a STRANGER THINGS 2 musing (part 1 of 2!)
I'm assume everyone has seen most of this season or finished it, or else why would you be reading this? I’ll be going into super super spoiler territory, so beware if you have not seen it yet! I started taking more and more notes after episode 3, so I will just summarize those before I get into more mini-thoughts on things I picked out.
EPISODES 1-3 (“MADMAX”, “Trick or Treat, Freak”, “The Pollywog”)
It’s so great to be back. As someone who never really watched all the 80’s movies that Stranger Things references/is influenced by, I don't have a strong connection to the nostalgia, but I can still feel the love that goes into the creation of this show. A year later in the show, but a year and a half in real life, we get to meet back up with everyone we grew to love from Season 1 and get introduced to new characters who can be added to the list. Events in the first three episodes are relatively scarce, but we need that time to re-establish everyone and what they’ve been through since last year. The writing and acting is spot on, seeds are planted and vines begin to sprout which, providing the roots of the story for the rest of the season to explore. Episode 3 is where things really get going, and the characters begin to get paired or grouped up.
EPISODE 4 (“Will the Wise”)
Hopper finds out about Eleven’s little excursion and they clash, although I wasn’t a big fan of it. The fight didn’t seem genuine, more like they were just fighting for fighting’s sake. I can’t place my finger on exactly why, and it doesn’t really help my case that it’s extremely well acted. I understand the motivations, the frustrations finally boiling between the both of them. Hopper seemed to be a more loving father-figure after the events of the first season, so it was hard to buy him being this rough on Eleven that quickly. But I see why he’s annoyed with her, since she was being a brat. It goes both ways since he’s kept her in the shed for forever, though. It’s crazy to think that David Harbour is absolutely killing the game here, and no one ever tapped this talent before. I’m glad that he’s going to be Hellboy (and was basically Hellboy in the first episode this season).
Elsewhere, Nancy and Jonathan attempt to get #JusticeForBarb, Hopper gets caught where he’ll float (too), and the Shadow Monster causes Will to go through puberty.
EPISODE 5 (“Dig Dug”)
Will freaks out again at the end of the episode. The actor does a great job in what he’s given this season, especially since he was barely in it last year. It seemed like they cast him because of his slight resemblance to Winona Ryder who plays his mother, and now he finally gets to act more, as his voice gets deeper.
Eleven visits/meets her mother for the first time, and is able to view some of her memories. In what is an easy tactic for any show or movie to make me teary, they show Eleven/Jane’s “origin story” by establishing the initial memory of Terry, then replaying it, focusing and drawing on those visuals that essentially force the emotions out. Pretty effective stuff.
EPISODE 6 (“The Spy”)
Dustin’s been getting a lot of cute for cute’s sake scenes, one being the library scene in Episode 3, where nothing new about the character is learned, but, hey, it’s funny because Dustin. I love the kid, but he really gets a great scene with Steve as they walk down the tracks.
I started to run through what I would think if they killed off Steve as he left the safety of the bus. He was supposed to die in the first season, but the powers-that-be decided to keep him on, to great effect. I wonder if they will delay what seems to be the inevitable, since he might not really have a purpose once Jonathan and Nancy start seeing each other more regularly, and the arrival of Billy results in the tearing down of his status in school. Unless he’s poised for a major comeback (which I am completely rooting for), he might not be long for the show.
Things start to get more insane with all the Upside Down creatures and tunnels. In a true ALIENS homage, the suited scientists are sent into the tunnels, but are picked off one by one by the now multiple(!) demogorgons. The casting of Paul Reiser only adds more winks to this scene. In general, what a great piece of casting, since he’s always so hard to sus out. It was more difficult to put a pin on him in the early episodes, but it seems like he’s growing a conscience now, as his coworkers begin to turn into James Bond villains.)
Eleven doesn’t show up in this episode. She’s not really involved with the A-story, interestingly, since she was the breakout character of this show. Alas, I’m excited to see how she will be integrated into what looks to be a crazy final three episodes.
I really appreciate this 3-act structure to the season. Not sure if it was meant to be that way but that’s at least how I’m watching it.