Following the shocking death of Henry King Jr. at the hands of his father in last week’s action packed episode, there’s no doubt that the Justice Society of America 2.0 have been left reeling and visibly shaken. Along with processing the tragic loss of her ally, Courtney’s father arrives in town, putting our hero well and truly in the crucial “ordeal” phase of her journey. “Shining Knight” sees Courtney face her biggest test yet, leading her to question her identity along with the notions of family and legacy – two of the show’s biggest recurring themes.
Courtney’s (Brec Bassinger) dealt another blow when the identity of her real father is revealed as he arrives unexpectedly in Blue Valley, turning her life upside down. Meanwhile, Brainwave (Christopher James Baker) puts the pressure on Jordan (Neil Jackson) to deal with the threat of the Dugan/Whitmore family as the clock is ticking and Pat (Luke Wilson) uncovers new information about the ISA’s plan thanks to an old ally.
Every hero faces a similar moment in their journeys in which they face their greatest fear or confront their most difficult challenge; whether that’s losing their weapon because they are no longer worthy (Thor) or finally meeting the parent who abandoned them when they were a child (Shazam!) In “Shining Knight” Courtney has to deal with the revelation that her father isn’t the hero that she always believed in, but actually a bit of sponge. Yes Sam Kurtis comes to town, and although he’s not the petty criminal he is in the comics, he does stoop pretty low. Once Courtney passes the denial stage, Brec Bassinger does a brilliant job of emoting utter doubt, uncertainty, and a crisis of identity, particularly as she lose the connection with the staff stops when she discovers she isn’t the daughter of Starman.
Enter the wonderful warmth of Luke Wilson’s Pat, who proves that family means much more than the stereotypical nuclear model. Courtney and Pat’s relationship has evolved into such a wonderfully loving connection over the course of the season, and it’s clear that he’s always there for her when she really needs it. I love how DC are strengthening this message throughout their shows and film, particular in this, The Flash and Shazam! “The staff chose you because it believed in you, it’s just waiting for you to believe in yourself again.” Pat’s inspirational words inspire such a wonderful moment in the show, as Courtney asks her mother and step-father to be with her as she attempts to communicate with the Staff again. Compared to the fast pace of the previous episode, the eleventh hour is slowed down for a much more introspective, self-contained instalment.
Meanwhile, another identity is revealed in the form of the mysterious janitor, as his memories start to return as he searches for his horse, Victory. One memory that stands out between the broken fragments is that of Pat Dugan in full Stripesy costume, who helps him recall the Seven Soldiers of Victory. Turns out he’s The Shining Knight who might prove a helpful ally for the JSA, particularly as its teased that he might know some details on the ISA’s shadowy mission. It’s an interesting set up for the eventual showdown, along with a nice nod to the Golden age characters.
Elsewhere, Brainwave shockingly shows absolutely no remorse for killing both his son and wife, threatening Jordan to cut his ties with Barbara as the countdown is on. These two have such an interesting relationship, and even though they’re both portrayed as villains, it’s intriguing to see how different Jordan is to Brainwave. Could Barbara prove the chink in Jordan’s armour?
With only two episodes remaining of the season, the writers take a breather from the action for an important moment of reflection in Courtney’s arc. As Brainwave antagonises the JSA to attack the villains, I can’t wait to see the eventual showdown between the two groups, I just hope Cameron still has a part to play.