Peter Counter and Susan Stover are back at you with recaps of season 2 of Stranger Things. They guided you through the Upside Down last season, and they’re ready to jump right back in.
One with the ability of truesight is able to see in normal and magical darkness – and this is a specific D&D power wherein one is able to detect visual illusions and succeed in preventing attacks against them. Will’s been seeing a lot of darkness lately. It’s not PTSD, or flashbacks, or a dream, or even a game — this is real. But like those with truesight can Will tackle the shadow monster that dwells in the Ethereal plane?
Protect, Teach, Feed
Susan: Jim is hoppin’ mad El would put her life in danger by leaving the compound. Now, getting into a screaming match with any prepubescent girl is going to be a doozy, but this girl can literally move shit with her mind. I think Hop could have been a little more tactful in explaining to her why what she did was so dangerous, but his temper gets the best of him and that girl is NOT happy about no Eggos and, you know, being even more disconnected from the outside world. “You’re just like Papa!” El screams, and trashes the place. I see both perspectives here. I mean, I would want to keep her safe like Hop does, but I also wouldn’t want to be left alone for hours on end with no friends either.
Peter: The scenes in the Hop-check are so difficult to watch, and that’s a credit to the Stranger Things creatives. Hop and El are loveable, difficult characters, and it is painful to almost be forced to take a side in their conflict. That said, with the revelation of the Hawkins Lab documents, Hop’s misdirection about El’s Mama is the tipping point. Friends don’t lie is the cardinal rule in the Stranger-verse.
Susan: El isn’t the only one under house arrest for their own protection. Dumbass Dusty decides deceiving his friends to keep a creature he knows nothing about who came from a VERY BAD PLACE in his room is the best way to go. Also, he decides to leave it at home alone, yeah, nothing wrong could happen here.
Peter: I know it’s within the larger pantheon of 80s creatures living in domestication, but I never thought Stranger Things would make Dart into a grisly ALF tribute. Got any cats?
Susan: HA! Man, as soon as Dustin’s mom was shaking the cat food box I knew it would be bad mews (#RIPMews). Okay, so this is obviously a baby demogorgon and hopefully Yertle makes it out alive before Dustin gets the sense to kill this thing.
Cold Hard Facts
Susan: Will was penetrated by the shadow monster at the end of episode three after taking some not-so-great advice from Bob about standing up to monsters. I wondered why the creature wouldn’t just kill Will, but then I remembered in episode one, Will mentioned this freezing monster didn’t want to murder him, just “everyone else.” Will might be the major mechanism in this monster’s murderous machinations — although Will is still in control of his faculties (for now).
Peter: We’ve got a possession on our hands here, but not the kind that can be remedied by an old priest, a young priest, or even a hot bath.
Susan: Will goes full art attack that at first just looks like a bunch of scribbles, but of course Joyce figured out it’s a series of tunnels and tapes together all the pieces of paper to uncover the pattern. She’s fucking clever with the visuals, I’ll give her that. The scenes reminded me so much of last season when she set up the Christmas light alphabet to communicate with Will. I wonder how trashed her house is going to get this season.
Peter: Joyce is truly the queen of the Halloween art attack. I absolutely love how willing she is to renovate her house any time Will has a case of the Upside Downs.
Now look, I’m aware that I have brought up Lovecraft in every one of our recaps so far, and I swear I’ve read more than just his problematic prose, but this truesight arc Will’s experiencing is practically straight out of The Call of Cthulhu. As the infamous tentacle dragon stirs in its sleep underneath the Pacific Ocean, sensitive artists are compelled to create art in the alien thing’s image.
As we see from Hop’s descent beneath the pumpkin patch at the end of the episode, Will’s not drawing the actual Shadow Thing, but the reference is there. As I was saying all last year, the kids are using D&D rules to play a much less forgiving game.
Peter: Nancy and Jonathan infiltrate Hawkins Lab with a tape recorder from Radio Shack and get Papa 2.0 to spill the beans about Barb, flesh-portals and more. Wow. Either Hawkins Lab has a serious management crisis on its hands or buddy’s banking on the old ‘too-crazy-to-be-believed’ defense. I mean, did they not even think to check the kids’ bags?
Susan: Well I mean, if the fucking Homer Simpson character they’ve got behind the desk is any indication, the new management at Hawkins Lab leaves much to be desired.
Peter: Now Nance and Jon are leaving Hawkins, but to what end? Are they headed for Washington to take this to the top? I just hope they aren’t going to make a pitstop at Lonnie’s place.
Susan: Who knows where the tape will go? It seems like Nancy’s biggest objective is to give Barb’s parents some peace of mind, so the next logical step would to be showing the tape to the investigative reporter who has been bleeding them dry so he stops charging them for crazy Russian conspiracy business.
Peter: Of course, driving isn’t the only way to leave Hawkins. Hop followed a culmination of hunches out to the blighted pumpkin patch and dug himself upside down. I’ve got a bad (albeit thrilling) feeling about this.
Extra Things, Too
Susan: Who else thinks Teddy’s kind of hot? Guess that’s why he handles the flame thrower, AMMIRITE?
Peter: Maybe if you squint and rotate the picture 180 degrees, then he’s too hot for even a demogorgon to handle.
Susan: What is the DEAL with Billy?! Like, is he into Steve? Is he going to kill Lucas? Why can’t he cut his hair?
Peter: That erotic bullying is next level. I’m actually starting to get worried about Billy in terms of his role in the larger plot. He seems like a villain out of a Stephen King novel, and we all know how fucked up those books can get when the bad men get aroused. I am not into a Stranger-verse with sexual violence as stakes.
Susan: I really like this season so far, but if I had to be super-duper nit picky, I would say I enjoyed the Duffer Bros. direction in the first two episodes better than 3 and 4, directed by Shawn Levy. Not that that’s anything particularly bad about the episodes directed by Levy, but I just feel like the Duffer Brothers have a better sense of suspense, not too mention, the “cut-tos” are on point, while Levy’s style is a little more drawn out and slightly clunky. Again, being SOOOOO PICKY.
Peter: Even so, that final shot where Hop’s in the tunnel and it rotates UPSIDE DOWN is killer.