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 theyre ready to jump right back in.
Pet ownership is a big responsibility. It requires research, investment, care, and a gargantuan stash of Three Musketeers bars. In Chapter Three of Stranger Things 2, the entity Dustin caught in his functional ghost-trap is lodging in the former terrarium of Yertle the Turtle, as the storm in the Upside Down continues to brew and the adults start to realize it will take more than good parenting and heaps of denial to negate the effects of the flesh-portals and bad dreams theyve been dealing with for the past year.
Peter: So, while theres some serious E.T. vibes coming from Dustins relationship with D’Artagnan the Demogorgon (its just gotta be a baby demogorgon) there is nothing good that can come from rearing an otherworldly beast from the Upside Down that birthed itself from Will Byers esophagus. Right?
Susan: There is no way this thing is good news. I couldnt help but think of Gremlin rules when Dustin tossed in that nougat, and lo and behold this Demonwog starts to grow exponentially. Dart is going to be an issue, especially if Dustins going keep a lid on its whereabouts by literally hiding it under his lid. Although, through our Curiosity Voyage, weve already learned this animal cannot stand light or heat. If this species is native to the Upside Down, one can perhaps glean light and heat is the way to vanquish the creatures who inhabit it?
Peter: I certainly, should play by the established rules of the Upside Down, but here’s the thing: we’re still learning what being from the Upside Down even means. I love that Stranger Things 2 is using such a cute 80s adventure movie trope (my best friend the monster) to deliver more information on the things that live in the Upside Down. This season, the mythology is getting heavy, and its a sign of quality that the show isnt just having Dr. Badguy spew exposition. Using Dustins reptile and amphibian library research to understand Dart helps us as the audience see the creature firmly through human eyes, keeping an exciting element of the unknown in the proceedings, but still establishing rules to this dark fantasy.
Susan: We also get to know more about how El came to live in that cabin with Hop. Despite his dad dance moves and well intentions, Hop didnt really consider the fact he was keeping a young woman essentially captive telling her its because of her own good after she spent her ENTIRE FUCKING LIFE essentially living the same kind of life (albeit worse considering the scary experiments, emotional abuse, tiny quarters, etc).
Peter: It looks like there’s a new Papa in town. Or, rather, just on the edge of town.
Susan: Also, El has a point. When WILL it be safe for her to go out into the real world? Hop says hes making headway with these people but I dont see it. OF COURSE El breaks all the rules and makes her way to Mike hes the only male who has never lied to her. Although, she didnt have to be such a fucking creepo with that mum and her baby.
Peter: I’m still suspicious of Bob the Brain, but his little bonding moment with Will in the car was really endearing. Sean Astin is perfectly cast as the small town nerd all grown up and living vicariously through his girlfriends kids. I loved the advice he gave Will to confront his own personal Mr. Baldo because it was so abstract but appropriate (if eventually ineffectual).
Wills Mr. Baldo, the Shadow Monster, is clearly real. I mean, this is Stranger Things were talking about. He cant just stand up to it like Bobs dollar-store knock off of Pennywise the Dancing Clown. But theres a long tradition of God-like monsters that contact sensitive humans in their dreams. The Call of Cthulhu by H.P. Lovecraft and The House on The Borderlands by William Hope Hodgson being my favourite examples.
Susan: Bob had a dream about a clown; Will has the ability to see into another dimension where there are terrifying monsters that can actually fucking kill you. Bobs easy peasy remedy is good advice for the normals, but this is a horse of a different colour. Or, I guess a monster of a different ability? Good on Will for trying to shout away his demons, but now theres some kind of twister effect thats infecting our poor young Will.
Peter: Sure, I’ll admit while Bob’s advice was sweet, it was totally terrible. But as far as calls to binge watch a show, that final shot of the Shadow over Hawkins going F5 on the Zombie Boy is as good as it gets.
Triple-Decker Eggo Sandwich
Susan: Speaking of infection, Hop realized the crop rot is coming from the power plant. How is it that he still trusts the people that work there? The good doctor promises that everything is fine, but its obvious the Upside Down is trying to turn Hawkins inside out.
Peter: Hop’s stubbornness is rotting him like the very blight he’s investigating. It reminds me how how much I’m reluctant to admit Stranger Things 2 maybe my favourite show of the year took its first misstep in The Pollywog. Max is a great addition to the show, and it annoys the heck out of me that shes being leveraged into a Mike-centred love triangle. First off: do love triangles just run in the Wheeler family? And secondly, arent El and Max fleshed out enough as humans that we can forego the part where we have to define them in relation to a hormonal boy?
Susan: I agree. It would be understandable if Max and Mike were caught in a smooch, but all they were doing was talking for crying out loud. Hormones are just flying everywhere in this episode with Steve calling out Nancy for her drunken bullshittery. She doesnt tell him she loves him when he demands it, and this might be because her intoxicated confession had a fleck of truth in it.
Its odd Jonathan would lie to Nancy that Steve asked him to drive Nancy home. He shouldve told her how Steve stormed out and left her there in a vulnerable situation. I just dont get why he would cover for Steve, its not like he overheard the conversationgah… MEN.
Peter: We are truly the strangest things.
Susan: There is some truth coming to light (it seems) with Nancy and Jonathans TBA plan to tell Barbs parents what happened to their daughter (or maybe not?)
Extra Things, Too
Peter: I love that Dustins functional ghost-trap played such an important role in the plot. The Ghostbusters aesthetic is really at home in the Stranger-verse.
Susan: What IS Maxs story? Theres def something weird with her and Billy, and now we know they arent siblings So what brought them here from Cali?
Peter: I love that Joyce is being such a good mom, to the point where she can immediately see a giant monster in videotape static and recognize it from Wills trauma drawing. And who can blame her for not knowing how to use a VHS-C tape?
Susan: Shes a crafty lady, will that whole Christmas light alphabet thing. Although if this monster attack has Will disappeared again were gonna be in for that trademark super crazy lady Winona acting.
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