Thursday, April 18, 2024

Stranger Things Ratchets Up the Tension as the End Nears

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What a wild ride! Full confession, this is a Netflix show and things can blur together. In other words, if I mess some stuff up, whoops.

Chapter 5: The Flea and the Acrobat

I didn’t mention that Winona’s loser ex-husband showed up at the end of episode 4. He’s seemingly supportive, though of course he doesn’t believe her about seeing Will in the wall or the deal with the lights. In fact, he gets her drunk. Which is kinda weird. Jonathan comes home and asks him to leave, but he tells Jonathan to stop indulging his mother’s “delusions.”

Jonathan doesn’t tell Winona that he and Nancy know about the faceless creature and believe her about Will. I understand why, considering butt face ex is there, BUT I kinda wish he’d pulled her aside and whispered it to her, at least, because she’s got this jerk gaslighting her over it all and trying to convince her he’s the big strong man riding in to save the day.

I deeply dislike your face.

Everyone goes to Will’s funeral, and afterwards Nancy tells Jonathan she wants to hunt down the monster. Jonathan gets his dad’s gun and Nancy gets a baseball bat, but they end up swapping weapons because Jonathan is a terrible shot. Nancy tells Steve (who stops by to apologize for being a dick) that she can’t go out with him that night because she has to stay home to take care of Mike. Oops.

At the funeral the boys grill their science teacher about alternate dimensions. They figured out, with help from El, that Will is in the “upside down,” or a sort of “dark earth” au. It’s not like a coffee shop au at all, and I wouldn’t recommend it.

Their teacher tells them that, theoretically, one could create a gate to an upside dimension with enough power. He explains that such a gate would create a lot of electromagnetic energy, amongst other things. Back at Mike’s house, my son Dustin figures out that all the compasses are pointing in the wrong direction: what they say is north isn’t north. They must be pointing at an electromagnetic source overriding the pole’s natural pull. Liiiike, maybe, a gate to another dimension, perhaps?

My son.

They grab El and follow the compass. As they go she gets twitchy. She tells Mike they need to turn back, but he doesn’t listen. They’re on the hunt!

Abruptly Dustin realizes they’re going in a circle. At first they think the gate has moved, but Lucas (my angry son) realizes that it’s El. She’s controlling the compasses. There’s blood on her sleeve, and Lucas turns on her completely. Mike tries to defend her, but Lucas jumps on him. They scuffle, and El flips out. She uses her powers to throw Lucas through the air, and he hits his head hard enough to black out.

He wakes up, but obviously he’s furious. He tells El and the others to stay away from him, and he runs off. Mike and Dustin chase him, and when they come back El’s gone.

Meanwhile the bad guys, led by Matthew Modine, have tracked El. They have a recording of the ham radio incident, and they’re also on the hunt. They plant guys in Hawkins Electricity trucks around town to look for the boys.

Oh, duh, I got all out of order. The episode OPENED with Hopper in the mysterious government research lab. How he snuck in there, I don’t know, but he made it. He punches some guys and gets into the locked section. He sees a kid’s room that he thinks is Will’s, and he finds the gateway. STICKS HIS HAND IN IT like some idiot who’s never seen a scary movie. Then the government guys catch him and drug him. He wakes up at home and starts tearing his trailer apart looking for a bug.

He finds one in his overhead light, and he eventually heads to Winona’s. They take apart every single Christmas light but don’t find anything. He tells her about the lab, and when he mentions the stick figure drawing on the wall, she says it can’t be Will. She shows him one of Will’s drawings, and he admits it’s not the same as what he saw. He realizes there must be another kid, and remembers the lady who tried to sue Dr. Brennan (Matthew Modine) for stealing her kid. He also tells her that Will’s body was fake, so she FINALLY gets some confirmation that she’s not crazy.

Nancy and Jonathan, meanwhile, are stalking the woods looking for Will and Barb. Instead they find a deer that’s been hit by a car. Jonathan is going to shoot it when suddenly it’s dragged…into a tree. Foolishly they split up, and Nancy goes into the tree like some idiot who’s never seen a scary movie. She sees the monster eating the deer, and it starts hunting her. Luckily Jonathan is able to pull her out just before she gets eaten.

Unlike poor Barb.

Okay, I think that’s about it. There were some flashbacks of how El went to the upside down, and they were pretty hairy. Matthew Modine is a butthead.

Chapter 6: The Monster

Winona figures out that her stupid ex is up to no good. All he wants is to sue the company that owns the quarry. He tells some story about saving money for Jonathan’s college, but he doesn’t know that Jonathan’s wanted to go to NYU since he was a kid. She throws him out, like honestly the best moment she’s had so far, and I was cheering for her. Go, Winona!! Wait, maybe that happened in 5. I told you I was confused.

Hopper and Winona decide to go searching for the crazy lady who lost her daughter. Turns out she’s in some sort of fugue state and completely uncommunicative. Her sister tells them she lost her baby in the third trimester. There’s no birth certificate, and the nurses and doctors say the baby died. Hopper doesn’t buy it: he fully believes Jane is the kid they’re looking for, and her “death” was just a coverup.

The Price is Right does the same thing to me, too.

Apparently Matthew Modine and his team paid this woman to take LSD and other drugs, and then be submerged in a sensory deprivation tank to see if she had any sort of ESP or telekinetic powers. She didn’t realize she was pregnant, so it seems like…LSD gave El her powers? I don’t know I hope they explain this a little better.

Steve goes to Nancy’s because he’s worried about her, but he sees her with Jonathan. He completely misconstrues the situation (oddly, since Jonathan is putting a towel around her shoulders) and goes a little nutty. Meanwhile Jonathan spends the night because Nancy is afraid to be alone after nearly getting eaten.

The next morning he wakes up and she’s got the encyclopedia open and is working away. She tells him about the hunting habits of different predators, including sharks, and they decide to bait the creature to see if they can see it again. Hopefully kill it this time, or maybe allow it to lead them to where Will and Barb are.

They go to the hardware store to buy supplies, and while they’re out someone catcalls at Nancy about “liking her movie.”

That idiot jerk Steve painted the movie theatre marquee with something about “Nancy the slut.” She chases him down the alley and confronts him, and then he and Jonathan get into a big fight and Jonathan gets arrested. The lady at the police station tells Nancy Jonathan must be in love with her to do something so stupid.

I’m surprised y’all didn’t hear my eyes roll from wherever you are.

Okay, back to my sons and my wayward daughter. El storms a grocery store and steals a whole bunch of Eggo waffles. Dustin tells Mike he has to let Lucas shake his hand since he “drew first blood,” so they go to Lucas’ house. He refuses to go with them to look for El, instead insisting they go find Will and the gate. Mike tells him El only did what she did because the gate’s dangerous. They can’t split up, but they need her help.

Lucas kicks them out, and Dustin and Mike go after El while Lucas follows his compass toward the gate and mysterious government research lab.

My commando son.

Before Dustin and Mike find El, the bully kids find them. One of them holds a knife to Dustin’s throat and threatens to cut out his teeth if Mike doesn’t jump into the quarry. The other kid is a little nervous about it, but the knife-wielding one shuts him up.

Dustin tells Mike not to do it, but Mike jumps. And doesn’t fall. El appears to save him, and breaks the kid’s arm. Which is pretty brutal. It’s clear that Matthew Modine didn’t really teach El…morals…when it comes to her powers, which is disappointing.

El is upset. She tells Mike she’s the one who opened the gate. She’s the monster, just like Lucas said. Mike assures her that’s not the case: she’s their friend. Then they all hug it out.

Except Lucas, the commando.

Meanwhile Lucas’ compass leads him right to the lab. He climbs a tree and does recon with his binoculars. He saw one of the Hawkins Electric vans outside his house, and now he sees several of them parked at the lab. Just then El, Dustin, and Mike are walking back to Mike’s house, and one of the fake electricians sees them. Matthew Modine and his guys mobilize, and Lucas watches the whole thing. He knows where they’re going, but there’s nothing he can do about it.


First, sorry for my confusion. I got all the basics right, even if not the order.

I’m still not super happy with the way the show is treating El. Lucas was angry, and his anger was justified, but again it felt like the boys’ arguments for looking for El were all “she can help us!” not “she’s our friend and we can’t leave her out in the woods alone with some weird monster thing!”

It’s also shitty to have this small child hurt and/or kill people with her powers. She feels guilty for opening the gate and calls herself a monster, but she’s seemingly okay with breaking a 12-year-old’s arm. I’m not blaming El for that; a child can’t learn morals on her own; but it seems like it’s an aspect of her abuse that’s not really covered. Yes, they’ve shown her kill and hurt people with her powers, and obviously we, the audience, know that’s Bad, but the fact that a child can kill so easily and not seem all that affected by it is SUPER Bad. She was turned into that, and it’s horrible. But considering how often the show depicts her as the “hero” when she’s using her powers in that way, it’s apparently…not? Horrible? I don’t know.

I’m also a little tired of the men on this show. Except Hopper; he’s cool. But Jonathan “in love” with Nancy is old hat. He’s yearning for her from afar and doesn’t consider her a real person, basically. Luckily she calls him out on that while they’re in the woods, but still it’s a major “princess in the tower” idealization he’s got going on. I hope he’s cured of it before the show’s over.

At least Winona put her asshole ex in his place. Please don’t come back. You’re icky and I hate your face.

Two more episodes to go, y’all! This last one had me wanting to watch more, but my confusion maybe shows you why I only watch two at a time.

Images Courtesy of Netflix

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