After three spectacular seasons Stargirl has taken its final bow. The series finale gave us a few intense fight scenes, plenty of triumphant moments, some deeply emotional reunions and a surprise time-skip. There’s a lot to unpack from this episode, and from the series as a whole, so we sat down to chat with showrunner and Stargirl co-creator Geoff Johns and series star Brec Bassinger. The two shared some behind-the-scenes tidbits from the finale, breaking down how the epic hour came together.
Congratulations on a great finale.
Brec Bassinger: Thanks for letting me join. I actually watched the finale last night, and now I'm excited to talk about it.
The scene where Mike reunites with his mom, that one just destroyed me. Stargirl is about a blended family coming together. You have the Justice Society fighting evil, but those subplot scenes are just as important and speak to the heart of the show.
Geoff Johns: When I originally created the character, I wanted to focus on a relationship that you never see in comic books as a central relationship. And that was between a stepparent and a stepchild, and in this case, Pat Dugan and Courtney Whitmore. The show continued that heart where the core of it is all about relationships that are made throughout life between families that come together. I can't remember a superhero story where I've seen that be its core center emotional theme. That was always what the show was about.
The show is for families, it's designed for families to be able to watch together. It's designed to show people who care about other people, and the lengths that they go to help one another and how much you care for one another, despite everything else going on in the world. In this final episode, most of the epilogue scenes are about closure and payoffs of those relationships as they become forged in steel over the course of our three seasons.
Brec, you mentioned rewatching the finale last night. How did you feel after seeing it?
BB: I've watched it twice. I do remember the first time I watched it, the scene that you mentioned—the one with Barbara in the car when Mike comes back in. I bawled the first time I watched it. I love that scene so much. I do think that relationship between Mike and Barbara is very much a reflection of the similar growth between Pat and Courtney, and it is one of my favorite parts about the show. But then also, I really personally loved the scene between Cameron and Courtney, when Courtney went on her walk and stumbled upon Cameron. There's so much said with so few words in that last scene. I was really proud of that one.
That was a great moment between Courtney and Cameron at the end. They've been through so much together, especially this episode. Geoff, was this always how their story was going to end?
GJ: Yes, I remember pitching Brec specifically that song and that scene. That was always going be the final scene between Courtney and Cameron for the series. I love that he comes back. I think that's what makes the scene work so well is that he leaves and there's heartbreak. But believing in Courtney and who she is, and how she's helped all these other people, and how much he cares about her, and how much he knows she cares about him. That scene when she returned, it's really magical. It harkens back to one of our earlier episodes when they first kiss and there's snow. There's a great moment that Brec does where she kind of takes a little bit of a move forward, but stops herself because she's unsure of what he's going to say. Then he asked if she can really help him. That scene makes me cry every time. There's a great moment when they're embracing that Brec looks up to the sky, as if to thank the powers that be for this opportunity in this moment.
This brings things full circle for you since Stars and S.T.R.I.P.E. was the first comic you ever wrote. While you were developing this series, did it cause you to look at the story in a different way? What was it like to update your first story decades later, and look at it again through new eyes?
GJ: Comic books and TV shows both have a lot of similarities in terms of being chapters in a bigger story, but there's a lot of differences in them too. And with the television series, you have so many different elements to play with, from music to pacing, the sound and space. Like you just have more space in a TV show to delve into relationships deeper and to have these moments. The emotional moments can breathe and be more real.
The first run of Stars and S.T.R.I.P.E. is really the blueprint for the first season. But the emotional relationships and the characters, we have great actors like Brec bringing them to life and have more emotional depth to the storytelling. When it was adapted, there were a lot of touch points and plots that came from the series, but much of it was the character work which was developed and expanded upon with the show.
Brec, when you take Cosmo back from the Ultra-Humanite in the finale, you have this confidence and this commanding presence. It's a very triumphant moment.
BB: It was really late at night. We had been filming in this epic junkyard for a couple of days. My mom in real life was on set. Geoff, Joel (McHale), and the whole JSA were there. I had my family there with me, it was a very emotional moment. I felt pretty epic.
I thought this was really cool—Walter Garcia, the director of the episode and our amazing stunt coordinator set this up. The shot right after I get the staff back is an exact shot from the comic books. It's an iconic Stargirl pose that we wanted to replicate, and I thought that was really cool. He pulled up a comic book photo, and was like, "Here's a Stargirl pose! Do it." How many actors get to say they get to do that? It was just a very surreal moment.
GJ: That's an epic moment, and for me, it's a perfect kind of capper for Stargirl the series because you see the look on Courtney's face when she has it and it's just pure confidence. There is no need to tell her she's worthy anymore because she knows she is because of the people around her that care about her. It's just awesome.
In season one, the Crocks helped kill the original JSA. They also killed some innocent coaches in cold blood. By season three, we as the audience have fallen in love with them and we are genuinely crushed when they die. Was this always how their journey was going to end? Did you plan on us falling in love with the Crocks, or was that something that kind of happened because of their actors, Joy Osmanski and Neil Hopkins?
GJ: Joy and Neil, they just brought those characters to life. Our cast, just in general, we have the best cast in the world. Everybody cared so much about the project and the characters and each other. There's not a single actor that came onboard that didn't give everything they had to the characters and help create them. We all create them together as we're filming and writing, and you see what everyone brings to the table.
In season one, Neil and Joy did that with the Crocks. And then we had that episode in season two, where they came back to watch Artemis for tryouts. That episode, with all the humor between Barbara and Paula and Pat and Crusher, that's where we knew that they were going to become a much bigger part of the show. Season three was always designed to have them become characters you love as much as the others, and then to have them taken away from us. That was always the plan.
BB: I think we need a thirty-minute sitcom of the Crocks because they're hilarious. It was fun to see where they came from season one to season three, where they were like this definition of the antihero that you just loved.
GJ: It was really fun to see people start to love the Crocks because you'd see people almost surprised. They're like, "I like these guys. I love these guys." That was really fun over the course of season three—to see people start to really get into them. It was one of the bigger arcs of our series.
BB: This is funny because I feel like each season, we have the heartbreak episode. Like in season one where we lose Brainwave Jr. My aunt, she called me about halfway through this season and she goes, "I'm really starting to love the Crocks and that concerns me for their fate." And I literally was like, "I say nothing." Geoff, you do this to people! (laughs)
GJ: I know, that's kind of why we do it!
Was season three always going to end with a time skip?
GJ: Yes, we always had that time skip.
I love John Wesley Shipp coming back because it's kind of a metaphor for the future of Stargirl. John Wesley Shipp's show ended in 1991, and here we are decades later, he's returned as Barry Allen a few times and he's also been Jay Garrick. It's kind of a subtle signal to fans that we will see Brec Bassinger as Courtney Whitmore in future DC projects for decades to come in some form or another.
GJ: Well, Brec is Courtney Whitmore and Stargirl as far as I'm concerned forever. Going into season three, we all knew that it was potentially the last season, despite us willing and able to carry on if we could. We really designed season three to be a final season, and so that last scene does a flash forward to let everyone know where they ended up. There's a lot of stuff in that little scene that talks about, not only the emotional trajectory of the team, but also some storylines that we would have explored deeper.
BB: (excited) Yeah, you mean Hourman and Doctor Mid-Nite's nuptials?
GJ: I know, I love that bit. I can't wait for people to hear that. It's such a good little bit. It really was to just reward the characters for everything they've sacrificed, everything they've fought for and everything they've done over the course of these three seasons. Because we want to let everyone know they're going to be okay. They're going to be great. They're going to thrive. And the JSA is going to continue forever. These characters are going to keep on living. This show is all about emotional warmth, love and care. We want people to leave the series with that in mind more than anything else because that's what the show is.
What is your favorite memory that the two of you have of each other?
BB: (slyly) That I can say?
GJ: (laughs) Exactly!
BB: Our cast, we have too much fun, so that's hard. Geoff, you go first!
GJ: I mean, there are so many moments. Season three in particular was insanity. I'll just give one quick one. One of the early moments was before we even shot, when we met out at Legacy Effects—
BB: That's what I was going to say! You stole my answer! How did we both think of that? For some reason that day was so special. Continue, go on!
GJ: It was. It was super special because Luke (Wilson) met Brec for the first time. Luke, Brec and I went out to see S.T.R.I.P.E. in progress. There was something super exciting about it all coming together. I just remember feeling so euphoric over that day. I didn't believe it could get better, but it did. That day was really special.
BB: I go back to the beginning. After the screen test for Stargirl, I was at the airport because I was supposed to go on a trip. I had ended up changing the flight so I could make the screen test for Stargirl. It wasn't even two hours after this, because I left straight from the screen test to the airport. And I got a call from a random number: "Hey, this is Geoff. You're our Stargirl." That was just how he went into it.
I was in the car with my mom and I just broke down crying. The fact that he didn't want me to wait through the weekend—he just wanted me to have peace. I would have been thinking about it my whole trip, but he just wanted me to have peace, clarity and enjoy it, and to let me know and not hold out. I knew from that moment that this guy is really special. I was so excited to get to work under him and watch his leadership.
Thank you so much for taking the time to chat with me. Stargirl has been a special show in my life for the past three seasons.
GJ: Thanks for connecting with our show too. That's all we wanted it to do, was connect with people.