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The Ending Of DC's Stargirl Season 3 Explained

The third season of DC's "Stargirl" kicks off with a bang, literally, after Cindy fires the Gambler's gun and alerts Courtney and the Justice Society of America (JSA) to his murder. The season, which is subtitled "Frenemies," is set up as a murder mystery with twists and turns in every episode, making everyone a suspect in the former villain's death. This makes for a really interesting dynamic between Courtney, who always tries to see the best in people and believe in their good intentions, the JSA, and the former Injustice Society of America (ISA) members who are trying to break good. Speaking of her good intentions, Season 3 sees Courtney and Pat welcome the newly resurrected Starman back into the fold, giving the show a lot to play with.

Sadly, the news broke halfway through the third season of "Stargirl" that it would be the show's last. Thankfully, though, the cast and crew were quick to reassure fans that an alternative ending had been filmed to provide closure and a satisfying ending to the series. Actor Brec Bassinger, who plays Courtney Whitmore and her superhero alter ego Stargirl, praised the series creator Geoff Johns for doing everything he could to create a great ending for the series. She told Collider, "He went the extra mile and shot two different endings, because he did not want to leave the fans with all these question marks." The penultimate episode and the finale provide a lot of answers to fans' biggest questions and tie up loose ends, so let's dive into the conclusion.

Mister Bones wasn't the season's big bad

The second season finale of "Stargirl" sets up Mister Bones (Keith David) and the Helix Institute as if they are the next big villains Courtney and the JSA are going to face. In the last scene of the season, he notes that there are a lot of superpowered people in Blue Valley and menacingly suggests taking a trip there. This, of course, leaves viewers anticipating his imminent arrival in town in Season 3. Instead, though, Courtney, Pat (Luke Wilson), Jennie (Ysa Penarejo), and the Shade (Jonathan Cake) end up going to him when they visit the Helix Institute in Episodes 7 and 8.

Jennie and the Shade require Helix's help to take the darkness out of Jennie's Green Lantern ring, and to find her brother Todd (Nate Swift). Though the Shade believes the darkness, which powers the Shadowlands, should be returned to him, Jennie eventually puts it into Todd and it stabilizes his powers. Courtney and Jennie learn that this is what Helix has been trying to do all along, which is a surprising twist given Mister Bones' supervillain status in "Stargirl" comics.

Two episodes aren't enough time to get into all the comic book lore that accompanies Mister Bones. However, it's enough time to tease a few other recognizable comic book characters like Penny Dreadful and Tao Jones, who are each locked behind a heavy security door. There's definitely spin-off potential here.

How Starman explains his return from the dead

The mystery around Sylvester Pemberton's (Joel McHale) impossible return from the dead has hung over "Stargirl" ever since the final season finale when it's revealed that he's still alive. Although he crops up again a few times in Season 2 and announces his return in the finale, it isn't until Episode 1 of Season 3 that he finally explains how he has survived. With the help of Dr. McNider (Alex Collins) the team discovers that during his life Sylvester absorbs excess energy from the cosmic staff, which preserves his body and keeps him alive all these years.

However, as to why he returns now and not years ago, Starman claims that Courtney's bond with Cosmo, the Cosmic Staff, woke up his connection with it, which woke him up as well. When he gives Courtney this explanation it feels lacking, but she and Pat happily accept it until the series' penultimate episode when Sylvester starts acting in a very un-Starman manner. This, of course, leads to the revelation that he's not actually the man Pat used to know, and hasn't been from the start.

How and why Starman was actually brought back to life

Neil Jackson's character Jordan Mahkent, or Icicle, the villain Mike (Trae Romano) believes he killed in Season 1, is actually responsible for Starman's return. The staff's cosmic energy preserves his body, just as Dr. McNider says, which explains how he survives. Had it not been for Jordan, Dragon King, and the Ultra-Humanite, Sylvester might've never actually woken up.

In order for Jordan to pick up where he left off and enact his master plan of world domination (in his words, he's saving the human race) he needs Starman to be his puppet. This all makes sense, but when brains start changing hands — or heads — things get a little confusing. Dragon King (Nelson Lee) cuts open Sylvester's head and replaces his brain with that of the Ultra-Humanite, whose brain has resided in a genetically enhanced gorilla for the past few decades. Meanwhile, the Ultra-Humanite then takes the Dragon King's brain out of his body and puts it into said gorilla, fulfilling his quest to be "something greater." Together, the trio set up the Ultra-Humanite as Starman and plant him in the JSA.

This storyline is the biggest twist of the third season, if not the entire series, and it's certainly well executed. That's probably because Stargirl's creator Geoff Johns had been planning this storyline since Season 1. Even McHale was in on the twist, planting subtle nods to it like checking his scars in the mirror, according to Johns' chat with TVLine.

Jordan was behind the cameras and the Gambler's death

As Geoff Johns noted to TVLine, Season 3 was inspired by mysteries like "Murder, She Wrote" and "Knives Out." Episode 1 starts out with a classic whodunit after the Gambler (Eric Goins) is murdered and everyone becomes a suspect. Soon, another mystery starts to unravel. Before he dies, the Gambler discovers cameras watching all the JSA members, their families, and Blue Valley. It turns out Jordan is behind it all. At the end of Episode 10, Paula (Joy Osmanski) and Crusher (Neil Hopkins) are lured to his lair where he kills them with no provocation. Then, in the following episode, Courtney and the JSA also discover the lair and realize that it's far too small for the Ultra-Humanite, who they still believe is a giant gorilla, to be hiding out in. This quickly leads to their discovery that Jordan is, in fact, alive.

At this point, it's still not clear who killed the Gambler — was it Jordan or the gorilla? All becomes clear in the following episode, though, when the Ultra-Humanite reveals that he has taken over Sylvester's body. While giving his supervillain monologue, he explains that he (as Sylvester), Jordan, and Dragon King (in gorilla form) killed the Gambler and afterward he faked getting hurt to make Starman look like a victim. Of course, it makes sense that Jordan wanted to kill the Gambler, and later the Crocks, because they were his former ISA allies. In his eyes, they betrayed him when they tried to reform.

How Courtney regains the staff and her confidence

A big part of Season 3 is the dynamic between Courtney and Sylvester (before his Ultra-Humanite reveal, obviously) and their relationship with the Cosmic Staff. As they grow closer, Courtney gives Starman as much license to use the staff as he wants, even allowing him to take over leadership of the JSA. She looks up to him not only as her hero, but as an influential father figure who she trusts and turns to for advice.

However, after hearing him diminish Pat's role in the team by saying he's nothing more than a sidekick, Courtney finally starts to realize that Starman might not have all the answers. After she discovers that the man she's been getting to know isn't Sylvester Pemberton, but the Ultra-Humanite in his body, it becomes clear to her how he's slowly been chipping away at her confidence and trying to fracture her relationship with her team. Barbara (Amy Smart) then puts it together that this is how he's able to take the staff from her.

"He had to make you believe it worked for him," says Barbara, reminding Courtney that it's within her to reclaim her power. This is a big moment for Courtney's development as Stargirl that didn't go unnoticed by viewers. Geoff Johns set this storyline up in this way, telling TVLine that he always wanted Starman to be the obstacle that she needs to overcome to be the hero she's always meant to be.

Courtney and Cameron save each other

After Courtney regains control of the staff, she goes back for round two against Jordan. Having Cosmo by her side gives her an edge, but he puts up too good of a fight and shows off that he's, in fact, stronger than ever. So, when Courtney is momentarily incapacitated, Cameron steps in to defend her from his father, and Courtney and Cameron fight him side by side.

This is a big moment for Courtney and Cameron, considering their relationship hits the rocks a few episodes earlier. Cameron, who spends most of Seasons 2 and 3 grieving for his father, is desperate to reconnect with him after he discovers his father is alive. He even lies to Courtney on Jordan's behalf at one point. However, his decision to save her means he officially turns his back on his father.

Saving each other, both physically and emotionally, has been a theme for this romantic duo for most of the season. Earlier in the relationship, Courtney is helping Cameron learn to control his powers and trying to save him from the same fate as his father. After the battle, it's her turn to save him again. The 10-year flash forward provides a satisfying conclusion for the pair, too, revealing Cameron had joined the JSA and redefined the name Icicle.

Jordan doesn't get away unscathed

After facing off with Courtney and Cameron, Jordan disappears into a large, icy cloud of smoke. His ethereal face is the last thing to be seen before he dissipates into the night. Because of everything else that is going on in the finale, there isn't much time to dwell on where he goes, and the JSA are too focused on the Ultra-Humanite and-slash-or Starman of it all to spend more attention on Icicle. 

But "Stargirl" doesn't leave fans hanging regarding Jordan's fate. A three-month time jump shows Jordan walking alone at night in Copenhagen. He strides down a dark alley and steps in something that initially looks like it could be a puddle, but turns out to be a thick, sticky goo. Above him is Artemis Crock (Stella Smith) in a dark disguise. She explains that she's trapped him with a petroleum jelly mixture of her dad's own creation. She also wants Jordan to know the concoction is highly flammable. Jordan struggles to get free, but to no avail, and Artemis calmly throws down a flare which sets the petroleum, and Jordan, alight.

"Stargirl" has never shied away from killing off characters, so Jordan's death in itself isn't that much of a surprise. However, it is fitting that Artemis is the one to come after him. The scene doesn't feel like a moment of crazed revenge — rather, it's a way for Artemis to avenge her parents. Like them, she's changed and become a better person, so this moment marks that new phase in her life.

Courtney fulfills the Gambler's last wish

Before he dies, the Gambler does everything he can to track down his daughter Becky Sharpe, who he never really knows. Eventually he finds her and writes her a letter, which he plans to send, but never gets the chance. In the chaos of the finale, this storyline could have easily slipped through the cracks. However, the scene where Courtney goes to see Becky and gives her the Gambler's letter was non-negotiable for Geoff Johns. "That's a huge scene for me. The whole [reason] Courtney was motivated to do this in the first place was she saw Gambler, as she said early on in the season, acting like a better father than her own biological father," he explained to TVLine.

The scene ends up being a nice way to round off Courtney's emotional journey and relationship with her own father, which she struggles with since Season 1. The scar that he leaves on her will always be there, evidenced by the moment she goes to touch the locket and remembers it's not there, but it also feels like she's closing the door on that part of her past. Instead, she's trying to help Becky so she doesn't have to feel that same pain. Now, Becky knows that her dad always cared and wanted to know her.

Whitmore-Dugan family relationships evolve

Family, friendship, and love are themes that have always been at the forefront of "Stargirl." These themes have been especially prevalent in the interactions between the members of the Whitmore-Dugan family. At the beginning of Season 1, Courtney wants nothing to do with Pat or Mike, firmly denying they are her family, while still holding out hope that her biological dad will come back. However, by the end of the season, things have changed. Courtney and Mike have bonded like true siblings, and she discovers that her dad really didn't care about her; meanwhile, Pat does care about her. In an especially touching scene, Court gives Pat the "World's Greatest Dad" mug she kept in her closet.

Season 3 builds on their growing bond, notably in Episode 8 when she somewhat accidentally calls him "Dad," and then again in Episode 12 and 13 when Courtney gives an impassioned speech to Starman about how Pat is her real hero and that she is so thankful that he is her father.

Similarly, Mike's relationship with Barbara has been growing up over the seasons, but in Season 3 she expresses a deep motherly love for him, calling him her son for the first time. Mike seems to reciprocate this affection, but it's not until the season finale that he calls her "Mom," despite having just been reunited with his biological mother. The family of four have come a long way since that first episode, and this moment further highlights that they can get through anything together.

Mike and Jakeem are a part of the JSA all along

One of Mike's biggest and continuous storylines in "Stargirl" has been about trying to find his place within his new family and within the JSA. During the first two seasons, Pat tries his hardest to keep Mike out of it, even after he gets very involved by apparently killing Icicle. Pat offers to train Mike and lets him help work on S.T.R.I.P.E., but he rarely gets to go on missions with the JSA. He thought he'd found his place in the team when he discovers the Thunderbolt in Season 2, but he's just meant to be a messenger for it so that it could end up with Jakeem (Alkoya Brunson).

In Season 3, Mike and Jakeem decide to venture out on their own, away from the JSA, which Mike says is more of his sister's thing. They tentatively name their team "The Young All-Stars," and try to recruit Cindy Burman (Meg DeLacy) when she feels betrayed by the JSA. The three of them end up stopping the Dragon King in his gorilla form during the final showdown. Although they do it separately, the scene just highlights that they've really been working with the JSA all along. During the season, all of their missions are interrelated, even if Mike doesn't know it. This comes full-circle in the 10-year time jump, though, when the Shade acknowledges Jakeem Thunder and S.T.R.I.P.E. 2.0 (Mike) as integral members of the JSA.

Cindy becomes the Dragon Queen

At the beginning of Season 1 of "Stargirl" it's almost impossible to imagine a world where Cindy is allied with Courtney and the JSA. In fact, she actively works against them and spends her time plotting ways to kill Court and make her father, Dr. Shiro Ito, aka the Dragon King, proud. Even in Season 2, she's intent on forming a new team, which she calls "Injustice Unlimited," to take the JSA down. But, despite all this, she ends up fighting on their side every time it really counts.

Cindy's character arc is one of the most interesting to watch in Season 3, as she really has transformed from villain to hero. Of course, it's not an easy road for her, as the experiments her father performs on her leave her feeling alone and isolated — she doesn't fully learn to trust her team immediately. But, after Jakeem's wish turns the Dragon King (who'd been inhabiting the gorilla's body) into a soft plush toy in the finale, Cindy finally becomes free from his conscious and unconscious influence. In the 10-year flash forward, the Shade reveals that the Dragon Queen is a full-fledged member of the JSA — Cindy has taken the Dragon King's mantle and made it stand for something good.

Beth and Rick get their happy ending

Another revelation from the 10-year time jump is that Beth (Anjelika Washington) and Rick (Cameron Gellman) finally get their happy ending. Their relationship is a seriously slow burn, and it hasn't even fully developed in the series yet, but Gellman had previously acknowledged Beth and Rick's canonical romance in an interview and confirmed that it would eventually be developed in the series.

The untimely cancellation of "Stargirl" cut the on-screen development of their relationship short, but Season 3 spends some time developing their connection. Beth is always the most concerned about Rick's deteriorating mental state. Even when things are falling apart for him with the hourglass, he still tries to be there for her. After the final battle, they go to speak to her parents together. Rick apologizes for his anger and asks for their help, and he supports Beth while she asks them to be more involved in her role as Dr. Mid-Nite. Subtle movements in that scene, like Rick putting his arm about Beth, and gently rubbing her back, highlight the intimate nature of the relationship between them even if it hasn't been fully developed yet. The Shade revealing their engagement in the time jump is the perfect way to acknowledge their blossoming romance.

Never the end...

The 10-year time jump is exactly what "Stargirl" needed to tie up its last few loose ends. Narrated by the Shade, it provides an insight into some of the storylines we might have seen if the series continued, such as the JSA teaming up to save the Seven Soldiers of Victory from Nebula Man, Courtney becoming Starwoman, and the return of Starman for real.

The Shade also briefly notes how the JSA expands over the years. Along with the characters we've already mentioned, he confirms that Jennie, as Green Lantern, and Todd, who has taken on his comic book name Obsidian, officially join the team, alongside unseen characters like Sand and Damage.

However, while the flash forward ties up a lot of loose ends, it also leaves the door wide open for the series to continue in some way. John Wesley Shipp briefly returns as The Flash to get help from the Shade and the JSA, before the words "Never the End" flash up on the screen, highlighting that this is definitely not the end of Stargirl's story. Speaking to the significance of the series' sign-off, Geoff Johns said it commemorates the legacy of the series, not just for what the characters have been and will become, but for the fans and the cast and crew. But most of all, he wanted to end things on an uplifting note.