Stranger Things: Chapter Six: The Spy
October 28, 2017 5:46 PM - Season 2, Episode 6 - Subscribe

Will's connection to a shadowy evil grows stronger, but no one's quite sure how to stop it. Elsewhere, Dustin and Steve forge an unlikely bond.

Steve: How do you know it's not just a lizard?
Dustin: How do I know he's not just a lizard? Because his face opened up and he ate my cat."
Steve: [makes the 'ok' head-tilt/shrug]

*Steve goes into Dustin's storm cellar with his nail-bat to kill Dart the Demagorgonette, only to find another, larger, shed skin, and a hole torn into the cinderblock wall, leading to the network of tunnels.
*Hawkins Lab scientists try to treat Will, who feels like he is burning up all over, while other Hawkins Lab people take polaroids of the tunnel drawings taped throughout the Beyers home.
*At Murray Bauman's, Nancy and Jonathan help getting copies of the tape ready to mail out to reporters. Bauman invites them to stay the night, and though Jonathan chooses the sofa at first, eventually he and Nancy kiss and go behind the bedroom doors out of PG-13 territory.
*Erica plays dolls using a borrowed He-Man figure for the kissy part, and tells Lucas about the code red call he missed from Dustin when he retrieves his figure. Back on the walkie-talkie, Dustin tells Lucas about Dart being a baby Demagorgon, tells him to meet him & Steve at the junkyard.
*At Hawkins, Sam gives Hopper the all-clear from his underground encounters, and brings him to the burn room, where the floor has been torn up to put in an elevator to the massive tunnel cavern they've discovered beneath it.
*Lucas stops at Max's house and tells her he can prove his story of last year's events is true, convinces her to join him on his bicycle.
*Will awakes in his room, with Joyce, Mike, and Bob, but has no memory of Bob. When Sam arrives, he doesn't remember him or Hopper either. He says he remembers that the soldiers hurt him, and that it upset the shadow monster. Sam tests a theory, putting a blowtorch next to a piece of vine/tentacle, and the closer the flame gets the more pain Will feels.
*Steve and Dustin, chum the train tracks with meat, and while Steve gives love and hair-care advice, they pass one of Hopper's yellow flags into the rot-zone.
*Hopper ducks out of the lab to his car, to radio Eleven and apologize for the fight and for not being there, but the message is heard only by the empty cabin.
*In the lab conference room, the scientists tell Sam they need to start the burn, regardless of whether it may kill Will, since the scans of his brain show an increasing abnormality that may kill him by the end of the day.
*Back in the room, Will tells Mike he saw something and thinks he knows how to kill the shadow monster.
*Dustin and Steve reach junkyard, Max and Lucas arrive too.
*Nancy and Jonathan get back to the Beyer home to find the root drawings map, and Jonathan finds a discarded Polaroid film case and knows it means someone has been in the house.
*In the conference room Polaroid display of the map, Will points out an undetailed part that he says the monster thinks it's important for him not to see, and the Hawkins people suit up and head down the elevator to find it, while back at the junkyard the kids pour a circle of gasoline to finish setting their Demagorgon trap.
*Lucas scans the junkyard fog from the roof of the old bus while Steve plays with his lighter. Max joins Lucas, tells him a little about her parents' divorce, and not wanting to be like her brother. Dart appears, but doesn't take the raw-meat-bait, so Steve goes outside to be the live bait, only to discover there are two Demagorgons now. He retreats back to the bus, and one of the creatures peers down the roof hatch into Max's face, but then the creatures run off.
*Back in the tunnels, the Hawkins men end up in the spot Hopper recognizes as the "graveyard", as Will begins crying to Mike and Joyce that he's sorry, that the monster made him do it because it was mad at the soldiers. Before Mike or Joyce can get the soldiers on door-guard to let them through to Sam, the Demagorgons attack and kill all the men in the tunnels.
posted by oh yeah! (43 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
(Hey, Fizz, hope I'm not stepping on your toes by posting the thread - I don't like to watch ahead of the latest post, or it will all blur together by the time I want to comment)

I was pretty well suckered by Will's double-cross, though I did have a moment's wonder that it seemed too soon before the end of the season for the good guys to be winning.

And, I just have to say in one of these threads - Billy's mullet skeeves me out to no end. It's grossing me out more than any of the creature effects so far.
posted by oh yeah! at 6:03 PM on October 28, 2017 [20 favorites]

My two roommates, who had been advising the characters on screen to kill Will for three episodes by this point, chanted "Kill Will! Kill Will!" during the meeting with the doctors, then swore and turned the show off when all the men in the tunnels died in the trap.
posted by Rinku at 6:05 PM on October 28, 2017 [5 favorites]

Steve and Dustin 4eva.

The line about the pull
posted by fluffy battle kitten at 6:32 PM on October 28, 2017 [10 favorites]

omg Paul Reiser watching a bank of camera feeds and then one of the soldiers goes "Stay frosty".
posted by mephisjo at 6:42 PM on October 28, 2017 [25 favorites]

Thank you so much for the recap. It's hard to remember what happened in each episode when you binge watch. I was going to take notes but I felt silly (and now I feel silly for feeling silly because it would have been SO helpful).

HOW WAS THE PULL-OUT?? I died laughing.

I still don't like Jonathan though.

Also I would totally watch the Steve and Dustin show. Especially if it included Erica somehow.

(And I agree re: Billy's mullet. It's appalling. Billy is appalling too.)
posted by elsietheeel at 7:00 PM on October 28, 2017 [3 favorites]

I like that they've given Steve something to do and fleshed him out a bit. He's still not my favorite but you know, he's evolving.
posted by fluffy battle kitten at 7:03 PM on October 28, 2017 [3 favorites]

Episode title really gave it away.
posted by tomboko at 7:31 PM on October 28, 2017 [1 favorite]

I like how at one point in this episode I'm thinking, "Wait, maybe.. maybe this is ET? Cthulhu-ET, but, y'know. Spawned in Will, and it's just tryin' ta find its li'l kiddo!"

Then: Aliens.
posted by curious nu at 9:16 PM on October 28, 2017 [3 favorites]

Then: Aliens.

I'm glad I'm not the only one that got this vibe at the end of the episode. That bus and the junkyard. It felt so much like an Aliens film. And this isn't a complaint. This episode kind of redeemed Steve for me and I didn't think I'd be on board with him but holy shit, I like how he developed as a character in this episode. He became very human for the first time and not just a cartoonish asshole cliche.
posted by Fizz at 9:37 PM on October 28, 2017 [8 favorites]

Cut the bullshit, share the damn bed.
posted by axiom at 2:21 AM on October 29, 2017

I was screaming IT'S A TRAP!! and then omg, it WAS.

Steve fearlessly engaging with no apparent sense of self-preservation has so elevated him in my eyes. And the Steve Halloween costume (backpack, nail-embedded baseball bat, Members Only jacket, classic red/white Nikes, poofy hair and Raybans) needs to happen all over the place.

Faux-Lowe offering Steve covert basketball advice (was that in this ep?) made me all, WTF? What is their story? Is he a 21-Jumpstreet secret cop or something? He seems to old for high school.
posted by I_Love_Bananas at 3:50 AM on October 29, 2017 [10 favorites]

At Murray Bauman's

That's his name? I never caught that. Super subtle with the stereotype of the only apparently Jewish character in the whole show universe, fellas. May I say: oy.
posted by Miko at 9:28 AM on October 29, 2017 [2 favorites]

Healthcare definitely seems to be a reoccurring theme.

Sexual tension montage?

Lucas’ little sister is one of the best parts of this show.

The junkyard scene looks like it was lifted from Tremors.
posted by P.o.B. at 11:01 AM on October 29, 2017 [7 favorites]

I cannot be the only person who dislikes Erica. Maybe it's because I'm a parent and she's a little shit? Or becaus I was bullied by girls who said the same things she says?

Do not like.
posted by cooker girl at 12:51 PM on October 29, 2017 [3 favorites]

Love the characters, but disappointed that I’m smarter than them, mostlybdue to plot reasons.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:40 PM on October 29, 2017 [2 favorites]

The junkyard scene looks like it was lifted from Tremors.

And also we're dealing with tunneling and creatures that have freaky radial maws split into odd-numbered jaw parts and in the first one there's one creature but in the sequel there's multiple.

Everybody references parts of the Alien lifecycle all the time when talking about the Demogorgon and OK, I can see it, but Tremors has to be an underappreciated tributary of the source material.
posted by wildblueyonder at 11:23 PM on October 29, 2017 [14 favorites]

Also, it bears a very good resemblance to the dog-thing from The Thing, just before Child burns the dog mass. It also reminds me of the plant from Little Shop of Horrors.
posted by P.o.B. at 7:08 AM on October 30, 2017 [3 favorites]

Sooooo... Guess Eleven's hairstyle isn't the only thing from "Aliens", huh? Complete with the electronic display and menacing dots-on-the-screen action.
posted by rmd1023 at 9:13 AM on October 30, 2017 [7 favorites]

I love, love, loved the steve+dustin team-up. At first I was like "why is dusting asking for his help?" I don't think we've ever seen them really together on screen before. But then, it makes sense, right? Steve helped take down the demogorgon the first time. Then I found myself wishing for all of them - the kids, el, steve and nancy and jonathan, to gang up and be this motley crew. It's kind of weird how they didnt hang out afterwards, right? I mean their whole universe just got turned upside down*

*pun intended
posted by FirstMateKate at 10:16 AM on October 30, 2017 [1 favorite]

Catching up after bingeing episodes 1-6 over the weekend:

The kids are at a really interesting age this season; not John Hughes teenagers yet, but not little kids anymore either (as alluded to in the scene with Lucas and Erica and the He-man figure.) I remember how weird/sad that "getting too old for action figures but not old enough to know what to replace them with" transitional period was for me, and it makes me feel for all of them.

With regards to Dustin/d'Artagnan, I remember wanting to adopt random critters I found in the yard despite having no real knowledge of how to care for them. I also remember being well-indoctrinated with pop culture "If I do [x], surely it will impress the girl I have a crush on" logic at that age. Even smart kids have dumb blind spots, so I can suspend my disbelief enough to buy that whole subplot.

Hopper (and then Joyce and then Bob) jumping down into the slimy upside-down hole without any means of getting back up was harder to swallow.

I'm glad they've developed Steve into more of a real person (the Farrah Fawcett hair spray tip was a surprisingly touching moment of vulnerability), and I'm interested to see where they go with Billy, who's a ridiculous yet totally believable caricature of every mean/cunning 1980s high school psycho headbanger asshole. He's perfectly cast, and I agree with previous comments that his hair is more offputting than anything the upside-down can conjure. The basketball advice scene was interesting and seems to hint that we'll see more depth from him at some point.

After this episode it seems like maybe Dr. Owens, while still a smarmy evil scientist, is at least less evil than the rest of the Hawkins Lab regime? (How much of our visceral collective mistrust can be attributed directly to Reiser's role as Carter Burke 31 years ago?) And I still wonder if we've actually seen the last of Dr. Brenner, whose death was strongly implied but not actually shown at the end of last season.

I don't know what to make of Bob now that the townies and the sinister government agency have sort of teamed up on their own; it wouldn't be much of a plot twist now if he turned out to be a Hawkins lab plant. I did spend this whole episode wondering if the shadow monster inside Will isn't the only spy, though. What if Bob's a Soviet agent? (I hope he's not, because gosh darn it I admit I like him and it looks like Sean Astin was having a lot of fun.)
posted by Funeral march of an old jawbone at 10:47 AM on October 30, 2017 [4 favorites]

How much of our visceral collective mistrust can be attributed directly to Reiser's role as Carter Burke 31 years ago?

I have no idea who this BUrke character is but I still 100% distrust him.
posted by Miko at 11:22 AM on October 30, 2017 [1 favorite]

Burke was the "slimy corporate dude" in Aliens, and this season has definitely an "Aliens" vibe. Paul "Aliens" Reiser and Sean "Goonies" Astin are good actors but there's a meta angle in their casting.
posted by elgilito at 8:21 AM on October 31, 2017 [3 favorites]

Steve is great, and manages some not terrible advice to Dustin.

His line "Sometime you come in strong, like a lion, but sometimes you need to be stealthy..." I mentally completed with "Also like a lion"

The wheels Nancy and Jonathan put in motion are going to cause trouble with the town/lab cooperation going on right now though.
posted by vibratory manner of working at 11:45 AM on October 31, 2017 [5 favorites]

How much of our visceral collective mistrust can be attributed directly to Reiser's role as Carter Burke 31 years ago?

Having just finished the episode, I figure he's being set up for a death scene that will invert/mirror Burke's somehow; he's probably going to sacrifice himself somehow. The Aliens vibe is now too strong for them not to use his casting to some effect.
posted by nubs at 10:14 PM on October 31, 2017 [1 favorite]

I'm definitely getting vibes that Reiser won't end up being all bad... It would be too derivative of the first season bad guy. And I'm not very confident that Bob will survive the season. He's too good. Although the Mr. Baldo speech momentarily made me wonder if he had some nefarious backstory.
posted by condour75 at 5:54 PM on November 2, 2017

What is life like for Brett Gelman? What must it feel like to by Hollywood's go-to guy when they need someone who conveys absolute sleaze? What does he see when he looks in the mirror. When he answers the phone and the voice on the other end says "Brett, this is the Duffer siblings from Stranger Things; we wrote a character who gets high schoolers drunk and then offers them unsolicited sex advice, so naturally we thought you’d be perfect for the role", what goes through his head?

I've only ever seen him in things were his presence was meant to immediately make the audience's collective skin crawl right off our bodies; does he ever play anyone less intensely creepy?
posted by Parasite Unseen at 10:21 AM on November 3, 2017 [8 favorites]

Anyone else thinking about Under the Skin during Eleven's blindfolded dream traveling?
posted by octothorpe at 7:00 PM on November 4, 2017 [6 favorites]

I think Brett Gelman enjoys being perceived as sleazy. And I enjoy him doing his thing.
posted by elsietheeel at 7:06 PM on November 4, 2017 [1 favorite]

Everyone's creeped out by that idiot's mullet, but what the hell is that thing on his top lip? I want to wipe it off with a moist napkin.
posted by adept256 at 7:06 PM on November 4, 2017 [7 favorites]

Although I did read somewhere that Sean Astin originally auditioned for Murray, and that's...a disturbing thought.
posted by elsietheeel at 7:11 PM on November 4, 2017

I know it's just TV magic but I do want to know how they have a portable radar dish to track the soldiers, complete with underground cavern mapping and everything.

Also now I want to give everyone who leaves my house a bottle of vodka and the phrase, "For your travels."
posted by fifteen schnitzengruben is my limit at 9:07 PM on November 4, 2017 [2 favorites]

So. Much. Aliens.

I didn't connect the dots, even with Reiser's casting, for the first few episodes. But this one (in addition to being The Horny Episode) was entirely Aliens, which was enjoyable if a bit derivative. Will in bed felt very Ripley-esque, obviously the cameras on the not-space-marines (did they have personal video cameras that could broadcast back in 84?), the radar, the moving dots, "they're everywhere!" all of it.

When did the demogorgons stop being transdimensional monsters that could dip back into the Upside Down in order to stalk their victims more effectively?

The part that made my skin crawl the most: weight lifting while smoking a cigarette. Horrible.
posted by Existential Dread at 11:45 AM on November 7, 2017 [3 favorites]

When did the demogorgons stop being transdimensional monsters that could dip back into the Upside Down in order to stalk their victims more effectively?

Well, these aren’t exactly demogorgons - they are demodogs; they might be immature forms of what we saw last season or some variation thereof. But it seems pretty clear that the demodogs can’t go across the boundary on their own.

It might be that the demogorgon only got that ability because of the interaction with Eleven, too.
posted by nubs at 2:51 PM on November 7, 2017 [1 favorite]

Hounds of Tindalos
posted by French Fry at 5:55 AM on November 9, 2017 [4 favorites]

Was Jonathan's makeup this bad last season? I can't figure out what they're going for, but he looks completely unnatural and it's creeping me out even more than Billy's everything.
posted by EvaDestruction at 5:59 AM on November 9, 2017 [1 favorite]

Murray is a spy for Hawkins Lab, right? Distracting Barb's parents with promised hope and getting that tape away from Nancy and Jonathan? Because we didn't see any of those envelopes make it to an actual mailbox or confirm who retained the original cassette.
posted by Flannery Culp at 4:52 PM on November 12, 2017 [2 favorites]

I've heard a theory that he's a Russian spy, but if anything him spying for Hawkins (and making sure Hopper is keeping up his end of the deal) makes more sense.
posted by tobascodagama at 5:33 PM on November 12, 2017 [1 favorite]

It would also explain why they let Nancy waltz in and out with that giant tape recorder in her purse. Let her think she's doing something, we'll close that loop later...
posted by Flannery Culp at 8:15 PM on November 12, 2017 [1 favorite]

That bus and the junkyard. It felt so much like an Aliens film.

I thought it also worked well as a sorta-homage to the armored bus blocking the gateway to the refinery town in The Road Warrior, which of course ties back in to our "MADMAX".
posted by Strange Interlude at 12:57 PM on November 13, 2017 [1 favorite]

Everyone's creeped out by that idiot's mullet, but what the hell is that thing on his top lip? I want to wipe it off with a moist napkin.

NO REALLY. It may be rude or impolite, but you have to tell someone when they have food stuck on their face. Like those hotdogs were delicious, you got some sauce there, no the other side, there, not my left, your left, this is embarrassing and socially awkward.

But this is a kid, maybe he's not shaved before, or just a few times. You missed a spot?
posted by adept256 at 10:20 PM on November 13, 2017 [1 favorite]

I know it's just TV magic but I do want to know how they have a portable radar dish to track the soldiers, complete with underground cavern mapping and everything.

We've actually had man-portable RADAR sets since the late 40s or early 50s. The display wouldn't be that clean, but it totally would give you a "map" of the immediate area (at least the 80s-modern ones could) and show the demodogs. It wouldn't color them red and the soldiers in another color, though.

One of the things I actually like about the show is that all the stuff not related to psychic/psionic powers and The Upside Down itself is that everything else we see is believably period appropriate.
posted by wierdo at 3:08 PM on March 4, 2018 [1 favorite]

Watching it again a couple of years on, I see a direct connection between the deaths of the doomed Hawkins lab muscle being signalled by their flashlights going out one by one and the doomed Dothraki on the plains before Winterfell having their torches snuffed out one by one.

It works better here.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 10:45 PM on July 18, 2019 [1 favorite]

Murray is the best and I’m really sad that I’m pretty sure they’re going to kill him before those tapes pay out. The breakfast conversation, oh man.
posted by corb at 10:20 PM on February 20, 2020

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