Trapped in the Shadowlands, Courtney finds help from unlikely allies in “Summer School: Chapter Eleven.”
After being banished by Eclipso (Nick Tarabay) in “Summer School: Chapter Ten,” Courtney (Brec Bassinger) is faced with both literal and figurative darkness in the Shadowlands. Despite the darkness, Courtney finds that she is not alone with some unlikely allies in “Summer School: Chapter Eleven.” The captivating episode features some interesting returns and a redemptive sacrifice as Courtney fights her way back to the real Blue Valley.
The biggest strength of this episode was the portrayal of the Shadowlands. The sequences taking place in the realm are in black and white and the ominous music combined with the unsettling actions of Eclipso’s manifestations in the Shadowlands really sell the creepiness of the realm. Eclipso begins to torture Courtney with a vision of Joey Zarick (Wil Deusner), who was sadly killed in season one. It’s nice to see him again, even if he’s merely a vision to torture Courtney. Eclipso ramps up his attempts through the episode as a vision of Barbara (Amy Smart) tells her that she wishes she had never been born. Each sequence is chilling even despite knowing that they are merely visions.
In the real world, Pat (Luke Wilson), Barbara, Mike (Trae Romano), Beth (Anjelika Washington), and Jennie (Ysa Penarejo) regroup and comfort each other in the aftermath of losing Courtney. The most striking moment is Barbara seeing Jennie carry Courtney’s staff into the house and the grief of everyone believing that Courtney has died is heartbreaking.
Back in the Shadowlands, Courtney is attacked by Cindy (Meg DeLacy), who quickly discovers that Courtney is not another vision after the sight of her red blood. Cindy’s sassiness as she explains the rules of the world to Courtney is a moment of levity in the episode, particularly as Courtney continues to move from room to room and experiences more visions. As much as Cindy is easy to hate, it’s hard not to feel sorry for her as she is haunted by her own terrifying visions regarding her family.
Courtney soon finds herself in a vision of the old Justice Society of America (JSA) headquarters and comes across Charles McNider (Alex Collins), who was trapped in the Shadowlands by The Shade (Jonathan Cake) in an effort to save him. After seeing previous scenes with the original JSA, McNider comes across as the most likable original member besides Pat. His speech to Courtney about holding onto the light in the darkness is inspiring and he is able to communicate with Beth through the goggles to tell her that Courtney is alive.
With renewed hope after hearing that Courtney is alive, Jennie uses her powers to track The Shade (who could be in two possible locations). With The Shade’s eventual agreement and McNider’s account of their friendship back in the day, The Shade manages to redeem himself somewhat after last episode’s betrayal.
The Shade opens the doorway between the two realms, but Courtney decides to find Cindy and bring her along. The decision is dangerous but shows the strength of Courtney’s heroism. Eclipso interrupts her struggle to find Cindy with visions of Yolanda (Yvette Monreal) and Rick (Cameron Gellman) isolated respectively in a bedroom and jail cell. It is unfortunate that we haven’t gotten to see much of Yolanda and Rick over the past few episodes, but hopefully, they will return in the remaining episodes.
Eclipso then confronts Courtney in his child form (Milo Stein) getting her to give in to her hatred of him. Once Eclipso lets her go, Courtney then gets Cindy to snap out of her horrifying visions of her family. The two escape through the portal with McNider, and the escape is visually interesting with the three coming out of the movie screen that The Shade’s using as the portal. The reunion between Courtney and her family is emotional, though the absence of Mike, Beth, and Jennie is odd. Though their absence is explained by the second possible location of the Shade, the answer to what was at the second location is not revealed in the episode.
After a nice reunion between The Shade and McNider, The Shade dies after closing the portal. Not long after, Cindy declares that she wants to be part of the effort to stop Eclipso. While both The Shade and Cindy have done bad things this season, The Shade’s sacrifice and Cindy’s potential for redemption are both interesting plots and make them more than one-note villains. While it’s likely that The Shade isn’t completely gone, his redemption is a nice resolution to his arc. However, Eclipso remains an ever-present, irredeemable threat and time is running out to stop him.
Author: Jessica Wolff
Jessica Wolff is a graduate of Drexel University with a BS in Film/Video. She has a passion for entertainment and representation in entertainment. She currently resides outside of Washington, DC.