Stranger Things: Chapter Nine: The Gate
October 28, 2017 10:24 PM - Season 2, Episode 9 - Subscribe

Eleven makes plans to finish what she started. (Season finale)

*The gang comes up with a plan to drive the shadow monster out of Will by heating him up, so that Eleven can close the gate without Will dying.
*Mrs. Wheeler tries to luxuriate in the bathtub with a romance novel, but is interrupted by the doorbell, which Mr. Wheeler sleeps right through. It's Billy, and he sleazes it up with Mom to get directions to Mike's friends' houses in search of Max.
*Jonathan takes Joyce, Will and Nancy up to Hopper's cabin, and they pour on the heat.
*Hopper drives Eleven to Hawkins Lab, finds out she met her mother, apologizes for lying about her, and tells her about his dead daughter.
*After Dustin convinces Steve to put the dead demo-dog into Joyce's freezer, Mike comes up with a plan to help Eleven with her mission by setting fire to the tunnel hub to draw all the creatures away from the lab. Steve says no way, but then Billy arrives and beats Steve into unconsciousness. Max injects Billy with Will's sedative, and tells him to leave her the fuck alone forever.
*Steve comes to, only to find that Max is driving them to the field to enact Mike's diversion plan. Seeing there's no way to stop the kids from going down the hole, he takes the lead in the tunnel.
*In the Lab, Hooper finds Doc Owens bleeding out in a stairwell from a leg wound, and applies a tourniquet.
*In the cabin, the combo of space heaters, a hot poker, and the diversion-plan underground fire finally makes Will an inhospitable host for the shadow monster virus, and it exits his body.
*Hopper and Eleven take the elevator down, and she begins closing the gate.
*In the tunnels, the gang race back to the hole entrance, briefly delayed by Mike getting tripped by one of the vine tentacles, then by the Dart the Demo-dog, who Dustin is able to appease/distract with a Three Musketeers bar.
*Eleven flashes back to her Kali move-the-truck pep talk, and closes the gate.
*One month later. The Lab has been shut down thanks to the story leaked fake story about their cover-up of Barb's actual death, and she gets a proper funeral. Owens repays Hopper for saving his life by giving him a birth certificate for one Jane Hopper.
*Everyone goes to the Snow Ball, Dustin's hair is fabulous thanks to Steve's advice, Joyce and Hopper share a smoke in the parking lot and he comforts her about poor Bob, Lucas and Max share a dance and a kiss, as do Eleven and Mike, and all ends well, though the Upside Down is still Down There.
posted by oh yeah! (240 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
 
Ah well, that was a pretty underwhelming season. I just never felt scared for anyone, or creeped out by the effects the way I did during the first season, and I'm not sure there's any way for the show to make me feel that way again.
posted by oh yeah! at 10:40 PM on October 28 [5 favorites]


Wow, I loved this far more than the first season. I had a lot of feels.
posted by Fizz at 11:31 PM on October 28 [29 favorites]


Also, I'm forever Dustin at the dance.
posted by Fizz at 11:40 PM on October 28 [23 favorites]


Full on ugly crying for the reunion.

A+ on Hopper pulling Mike from the room so he could lose his shit. A+ on Hopper telling both Mike and Eleven things that needed to be said out loud.
posted by fluffy battle kitten at 12:47 AM on October 29 [31 favorites]


I'm annoyed that Nancy's storyline was all bullshit this year. At the same time...I don't know what you do with that character if the writers feel like they have to have her paired with an idiot...and apparently they do feel that way.
posted by fluffy battle kitten at 12:57 AM on October 29 [11 favorites]


Also. I want the full story on Max's home life. The version she gave Lucas was clearly super watered down.
posted by fluffy battle kitten at 1:07 AM on October 29 [7 favorites]


I really hope they can come up with more ways to create interpersonal drama for the older teens than extending that one love triangle indefinitely. I was so ticked off at Steve's mournful gaze at Nancy. Get over it, dude.

Also, Dustin's mum got a new cat!
posted by Berreggnog at 1:22 AM on October 29 [6 favorites]


I am already concerned something will kill her new kitty next season, though.
posted by fluffy battle kitten at 1:51 AM on October 29 [12 favorites]


Come on Jane, you can do so much better than Milk Dud Mike ! Dustin is right there !!!
posted by Pendragon at 1:51 AM on October 29 [13 favorites]


Dustin taking hair advice from Steve was one of my favorite things this season. (He should have suggested AquaNet, though.)
posted by fluffy battle kitten at 1:57 AM on October 29 [42 favorites]


TEWS!!!
posted by axiom at 2:19 AM on October 29 [15 favorites]


So what were there, like, FIVE love triangles in that season? Maybe six?

Still, though, solid all over I'd say. Less thrilling, but just as absorbing. A good balance of very bold choices (e.g. the Warriors episode) and safe ones. And IMO, none of the characters got ruined and quite a few got improved (e.g. Hopper).

Though I have to say, there was SO MUCH metatext that it really threatened to become too much at times.

Also: is it my imagination or was Mike's voice beginning to break in this one?
posted by CheesesOfBrazil at 3:12 AM on October 29 [3 favorites]


I feel like Nancy got screwed on character development and not only that but she apparently spent the last year fawning over two non-issue/nothing guys. The first season showed her trying to come into her own but this season...showed her relying on Jonathan to pursue things important to her? Girl, no, Jonathan is an idiot!

I really wish they had not wrapped on Steve by showing him look at Nancy. So much fun character stuff happened with Steve this season and that shot kind of pooped on it. Like, let Steve be okay being alone. Let Nancy be alone. Let Jonathan go sulk at college.
posted by fluffy battle kitten at 4:08 AM on October 29 [14 favorites]


So, Max's D&D character next season is totally a rogue, isn't it ?

Mike = paladin
Jane = mage
Dustin = bard
Taylor = ranger
Will = cleric
Max = rogue
posted by Pendragon at 5:51 AM on October 29 [11 favorites]


I enjoyed season 2, though I thought it took a few episodes to find its feet.
posted by drezdn at 7:10 AM on October 29 [2 favorites]


I thought as much when she picked that lock.
posted by codacorolla at 7:11 AM on October 29 [7 favorites]


Wow, so much hate for Jonathan. I don't really follow why he's so disliked. Anyone care to expound?
posted by Cogito at 8:19 AM on October 29 [5 favorites]


It's not that I dislike Jonathan. In fact, in high school I would have been all about arty emo guy. They have just never developed his character into anything other than concerned brother and fawning over Nancy boy.
posted by fluffy battle kitten at 8:52 AM on October 29 [2 favorites]


Steve is my hero. <3

Also I'm glad that Paul Reiser turned out to be halfway decent. And I teared up when Hop pulled out that birth certificate.
posted by elsietheeel at 8:53 AM on October 29 [12 favorites]


I liked vengeful, angry, plotting Nancy. I'd love be to see more development of Nancy and Jonathan's characters next season. I like the older kids and I really love how Steve went from super-douche to genuine, responsible guy.

One of my favourite moments of this episode is Murray sitting outside the lab gate as the MPs drive by.

I'm curious about the last shot of Dart. Why didn't he run back to the lab with the other demodogs? I mean, yeah yummy nougat, but he wasn't as attached to the hive mind as the others.
posted by Stonkle at 9:23 AM on October 29 [12 favorites]


Dustin and Dustin's pearls loved Dart out of total hivemind.

Let's talk about the pearly whites and the purring. That cracked me up every single time.
posted by fluffy battle kitten at 9:27 AM on October 29 [16 favorites]


Apparently the purring was Gaten's idea. Bless his little cotton socks.
posted by elsietheeel at 9:41 AM on October 29 [15 favorites]


Steve's evolution was one of the genuinely great things about Season 2, which was otherwise pretty much just well-done but more of the same with a huge flaming side of HERE'S WHAT'S NEXT FOR OUR BRAND NEW POOCHIE HEROES.

There were some excellent meta-touches to Series 2--like the scene with Billy & Bathrobed Mrs Wheeler harkening to every shitty 80's movie sex joke with a tinge of misogyny--and not a single lackluster performance (down to the random pre-teen girls at the dance).
posted by crush at 9:46 AM on October 29 [13 favorites]


I want Dustin and Steve to have a cooking show.

And as maddening/annoying as I found Steve's advice telling Dustin to act like he doesn't care...that was spot on for the advice being handed down at the time.
posted by fluffy battle kitten at 9:56 AM on October 29 [12 favorites]


Dustin's hair is fabulous

It really was. It was perfect for the time period (I was their age) and I had to admit that it would have been greatly admired as a bold move by a previously shlubby kid.

was Mike's voice beginning to break in this one?

Dustin's definitely was. In the car scene just before the dance, his voice is so much lower.

two non-issue/nothing guys

I like Jonathan, too. He hasn't had a lot to work with, but we at least get the hint that he's a photographer and a music fan. He's got some ideas in his head, he isn't just gonna postpone college and hang around Hawkins like Steve is for lack of a better idea. I don't share the hate for him.

So, looking ahead to next season:
- I'm watching Sam. He's not a 100% safe guy, I don't think. The Lab story is definitely not done.
-I fully expect the return of Kali and the discovery of additional programmed human monster-children. I just hope her gang of misfits does not have to come along because they were terrrrible.
- They didn't include that scene with putting the dead demodog in the freezer for nothing. Red herrings really don't seem to be this show's style. I'm watching that freezer.
-When the whole series concludes I definitely expect some happy resolution for the characters and maybe a vanquishing of supernatural/alternate-dimension forces, but also fully anticipate an "it's Chinatown" ending - because we're dealing with secret government programs and we know those don't end.
posted by Miko at 10:06 AM on October 29 [7 favorites]


We get the sense that Jonathan is arty yet the only time we're shown his art is the stalker photos from S1. Since Joyce has Will's drawings up...I would think a bunch of Jonathan's photos would be all over the house...it would have been easy to show photos at home or even school without any deep dialogue being required of actors. We do see Jonathan taking portraits at the Snowball but that read as side gig more than art to me. Maybe Jonathan gets fleshed out more next season but he was like a dropped hot potato this season.

(Jonathan did mention that he didn't shoot polaroid which was actually a fun comment to me.)
posted by fluffy battle kitten at 10:30 AM on October 29 [1 favorite]


Wild theory:

Barbara became the Shadow Monster.
posted by CheesesOfBrazil at 11:04 AM on October 29 [23 favorites]


Billy = Wham!'s George Michael + Boyle from Brooklyn 99.

I have to admit a lot of times I was hate-watching the hair. It's so bad. I don't mean 80s bad — no, I feel like they veered into new and horrible territory with this show's hair. This show cast a lot of actors who already look weird, so the hair choices are just really breathtaking sometimes.
posted by fleacircus at 11:10 AM on October 29 [5 favorites]


I expect huge spidery formation backlit in red.

Frosty demodog is in a suspended state because HE LIKES IT COLD. It still had its head. Seems like these things can possibly regenerate other parts, maybe?

I hope they don't bring in the x-men ripoff crew to fight whatever happens next season because UGH.
posted by fluffy battle kitten at 11:13 AM on October 29 [3 favorites]


I am torn between wanting to know more about the monster and the Upside Down, and wanting it to remain a mysterious, Lovecraftian-Old God kind of thing; the truth is something humans can't comprehend. It would be cool if there were more connections made between 11, 8, Banner, MKUltra, (Sara?) and the Upside Down.
posted by Stonkle at 11:34 AM on October 29 [1 favorite]


Frosty demodog is in a suspended state because HE LIKES IT COLD. It still had its head. Seems like these things can possibly regenerate other parts, maybe?

My thought too. As an alternative, it also occurred to me that a future plot tangent might require dissecting it to discover...I don't know what.
posted by Miko at 11:46 AM on October 29 [2 favorites]


One thing that I'm not sure if we don't yet know, or if I just missed it: is Hawkins a special locus for contact with The Upside Down? Or is it just an after-effect of 11 opening that particular door?
posted by codacorolla at 11:48 AM on October 29 [1 favorite]


They made sure to have Dustin mention lizards too often for me not to think regeneration. They also made a point of one of the kids (Mike, maybe) asking about why it looked like something was moving inside it...so asexual reproduction possibly.

Yeah, I don't know why we haven't seen any dissection yet.
posted by fluffy battle kitten at 11:52 AM on October 29


One thing that I'm not sure if we don't yet know, or if I just missed it: is Hawkins a special locus for contact with The Upside Down? Or is it just an after-effect of 11 opening that particular door?
posted by codacorolla at 11:48 AM on October 29 [+] [!]


I was thinking that 'Papa' has been fooling around with the gate that 011 opened, like picking a scab, and that's what attracted the Mind Flayer

I was highly suspicious and remain somewhat suspicious of Paul Riser's doctor staying behind while everyone else fled...what gave him the confidence to remain?

also, some of these questions are better left unanswered
posted by eustatic at 11:59 AM on October 29 [3 favorites]


From tumblr, encapsulating why I now love Steve Harrington and his perfect hair:

Steve Harrington went from a popular teenage boy to a stressed out single soccer mom with five kids in the span of six days.

Anyway, I loved this season. Though I will say I was kind of expecting the whole town to collapse into those tunnels, like Sunnydale collapsing into the Hellmouth. Maybe in Season 3!
posted by yasaman at 12:18 PM on October 29 [36 favorites]


I didn't take Dr. Owens staying behind as a confidence thing. I took it as a guilt thing. However, I also think the tendency is for anyone associated with the lab to be dirty. I mean, it was nice to see a birth certificate for Eleven but there's going to be some kind of associated cost. You don't just let the prized experiment skip off into the sunset and we know Hopper made at least one deal before. Hawkins Lab aren't the kind of folks you reach Even Steven with.
posted by fluffy battle kitten at 12:29 PM on October 29 [3 favorites]


I feel that the season was the poorer for separating Jane from the rest, but I thought the end was good and they did a really good job showing Jane coming into her power.

They had sort of written themselves into a corner, I think. They ended the first season with Jane apart. They reunited Will with the gang. And they rightly wanted to add another girl. Throwing them all together right away would have been too much. As it was, I never felt that Will fit in that well, he felt like a new character.

So basically what they did was a pretty good job of a transitional season. The second book in a series is often not great and I think that they dodged a bullet by not really screwing up this second season. But I expect that next season will be both more cohesive but more controversial. They're definitively swerving toward a X-Men type story about the kids vs. the government. Kali is sort of sympathetic, but extreme, and I think she sets the stage for maybe some scarier kids from the lab. I'm thinking the influence here is things like Carrie and Firestarter, mainly the latter. But a reckoning is coming for "Poppa", that's certain.

I was a little annoyed that the guy that listens to metal was a bad guy. Although introducing the villainous character with a Ted Nugent song was a nice bit of commentary. (I had that album. That's a pretty great song. But Nugent is ruined for me forever.)

The one album everyone was listening to all through 1984, everywhere, always -- believe me, I was there -- was Thriller. I guess that was too expensive to use.

I turned 20 that year. How come basically everything and everyone from that period just looks terrible to me? In the 80s we used to make fun of the 70s, but time has proven the 80s to be the truly ugly decade. Yes, I used hairspray.

Oh, also: BASIC. Really? I mean, for the laughs, sure, and every kid educated in the 80s probably came across BASIC, but still. If they wanted to be accurate, it would have been Ada (DOE/DOD). But that would have meant nothing to anyone. Maybe FORTRAN? Literally the month this season took place, I was taking intro to programming with FORTRAN at university. Also, that November I saw my first Unix machine. (It was all Vaxen in CS depts then.) Anyway, a programming language makes no sense in that context, anyway. What Bob really should have said was "Do you know CP/CMS commands?" I would have been real impressed. Maybe he could have been a IBM 360 operator in college.

And it sucks that they killed Bob just because economy means they have to couple Hopper and Joyce.

It seems super-important to me that this Spielberg-esque teen boy SF/horror homage ends up featuring the two young girls as the most bad-ass, while also giving Nancy the rifle. But we already knew Jane was awesome and of course Max would be. She's Zoomer.

I kind of liked the Chicago crew but, yeah, they seemed to be on another show entirely. A darker one. That I'd watch.

We're supposed to like Jonathan, but they don't give us a lot to work with. They did a very good job with Steve's character growth. I don't know if Jonathan is salvageable, but I can see plausible ways Nancy could get a lot more interesting and maybe the show is setting that up. She needs to embrace in herself all the things she likes in Jonathan but, you know, dump him anyway. BTW, she's the actress in Yes, God, Yes, which explains why she was familiar.

Mike and Jane are sweet and all, especially with Millie Bobby Brown selling it, but I'm feeling a lot of "electricity" between Mike and Will.

Both Brown and Gaten Matarazzo should share MVP for this show. Without their talents, the show wouldn't be as good.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 12:51 PM on October 29 [12 favorites]


All in all this season gets 4 out of 5 mehs. All of the developments were predictable, they wasted Brett Gelman and Will - who is the best actor out of all of the kids - once again spent way too much time Lost Inside The Demon World or whatever. Fanservice for Barb. Less scary, dog-like demigorgons. And when Eleven was closing the portal I really wanted a giant scary face to poke through a la Poltergeist . Plus the ill effects she suffered were far too minor, as anyone who has seen Scanners can attest to.

I admit I was happy when Sean Astin's character got munched, he was boorish and uncompelling. The whole loser-nerd-who-gets-the-girl trope has to die a red hot fiery death.
posted by grumpybear69 at 12:58 PM on October 29 [1 favorite]


So. This is stupid but it just appeared in my brain.

We are seeing characters flip off other people. How us it we're not seeing the kids using the jerk off motion for everything?
posted by fluffy battle kitten at 1:01 PM on October 29 [3 favorites]


Re: jerk-off motion. For some reason most Boomer women I know find it a hundred times more offensive than the bird? (Anecdata: I learned how to flip people off as a tiny child because my grandma used to drive me places...she and my mom both though this was amusing. But my mom will smack my hand if I make the jerk-off motion even now - and I'm 40.) I could totally see Dustin or Mike or Lucas' mom's smacking their hands for doing it. Although that wouldn't stop them from doing it when they were away from them...

Also I nominate Joe Keery as MVP runner-up.

And agree that Gelman was wasted. Maybe we will get to see him next season!
posted by elsietheeel at 1:37 PM on October 29 [1 favorite]


The one album everyone was listening to all through 1984, everywhere, always -- believe me, I was there -- was Thriller. I guess that was too expensive to use.

I was 14 in 1984. We weren't listening to Thriller that much at my high school.

Also, just because I grew up in central Indiana in the 80s, it bothered me SO MUCH that there were leaves on the trees in the lab closing shot, which was supposed to have been taking place in late November/early December. Also, there would have been snow on the ground. Maybe not a lot, but at the very least there would have been a dusting.
posted by cooker girl at 3:14 PM on October 29 [4 favorites]


Binged it all weekend, finished it last night. I clapped my hands when I saw Gelman's name in the credits, he looked like he was having so much fun!

One of the things I liked about this season is the way it strung 80s movie tropes together into a pretty seamless whole. ET became Gremlins became The Gate became Aliens. I liked the new characters (and totally thought Bob was a plant too).

Everything is still a jumble, though. The stand out moments for me include Max's takedown of season 1's story, The Warriors episode (they had to get an 80s punk in there somehow), and Paul Reiser's casual threat.

Of course, being me, I immediately made a thing while I was supposed to be carving a different project, which I guess is a sign that I really enjoyed the season.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 3:49 PM on October 29 [8 favorites]


Oh, also: BASIC. Really?

I agree with this. I'm also a little hung up on whatever he is doing onscreen seems to have nothing to do with BASIC programming anyway. He's just in a DOS-like directory of some kind, choosing commands. There's no way the Department of Energy was running systems on BASIC in 1984; my dad worked in electronics engineering at the time and they were using Pascal. Fortran and COBOL are also familiar names from that period. Where was BASIC? In my middle-school computer lab, as early as 1981.

We weren't listening to Thriller that much at my high school.


Same data point here. My brother (5 years younger) was super into Thriller, and maybe older people were (I dunno), but in high school, not so much. A little. It seemed juvenile to us at the time, I think, even to the R&B/dance fans. Kids like those in the show, some of whom I hung around with, were listening to Iron Maiden and hair metal and Van Halen and holdover 70s rock that their big siblings liked (for example, my friends and I were all obsessed with The Who and Led Zeppelin up til age 13 or 14). New romantics/goths/new wavers were visible. At the time in my scene it was really cool to hate pop music - only now can I appreciate the likes of Duran Duran and Madonna. Thriller was everywhere but it was more in the department-store music context IIRC - part of the wallpaper. It's sort of funny to think back to what people were actually listening to. Huey Lewis and the News was on the radio all the time ("Heart of Rock and Roll," "I Want a New Drug"). Rebound music by Boomer stars was always around - like John Fogerty's "Centerfield" and this was just before Dire Straits with "Brothers in Arms" and as mentioned earlier, Bowie's and the Police's 'pop sellout' era. Also, a lot of us were head over heels about U2, before they got sappy.
posted by Miko at 4:34 PM on October 29 [4 favorites]


Here's your BASIC moment.

While it's typed inhumanly fast and precisely, I like that what he's doing makes sense: writing a little program to brute-force the password.
posted by Cogito at 4:49 PM on October 29 [7 favorites]


Also, just because I grew up in central Indiana in the 80s, it bothered me SO MUCH that there were leaves on the trees in the lab closing shot, which was supposed to have been taking place in late November/early December. Also, there would have been snow on the ground. Maybe not a lot, but at the very least there would have been a dusting.
posted by cooker girl at 3:14 PM on October 29 [1 favorite +] [!]


yeah, well, call your governor, because Georgia's running the lead in the race-to-the-bottom, tax cuts galore if-you-film-here game. so, leaves year round, and little to no snow, at least until they bottom out their economy. talk about Night of the Living Reagan
posted by eustatic at 4:56 PM on October 29


I was a little annoyed that the guy that listens to metal was a bad guy.

yeah, but at least we got The Four Horsemen
posted by eustatic at 5:13 PM on October 29 [3 favorites]


"I was 14 in 1984. We weren't listening to Thriller that much at my high school."

It wasn't what my friends and I were listening to, either, but it was inescapable through most of 83 and 84. It was the top-selling album both years, became and remains the top-selling album of all time, and won eight Grammys in 84. Jackson's tour for the album were sold-out stadium spectacles that itself was a pop-culture phenomenon. I lived in Dallas that summer when he played there; I picked up my 10-year-old sister at the airport that weekend and I noticed (I don't recall how) that many people were flying in to see the show. In the Spring of '84, a teenage girl lived in the next-door apartment and she played the album constantly, which does admittedly influence my recollection. With most of the album producing hit singles, it was constantly on the radio wherever you went. It wasn't the music I listened to, but I heard it and like it or not, it makes up much of the soundtrack of that year for me.

Also, Hawkins is portrayed as a one high-school small town. I grew up in one and graduated from high school in one just a couple of years earlier -- and despite that we had a moderate sized state university, almost no one I went to school with was listening to the actually good and interesting music. There were the country people, the pop radio people, and the metal people. There were literally no punks in my school. The girl who sat behind me in English senior year was constantly trying to get me to listen to the stuff that Jonathan listened to, and I often wish I could go back in time and a) ask her out (which never occurred to me) and b) acquire some decent musical taste from her influence. Well, also my elementary school girlfriend who had just moved back to town from elsewhere listened to The Roches and the like which I couldn't even categorize then. Somehow I don't imagine them being in the Duffer Brothers playlist.

Which brings up the point that almost all of the musical choices, even Jonathan's, are almost exclusively stuff that was on the radio at some point. That might reflect their sensibilities, or it just may be a concession to the show's audience. It would be nice to see a show that features the music that meant a lot to people during that period that was never radio fare.

"Kids like those in the show, some of whom I hung around with, were listening to Iron Maiden and hair metal and Van Halen and holdover 70s rock that their big siblings liked (for example, my friends and I were all obsessed with The Who and Led Zeppelin up til age 13 or 14)."

Yeah, that was me and my friends. But in my small-town high school, that made us outre. Seriously. That was what passed for rebellion. Almost everyone else listened to country or top-40 radio.

Incidentally, I spent much of '83 as a country radio DJ. Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton's hit, "Islands In the Stream", was a period-correct choice, although if you were one of my listeners you wouldn't know it I because I wouldn't play either of them. (Don't tell the Program Director.)

Hopper's Croce song seems right for him and that time for him. It's from ten years earlier. I have a soft spot in my heart for him and those early 70s singer-songwriters because that's what my parents listened to. I guess Joyce and Hopper are pretty much exactly my parents' age.

Yeah, I was listening to Synchronicity then. Good call. Recalling that album fills me with annoyance and I'm not sure why. I was dissatisfied with it, I guess. But I had it and listened to it.

"While it's typed inhumanly fast and precisely, I like that what he's doing makes sense: writing a little program to brute-force the password."

I noticed that was BASIC, though I couldn't read it. Is there a reason for all the nested loops? After he did that, he got a menu system, IIRC. The dialogue made it sound like the command had to entered in BASIC or something. Apparently the props person put more thought into it.

DoE labs would be using either Ada or Fortran. Fortran was the main scientific computing language at the time. Pascal was the main pedagogical language but was often used in production stuff. But DoE would likely require Ada, while Fortran was ubiquitous in science. I was a freshman physics major that fall and my advisor recommended Fortran for computing and German for language as it was expected I'd need to be proficient in both. Both ideas seem very weird and archaic to me today. Also, probably that very month I pulled a laser out of the physics lab and aimed it into the windows of dorm rooms, thinking that was hilarious. Jesus. (I also recall lying in bed one morning in my dorm room while Bush gave a very loud campaign speech outside. And advising my dormmate's friend who wanted to vote Mondale but didn't want his friends to know, because they'd get mad.)

Basically what I'm saying is that I can pretty much tell you what I was doing in any given week of 1984, I guess. Huh. A lot happened that year.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 5:24 PM on October 29 [4 favorites]


Nthing FORTRAN as the language that would have been used, as my dad was a Grumman engineer working on aircraft trainers and that's the language he used.

I was 8/9 in 1984 and listening to Judas Priest (Defenders Of The Faith), Ratt (Out Of The Cellar) and Deniece Williams (Let's Hear It For The Boy 7" Single). I was also programming in BASIC on my C64.

My best friend's older brother was really into Kiss.
posted by grumpybear69 at 5:49 PM on October 29 [3 favorites]


Is there a reason for all the nested loops?
I never really programmed in BASIC, but it looks to me like each loop generates every possible integer value for a single digit in a 4-digit password. I'd imagine there are better ways, but given the pressure I don't think we can begrudge Bob some sloppy style.

The dialogue didn't explain it well, but if the idea was that BASIC was only needed for breaking the password, it doesn't matter what language the Hawkins operating programs were written in as long as BASIC was available on the computer. It'd be akin to using a bash script to gain privileged access to a system that you had a basic login to.

In any case, props to the props person for putting something reasonable on the screen.
posted by Cogito at 5:52 PM on October 29 [11 favorites]


Did the turtle make it???!!!
posted by LizBoBiz at 5:52 PM on October 29 [24 favorites]


I really enjoyed the 'boys and girls are comrades against evil, and really, they are comrades and go deep' thing that was happening in season 1. That really reflected my pre teen years and our friend group.

Which turned into pairing off in season 2. But at least Nancy ended up dancing at the end, I felt that, and really chaperoning the snow ball in general, showed how mourning Barb first turned her into a fighter, then a leader, then a conspirator, finally a caretaker. That she comes to Dustin's aid, and they have fun, was such a good scene for the character.
posted by eustatic at 5:59 PM on October 29 [16 favorites]


Did the turtle make it???!!!
posted by LizBoBiz at 5:52 PM on October 29 [1 favorite −] Favorite added! [!]


https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/African_spurred_tortoise#As_pets
posted by eustatic at 6:02 PM on October 29


almost no one I went to school with was listening to the actually good and interesting music. There were the country people, the pop radio people, and the metal people. There were literally no punks in my school

It makes sense that a lot of it is geographical. On the East Coast, there were zero country people in my school. I do wish the show's choices were less built on lists of Top 40 airplay stuff and more built on recollections. But you're so right, Hopper being into Jim Croce is perfect. I recall being just a little older than that and noticing that guys about 10 years older than me had these singer-songwriter fetishes: one for Harry Chapin, one for Dan Fogelberg.
posted by Miko at 6:09 PM on October 29 [3 favorites]


I’ll bet Reiser had it in his contract: “Okay, you can use the Burke thingy at first, but in the end, I get to be a semi-sympathetic good guy.” Because I can’t imagine how hard it would be to go thru life with everyone thinking of you as Burke.
posted by valkane at 7:16 PM on October 29 [3 favorites]


So before a Captain Kirk mask gets the Mike Meyers treatment, it looks a lot like Jonathan Byers.
posted by elsietheeel at 8:18 PM on October 29 [2 favorites]


"That she comes to Dustin's aid, and they have fun, was such a good scene for the character."

Very much so. Ordinarily that would strike me as sentimental and quite unrealistic, but given all they'd gone through, and Dustin's undeniable charm (for older people, probably not girls his age), it made perfect sense to me. I really want to see some good character growth and interest in Nancy next season. Not the least because I tend to identify with the teen girl characters. (I never see myself represented in these things. Max feels way closer to me than anyone else.) Nancy was friends with Barb -- I think that says a lot of good things about her the show hasn't really explored.

About computers: how come none of the boys is a computer nerd? One of them surely would have had a Commodore 64. Or did I forget something from season one?

"But you're so right, Hopper being into Jim Croce is perfect. I recall being just a little older than that and noticing that guys about 10 years older than me had these singer-songwriter fetishes: one for Harry Chapin, one for Dan Fogelberg."

Yeah, I still listen to S&G and Don McLean. And I know Croce's and Chapin's albums by heart. But that's from my influence with someone like Hopper as my dad. I can't judge that music on its merits; it's too memory and emotion-laden. There was a period from, say, 8 to 11 that I constantly listened to music with my parents. Then we went our separate ways. My dad was a "music is important" person, while my mom is a "music is nice in the background" person.

Somebody mentioned Risky Business in a previous comment. It was an 83 movie, but I saw it in the theater in Dallas in early 84. His preppy button-down shirts and sweaters was a look I immediately emulated. You know, because I really was very confused through much of the 80s. I really became confused about who I was. I went from knowing exactly who I was in high school (I was messed up, but I knew who I was) to just being adrift later.

That's all why I have a complicated relationship with this show. The first season didn't thrill me as much as so many other people because it so clearly portrayed an 80s experience of nerds that's become iconic and part of people's identities now. Everything and everyone fits in the expected pigeonholes. That's why I like Max -- she seems to be a few different kinds of people at once, kinds that are usually treated as mutually exclusive.

So for a combination of reasons, I enjoyed this season much more, although it was uneven.

Is it just me, or do other people think they're wasting some potential in making Joyce such a one-note character? I think the acting is fine and I think I understand the theme, but still.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 8:38 PM on October 29 [1 favorite]


About computers: how come none of the boys is a computer nerd? One of them surely would have had a Commodore 64. Or did I forget something from season one?

It doesn't seem too far fetched. Computers would've been comparatively far more expensive and also more niche. Computer gaming in the home, after the 70s console bust, didn't take off in the states until the release of the NES (next year in the show timeline). That would mean that the kids would need a parent to buy one, and Will's family is poor, while the other boys' parents don't strike me as nerdy enough (although we don't know much about Lucas' folks). With an arcade in biking distance to their homes, I don't know that there would be the game-centered drive to owning a desktop. I'm sort of curious if the Nintendo factors into next season, though.
posted by codacorolla at 8:57 PM on October 29 [1 favorite]


The thing about Steve's "act like you don't care" advice is that, yes, it's bad advice that's also completely in line with the time period, but it's followed up immediately by Steve's final look at Nancy, because yes he still deeply cares and this hurts (and I think it's a little silly to say that a high school couple together for a year who went through all they went through would just be "over it" a month later.) but also we see that as Dustin gets repeatedly rejected and thrown off his Farrah Fawcett new-look high, he can't even fake not caring like Steve does.

I wish we'd gotten anything showing that El (not used to calling her Jane yet, and still not clear if she prefers one to the other outside of specific contexts) came to understand that Max isn't a threat to her, but I hope that's there somewhere and I just missed it.

And Nancy's advice to Dustin (give the girls a few years and grow into yourself, essentially) was way better, and I'm glad he got it. #TeamNancy4Lyfe
posted by Navelgazer at 9:39 PM on October 29 [13 favorites]


Dustin taking hair advice from Steve was one of my favorite things this season. (He should have suggested AquaNet, though.)

I actually felt like Steve was out of line here. I mean, he has nice hair. But Dustin, even while he was walking the railroad track with a bucket of beef, you knew his hair was bound for greatness. Who was Steve to give him pointers?

But yes, AquaNet! So much Aquanet in the 80s!
posted by great_radio at 10:50 PM on October 29 [1 favorite]


Bob or the AV club should at some point have been shown with a TRS-80. The model 3 was the computer I associated at that time with school, Radio Shack, and better-off friends in the days before the Macintosh took over. The Trash-80 at that time was a common choice for smaller school districts without enough money for Macs. Bonus points if there'd been a cassette player attached to it for loading programs.

I'm one year older than the kids as shown, and while the music choices were quite good, even in small town Florida I was desperately into New Wave, Duran Duran, and others of that ilk. We were too small a town for me to discover the deeper new wave and British imports until I got further into high school, but there was an awful lot of popular new wave I didn't really hear represented in the show. Bit of a shame, for that would have done wonders to nail the mood and times even more. Hearing something from Seven and the Ragged Tiger would have made me squee in a manner entirely inappropriate for a middle aged man. Some Thompson Twins, for example, would have fit right in. Into the Gap came out that year, and was everywhere.

Oh well, minor quibbles. Just hearing the Icicle Works was pretty damn cool, never mind all the other fun ones.
posted by los pantalones del muerte at 11:43 PM on October 29 [10 favorites]


I binge-watched this on a verrry long flight to India, after offlining it as I went to bed the night before the flight. Wasn't really sure if it would be available on Netflix in India, after all... But then as we drove out of the Bangalore airport, we were immediately confronted with a FREAKING HUGE billboard for Stranger Things 2.

Overall, I though the first season was much better, but I think this was largely for structural reasons. The first season had a lot of the element of surprise which was impossible to capture on a second outing. Eleven flipping the van in S1 was just a mind-blowing moment; it's hard to recreate that kind of surprise once we know the characters this well. So the 'move the train' scene just didn't have the same heft. Likewise, the library scene ("I need my paddles for my curiosity journey!') was great, but felt like a bit of a retread of the 'why are you keeping this curiosity door closed?' line from S1.

My favorite surprise from S1, though, was the way the disparate stories of the many characters inhabiting whole different genres of 80's films come together in the end to fight the Evil. Indeed, this season sees everyone fragment off into their pairs for a long time, before ultimately coming together for the big final fight. The morale of Stranger Things is that you can't beat the big Evil until you're all working together! And, again, it can't be quite as surprising the second time around...

My favorite part of this season was the montage/flashback story of Eleven and Hopper coming together. And my least favorite was the Warriors episode, which mostly felt like someone trying to rewrite Stranger Things as a dumb supernatural show on Showtime or something. (Though I did like having an injection of punk styles in the show, both in that episode and the journalist's flat.)

Also loved Max replaying the internet critiques of Season 1, and the episode with the journalist, which was so beautifully gonzo-screwball. I liked the fact that they dealt with the characters carrying actual trauma after S1; Mike's kinda backsliding in school and being bratty and angry as an expression of that trauma was subtle, but spot-on, and gave sooooo much weight to the scene when eleven finally shows up, and he blows up on Hopper.

So, all in all, a good season, with some points for excellent character development, but very few real surprises, unfortunately.
posted by kaibutsu at 1:44 AM on October 30 [5 favorites]


(Also, I'm pretty sure that Bob dies entirely because Bob-with-trauma just doesn't work as a character... His whole function is as an island of normalcy after the insanity of S1. I do feel pretty sad for Joyce, though, narrative requirements aside.)
posted by kaibutsu at 1:47 AM on October 30 [9 favorites]


Hopper being into Jim Croce made perfect sense to me. And I could see him thinking that You Don't Mess Around with Jim is his own theme song. It was a nice moment of silliness from that character. And I really do enjoy it when the awkward folk try to get down for those are my people.
posted by fluffy battle kitten at 2:06 AM on October 30 [13 favorites]


Also. Fun fact that I just learned that manages to amuse and annoy me: David Harbour (Hopper) is two years younger than me. (He was born in 1975.)
posted by fluffy battle kitten at 2:23 AM on October 30 [2 favorites]


It doesn't seem too far fetched. Computers would've been comparatively far more expensive and also more niche.

Yes, it's a bit early for kids to have their own computers. Just looked at the US Census: 8.4% of US households had a computer in that year. And that's households, not individuals. The vast majority of kids had no access to computers at home. We had a C-64 but it was mainly my dad's. I used it for gaming (Zork, Impossible Mission) but it was not primarily mine, and we were perhaps more likely than others to have a computer because my dad was in a tech field to begin with - it was niche. I knew no kid hackers or programmers (despite popular stereotypes) and really no PC gamers. Only one among my block's worth of friends had a computer in his house then. As I mentioned above, our school had some Macs used for BASIC and LOGO in the library, but learning to use them wasn't required, it was just a club or a unit within Library. So to me, the show's treatment of computers among the kids is pretty close to accurate.

As for Nintendo: far more ubiquitous until the late 80s was the Atari 2600. THat's something some middle-class kids had by the time period of this show. We got one for Christmas in I think 1982 and were one of just a couple households in my friend group that had one.
posted by Miko at 5:55 AM on October 30


Will wanted an Atari for xmas in S1.

My school got a computer lab filled with Apple stuff at the end of my sixth grade year...in 1985.
posted by fluffy battle kitten at 6:04 AM on October 30 [1 favorite]


My school got a computer lab filled with Apple stuff at the end of my sixth grade year...in 1985.

When I graduated in 1988, my school still had the generic word processing computers, I don't even know what they were but they weren't Apple and they weren't whatever else was the name brand PC back then. They were just generic computers that did one thing and one thing only: word processing. We also still had typing classes with actual typewriters, so there you go.

I had an Atari and my dad had a C-64 that I played games on occasionally. None of my friends had computers and I think maybe one or two also had Ataris.

I basically grew up in Hawkins. One middle school, one high school, small town, everyone knew each other. And yes, it was in Indiana.

Looking back at the other comments: That TRS-80 linked above looks very much like my memory of the word processing setups we had at school.
posted by cooker girl at 6:22 AM on October 30 [2 favorites]


Yeah, we had to take typing in sixth grade (on manual and electric typewriters.) We had a math teacher who got a grant to fund the computer situation.

I don't remember any of my friends having a personal computer at home until 1988 or so.
posted by fluffy battle kitten at 6:33 AM on October 30


."..others to have a computer because my dad was in a tech field to begin with - it was niche. I knew no kid hackers or programmers..."

Good point. It's hard for me to know what would be normal because my dad was a (mainframe) programmer.

I first encountered a TRS-80 at an acquaintance's house in 1979 when I was a freshman. But the family was an affluent academic family and, besides, it was a curiosity to the kids. But I was notoriously entranced. I didn't sleep that night of the stay-over. The beginning of my junior year in 1981 I took a short class for high-school students at the university for computing and programming that used a mini-computer. It was in the computing facility, so my dad gave me one of his keys so I could be there in after-hours because, again, I went into some kind of fugue state. But my high school didn't get any computers until my senior year, and it was three TRS-80 Model III's. The science teacher made arrangements for me to use it after school until I went home to dinner (in a mildly desperate but very knowing and kind attempt to engage a troubled underachiever).

All of which is to say, for my time and place, I was singular and the only computer nerd. I didn't even know it was a thing. In the fall of 1982, I saved and bought a VIC-20 (64 was too expensive).

But with that experience on the one hand, on the other there's how shortly after this there were all these computer nerds -- they're depicted frequently in pop-culture, in that era -- with Sinclairs and Commodore-64s, Apples and Amigas.

So it's not clear to me when this became a thing, but I sort of thought it was by 1984. I mean, I met my first genuine phone phreaker and hacker who'd been prosecuted and couldn't use computers in early 1986. Things changed awfully quickly. I'm used to people any younger than me having been immersed in microcomputers in a way I (well, okay, my peers) were not.

BTW, the son in The Americans in 1984 has a TRS-80.

A lot of the Chicago episode didn't feel right to me, too (though that was partly about the bloodthirsty-ness, which the episode pointedly had Jane repudiate) but in retrospect I like what it tells us and how it widens the stage. And the people were different. You can take only so much corn-fed small-town sentimentality -- and I grew up in that environment. Maybe that's the problem -- for most people it's an escapist trope from 80s movies, but for me it's both that and real-life. And for me as it was then, it's a bit stifling.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 7:20 AM on October 30 [1 favorite]


I'still on episode 7, but a thought occurred to me:

Love the characters and the chemistry of the cast, not crazy about the plot this season. Put having a season 3 seems a bit of stretch, especially if it's super natural related. So I'd like to see a short series of the characters titled "Natural things" where it's just them as kids hanging out, living there lives. Maybe a two hour movie? 4 episode series? But the cast is too good together to just drop or keep forcing into super-natural situations all the time.

Leaving thread, but i'll be back!
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:46 AM on October 30


"Act like you don't care" isn't bad advice at all. That's essentially the same advice Nancy gave Dustin - just phrased differently. Being obsessed with the opinions / admiration of others is an unattractive trait. Particularly: telegraphing that you are emotionally needy or otherwise possessing of "baggage" that someone else will have to deal with. I mean, of course, everyone's got that, right? But in the world of partially-developed teens (and also many adults!) that is scary stuff and makes most people run for the hills. So evincing a carefree air of unflappability definitely gives you a leg up.
posted by grumpybear69 at 8:41 AM on October 30 [1 favorite]


Also Dustin is 100% in love with Nancy now.
posted by grumpybear69 at 8:41 AM on October 30 [7 favorites]


I liked the Evil Dead visual quotes when Jonathan's old school Detroit horse pulled up the cabin, both the grill of his car coasting right into a closeup before stopping and the initial shot of the cabin.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 9:10 AM on October 30 [3 favorites]


..Having a season 3 seems a bit of stretch...

Season 3 was already confirmed before the start of this season.
posted by Pendragon at 9:54 AM on October 30 [1 favorite]


Also Dustin is 100% in love with Nancy now.

Check out the first cold open in Season 1, Episode 1. He didn't have far to go in that regard.
posted by Navelgazer at 10:45 AM on October 30 [7 favorites]


I believe that they've said 4 seasons is the goal. I'm not sure I'm feeling that. Mainly because the show outside of Hawkins isn't that interesting, but the nature of having escalating threats seems to necessitate it goes outside of Hawkins.
posted by codacorolla at 10:58 AM on October 30 [2 favorites]


"He didn't have far to go in that regard."

I didn't specifically remember that from last season, but as that scene progressed, I was pretty sure they were working off of a crush they'd already depicted.

But I love grumpybear's comment because it's so true -- that act of kindness, in that venue, with her saying what she said . . . he's at risk of getting himself badly hung-up on her.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 11:00 AM on October 30 [3 favorites]


Also, somehow merely this discussion put Croce's Operator in my head as an earworm and I'm a little annoyed.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 11:03 AM on October 30 [2 favorites]


I really want to see some good character growth and interest in Nancy next season. Not the least because I tend to identify with the teen girl characters. (I never see myself represented in these things. Max feels way closer to me than anyone else.

Yeah I"m interested to see more of Max. The way she's treated is pretty accurate. I was verrry nerdy and into video games, sci-fi, fantasy, etc. but nerdy guys wouldn't have anything to do with me because girls aren't cool. The only girls who were allowed into those circles were girlfriends.

I wonder if the Duffers explored that when talking about the character or if it just was a natural assumption (i.e., "girls who are great at video games are awesome" vs "girls were treated weirdly by nerds, let's explore that"). The show is very male - even the music has been primarily male artists.
posted by Stonkle at 11:05 AM on October 30 [11 favorites]


OK so I have a question-in S1 there's a scene where Joyce leaves and Hopper talks alone with the scientists offscreen. Since we know he lost a child, there was a lot of conjecture that a deal was made during that scene and what it might be and what Hopper might be willing to do to get his child back.

There was no hint of that this season so...was that all just misleading the audience or is this a longer arc? Or was I not paying attention in my binge?

Despite the menace of the shadow monster at the end, this season to me seemed to shift from having supernatural threats to having human ones. We see El/Jane's powers when she's not focused. She could have easily hurt Hopper even if it was accidentally. Kali and company are clearly a group who, while their motives are understandable, are most likely on the way to becoming full on villains. Then there is the full on abusive dad and his racist bully of a son (who may also get involved with Mike's mom ewwwwwwwwwww). I'm wondering if s3 will move even farther away from the paranormal.

It would also be nice if just once Joyce could keep her house from becoming some sort of crazy art project.
posted by miss-lapin at 3:32 PM on October 30 [3 favorites]


It would also be nice if just once Joyce could keep her house from becoming some sort of crazy art project.

It seems to me that Joyce turning the Byers home into an outsider art installation is at least half the appeal of this show.
posted by Navelgazer at 5:02 PM on October 30 [24 favorites]


OK so I have a question-in S1 there's a scene where Joyce leaves and Hopper talks alone with the scientists offscreen. Since we know he lost a child, there was a lot of conjecture that a deal was made during that scene and what it might be and what Hopper might be willing to do to get his child back.

I'm relatively sure that the deal was mentioned this season when Hopper is talking to Paul Reiser's character after an early session with Will - Hopper covers everything up, coordinates everyone in lying about what happened, and in exchange nobody gets black-sited or disappeared.
posted by codacorolla at 5:25 PM on October 30 [6 favorites]


Steve's advice telling Dustin to act like he doesn't care...that was spot on for the advice being handed down at the time.

it's not even always bad advice is the thing! but Dustin doesn't take it. he doesn't act like he doesn't care about Max, he acts like a bully who hates her, or he ignores her, alternately.

and the Nancy thing was sweet right up until she told him girls his age are "dumb" because they say No to him. and the idea that Stacey and her ilk would feel a sudden cold shiver of Oh no perhaps I made a mistake, over daring to reject a boy they don't like who interrupted them, just because they saw him dancing with a chaperone, is just

it's great for him and all, but dancing with the chaperone is not a cool look. a scant step above dancing with a teacher, I guess. dustin is the type of kid who would think it was, which is why it was nice of Nancy, but nobody else would.
posted by queenofbithynia at 1:34 AM on October 31 [4 favorites]


("it's not even always bad advice is the thing!" -- I mean it's actually great advice, Nancy always treated Steve like she didn't care about him, because she in fact didn't. and it got him sick in love with her, and even apologizing for being a bad boyfriend (???) instead of ever getting an apology from her for how she treated him. works great. it just isn't very nice.)
posted by queenofbithynia at 1:39 AM on October 31 [2 favorites]


She's not *just* a chaperone. She's in HIGH SCHOOL.

The girls even SAY that when they're watching them dance!
posted by cooker girl at 7:35 AM on October 31 [12 favorites]


Good season. The cast and their chemistry is great, as always, but the story and plot felt slow and oddly paced. Wasn't crazy about keeping Jane away from the others for so long, it felt extremely padded out, could have done without the episode focusing on her 11 and the other girl.

The biggest complaint is that there was a lot of idiocy this season, particularly with Dustin. And it looks like that's going to continue, what with keeping a "dead" devildog in the fridge, for science.

Steve is alright. If Lucas's sister doesn't get more screen time, I'm rioting.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:04 AM on October 31 [1 favorite]


Next season I want a lot more Max. GIVE ME ALL THE MADMAX!!!!
posted by Pendragon at 8:08 AM on October 31 [4 favorites]


Soo... how did they not have the very end (or post-credits kicker) be the very obvious thing... that Dustin inhaled the spores or whatever in the tunnel, and said he was "ok."

But he ain't really ok.

DUN DUN DUNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNN
posted by bitterkitten at 12:03 PM on October 31 [2 favorites]


Dacre Montgomery who plays Billy is a very handsome young man, but fuck, that character was a complete waste of everyone's time. Also, I guess that was a stab at at Alex Winters's hair in The Lost Boys, but waaaay off the mark in terms of volume and curls.
posted by Squeak Attack at 1:59 PM on October 31 [4 favorites]


Yeah, I feel like Billy was meant to be the human antagonist this season (similar to Papa in S1), but the stakes were never that high for him. He's mainly just an inconvenient dick in terms of bossing Max around and vaguely menacing the boys, and when he really gets involved with the protagonist's story (beating the snot out of Steve), he doesn't really have that much of an effect.
posted by codacorolla at 2:39 PM on October 31


I have now finished the finale.

All of the romantic plotlines and asides except for Bob (RIP) were the absolute worst, but perhaps due to this being a finale and mainstream media liking to shove romance into its endings, it was just particularly egregious here. I am here writing an internet comment in order to exorcise the vast amount of cringe that I am feeling. Out! Out with thee!

(Also, @ everyone who insisted last season that the show wasn't trying to make Mike/El a thing: THERE IS NO MERCY. THERE IS NO RESPITE. THERE IS NO GOD IN THIS BLIGHTED WORLD. [/CASSANDRA])
posted by inconstant at 4:47 PM on October 31 [2 favorites]


Yeah, I feel like Billy was meant to be the human antagonist this season

The Duffer Brothers specifically say in episode one of Beyond Stranger Things that this is what they intended for Billy.
posted by cooker girl at 5:58 PM on October 31 [1 favorite]


Well, in that case they should've given him more to do than drive around, yell at Max, and put cologne on his balls.
posted by Squeak Attack at 6:29 PM on October 31 [24 favorites]


Since we know he lost a child, there was a lot of conjecture that a deal was made during that scene and what it might be and what Hopper might be willing to do to get his child back.

There was no hint of that this season so...was that all just misleading the audience or is this a longer arc?


There is the implication that he made a deal to keep everyone safe - "I keep things nice and quiet for you, and you keep your bullshit OUT OF MY TOWN".
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 7:27 PM on October 31


So, Max's D&D character next season is totally a rogue, isn't it?

Pfeh. Not even. She's totally a Zoomer.
posted by happyroach at 8:56 PM on October 31 [10 favorites]


and the Nancy thing was sweet right up until she told him girls his age are "dumb" because they say No to him. and the idea that Stacey and her ilk would feel a sudden cold shiver of Oh no perhaps I made a mistake, over daring to reject a boy they don't like who interrupted them, just because they saw him dancing with a chaperone, is just

it's great for him and all, but dancing with the chaperone is not a cool look. a scant step above dancing with a teacher, I guess. dustin is the type of kid who would think it was, which is why it was nice of Nancy, but nobody else would.


He's not dancing with a chaperone, he's dancing with Nancy, who's a HS Junior who up until very recently was dating Steve Harrington, king of the school. I realize that's a gross dynamic to a 2017 sensibility but in 1984 that shit was just how things worked. That he is dancing with her is a fucking coup to the likes of whatever-the-girl-was-who-refused-to-dance.

And Nancy wasn't saying that girls his age are dumb for saying no to him (at least, not that specific thing). I took her meaning to be more that girls that age are still figuring the world out (as are the boys, of course, though telling him that wouldn't help the situation at that particular moment) and in a couple years things will be better. The kid was just crying on the reject pile bleachers 10 seconds prior. A little white lie to soothe his injured pride isn't exactly a cardinal sin.
posted by axiom at 9:23 PM on October 31 [30 favorites]


My husband and I were trying to figure out why they chose to end with "Every Breath You Take," showing all the people with their happy endings. I get that a lot of people don't necessarily get the stalker-message of the song, but surely the Duffers were making a statement there. Then it clicked for me. It was a long-distance dedication from the Shadow Monster.
posted by MsVader at 9:32 PM on October 31 [39 favorites]


Twist of Fate and Every Breath You Take both seemed interesting choices for the snowball scene(s.) Seemed potentially more foreshadowing than other musical selections.
posted by fluffy battle kitten at 3:44 AM on November 1 [2 favorites]


I highly recommend all the Beyond Stranger Things YouTube videos, in which cast and production people roundtable the episodes. Great insights and funny stuff.
posted by I_Love_Bananas at 6:03 AM on November 1 [4 favorites]


In fact during one of those discussions, the Duffers reveal that pretty much the entire S2 music budget was blown on the Snow Ball episode.
posted by I_Love_Bananas at 6:04 AM on November 1 [5 favorites]


We were commenting how odd it seemed that these kids, who had faced harrowing danger and come out of it more or less triumphant (due in no small part to their own ingenuity and bravery), were still stricken to the bone by the fear of middle school rejection. But it's totally realistic IMO. It speaks to how hard it is during those years to truly find confidence. Even defeating the monster and saving everyone was not enough to stop Dustin from crying on the bleachers (OMG that scene absolutely crushed me!!).
posted by I_Love_Bananas at 6:09 AM on November 1 [6 favorites]


Beyond Stranger Things is also on Netflix.
posted by cooker girl at 6:24 AM on November 1 [5 favorites]


All of the romantic plotlines and asides except for Bob (RIP) were the absolute worst, but perhaps due to this being a finale and mainstream media liking to shove romance into its endings, it was just particularly egregious here.

Or, you know, the characters are kids in middle school struggling with the looming Shadow Monster that is puberty.
posted by Barack Spinoza at 8:08 AM on November 1 [8 favorites]


The characters are fictional characters being written by grown-ass human beings who have chosen to present certain actions as amusing, appropriate, or romantic; e.g., having an adult stranger comment on the sex lives of a couple of teenagers and egg them into having sex.
posted by inconstant at 8:25 AM on November 1 [1 favorite]


👌🏼
posted by Barack Spinoza at 8:39 AM on November 1


The characters are fictional characters being written by grown-ass human beings who have chosen to present certain actions as amusing, appropriate, or romantic; e.g., having an adult stranger comment on the sex lives of a couple of teenagers and egg them into having sex.

honestly, that struck me as one of the better scenes, because it was true for the characters and hell, some teenagers do have sex lives. I particularly applauded Nancy having one with the show or its characters giving her zero shit about it.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 9:05 AM on November 1 [4 favorites]


I felt like the 2nd season really expanded on it's pool of references. Obviously John Hughes teen films were a big inspiration.
posted by P.o.B. at 10:36 AM on November 1


....yes, I was clearly objecting to teenagers having sex, rather than the adult involvement.
posted by inconstant at 11:21 AM on November 1 [2 favorites]


. I particularly applauded Nancy having one with the show or its characters giving her zero shit about it.

But the showrunners totally missed the chance for Jonathan to be so perfectly happy that he turns into the Shadow Monster. What WERE they thinking?
posted by happyroach at 12:30 PM on November 1 [5 favorites]


I had more of a problem with the fact that the adult egging them on to get down and dirty didn't make sure they had protection.
posted by LizBoBiz at 12:40 PM on November 1 [5 favorites]


Yeah, the only problem w/ that sex scene was Brett being all weird and creepy and pushy about it, though it was probably pretty realistic.
posted by grumpybear69 at 12:43 PM on November 1 [2 favorites]


Nobody really promoted condom use in Central Indiana in 1984. I remember seeing a weirdo sex ed film in health class from the 70s that had a talking condom in it...but that was primarily a scare tactic. I remember my mom telling my brother to do so but that was very hush hush and kept as at home discussion. I don't remember condoms being a thing until after Ryan White and even though that story hit huge locally it was more a horror shitshow for a few years and all about fear fear fear. I don't remember anyone being particularly proactive with condom use in high school in the late 80s. (I was not having sex, though.) I was mouthy about safe sex but you know teenagers don't listen to anyone let alone the none-sex-haver. I remember safe sex ideas hitting central indiana hard AFTER Ryan White died (1990.)
posted by fluffy battle kitten at 12:55 PM on November 1 [3 favorites]


so I just finished the whole thing last night. I loved it. All the feels. I even liked the Chicago episode, I think it's a good set up for next season and at the same time giving Eleven more depth. Every period-appropriate character choice was great, it felt like you were really back in the 80's.

I would have loved for Bob to live, he wasn't some sad nerd, he was a goddamn hero nerd and he knew it. Sean Astin portrayed a guy grateful for the opportunity to date his crush, but also actually being there for her and being helpful instead of objectifying their relationship. Also, he's lived through the trauma of being bullied and I think he was handling this new craziness pretty well. But yeah Hopper is getting written to end up with Joyce. But I'm fine with that too, I like them a lot.

I'm really looking forward to Max getting more badass in the next season!
posted by numaner at 2:07 PM on November 1 [6 favorites]


Nancy goes hard. Nobody else in that room would have had the steel to use a red hot poker on Will. Between that and claiming the riflle - she gets it done.
posted by vibratory manner of working at 2:29 PM on November 1 [32 favorites]


The Brett scenes were super gross. These two teenagers show up at his door, far from home, clearly sneaking away for the night to bring them this scoop. He takes them in and they do all the cool journalism stuff which is great, but then he gets them drunk and goads them into having sex with each other. WTF is that?

Even if these two kids (who Brett just met and sized up) were willing and ready* to have sex with each other for the first time — and in his house while drunk — couldn't he at least be 1000 times less crass about it? Were I Nancy, I would have been nope nope nope, not sleeping at this creepy old dude's house, we're getting a hotel. At least that would have played out a bit less awkwardly.

Honestly though, couldn't that have been written better? How about a moment of subtlety, say, Brett makes a playful joke while they're all drinking and that's that. Offers them the two beds and maybe Jonathan a word of advice. Then they can have their sleep cute on the way to the bathroom or somesuch. Anything other than what actually happened, ewww.

*I can only speak for myself as a once-teenage-girl, but there are a zillion conditions for 'ready to have sex' at that age … everything from acne to periods to feeling fat to paranoia about who could wake up in rooms nearby to how will I shower to protection to still getting over someone to not being sure to not knowing what I'm doing to lube to needing to relax to holy crap I really like this guy and I don't want to fuck it up to all the other reasons I've blocked out of my memory since then.
posted by iamkimiam at 2:43 PM on November 1 [5 favorites]


I know there was a lot of dislike of Mike in this season, but the scene when Hopper pulls him out of the room really worked and made Mike more whole to me. His best friend who he lost last season has been taken over by the upside down in this season. The girl he loves has disappeared and then he finds out she was around the whole time but kept away by Hopper (even if the rationale was logical). He has the most dysfunctional parents of the four. He has no real adult support. The whole scene just clicked and almost requires Mike's mopiness the whole season to bring it home.
posted by kokaku at 3:53 PM on November 1 [18 favorites]


Demodog in freezer theory: one of the other experimental kids will have (akin to 11's telekinesis and 8's illusions) time shifting powers. A la the Terminator series, the demodog remains will paradoxically become the basis for the scientific experiments that create the whole durn problem to begin with.

(I hope this theory is wrong.)
posted by HeroZero at 5:42 PM on November 1 [3 favorites]


Nancy goes hard. Nobody else in that room would have had the steel to use a red hot poker on Will. Between that and claiming the riflle - she gets it done.

There was also a thing during that where Jonathan turns and grabs Nancy; he's crying, can't watch Will suffer. In SO SO SO SO many other shows that would've been the other way around.
posted by curious nu at 5:55 PM on November 1 [41 favorites]


I noticed that too! It was good.
posted by vibratory manner of working at 7:03 PM on November 1 [1 favorite]


Having now zipped through "Beyond Stranger Things" (thanks for the heads-up, cooker girl), I think they very intentionally had Brett pushing Johnathan and Nancy together because it's creepy and inappropriate - Brett is such a damaged person that his self-image and sense of self-worth totally relies on him being the Blunt Truth-Teller, because that's all he's got left. So he (in his own mind) HAS to openly tell these two kids that they very obviously have the hots for each other in spite of their denials, because Revealing Hidden Truths is his entire reason for living. While his willingness to blow past boundaries helps our heroes in the end, the creative team wanted to show that it's not always a good thing; hence Brett blowing past all kinds of age-and-gender-appropriate boundaries with Johnathan and Nancy.
posted by soundguy99 at 8:02 PM on November 1 [16 favorites]


RE: music -

Nobody's mentioned the really big omission - Born In The U.S.A. was released in June of '84. Songs from that album dominated the airwaves for the rest of the year. Probably more ubiquitous than Thriller, which was almost two years old by the time the show is set in.
posted by soundguy99 at 8:26 PM on November 1


And I mean, you could make a strong case that Billy wouldn't have been listening to metal - he would've been listening to older Springsteen and complaining that Bruce wimped out with all those pretty-boy synthesizers all over Born.
posted by soundguy99 at 8:28 PM on November 1


RE: music -

Nobody's mentioned the really big omission -


You mean the complete lack of R&B from the 80s, to cater to particular audience?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:52 PM on November 1 [13 favorites]


Point.

Also, shit, Purple Rain was '84, too.
posted by soundguy99 at 9:17 PM on November 1 [3 favorites]


So, Steve is still basically the only person except El to go toe-to-toe with a Demothinger and fend it off (you can squint and count Hopper with the conventional firearms at the end, but I think the only reason that worked at all given every other firearm failure in the show is that the monsters were trying to climb walls and navigate a hanging cage at the time).

This brings up the question in my mind: why doesn't the lab armory have some bats with nails? Or the expensive military grade equivalent? Apparently either nobody debriefed Jonathan, Nancy, and Steve after S1 (seems unlikely), or the lab+natsec folks running the show were arrogant and didn't think they had much to learn from the only encounter where somebody had fought the Demogorgon to a draw (plausible).

OK, well, that mistake is understandable I guess. But they all know flamethrowers are some of the most effective stuff against the xenobiology they're dealing with. Why in hell are they still carrying guns instead of fancy capital-FIRE firearms?

(Also: anybody else think it's funny that despite Steve's combat skills vs Demothingers he has actually lost both fights with humans we've seen him get into?)
posted by wildblueyonder at 9:56 PM on November 1 [9 favorites]


I was super sceptical about a second series with the same characters but damn, Duffers, you sure showed me. I felt like they took the brakes off the homages - Gremlins, ET, Goonies, The Empire Strikes Back, Aliens - and loved it all. Pure 'yeah, we know what you want, hopelessly nostalgic gen-x-er's, and here it is, and here's some more, and there's more where that more came from.' Just shameless, and glorious.
posted by obiwanwasabi at 10:13 PM on November 1 [9 favorites]


> I think they very intentionally had Brett pushing Johnathan and Nancy together because it's creepy and inappropriate - Brett is such a damaged person that his self-image and sense of self-worth totally relies on him being the Blunt Truth-Teller, because that's all he's got left.

I missed that insightful possibility and I think you're right about that. But even so, doesn't it totally make Jonathan and Nancy's first time together super duper icky? I feel like Brettdude kinda tainted it for them. Glad they got together though, been shipping them since S1.
posted by iamkimiam at 1:11 PM on November 2


Season 1: D&D
Season 2: Arcade
Season 3: ???

Any guesses? Console? Still use a gaming structure?
posted by P.o.B. at 2:18 PM on November 2 [1 favorite]


My money is on on Tron or console.
posted by iamkimiam at 2:26 PM on November 2


I'm going apple IIc, TRS 80, or amiga.
posted by fluffy battle kitten at 2:34 PM on November 2 [3 favorites]


#justice4mews
posted by The River Ivel at 5:28 PM on November 2 [17 favorites]


But even so, doesn't it totally make Jonathan and Nancy's first time together super duper icky? I feel like Brettdude kinda tainted it for them.

For us as viewers, maybe. In context of the show? Eh. Two horny 16-yr-olds who've had a Thing for years and they're in the middle of an adventure and part of that adventure is everyone else is lying to them or hiding things from them which as it turns out makes Brett 100% correct even if he got some of the details wrong and besides he's the adult who's actually taking them seriously . . . . . . I don't think any potential ickiness would even register.


I wanna say "console" because that seems like the natural progression, only the sort of "touchstone" console, the Atari 2600, had already been out for years by the time of the show. So I think fluffy battle kitten is on to something, season 3 is gonna be early personal computer.
posted by soundguy99 at 5:31 PM on November 2 [2 favorites]


I would be more inclined on the atari/console angle if Will didn't think he was getting an atari for xmas in S1 but he did. Plus, you know Dustin would have had an Intellivision.
posted by fluffy battle kitten at 5:34 PM on November 2 [4 favorites]


More than anything this show is a delivery mechanism for Gen-X nostalgia. It will be the NES.
posted by codacorolla at 5:48 PM on November 2 [2 favorites]


Yeah, the NES comes out October 1985. That's what, eleven (heh) months away?
posted by Pope Guilty at 7:22 PM on November 2 [2 favorites]


An enjoyable, but slightly uneven season from my perspective.

The Good
*Hopper and Eleven - just really great to see that relationship develop in a way that didn't feel weird; just two people with tragedy in their pasts trying to find a way to move forward together.
*Babysitter Steve - deserves it's own spinoff; as someone who really disliked Steve for most of S1, he's much better on his own without Nancy. I also think Nancy would be better off on her own, without either Steve or Johnathan.
*Families - seeing the families of the other kids just made the world feel more real
*Paul Reiser's character being notBurke; he may not be completely trustworthy yet, but he's also not an asshole - and when the chips are down, he made the right calls.


The Bad
*Eleven's overall arc just didn't click; it was too much focused on her past and not her future - she traded the lab and Papa for Hopper's cabin, and once she left it, there wasn't really any forward progress for her; she's still primarily a character who is about her powers and past trauma. The boys got to grow and change, but Eleven really didn't. Really hoping that will change.
*Billy - had potential to be something more than just a cruel jerk who gets injected with tranquilizer and then apparently left to sleep it off in the Byers living room.
*008 and gang - There's interesting possibility in exploring what else happened in the experiments in Hawkins lab, but it needs better than this; but it also needs to respect the fact that Eleven now needs to move forward as a person and not be stuck in re-visiting her trauma.
*The lobotomy of Karen Wheeler - Karen was one of the more intriguing support characters in season one for me - not completely involved in what was happening, but sharp enough to be aware something was happening for her kids and able/willing to provide support and cover when things started to hit the fan and the government showed up. She was an ally, at least, without necessarily needing to be critical to the plot. This season, she's been infected with the brain rot of Ted apparently and her only really noteable moment is the creeptacular exchange with Billy.

The Meh
*The unresoldvedeness of Max - she and Lucas bonded, and to a certain extent Dustin, but there was no resolution to Mike's pointless anger about her, nor Eleven's.
*Will - great actor, but sadly his role - much like Eleven's - was too stagnant. Will is again in the clutches of the Upside Down and isn't given time to develop; he's stuck as Zombie Boy and needs rescuing instead of having a chance to be part of the action/resolution.
*The Mind Flayer - it's great that we have a new big bad behind the curtain, but there's not really any dimension to this smoke monster - it wants to kill everything. Whee. I'd like it to have a bit more depth/goals.
posted by nubs at 8:39 AM on November 3 [1 favorite]


Bob Poehler points out that Stranger Things isn't 80s historical but 80s TV historical. Which explains a lot of things, like 08's TV punk crew. It also explains why we aren't going to see any queer or alternative 80s content, any more than Happy Days would show civil rights matches.
posted by happyroach at 10:32 AM on November 3 [8 favorites]


Does a murderous extra dimensional being really need more depth/goals?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 11:18 AM on November 3 [7 favorites]


Does a murderous extra dimensional being really need more depth/goals?

Murderous extra dimensional being wants to murder everyone because it's murderous is kinda boring for me; why does it want to murder everyone? Are we threats? Does it want to conquer our dimension? Is it responding defensively to the incursion that happened when the Gate opened? The fact that Dustin was able to establish some type of relationship with one of the Demodogs indicates some possibilities around communication and that the hive mind is not the total sum of their existence, so yeah - I think there's some room for some depth.
posted by nubs at 11:40 AM on November 3 [3 favorites]


Point noted, but I suspect it's the humans and their developement in the face of horror that's the key interest.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 1:19 PM on November 3 [4 favorites]


Yeah, I think it'll be the sum of the parts of demogorgon/mind flayer/etc., with huge backlit spidery thing and the effects of that in Hawkins and beyond.
posted by fluffy battle kitten at 3:18 PM on November 3


The original FAMICOM was released in 1983, but I bet that the number of the original FAMICOM in the United States during that time is single digits, if not zero.

One of things that bugged me was Dacre Montgomery's Billy Hargrove. He is far too stacked and ripped for the mid '80s. Montgomery has a better figure than Jesse Venture in Predator (1987) and approaches Schwarzenegger's.

Henry Winkler's last season as the Fonz was in 1984 (?) and he was considered physically attractive and physically strong (?) looked like this.

Brett Gellman. Goddamnit that man has an incredible breadth of skeezeball. I really hope to see him in a completely unexpected different character role. I love Gellman's performances each and every time but c'mon man, professional development. Man.

--

>Does a murderous extra dimensional being really need more depth/goals?


We cannot understand the goals and desires of extra-dimensional beings. It's supposed to be entirely alien. By definition it shouldn't and can't make sense to us. A pinnacle of this theme is Roadside Picnic.
posted by porpoise at 6:41 PM on November 3 [3 favorites]


Henry Winkler's last season as the Fonz was in 1984 (?) and he was considered physically attractive

Oh no, he was over the hill at this point. Definitely not a teen heartthrob in the least. I think that was all over for him by the time the 80s dawned.

Point taken though that stacked and ripped was not the male aesthetic for 80s hearthrobs. There was a lot about bangs falling into deep-set, liquid eyes, and a lot about earnest presentable types as romantic heroes (I mean Matt Broderick, John Cusack, Anthony Michael Hall, Andrew McCarthy, Michael J. Fox), but not a lot about the bod. The driving look was romantic, both small r and big R, and it was about emotion and connection, not rock hard abs. Billy's look has more of a sexualized-70s feel, as does Billy's entire presentation.
posted by Miko at 7:21 PM on November 3 [3 favorites]


Finally finished this evening, there were some high points (like Hair Care Tips With Steve or Lucas and his sister) but they also relied on a lot of characters holding the Idiot Ball to generate drama. Plus, Will just got more and more annoying as a character, to the point that I'd rather have had more of anything else. Say, more Billy and his a-historical abs hitting on Mrs Wheeler.

Actually now that I think about Billy, they really missed having him wear a Cobra Kai outfit at some point.
posted by fifteen schnitzengruben is my limit at 1:13 AM on November 5


I didn't see the point of Billy at all. Nancy totally kicks ass. I'm not sure that they really need another 2 seasons though. Hoping the next one doesn't end up focusing on 008 and her gang in Chicago, that was the weakest episode of the series.
posted by Kris10_b at 3:41 AM on November 5 [2 favorites]


There's a tiny sub-sub-genre of fiction - so tiny, in fact, that the only examples I can think of off the top of my head are books by the pre-WWII novelist duo Caryl Brahms and S.J. Simon, in particular Don't, Mr Disraeli. It's a very odd book - enormously light and frothy, but its conceit seems to be that it's set in what we think we know about Victorian England - the action jumps from 1894 to 1860 to 1840 and back to 1900, or at least cliches that are associated with those times. Similarly, No Bed For Bacon (one of my favourite books ever, and I should read it again) is set in what we think we know about late Elizabethan society, though it's a lot more restrained in its temporal antsiness (and has a warning to historians - "This book is fundamentally unsound" - at the front) and at least it has a plot.

I mention this because it seems to me that a similar thing is going on with Stranger Things. It's not even set in memories of the early 80s (which would definitely have some Thriller in), but the Duffer Brothers' idea of what the 80s were like formed from watching movies of the time. My idea of what America was like in 1984 is informed in almost exactly the same way (because I was growing up in the U.K. at that time, so would erroneously expect Relax by Frankie Goes to Hollywood or at least a bit of Nik Kershaw), so it all seems very authentic to me - because it's authentic to the way that I remember it felt like to watch Gremlins or The Goonies or War Games.

The Upside Down is probably even a metaphor for something, but I have no idea what as yet.
posted by Grangousier at 3:57 AM on November 5 [2 favorites]


Brett Gellman. Goddamnit that man has an incredible breadth of skeezeball. I really hope to see him in a completely unexpected different character role. I love Gellman's performances each and every time but c'mon man, professional development.

On the other hand, if they ever make a movie about Dov Charney and American Apparel....
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 5:44 AM on November 5 [2 favorites]


https://www.thedailybeast.com/stranger-things-creators-pressured-child-actress-into-an-unscripted-kiss-2

Men who think it's funny when a fictional adult pressures fictional teenagers into physical intimacy.... also think it's funny to pressure real teenagers into physical intimacy. Huh. Wow. I couldn't have possibly expected that.

:|a
posted by inconstant at 6:09 AM on November 5 [4 favorites]


Meh on that "controversy".

The scene is discussed in literally the first 10 minutes of Beyond Stranger Things, (the show that looks behind the scenes with the cast and creators), where Finn and Millie (who play Mike and 11) brag about how they egged on the Duffers to do that scene. Fin suggested it and then Millie, noticing how it was stressing out Sadie (Max), just kept saying shit to stress Sadie out more.

Then in episode two of Beyond Stranger Things, when there's about 4 minutes left in the show, the Duffers talk about the scene with Sadie (who plays Max) and Caleb (who plays Lucas). The Duffers are kinda dickish when joking with Sadie about the scene, saying they decided to put it in since she was so stressed out about and saying it was her fault they did, but everyone is laughing and joking about it. A little awkward, but nothing approaching illegal or immoral. Hell, all four kids actors who did on screen kisses said it was embarrassing to do them in front of 200 extras and some of their family members.

There's no question that the power dynamics with kid actors are sensitive and the directors and producers should be watched like hawks when dealing with kids. But this particular incident doesn't seem like as big a deal as the article tries to make. Especially since it doesn't discuss the other kid actors putting the idea out there as a prank.

If anything Millie and Finn come off as assholes for messing with Sadie.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:41 AM on November 5 [3 favorites]


Overall I enjoyed this season, but wow is it rough on the kids. So much trauma and so well acted.

I was surprised though that we were supposed to sympathise with Billy because his dad's an aggressive arsehole - Billy is pretty violent and psychopathic himself, and one moment of basketball advice isn't really making up for the way he terrorises Max. Mostly it just made me feel worse for Max, because she's got two misogynistic shits to deal with, not just one.
posted by harriet vane at 7:57 AM on November 5


I might be wrong but I remember reading somewhere that the majority of childhood actors go through therapy when they start and then well into their adult life. It's not an easy job for children and it demands a lot from you emotionally.

I also recall that second episode of Beyond Stranger Things where Caleb admitted it was his first kiss in life and that they had to do that take like 20 times because he couldn't time the kiss pullback right with the cameraman panning around to get his reaction on screen.
posted by numaner at 10:00 AM on November 5


Yeah, camera man Bob kept getting the timing wrong.

Meanwhile Mike and 11's kiss only took two takes. Why? 'Cause the actor who plays Mike managed to do some ventriloquist voodoo and said "i'm coming in" without moving his lips, so the other actor could prepare.

Which is kinda creepy, but also hella professional, so I'm just stop watching behind the scenes shows.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 10:12 AM on November 5


I would like to congratulate Winona Ryder, Shawn Levy, and the internet: Winona's performance this season was much more nuanced and way less Winona-y than season one.
posted by fluffy battle kitten at 10:31 AM on November 6 [1 favorite]


I gotta be honest: I'm 44 and I kinda wish men would give me a sign on the kiss thing.
posted by fluffy battle kitten at 10:33 AM on November 6 [4 favorites]


Apparently the purring was Gaten's idea.

Dammit, Gaten, stop being so adorable....
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:32 PM on November 6 [2 favorites]


The Jonathan Byers hate is stupid and ugly. The dude is decent and awesome. So is Steve. They can both be decent and awesome and deserving of love, and she gets to chose. Deal.

That said...

The first season was amazing in its originality, tying together so many tropes. It could just let a lot of things dangle, unknown because they were unknowable, all about the myyyyysteryyyyyy...

Season Two realized it does not have this luxury, and wasted no time in kicking ass. It went so far as to place Eleven on an actual superhero team... which she rejected in favor of her goofball friends and family who could actually save the world.

Bob. Just... ok... I mean, hmm. The kids have their team, the teens have their team, and I love how Barb is NOT a disposable character - The grownups... Bob. I wanted him to be deputized by Hopper so they could fight supernatural crime. I like Sean Astin as Bob better than I like him as Samwise, and I like him as Sam a whole bunch. Bob is so uncool and smart and nerdy and cozy and fun! Joyce reeled in a keeper with this dude.

And he proved his worth.

Also, Hopper and Eleven...

Max and Lucas. Dustin being Dustin. Mike literally outmaneuvering an inter-dimensional conqueror with his smarts while saving his friends and the world entire.

Season One was Alien, Season Two was Aliens.

Season Three will be going in weird places uncharted. Looking forward to it.
posted by Slap*Happy at 7:40 PM on November 6 [4 favorites]


Also, here's the deal, Bob knew he had to contend with a nested set of menus on an IBM AS/400 terminal controlling a security and HVAC application. Those buckling spring keys sounded so nice in Dolby... He was hoping Hopper would know what "BASIC" meant, in terms of common personal computers of the time, and just let him do tech stuff in the basement. Hopper was unaware you could buy a computer for the home, nevermind how one might interact with it.

Thus was the joke.

Dude had a penlight right where Joyce knew it would be, and a pocket slide-rule. Awesome.
posted by Slap*Happy at 7:58 PM on November 6 [2 favorites]


I usually complain that Netflix series are too long but this season seemed too short to me. The final battle seemed a little rushed and I would have liked to have some of the new characters fleshed out a little more. Did we ever know why Max and her family moved from California to tiny little Hawkins, Georgia Indiana? I'd like to have known more about how what Rieser's character and the lab was doing now.
posted by octothorpe at 12:29 PM on November 7


Re: Max...

she tells (Lucas, I think) that they moved away from CA to get a fresh start away from her bio dad. That's all we got, though, so I bet they'll explore that a bit. Also, step-dad is a total winner, too, so poor Max didn't get a dad upgrade.
posted by cooker girl at 12:50 PM on November 7


For the Aqua Net fans -- when the camera's on Billy, looking at himself in his bedroom mirror, he's the one with the Aqua Net on the bureau. The show drops info on the class stratification in Hawkins here and there: Billy uses Aqua Net, Steve uses paired Faberge Organics shampoo and conditioner and Farrah Fawcett spray; Joyce is stitching the nametag onto Will's DIY ghostbuster jumpsuit behind the register at her joe job; of course Jonathan wouldn't shoot with pricey Polaroid film. (And last season, Steve deliberately breaking Jonathan's camera and replacing it as part of a joint Christmas gift with Nancy, both knowing Jonathan wouldn't be able to buy a new one).

Randomly -- Joyce made Jonathan deputy parent even before the madness started a year ago, and I don't dig that. I remain suspicious of good guy Bob, I just do. (Urging Will to turn and confront the monster that was pursuing him in his visions, which is when he gets subsumed. Floating the idea of a move to Maine, which would've positioned an infected Will on a new coast to spread the Upside-Down cracking effects. The demodogs descended on him en masse in the lobby, while they took chunks out of other victims and merely swiped at Reiser.)

From tumblr: Why did Steve get all the kids when he & Nance divorced?
Anyway, he's right, he makes an excellent babysitter but a lousy boyfriend (leaving her blackout drunk at the party). (Also, they were supposed to be in couples' costume as Cruise & De Mornay from Risky Business, but I didn't recognize Nancy's outfit. I thought she was an It's a Living waitress.)

Why Dustin is my favorite: when they're talking about Max, and how he refers to their (the party's) Dig Dug record that she's destroyed. Not his own, singular high score -- he's all about team effort. Also for calling Mike and Nancy's dad "fucking useless" to his face.

Here's something touching and upsetting about the blue bracelet Hopper wears. (The weight gain after quitting drinking was a nice detail. No, the daily Eggo extravaganzas probably aren't helping. Also, I wondered if the box under the floorboards marked "Vietnam" had anything to do with his familiarity with PTSD. "No, Joyce, it's a real thing, I've read about it..." as they're leaving the lab and he's looking away.)
posted by Iris Gambol at 5:50 PM on November 7 [2 favorites]


I remain suspicious of good guy Bob, I just do.

This was deliberate. Bob was tension, he was the Ultimate Outsider, normalcy creeping up upon them, he was catastrophe waiting to happen, and for kids coming from Bad Situations, he was the other shoe waiting to drop.

Until he clearly wasn't.

It wasn't a complete surprise, either, you could read the signs. Manager and probably the only employee at the local Rat Shack back when they were peddling TRS-80 and Color Computers. He had a Mercury Tracer rather than a Ford Escort, that's just smart. He has every chance to objectify Joyce in re-litigating his awful adolescence, and doesn't, while appreciating the irony without dwelling on it.

There are adults you can trust, and when they do things that make them worthy of your trust, wow. Hopper and Joyce and Bob and Dr. Owens. The super-team we didn't know we needed until they were there.

Not as cool as the Dustin-Steve teamup, but close.
posted by Slap*Happy at 6:17 PM on November 7 [3 favorites]


I'm guessing that Billy was built up from pages that were meant for Steve, but had to be discarded when the writers abruptly decided to make Steve a good guy in season 1. That's why Billy feels shoehorned in. He would have been entirely redundant if Steve remained an antagonist.
posted by riruro at 8:14 PM on November 7 [2 favorites]


The Jonathan Byers hate is stupid and ugly. The dude is decent and awesome.

Well, I don't hate him but all the creeping around taking photos of Nancy in the first season was sub-optimal. Mostly, I find him to be a cipher, an empty set. I don't care who dates who on this show, but I would like to see some signs that Jonathan has thoughts and an ability to be proactive, rather than just follow everyone around looking glum.
posted by Squeak Attack at 6:52 AM on November 8 [3 favorites]


I enjoyed season two almost as much as season one.

I'm not sure I want more seasons, though. I want to see what else these kids can do.

Most especially, although I know it's not going to happen, I want to see Millie Bobby Brown kick ass as a young Peggy Carter.
posted by Tabitha Someday at 7:58 AM on November 8


Brandon Blatcher: Meh on that "controversy".... The Duffers are kinda dickish when joking with Sadie about the scene, saying they decided to put it in since she was so stressed out about and saying it was her fault they did, but everyone is laughing and joking about it. A little awkward, but nothing approaching illegal or immoral.

I can't believe that after all of the discussions about what the world is like for girls and women on the Blue over, say, the last ten years, you can shrug and go "meh" about this, and then say "everyone was laughing so maybe a little awkward but no biggie" when we've explained over and over and over and over how women are trained to smile and laugh when men are being "funny," especially when men in authority are being "funny," especially when you're one of only two females at a table full of dudebros going on about how hilarious it was that you were freaked out when they talked about you doing something, and then your discomfort FUELED THEIR DESIRE TO DO IT EVEN MORE.

The fact that you don't see a huge fucking problem here is exactly what women are trying to explain when we say "It's everywhere, but men don't see it that way and women can't do anything about it if men don't see it."

Like, I am sort of appalled at your comment.

Maybe read this twitter thread and my response, which is clearer than I can be at the moment.

These are CHILDREN, who the men in charge are RESPONSIBLE for.
posted by tzikeh at 11:15 AM on November 8 [14 favorites]


Thanks for speaking up, tzikeh - I felt that way too. I mean, at first I felt mad watching Beyond ST because Sadie Sink just sat there without anyone addressing her or speaking to her and she could not manage to get a word in edgewise among the yuk yuk yuks of the six males surrounding her at the table.

But then, when they finally do speak to her, it's not about her acting, her interesting character, how she imagines Sadie's internal world, but about her embarrassment over doing a kissing scene. I mean, it's a moment at which you see how this world of show-making really works, a world that prepares girls like her for more of the same, for the rest of her career. We're going to ignore you up until the moment we get to talk about you in a sexualized way, and we're going to laugh off the weirdness and seriousness of this public display of a form of affection you've never experienced in real life yet, that we've just insisted you mimic for the camera, for our [male] jollies.

And I agree, the ha-has are creepy because these are supposed to be adults, and they have the power to model what a healthy adult world looks like, even if they're writing a show that puts characters in dated or unhealthy situations for dramatic reasons. They have the power to frame that process in a way that helps people grow in a more healthy way, or in a way that indulges a whole lot of pre-pubescent, unreflective humor at the kids' expense. It is really disappointing they chose the latter.

Yeah, it is problematic. It really is.
posted by Miko at 1:47 PM on November 8 [6 favorites]


These are CHILDREN, who the men in charge are RESPONSIBLE for.

These are CHILDREN, and their parent WHERE ON SET when these scenes were filmed. I have more faith in them then some A.V. Club reporter who has a deadline to meet.
posted by Pendragon at 3:11 PM on November 8


Except for the part where you can see how uncomfortable Sadie Sink is when they discussed it and then laughed at her on Beyond Stranger Things. I'll have faith in the children's own reactions than some parent who may not have any clue what's going on, or may not even care.
posted by elsietheeel at 3:19 PM on November 8 [7 favorites]


Seriously, fuck the Duffers for that move. That was not even remotely cool. You can't handle child actors like that, you just can't.
posted by tobascodagama at 9:09 PM on November 8 [1 favorite]


Anyway, appalling forced kiss aside, this was a pretty satisfying finale. That's probably the best description for season two overall: satisfying. It was never going to be a pleasant surprise like season one, but it delivered precisely what I wanted.

The Mind Flayer teaser at the end does raise some questions about just where the hell the next season's plot is going, though. So we still have a big bad looming over the show from the Upside Down, but we also had a glimpse at this plot about other gifted children and these survivors from Hawkins Lab who -- despite Dr. Owens' insistence that they're all dead -- are hiding in plain sight. Either is fine, but I feel like the Duffers are going to try to do both at once and nobody will be happy about it.

Gripes:

- Even speaking as somebody who actually likes The Lost Sister, I feel like this season spent too much time setting up seasons three and four.
- Billy was completely unnecessary. Even if he's supposed to be a recurring antagonist next season, he probably would have been better left in the background. There was plenty enough to redeem Steve in all his big brother/surrogate dad scenes, he to get his ass kicked to get the audience on his side.
- Billy's dad being an abusive shit might explain why Billy is such an asshole, but it doesn't excuse him, and I worry that the Duffers don't understand the distinction.
- "Realistic" or not, Mike and Eleven being total assholes to Max was really shitty and didn't really move the plot.
- Seriously, Will was a literal agent of the big bad who got dozens of people killed, including fucking Bob, and everybody still treated Max worse than him.

Good shit:

- Just like last season, I feel like the balance of tone was excellent. We got just enough levity to break up the heavy stuff without being distracting.
- The acting is still incredible, across the board.
- The music is still great.
- I still love the crazy arts & crafts scenes, and I can't wait to see what kind of weird shit Joyce puts on her walls next seasons.

Theory:

- Dr. Owens wasn't attacked by a Demodog, he was attacked by one of the other gifted children who escaped. The Demodogs were going after people's faces and necks, but he only had a broken leg.
posted by tobascodagama at 5:57 AM on November 9 [5 favorites]


So we still have a big bad looming over the show from the Upside Down, but we also had a glimpse at this plot about other gifted children and these survivors from Hawkins Lab who -- despite Dr. Owens' insistence that they're all dead -- are hiding in plain sight. Either is fine, but I feel like the Duffers are going to try to do both at once and nobody will be happy about it.

Plot wise, I can see the lost sister and 11 joining forces to help defeat the more powerful Mindflayer. But the other gifted children plot feels tacked on, forced and ultimately uninteresting. So the Duffers have their work cut out for them, whatever route they go. The current cast and chemistry is so good and the gifted children just don't fit there.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:28 AM on November 9


Pendragon: These are CHILDREN, and their parent WHERE ON SET when these scenes were filmed. I have more faith in them then some A.V. Club reporter who has a deadline to meet.

What the fuck?

Are... are you aware we’re all talking about watching the actress and the director and the writers discussing this on video—on TV—not reading an article about it? Like, we saw the girl’s body language; we heard the men making jokes about how freaked out she was. We watched her not get to talk, and be talked over by men. I have no idea why you think this was something from the A.V. club. This was video. Women who watched it are telling you what they heard and saw.

Seriously, what the fuck, dude?
posted by tzikeh at 9:22 AM on November 9 [6 favorites]


Watching Sean Astin on Colbert makes me think Bob wasn't so much an act.
posted by P.o.B. at 9:35 AM on November 9


For what it's worth, the actress who plays Max was also on episode six of Beyond Stranger Things and spoke a little about various other scenes.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 9:38 AM on November 9


spoke a little

That's pretty much what happens to any and all women in this backstory series. Seriously, it would make an interesting study of who has the mic to compare the screen time during which women are speaking to that during which men are speaking - I suspect the ratio is much, much higher than a gender split of 6:1 or 5:1 would indicate to be proportional. As if that representation was even proportional.

I love this show. And I'm super used to sexism in fictional media and certainly in sci-fi. But let's not pretend it isn't there or it's actually OK because we like something else about the show. It's still not OK and we still notice and it's a good thing to ask men to notice too. For the Duffers and the director, it would be growth to learn that there's more to making a "strong female character" than sticking a rifle in her hand or a supernatural power in her brain. It's about making space for narratives about girls and women that feel true and authentic and don't cast them in the tight and false roles generated from the very narrow imaginations of men -- especially that of men who were raised on and love this sort of media without really accessing a deep critique of how exclusionary it has always been.
posted by Miko at 10:57 AM on November 9 [6 favorites]


That's pretty much what happens to any and all women in this backstory series.

With the notable exception of Yvette Nicole Brown's appearances on Talking Dead, this is true of pretty much all post-shows, and it fucking sucks.
posted by tobascodagama at 11:18 AM on November 9 [3 favorites]


It's still not OK and we still notice and it's a good thing to ask men to notice too.

Yes, I was pretty hard on the first installment, even though I really enjoyed it, for not even passing the Bechdel test and some other issues. There are complaints that the focus on Barb in the second season is too much fan-service, which I agree with to some degree, but that also ignores, I think, part of why Barb caught on so much with some segments of viewers. Barb was Will - and had a family and friends, but everyone spent all their time worried about finding Will and no one really cared that Barb was gone. And for women viewers, who saw themselves in Barb, the more awkward teenager, who ends up lonely at a house party where there's fuckin' or whatever, the fact that Barb then gets ERASED from the rest of the narrative really struck a chord.

And so I was kinda hoping to see more discussion for this season about whether or not it works that Eleven strikes out and finds female family and friends - her mother, her mother's caretaker (I can't remember her relationship to the mother!), and Eight. She has conversations with a number of women, that partly aren't about men, and she forms some bonds. But all of that seems to just be overshadowed by how much people hate the Quincy Punk that is Chapter Seven. Like, I get it, there's a lot there that doesn't work. But I have a soft spot for stories about seestras.
posted by Squeak Attack at 1:24 PM on November 9 [6 favorites]


Seriously, what the fuck, dude?

Sorry, I didn't know the article was about a video. After watching the video I have to apologize, I agree she looked uncomfortable.
posted by Pendragon at 1:29 PM on November 9 [1 favorite]


her mother, her mother's caretaker (I can't remember her relationship to the mother!)

Sister. Becky is the sister of Terry Ives, making her the aunt of Terry's daughter, Jane (a.k.a. Eleven) Ives.
posted by Iris Gambol at 3:38 PM on November 9 [1 favorite]


Plot wise, I can see the lost sister and 11 joining forces to help defeat the more powerful Mindflayer.

I was thinking that too. Eleven is probably going to have to find and unite the survivng escapees (I'm assuming there are others besides Kali) to finally end the threat.
posted by Foosnark at 1:29 PM on November 10 [1 favorite]


I’m really hoping there aren’t many more escapees; it would make the Lab folks look even more incompetent then they already are and also balloon the cast size dramatically.

Here’s a thought though - what if the Mind Flayer is the cognitive remains of the other test subjects?
posted by nubs at 4:52 PM on November 10 [3 favorites]


What if the Mind Flayer is a boy who didn't weather the treatments and experiments, and got stuck in the Upside Down? Maybe Will was able to survive so long because he was being shaped/spared for use as stand-in.
posted by Iris Gambol at 6:30 PM on November 10 [2 favorites]


This would make a lot sense in terms of why the demidogs/mindflayer are angry and want to kill.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:38 PM on November 10


OK. So. Here's The Absolutely True Berserk Fan Theory Proven True By Way of Proof of the Millennia - THIS WEEK!

Voltron Season Three. Galron was infected by the Mindflayer and the Upside Down - the quintessence was the corruption offered by the Mindflayer, and interpreted as power due to its wicked mind tricks tailored for both Zarkon and Honerva!

There was a rift to be closed! There was the awful pollen things drifting from it! Possessed heroes were employed to protect and expand it and work against former allies!

Calling it now. Dustin/Hunk teamup. Like literally best friends across dimensions. Zarkon and Will find common ground as the Galron fleet is withdrawn... while Honerva and Eleven square up!
posted by Slap*Happy at 7:50 PM on November 10


Also. I want the full story on Max's home life. The version she gave Lucas was clearly super watered down.

Yeah, I was actually even more confused after her explanation than before it. Why did her family actually have to leave California? It seemed like Max thought it was Billy's fault, but Billy thought it was hers, and then she told Lucas it was because her mom and stepfather wanted to get away from her dad...?

My theory is that Billy did something to her father in an effort to "protect" Max, probably on Max's stepfather's urging, and it didn't go well.

What's also strange is that Billy is even still living with them. Where is his mother?

And why did they come to this little Indiana town -- does Max's mother or stepfather work for the lab or at least know about the Upside Down?

Dustin taking hair advice from Steve was one of my favorite things this season. (He should have suggested AquaNet, though.)

Honestly, it looked surprisingly great. Pretty flattering.

Let Jonathan go sulk at college.

Is Jonathan going to be able to move out of the house at this point? I actually like the guy pretty well, but he seems super traumatized and like he probably wouldn't be able to handle letting his mother and brother fend for themselves after two years straight of watching them keep losing their minds and/or dying. Commuting to community college seems like a better bet to me for him, but your mileage may vary.

And as maddening/annoying as I found Steve's advice telling Dustin to act like he doesn't care...that was spot on for the advice being handed down at the time.

I was still barely a twinkle in my mother's eye in 1984, and yet that was STILL the advice I got for how to get a boyfriend. Play hard to get, act like you don't care, etc. And, to be honest, it's not terrible advice for someone like Dustin, who is not exactly a shrinking flower and can come on a little strong!

But my heart broke for him when he got rejected by Stacey, turned to the other girls, gave them a big smile, and then they walked away from him as fast as they could, too. From how Dustin was going after the girls at first, it seemed like he just wanted some notches on his bedpost, but my perception changed completely when I saw how crushed he was by the seemingly universal rejection. I really felt for him.

I don't know if Jonathan is salvageable, but I can see plausible ways Nancy could get a lot more interesting and maybe the show is setting that up.

I don't dislike Nancy, but I find her incredibly boring. Less boring this season than last season, but still boring. The way she thinks is too linear and grounded -- it's realistic and admirable, but dull.

I find Jonathan more interesting than her (or Steve) because he seems really fragile to me, and it makes me wonder what's going to happen to him. He's the most stable one in his family, but that's really not saying much.

One of the things I liked about this season is the way it strung 80s movie tropes together into a pretty seamless whole. ET became Gremlins became The Gate became Aliens.

Yes, I loved that, too!

(Also, I'm pretty sure that Bob dies entirely because Bob-with-trauma just doesn't work as a character... His whole function is as an island of normalcy after the insanity of S1. I do feel pretty sad for Joyce, though, narrative requirements aside.)

You're probably right, but I'm still sad to lose Bob. I was pretty indifferent to him until he figured out that Will's house-sized drawing was a map. That got me pretty intrigued into how his mind worked!

Yeah I"m interested to see more of Max. The way she's treated is pretty accurate. I was verrry nerdy and into video games, sci-fi, fantasy, etc. but nerdy guys wouldn't have anything to do with me because girls aren't cool. The only girls who were allowed into those circles were girlfriends.

That reminds me -- I like Lucas and Max together, but it would be pretty interesting to see what happens if/when things don't work out between them.

Max's presence made the whole show so much more interesting and fun for me. I really enjoyed this season a lot more than the last, and I think it was mostly her introduction that made things a lot more fun.

Then there is the full on abusive dad and his racist bully of a son (who may also get involved with Mike's mom ewwwwwwwwwww).

I'm pretty curious about where they go with Billy next year (if anywhere). He was constantly telling Steve that he looked up to him, even while trying to intimidate Steve as hard as he could, and yet in their fight, Steve lost pretty badly -- I think their business is still unfinished and will probably come to a head (again) later. I actually think/hope that Steve will help him out instead of beating the shit out him or whatever (or at least do both), but that relationship seems ongoing regardless.

And that scene between Billy and Mike's mom was maybe the strangest thing in the whole season. Billy was coming on REALLY strong, with his shirt flapping around, unbuttoned to practically his groin -- that flirtation was already weird as hell...but then when Nancy's mom mentions Nancy, Billy flatly says she's not his type? And then later, refers to Nancy's mom as a bitch? I thought it was weird when Billy was originally introduced with the girls ogling his juicy ass or whatever, and then it was even weirder when he installed himself as Max's overzealous cockblocker, but...I dunno, maybe he's gay or something? The show is signalling something about his sexuality (he's way too self-aware about it and too defined by it for it not to ~mean something~, I think), and I'll be interested to find out what it is.

Kali and company are clearly a group who, while their motives are understandable, are most likely on the way to becoming full on villains.

Yes, I think they're already villains, considering their thing is to kill people -- even if they're meting out vigilante justice rather than just killing for kicks. I'm really interested to learn more about them, though. The show seemed like it was hinting that at least some of them might also have strange (maybe untapped) powers. Like the girl who loves to gamble and always wins at cards?

I also actually liked their style, though maybe I was the only one!

It seems to me that Joyce turning the Byers home into an outsider art installation is at least half the appeal of this show.

I love that, too.

And I love that all three members of that family are inescapably artsy. And all have this small-r-romantic fragility about them, too. Winona Ryder was really well cast, I think.

*Families - seeing the families of the other kids just made the world feel more real

Yes, I loved seeing all the families! honestly, even if the show were just that, just a drama about a group of friends and their families, I would be down to watch it.

I was surprised though that we were supposed to sympathise with Billy because his dad's an aggressive arsehole - Billy is pretty violent and psychopathic himself, and one moment of basketball advice isn't really making up for the way he terrorises Max. Mostly it just made me feel worse for Max, because she's got two misogynistic shits to deal with, not just one.

I think that the scene between Billy and his dad was less for the purpose of garnering the audience's sympathy (although that, too, or else they wouldn't have had him cry), and more for setting up for an actual confrontation between him and Max. I mean, without some external reason for Billy to pursue her to the ends of the earth at that point, there really would have been no need for her to swing the nail bat around and give a climax to that particular arc. Lazy but efficient storytelling, I guess?

In general, I felt terrible for Max, because her homelife seemed like hell, and she straight up told Lucas that Billy was making it worse by terrorizing her. But I did also have sympathy for Billy, not least because his cold, bitter, practiced womanizing was just so incredibly weird for a high school kid that I was sad for him kind of from the get go. I mean, you know how Nancy and Steve tried to be "dumb high school kids" at that party and clearly couldn't do it? Billy apparently can't do it, either, and that does make me feel for him somewhat. And I mean, I personally am always going to have a twinge of sympathy for the angry, tightly wound, haphazardly self-destructive loser. He's a horrible person, but I still know those feels, so...Dunno what it says about me that the characters who I identified with were Max and Billy, but there ya go ;)

All in all, I thought this season was great -- and I was just sorta meh on the first one!
posted by rue72 at 8:31 PM on November 10 [3 favorites]


Here’s a thought though - what if the Mind Flayer is the cognitive remains of the other test subjects?

Oh, damn, that's a really good idea. Maybe almost too good for the show. That would provide a nice counter-balance to 11 (who escapes and experiences humanity) and 001 who is subsumed by the Upside Down, and angry and vengeful. It also makes the focus on the other numbers this season have more meaning.
posted by codacorolla at 9:04 PM on November 10


Well, I'm presuming that would be 001, anyway. It would be a nice little bit of balance.
posted by codacorolla at 9:10 PM on November 10


Just finished the series, have a few thoughts:

- Yes, the Warriors/Chicago crew is very X-Men/Runaways, but one of the reasons why they were brought in may be to convince the main actors (or their agents/parents) that the Duffers have an alternate route to future seasons if they have a potential spin-off cued up against the possibility of the stars negotiating higher salaries. Probably wouldn't be anywhere near as popular as the current incarnation of the show, especially with The Gifted already running and the The New Mutants movie (complete with Charlie Heaton!) coming this spring, but just a thought.

- Even if they don't go that route, I still think that there's something to having not!Burke still around; the recurring theme of the Alien franchise is that Weyland-Yutani and its government successor simply will not give up on the possibilities inherent in the Number Kids and/or the Upside Down. Something that's intriguing and scary is that the numbers on Jane and Kali's wrists have three digits.

- By the end of summer 1984, Purple Rain had pretty much taken over for Thriller, but if they blew through their music budget on what they had at the Snow Ball, I doubt that they could have afforded whatever Prince's estate would charge any more than they could afford Michael Jackson's. Dustin's hair was a nice tribute, though.

- Also agree that there's probably more to Max's family, especially since her stepdad as being almost stereotypically military/ex-military.
posted by Halloween Jack at 11:18 PM on November 10 [2 favorites]


Also, WRT the dislike of the seventh episode, I was kind of hoping that Kali and her gang would show up and help out somehow.
posted by Halloween Jack at 11:31 PM on November 10 [1 favorite]


Also, just because I grew up in central Indiana in the 80s

I grew up in southern Indiana during the same time period. The show isn't set in a particular locale within the state; Hawkins is plausibly located in northern Indiana near Lafayette (the reference to Tippecanoe this season); near Bloomington (the rolling, forested hills and references to quarries); or wherever in the state you would like it to be.
posted by mwhybark at 12:56 AM on November 11


Also, WRT the dislike of the seventh episode, I was kind of hoping that Kali and her gang would show up and help out somehow.

Yeah, of all the tropes the show swerved away from...
posted by tobascodagama at 6:03 AM on November 11 [1 favorite]


Chekhov's Posse, amirite?
posted by Halloween Jack at 9:15 AM on November 11 [2 favorites]


Also agree that there's probably more to Max's family, especially since her stepdad as being almost stereotypically military/ex-military.

It was unnerving that when Max finally stood up for herself (and what was up with the rest of the gang iin that scene? Billy's like 165 lbs -- everybody could've grabbed a limb and saved Steve's face), she spoke s to him exactly the way his father did, and demanded the same responses.
posted by Iris Gambol at 10:30 AM on November 11 [6 favorites]


I grew up in southern Indiana during the same time period.

I have spent a lot of time in all parts of Indiana, from when we moved to the state when I was 9 until my last visit just a few months ago (and I'm now 47), and nowhere in the state looks like Hawkins. It just doesn't. We used to go to Brown County/Nashville, IN on the regular, my best friend went to IU and I spent a lot of weekends there, and we drove through most of the state to get to and from Chicago to visit family multiple times per year. I know Indiana.

Hawkins looks like Georgia or South Carolina, especially given the time of year we're supposed to be seeing. For one thing, Indiana doesn't have those Southern pines that are so ubiquitous in Hawkins. And come on, the leaves wouldn't be on the trees still in any part of Indiana in late December. Not in the 80s.
posted by cooker girl at 4:48 PM on November 11 [1 favorite]


As was mentioned above, Stranger Things is filmed in Georgia.
posted by octothorpe at 4:53 PM on November 11


Right, I know it was filmed in Georgia. I was responding to mwhybark's comment.
posted by cooker girl at 5:04 PM on November 11


Two girls--still children really--can't be friends because of . . . what exactly? Dustin has the same type of "love" triangle with Max and Lucas, yet still manages to be friends with Lucas. This thing with El and Max is stupid.

Plus Mike and El just do not belong together. What's wrong being good friends? El goes from abusive dad to less abusive stepdad to controlling, obsessive BF. Again, stupid.

Steve and Billy had more chemistry together than Mike and El. The scene with Billy and Mike in the driveway? Fireworks until the fight started. What was the point of that scene and the living room fight anyway? Considering what Max said, I expected her and Lucas to, you know, fucking hide. It's like when she told Lucas not to follow from the arcade and he didn't listen. Really, these kids are great for each other but Max needs to drop them and get some friends who will listen to her and treat her properly. They're a douchey clique and she deserves better.
posted by jojo and the benjamins at 7:14 PM on November 11 [3 favorites]


Re: Steve & Billy chemistry, and the scene in the driveway.

It's the scene in the boys' gym showers, when Billy tells Steve he's a pretty boy, that made me think that hateship/Billy's fixation might have other underpinnings besides aggressive-new-kid-targets-prom-king posturing.
posted by Iris Gambol at 8:05 PM on November 11 [2 favorites]


What's wrong being good friends?

Yeah, I have this question too. Why did they feel it so necessary to give the characters a romantic plotline? Who cares?! They're 12. The whole Duffer line about "we knew we were heading toward the Snow Ball" just strikes me as bizarre. It doesn't seem at all natural - but then, it's not, they're referencing (and recreating) shallow tropes rather than real lives.
posted by Miko at 8:06 PM on November 11 [2 favorites]


I was surprised at how much I enjoyed seeing Steve get to be a real person this season, after being an annoying foil for almost all of the first season. I think he and Bob ended up providing a lot of the heart of the show, this time around.

This season's arc for El/Jane was a classic Hero's Journey. I hope a future season sees her more integrated into the other character's lives in Hawkins.

The final act really captured the feeling of "middle school dance" (and they were still playing the same slow-dance songs at my middle school in the early 90s). Dustin's Farrah Fawcett Spray hair was great. Jane's dress was pretty bad, but it's nice to see her with a hairdo that did not appear to be created by a military lab, a bunch of pre-teen boys, or a gang of criminal punks.

The love triangles were way overdone, yes, but... I do feel like the group dynamics reflected that transition that a lot of kids go through around this age (eighth grade?), where close single-sex groups of friends start to fracture, and reform into more complicated interlocking groups with different genders. Some kids are starting to spend more time thinking about crushes than friends, and that stresses their existing friendships. This really is a transitional season; among other things it's a bridge between the pre-teen characters of Season 1 and the same characters in high school (!) in future seasons.

Once again, David Harbour looks like freaking Hagrid when he and Winona Ryder are alone together. I don't usually notice how tall he is (6'3") or how short she is (5'3") except when they're standing next to each other.
posted by mbrubeck at 9:18 PM on November 11 [2 favorites]


Um....I was just rewatching the end scene and reflecting that I would have worn El's dress myself at that age. What was wrong with it?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:25 PM on November 11 [2 favorites]


I did wear that dress. It looks worse in real life.
posted by Iris Gambol at 10:40 PM on November 11 [1 favorite]


cooker girl, as you state that you are responding directly to me, I'll note that my closing phrase: "or wherever in the state you would like it to be", would, I hope, indicate that the physical appearance of Hawkins and environs is not required to resemble the actual biome and geography of Indiana. I would say that this is firmly within the tradition of television series set within the state, including "Eerie, Indiana;" "Parks and Recreation;" and (from my perspective, most notably) the short-lived "Breaking Away" series of 1980.
posted by mwhybark at 1:04 AM on November 12


One of the joys of large ensemble casts is seeing unusual pairs together (hence the popularity of Steve and Dustin) but it's something the Duffer brothers are still working out. El and Hopper is good but El and Hopper only, for a ton of episodes, is not so good.

And I think this is what leads to Nancy being pretty boring. She has potential, she's bright and sparky, but she starts off in the first season with a circle of three other people (Jonathan, Barb, and Steve), then loses Barb, and spends season two with only either Jonathan or Steve. Nancy would be much more interesting if we saw more of her personality come out in contrast to some of the other characters. It would be cool to see what she would be like if she spent an episode with Joyce, or was stuck somewhere fighting off a threat with Lucas.

I probably read too much fanfic because I did start to wonder if Billy's secret was that he was gay, and I had the same thoughts about the scene in the shower and I wondered if the scene in the driveway was going to lead to a kiss rather than a fight, but I really didn't want that storyline to actually be there, because I don't trust the Duffer brothers to handle a story about an angry gay bully with any decency. These guys seem like way too much of immature het goobs to navigate that.
posted by Squeak Attack at 7:20 AM on November 12 [6 favorites]


Whoop whoop. I found this article just now - AV Club on Stranger Things keeping its female characters apart.
posted by Squeak Attack at 7:28 AM on November 12 [3 favorites]


Okay, looking at El's dress again, I don't think it's that bad; maybe just dated and not particularly suited to her. (But not so dated as to be amusing, like Dustin's hair.) And throughout the series, Millie Bobby Brown does a good job of acting like whatever clothes her character is wearing are less an outfit and more a costume. Whether she likes them or not, she never really inhabits them.
posted by mbrubeck at 11:24 AM on November 12 [1 favorite]


maybe just dated

Yeah, they are spot on for 1984. I am exactly the real-life age of these characters (weird, that means they'd be in their late 40s now like me), and I wore stuff like that, and it didn't look bad then. The "prairie" look was the height of fashion that fall.
posted by Miko at 1:05 PM on November 12


Mike = paladin
Jane = mage
Dustin = bard
Taylor = ranger
Will = cleric
Max = rogue


Steve = Barbarian. Big club with nails in it? We were calling it Gorg's Bane the whole season.
posted by moons in june at 5:44 PM on November 12 [3 favorites]


Plus Mike and El just do not belong together.

There's a similar character pairing in The Good Place -- naive character imprints on the first person to be nice to her, but at least there it's played for laughs.
posted by tobascodagama at 6:05 PM on November 12


Season 3 is about the town reeling from the sudden deaths of the many residents who worked at Hawkins Lab, its largest employer, and struggling to overcome the devastating economic impact after it was shuttered
posted by theodolite at 7:20 PM on November 12 [10 favorites]


I always got the impression that the lab wasn't really part of the town, economically or socially--maybe everyone stayed in some kind of dorm on the premises.

Also, WRT David Harbour's size: we all know what his next role is, right? (Talk about crossover potential.)
posted by Halloween Jack at 7:58 PM on November 12


I always got the impression that the lab wasn't really part of the town, economically or socially--maybe everyone stayed in some kind of dorm on the premises.

Well, season 2 also deals quite the blow to the Hawkins pumpkin industry.
posted by Spathe Cadet at 7:13 AM on November 13 [10 favorites]


I really, really liked this season for a myriad of reasons, not the least of which being the pacing seemed perfect. Loved Max: She's totally the type I would've crushed on in middle school.

I'm going to point this out, and forgive me if it was mentioned in previous FanFare comments, but David Harbour sounds exactly like Harrison Ford to my ears.
posted by DrAstroZoom at 9:05 AM on November 13 [2 favorites]


Especially when he addresses Eleven as “kid,” just like Han Solo did to Luke Skywalker.
posted by mbrubeck at 9:26 AM on November 13 [3 favorites]


David Harbour sounds exactly like Harrison Ford to my ears.

And he always goes back for his hat!!
posted by orrnyereg at 9:42 AM on November 13 [4 favorites]


And he always goes back for his hat!!

Oh yeah, this is a total Indy reference that I love! Nice bonus that it references Indiana Jones.
posted by Miko at 10:14 AM on November 13 [3 favorites]


- They didn't include that scene with putting the dead demodog in the freezer for nothing. Red herrings really don't seem to be this show's style. I'm watching that freezer.

Because the demodog is going to say "Zuul" when it's opened.
posted by dlugoczaj at 11:04 AM on November 13 [3 favorites]


First Gaten Matarazzo uses his visibility as a platform for CCD. Then Finn Wolfhart has the best-ever take on learning sexual harrassment is bad. Then - David Harbour embraces his dad-bod-ness with the same erudition he used when writing that acceptance speech you all saw.

I think it's official - the Duffer Brothers are hogging all the cool in Hollywood right now.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 11:17 AM on November 13 [1 favorite]


I love David Harbour for his brain AND his dad bod.
posted by elsietheeel at 11:22 AM on November 13


One thought I had about season 3 was, our 'good guys' have now become at least partly allied with at least one of the 'bad guys.' Suppose that Kali comes looking for Doctor Guy Whose Name I Forget?

Anyways yeah I had my issues with this season, just a few too many dumb decisions and drawn-out weird side plots and not enough El, but despite all that I still pretty much loved it.
posted by showbiz_liz at 8:50 PM on November 14


Also, damn I forgot about the monster in the fridge until you guys mentioned it. What on earth did they DO with it, in the month before the dance? It can't still just be in there...
posted by showbiz_liz at 8:52 PM on November 14 [1 favorite]


Also also, anybody else think Billy might be closeted? I sort of hope he isn't because it would be so tropey and also because he is a pointless character, but he does seem pretty singularly fixated on Steve in a way that pinged my 'dar just a hair.
posted by showbiz_liz at 8:54 PM on November 14


Ever since the shower scene, showbiz_liz.

So, I've been doing a rewatch of season 1 since my wife never watched it and got intrigued by season 2. Anyways, its been interesting how many callbacks I'm seeing now in S2, beyond some of the obvious:

-Steve getting a beat down - just like in S2, Steve's friends pretty much just stand by while Jonathan pummels him in S1.
-the ostracism of Max is a pretty close parallel to how El is treated in S1; except in S1 it is Lucas who is the most hostile and in S2 it is Mike.
-Jonathan gets a poor picture of the Demogorgon in S1; the video camera gets a poor picture of the Mind Flayer.
-the kids hide on the bus from the lab guys in S1 and from the demodogs in S2.

There are likely more that I didn't make a big note of. Anyways, I have two big questions about changes from S1 to S2:

-the Byers family had a dog. What happened to it?
-the Wheeler family had a toddler, Holly. Maybe about three years old in S1. What happened to Holly? WHAT HAPPENED TO HOLLY? #justiceforholly
posted by nubs at 9:10 PM on November 14 [2 favorites]


Anyways, its been interesting how many callbacks I'm seeing now in S2, beyond some of the obvious:

The very first scene is a labcoat getting horribly eaten in a large elevator, the very same elevator where five labcoats got horribly eaten this season!
posted by showbiz_liz at 9:18 PM on November 14


You hear the dog at one point at the Byers' household. I want to say the dog may also be referenced at some point. These things might occur when they are clearing out the shed/shack to interrogate Will.

Holly is in a dinner table scene. Maybe when Mike is getting bitched out.
posted by fluffy battle kitten at 11:54 PM on November 14 [3 favorites]


I researched the dog thing. Apparently the very cute dog was a pain in the ass to work with.
posted by fluffy battle kitten at 12:24 PM on November 15


Thanks fluffy battle kitten; Holly was certainly a more prominent part of the Wheeler family in S1, and I didn't even recall seeing her in S2.
posted by nubs at 12:29 PM on November 15


Poochy died on the way to his home planet.
posted by tobascodagama at 1:03 PM on November 15 [8 favorites]


On the commentary track of the DVD of The Thing, John Carpenter marvels at length about what a great actor the dog in the opening scenes is. "Such a joy to direct! I'd work with that dog again any day," he says, while Kurt Russell wheezes with laughter in the background.

So, you know, maybe they should have hired that dog instead.
posted by orrnyereg at 1:12 PM on November 15 [1 favorite]


Season 3 is about the town reeling from the sudden deaths of the many residents who worked at Hawkins Lab, its largest employer, and struggling to overcome the devastating economic impact after it was shuttered

and of course the thought-provoking mystery of why the local Radio Shack assistant manager was among the dead
posted by ricochet biscuit at 9:08 PM on November 19 [2 favorites]


I like the idea of Papa having a sociopathic transhumanist bent behind his experimentation, and maybe thinking he could manipulate/merge with Upside Down beings like the Mind Flayer. But I think I mainly want that because I want the threads to stay woven.

If season 3 is just "Oh, mind flayer is knocking the door to get back in in little Ol' Hawkins, and also let's see what the Chicago X-Men are up to" and it never comes together, I'll be sad.

I really want to see how exactly Jane/Eleven will handle being more out, if that's something Hawkins Lab/DOE actually honors. Despite Kali's speech about her needing to use her anger to actually use her gifts properly, she already seems pretty quick and impulsive to use them, and she's practically a barely socialized demigod who wants to be a teenager. That sounds like it'd be hard to write episodes of Jane the Student that don't quickly turn into "Eleven is hiding again because the government thinks she's a WMD."

Also, when they showed the investigative journalist busting out Russian vodka, I thought he was a Soviet spy hiding in plain sight. It'd be interesting if they play that sort of cold war paranoia angle more beyond just "We need to be paranoid because the Russians might want the portal/Eleven/etc."
posted by ikea_femme at 8:17 AM on November 20 [1 favorite]


also let's see what the Chicago X-Men are up to

This has been bugging me for a while - didn't they say way back in episode 1, when they introduced this crew, that they were in Pittsburgh? Everyone's been saying they're in Chicago, but I definitely remember the chryon saying they were in Pittsburgh. What happened?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 11:31 AM on November 20 [1 favorite]


Kali's group moved from Pittsburgh to Chicago during the time that elapses between episode 1 and episode 7?

After the titles finish in ep 7, Eleven is on a bus. The bus destination is Chicago. The bus passes a sign that reads Welcome to Illinois. And when Eleven gets off the bus they show a bunch of night shots of Chicago skyscrapers alight.
posted by elsietheeel at 11:49 AM on November 20


The implication is that they're traveling around the country assassinating people who worked at Hawkins.
posted by tobascodagama at 11:58 AM on November 20


And yet somehow both Pittsburgh and Chicago look like Atlanta.
posted by octothorpe at 12:31 PM on November 20 [1 favorite]


Turns out that the magic box contains a sequence of images which are flashed briefly on the screen to create the illusion of movement. None of the things you see are actually happening! There are these things called "sets" and "actors" and "special effects".
posted by tobascodagama at 12:54 PM on November 20 [1 favorite]


I also found the motivations of the group murky. If they were all Hawkins escapees, that'd make sense. But they aren't, and the rest just seem to be 80's TV eccentric criminals who don't seem so into vigilante justice as just stealing stuff. Like, I get that Kali's power would make her really persuasive and valuable, so she could always pull the whole, "You'd be nowhere without me" card. But that doesn't feel like enough to make their mission satisfying from a narrative standpoint. The other members were into it, and not in a quid pro quo kinda way.
posted by ikea_femme at 1:34 PM on November 20


I just want to say that the "Beyond Stranger Things" episodes get really good as soon as the bros aren't in them.
posted by mrjohnmuller at 8:12 PM on November 22 [1 favorite]


Which ones are the bros? The Bros. Duffer?
posted by orrnyereg at 11:52 AM on November 23


Yes exactly. I'll give them credit for creating the show or whatever, but geeeeez, they are irritating.
posted by mrjohnmuller at 3:31 PM on November 23


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