Stargirl‘s Courtney Whitford (Brec Bassinger) may have met her match in Cindy aka Shiv (Meg DeLacy). A brutal showdown with the resident mean girl turned arch-nemesis left our titular hero bruised, defeated, and in the hospital. It was the first time Courtney had ever been knocked down that hard, and it’s all the more startling given that moments before that fight, they were just classmates who had made plans to hang out like regular teenagers. But since Courtney is Stargirl and Cindy is the daughter of the Dragon King (Nelson Lee), a formidable force in the ISA, there is nothing normal about either of their lives. Furthermore, Courtney’s deflating loss served as a reminder that being a superhero isn’t just dangerous in theory, the threat is very real.
Building on that, Tuesday’s episode, titled “Shiv Part 2,” illustrated that Shiv is just as much of a mental threat as she is physically to Courtney during a tense visit with the fallen superhero who was recuperating in her room. Shiv dropped by with balloons and chocolates for some twisted mind games disguised as girl talk. More importantly, she was there to break the news to Courtney that she knew all about her not-so-secret identity as Stargirl. With her cover blown and her friends in danger, Courtney mustered up enough strength to take on Shiv once more but was again nearly defeated. Their second bout was interrupted by Henry (Jake Austin Walker), Brainwave’s (Christopher James Baker) telepathic son, who Shiv had been grooming to join the ISA per her father’s request. A telepathic outburst by the high school jock broke up the fight and Shiv was dragged back to her father’s lair by three cloaked figures.
After failing twice now in her father’s eyes, Shiv’s hopes of following in his footsteps and joining the ISA seem further away than ever. If she has any chance of taking up a seat at the supervillain table, she’ll need to do something drastic, like actually following through with her plan to kill Stargirl. TV Guide spoke with Meg DeLacy, who plays Cindy, about why this mean girl is so interested in Courtney and how her second failure will affect her relationship with her father moving forward.
What has been the best part about playing Cindy aka Shiv?
Meg DeLacy: The best part has been finding the balance between super mean girl control freak and why she’s so mean and just trying to find the inside parts of a bunch of emotions that then just explode out of her in a very mean way. It was really cool to jump into her character and understand fully why she is who she is and why she does the things that she does. That just comes with playing a layered person that happens to be a supervillain and is really mean and evil and psycho.
She seems like a very lonely person who’s desperately trying to please her father. Can you talk a little bit about her motivations for being so cruel to the people around her?
DeLacy: Her relationship with her father has been mentally abusive since she was little. She’s been experimented on since she was about five, six, seven years old. That’s where her blades come from. So at a very young age, she was taught, “Hey, you are a pawn. You are something that I’m in control of and I tested on you. You have a heart. You have a brain.” So she’s feeling all of these things but her exterior is so cold and it’s hard. Her shell is just thickening and thickening as she gets older which then makes it harder for her to be herself in front of people her own age. And, also, [to] accept love or kindness through any other person because the only person she really wants it from is her father because she’s been trained to be that way. So that affects the way that she allows people to get close.
People are scared of her because she can’t have friends that are genuinely her friends so that’s why she picks Courtney to be like, “Hey, you are a new girl. You have no idea who I am. Maybe I can show you a different version of myself and be accepted in a way.” She’s kind of testing the waters with Courtney and I don’t think she really puts herself out there very often. So those moments where she does, [it’s] super new territory. Sometimes she doesn’t even know what to do about it but her default is always like, “Stand back. I already know what I’m going to say if you become too close or if you overstep.” So playing with all of that just brings out the human in her but also the non-human in her.
We see both of those sides at play when she visits Courtney in her bedroom. What was it like for you and Brec Bassinger to have your characters hanging out with that underlying tension?
DeLacy: It was like kill them with kindness. That’s kind of what I was going for, walking in and being intimidating and her knowing like, “Hey, I could lash out at any second.” But killing her with kindness and being nice and eating chocolates and being patient with my news that I have to tell her a little later, it was super fun to play and to draw out.
Were you both social when the cameras weren’t rolling or did you keep the tension going in between takes?
DeLacy: If I remember correctly, there were moments where we would kind of keep to ourselves because of certain distractions. But most of the time, once they yelled cut, it was like, “Oh, my God, that was so funny.” Or when the balloons get caught or something, there’s moments to laugh and remind ourselves that this is make believe.
Do you think Courtney and Cindy could be friends if the circumstances were different? Why or why not?
DeLacy: I definitely feel like they could be friends if the circumstances were different just because Courtney is a powerhouse, too. She’s confident. She’s still learning how to be a leader. Cindy feels like she was made a leader so she sees that potential in Courtney. That’s why, maybe, [Courtney] came off attractive to her in school. It’s that common denominator of, “Hey, there’s something to you. I see it. I can feel it. And I have that, too, so if we were both on the same team, how amazing, how powerful, how crazy we would be.” It would blow up.
Everything in Cindy’s life feels manufactured, from that barren house to her mom, who seems more like an android than an actual person. How do you think that environment shapes who she is and how she views the JSA, which is filled with people who have real families?
DeLacy: She’s completely alone, and she’s been alone since she was little. She can’t get close to anyone because her life is kind of under wraps. She’s really living two lives. So seeing people have families and the love that they have… She’s so jealous. All she wants is love from her father. All she wants is a hug. All she wants is a “Good job” and she feels like she’ll never get that. It’s a constant struggle for Cindy to come to [grips] with that. She wants to be part of a team. She wants to be part of a family. Preferably, she wants to lead it but she wants to be part of something. She’s an individual and just completely alone. That’s one of the reasons why she wants to be on the ISA
This episode hints that Brainwave’s son, Henry, will be an important figure to the ISA. What can you say about the Dragon King’s interest in Henry and how that might affect Shiv, who’s so desperately trying to please him?
DeLacy: Cindy keeping an eye on Henry, that was a full-on obligation for her to fulfill for her father, and obviously she failed so she’s going to get it for that one. Henry was attractive at first with them being popular together. Then once he starts getting his side effects and acting all weird, she starts to resent him. The moment she figures out [that he has powers], it’s like, “Oh, crap. I messed up. I didn’t realize this was what this was and please come help me kill her right now so that I can show my dad that we did this together and that we get off scot-free.” Knowing that she messed up and then she gets carried away down a drain into the lair, she knows that she’s in trouble. But it’s a bummer that she didn’t realize that Henry had powers beforehand because then they could have maybe come together and figured out how to be a team. But because of how blinded she was with her own goals, she missed out.
This is the second time that she’s failed in her father’s eyes. How do you think that affects her ability or potential to be a member of the ISA?
DeLacy: She’s been set back. I don’t know how, really, she’s going to be able to prove herself now. It might just have to be something absolutely crazy.
Do you think that, even with a horrible past and the terrible things she’s done, that there is room for her to actually redeem herself and learn to be a decent human being?
DeLacy: I definitely believe that that is possible just because of the fact that she does have hope within her. It’s just very, very, very deep down. But, also, she’s surrounded by these kids that she sees live their lives and she can’t help but feel a little left out. I’m sure she’ll find her way out but she might have to be reprimanded a couple more times before that happens.
What can you tease about Cindy’s journey in the remaining episodes of this season?
DeLacy: I can tease that she does come face to face and gets confronted by another ISA member, which is one of my favorite scenes that I’ve done. That should be exciting to look out for.
Stargirl airs Tuesdays at 8/7c on The CW. New episodes also drop Mondays on DC Universe.