Stranger Things: Chapter Three: Holly, Jolly
July 17, 2016 10:10 AM - Season 1, Episode 3 - Subscribe

An increasingly concerned Nancy looks for Barb and finds out what Jonathan's been up to. Joyce is convinced Will is trying to talk to her.

Barbara wakes up at the bottom of the empty pool covered in black roots. A tall, gray creature is seen in the pool with her. As she climbs out, the world around her is completely different. Everything is dark, gray and everything is covered in black roots. Nancy notices Barbara is missing. Chief Hopper goes to the Laboratory to speak to someone but the guard tells him to speak to Rick Schaffer. After some insistence, the guard lets him through. After he leaves, it is revealed that the black roots or root-like substance is growing inside the lab.

While at Mike's home alone, El has a flashback to being in the Lab. She's hooked up to a machine that monitors brain waves and is seen crushing a can with telekinesis. Shortly afterwards, her nose starts bleeding and the men behind the glass are smiling at her.

Joyce goes to the store and buys a cart full of Christmas lights and goes home to set them up around her home, thinking it might help her talk to Will. At the library, Chief Hopper and his deputies are doing research into the Lab. He pulls up information regarding Dr. Terry Brenner and another woman who says her daughter went missing and it was the Scientists and the Lab who took her. El leaves Mike's house and is repeating the phrase, Three-One-Five, 3:15, when she's supposed to meet the boys, when she has another flashback. Attached to the brain wave machine again, she is forced to try and hurt a cat. When she refuses, Dr. Brenner has her put in solitary confinement. She starts screaming and calling him Papa. Before they can close the cell door, she kills two guards telekinetically and Dr. Brenner calls her "incredible."

Joyce begins talking to Will through the Christmas lights, lighting up once for yes, twice for no. Will "tells" her he isn't safe. She paints the alphabet on the walls and strings lights up to receive messages from Will, who spells out that he is "right here" and that she needs to "run." Chief Hopper tries telling his deputy that he believes Dr. Brenner is responsible for Will's disappearance when he receives a call over the radio. El leads the boys to Will's house and says that he's hiding there. Lucas, Dustin and Mike don't understand and accuse her of lying.
posted by Fizz (37 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
 
Huh. In spite of the body count of adult characters so far, I was surprised by Will's death. I guess on the scale of E.T. to It, I was thinking this was going to be a "kids triumph where grown ups fail" kind of story. Like, Goonies vs Freddy. No hope for poor Barb then, I guess.

Microfiche! I remember using that machine in the library, but no memory at all of how they were indexed.
posted by oh yeah! at 2:01 PM on July 17, 2016 [2 favorites]


I think will's death is a parallel to the rpg from ep 1, where he did something risky but sacrificed himself to the monster for the good of the group, in this case, his family. Both literally in terms of spelling out "run" for his mom, and also figuratively so that she had closure and let him go instead of becoming more crazed and distant from Jonathan.
It is shocking though!
Yeah, def no hope for barb. I'm interested in how the human bodies actually move around, and if that will be explained later or just left unsaid.
posted by rmless at 7:20 PM on July 17, 2016 [1 favorite]


This episode was one of the best things on TV this year.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 8:40 PM on July 17, 2016 [5 favorites]


Are we sure that was his body? I mean, it was someone's body, but we were unsure if it was Will or if the boys were just jumping to conclusions.
posted by kbanas at 9:14 PM on July 17, 2016 [1 favorite]


My first thought seeing that was "parallel universe doppelganger."
posted by DirtyOldTown at 7:16 AM on July 18, 2016 [3 favorites]


R. U. N. I got the chills.
posted by Rock Steady at 9:31 AM on July 18, 2016 [13 favorites]


*struggles to stifle spoilers*

My only big beef with this episode is continuity blooper re: Steve's window. 1. Weren't those blinds open? It's a plot point that they were being photographed through them, right? 2. Why is it so bright outside? That can't possibly be the pool lights.

You just know one Duffer Brother yelled "THAT WAS YOUR JOB!" at the other when they noticed that during editing.
posted by Sys Rq at 12:45 PM on July 18, 2016 [4 favorites]


My biggest problem with suspension of disbelief in the series so far is that everyone knows you have to reroll if the d20 falls off the table.
posted by Rock Steady at 2:33 PM on July 18, 2016 [12 favorites]


I loved the Xmas lights so much. The interior of that glum house was completely transformed, and even though it was nutty, it was beautiful. Winona crouched inside a cabinet wearing no makeup and screaming at a tangle of Xmas lights is best Winona.
posted by danabanana at 4:18 PM on July 18, 2016 [35 favorites]


The toddler following the blinking xmas lights into the room full of nightmares gave me the heebeejeebees. This show is sooooooo good. Creepy without being gruesome. Am really hoping Nancy realizes soon what a tool her new boyfriend is and takes the first opportunity she gets to kick him in the nuts.
posted by pjsky at 7:50 PM on July 18, 2016 [17 favorites]


I totally agree @danabanana - We still use those big Christmas lights at my house, and they always make anything infinitely more cheerful. When she was in that cupboard with that ball of lights I totally teared up though. It was a fantastic episode, especially the ending.
posted by littlesq at 9:25 PM on July 18, 2016 [3 favorites]


This episode was terrific. So many bullies that need to be can-crumpled by El , so glad she spared the kitty., but i hope the mouth breathers and steve get a bit of the ol' neck twist pretty soon.

Xmas lights were awesome. It's a bit of a stretch that Winona would figure out the alphabet trick so quickly, but it was neat, and made for great anticipation as words were spelled out (but tell me you didn't guess r-u-n after the R...)
posted by OHenryPacey at 9:40 AM on July 19, 2016 [2 favorites]


For a few moments I was worried that this episode was going to be too 80s, what with the school yard bullies and the awkward talk about what a friend is.

But that scene with Winona Ryder in the closet with the Christmas lights was incredible, and watching Mathew Modine (I don't even know these character's names!) carry El out of her cell in his arms was as creepy as anything I've seen.
posted by kanewai at 1:40 PM on July 19, 2016 [4 favorites]


There have been inspired flourishes throughout this series, moments that felt new and iconic it what could otherwise be very well-trod territory. The Christmas lights were terrific -- really clever and wonderfully visual, especially when Ryder creates the Christmas light ouija board, and especially the lead-up to the climactic "run."

There are a lot of little things that I love. I love that this is a town with a lot of minorities, but it's never really made a big deal of, and there are two black characters in significant ensemble roles. I love the doofus deputy. I love the fact that, had this been made in 1983, Winona Ryder and Matthew Modine might have played Nancy Wheeler and Jonathan Byers.
posted by maxsparber at 10:39 AM on July 21, 2016 [5 favorites]


Winona Ryder was 11 in 1983.
posted by Sys Rq at 11:52 AM on July 21, 2016


So she could have played one of the younger kids. Jeez.
posted by maxsparber at 11:59 AM on July 21, 2016 [4 favorites]


She would have been perfect as one of the middle school science-club kids.

Shit. She was only 16 in Heathers???
posted by kanewai at 11:11 PM on July 21, 2016


She would have been great as Eleven.
posted by Rock Steady at 4:18 AM on July 22, 2016 [4 favorites]


I've been thinking a lot about the theoretical casting of this show if it had been made in 1983 and I can tell you that Modine would have played Steve for sure, not Jonathan.
posted by Rock Steady at 4:20 AM on July 22, 2016 [4 favorites]


I suppose it depends on whether we're looking at Birdie Modine or Vision Quest Modine. He did play his share of troubled loners, but there's no denying that he somehow still came across as a bit of a brat.
posted by maxsparber at 6:29 AM on July 22, 2016 [1 favorite]


This was one of the best episodes of television I've ever seen and one of the worst covers of "Heroes" I've ever heard.
posted by invitapriore at 11:28 PM on July 26, 2016 [6 favorites]


I mean, I don't know why you'd even try to cover "Heroes" again after Jessica Lange fucking nailed it on American Horror Story.
posted by tobascodagama at 6:34 AM on July 27, 2016 [1 favorite]


that was a difficult watch. We've only spent 2 episodes with these characters and the death still felt so awful. This show is fuckin gold
posted by Hoopo at 2:33 PM on July 27, 2016


There have been inspired flourishes throughout this series, moments that felt new and iconic it what could otherwise be very well-trod territory.

Yep, that's it exactly. This is the episode that got me hooked instead of just very interested. It's so full of tropey tropeness that it's hard not to sometimes laugh, but it's laughter infused with awe at how well the Duffers and pals are pulling it all off.
posted by mediareport at 3:58 AM on July 28, 2016 [3 favorites]


El's cell in the flashback looks copper-lined. A big faraday cage to dampen her EM-manipulation capabilities.
posted by dr_dank at 6:48 AM on August 3, 2016 [3 favorites]


OK so I'm getting sucked in now and not quite as annoyed by the constant movie references.
posted by octothorpe at 6:28 PM on August 4, 2016 [1 favorite]


tobascodagama: "I mean, I don't know why you'd even try to cover "Heroes" again after Jessica Lange fucking nailed it on American Horror Story."

Gabriel's cover of Heroes is from 2010.
posted by octothorpe at 6:30 PM on August 4, 2016 [6 favorites]


I started watching the show just last night, and holy fuck is this the most bingeworthy thing I've seen in a long time. Three episodes in one night meant I was up way past my bedtime. But it just has the perfect mix of adolescent discovery, creepy horror, and enough realism seasoned with wonder. I know it's cliche to say at this point, but all I kept thinking was that it was like somebody took the Stephens (Spielberg and King) at the height of respective creative abilities and put them together, and then added a heaping spoonful of Poltergeist along with a whole bunch of dashes and touches and pinches of a lot of other great sci-fi/horror. Yeah, it's tropey but it's executing the tropes so fucking well it almost feels new.

That thing bulging out from the wall? Jebus. Just about jumped out of my skin the first time it showed up last episode and it still gives me chills every time. I can't remember the last time anything made me do that.

Am really hoping Nancy realizes soon what a tool her new boyfriend is and takes the first opportunity she gets to kick him in the nuts.

He is a tool; but what I liked in this episode is that he was also kinda ok - he wasn't blabbing about his conquest; he came to talk to Nancy the next morning at school; and while he's a jerk he also wasn't wrong in what he said to Johnathan, who was frankly acting in a horribly creepy/stalker manner. Like, I don't like Steve, but Johnathan has some big issues too. I'm kinda worried that the show is going to go in the inevitable direction of Johnathan and Nancy getting drawn together because of his brother/her friend, which might be the worst trope to indulge in this series.

Two disappointments - my wife bugged out after the cold open of the first episode (couldn't handle it) and my realization last night that it is only 8 episodes. Which is probably just the right number of episodes, but it means I'm going to rip through this in short order and be looking for something else.
posted by nubs at 9:19 AM on August 8, 2016 [4 favorites]


Loving this show and loved this episode. I'm enjoying the feeling of other 80s movies that I'm getting but so far the biggest vibe I'm getting is definitely Poltergeist. The little blond girl with the pigtails? Mom talking to her child in another dimension? Sending a guy into this other place attached to a tether so they don't lose him? Creepy.
posted by triggerfinger at 9:21 PM on August 14, 2016 [1 favorite]


God dammit I am getting sucked into binge watching something.

also that cover of HEROES does not suck because it is Peter Gabriel and he is awesome and does not suck I must fight you with knives now
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:21 PM on August 16, 2016 [11 favorites]


Sys Rq: I also was bothered by the window lighting.

The "RIGHT HERE" was weird and creepy and then the shift to "RUN" was great.
posted by rmd1023 at 8:02 AM on August 21, 2016 [3 favorites]


OHenryPacey: It's a bit of a stretch that Winona would figure out the alphabet trick so quickly

Really? When she held the tangled ball of glowing lights and asked "Please, baby. I need to find you. Tell me what to do." I wanted to yell "YES OR NO QUESTIONS ONLY! YES OR NO! Or make an alphabet!"


octothorpe: OK so I'm getting sucked in now and not quite as annoyed by the constant movie references.

Finally ;)



oh yeah!: No hope for poor Barb then, I guess.

SHUT YOUR MOUTH! I'm only on episode 4, but I have hope! I HAVE HOPE!

Microfiche! I remember using that machine in the library, but no memory at all of how they were indexed.

I actually used microfiche-type records at my prior job, so that didn't seem so old, but our records were limited to building plans, which were generally easier to navigate.
posted by filthy light thief at 11:08 AM on August 24, 2016 [1 favorite]


The better newspapers used to index themselves and publish the index in a series of hardbound books, so you could look up whatever subject you were researching and go right to the issue and page number. Even smaller newspapers would sometimes have indexes, although generally not as well organized.

But the microfilm is a cinematic gimmick. People really doing research would try to get access to the newspaper's morgue, which generally consisted of clipping files organized by subject and were a lot easier to use. I seem to recall a few films where the morgue file is important -- maybe Wolfen? Anyway, it's a lot harder to build a morgue file for a film than set up some old microfilm machines with a green screen and make a few fake newspaper pages.
posted by maxsparber at 11:11 AM on August 24, 2016 [2 favorites]


And the music:
posted by filthy light thief at 11:16 AM on August 24, 2016 [4 favorites]


Ok, SUPER late to this, but damn ... best TV of the year, for me.
posted by DrAstroZoom at 7:50 AM on December 30, 2016 [1 favorite]


Ok, SUPER late to this, but damn ... best TV of the year, for me.

On the plus side, I bet seeing it now gives all your neighborhood Christmas light decorations an eeriness they didn't have before.
posted by oh yeah! at 5:33 PM on December 30, 2016


While knowing that this reply is about fifteen months late, I feel like there are likely to be some visitors to this thread in these coming few weeks and that it should be noted that invitapriore and tobascodegama are very very wrong about how awesome Gabriel's version of "Heroes" is and how fucking perfect it is for that moment.
posted by Navelgazer at 11:13 AM on October 24 [1 favorite]


« Older Stranger Things: Chapter Two: ...   |  Stranger Things: Chapter Four:... Newer »

You are not logged in, either login or create an account to post comments