died doing something good. He disappears into a puff of shadows and seemingly dies.

It is always strange when a villain’s death makes you feel emotional, but that is something that is sure to happen with a lot of viewers when they watch this episode. The Shade used the very last of his power to do the right thing, which is quite admirable. At least it seems that he died happy. Now the final battle against Eclipso is coming and with just two episodes of Stargirl Season 2 yet, they are both sure to be action-packed!



Now the final battle against Eclipso is coming and with just two episodes of Stargirl Season 2 yet, they are both sure to be action-packed!

+ posts

Tessa Smith owns and is a Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer-approved Film and TV Critic and a huge geek. Tessa has been in the Entertainment writing business for almost ten years and is a member of several Critics Associations including the Hollywood Critics Association and the Greater Western New York Film Critics Association. She grew up watching movies, playing video games, and reading comic books -- and still loves all of those things. She proudly lets her geek flag fly and spreads the word that there is nothing wrong with being a geek.