Stranger Things: "Chapter One: Suzie, Do You Copy?"
July 4, 2019 2:10 PM - Season 3, Episode 1 - Subscribe

Summer brings new jobs and budding romance. But the mood shifts when Dustin's radio picks up a Russian broadcast, and Will senses something is wrong.
posted by Fizz (48 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
 
I wasn't as into s2, but I think s3 is bringing it so far. Scoops Ahoy, summer malltime malaise masking ominous hints once you get beneath the surface, and most dreaded feeling of all: third wheeling it.

And I gotta say, it sure was satisfying seeing creepy moustache stepbrother get attacked by the eldritch rats.
posted by rather be jorting at 2:15 PM on July 4 [7 favorites]


Also, the theme of malls, mallrats, rats, consumerism, zombies. I'm loving all of these Chekhov gun moments that are being introduced in the first episode. It'll be interesting to see them all fired later on towards the end of the season.
posted by Fizz at 2:22 PM on July 4 [11 favorites]


That was a lot of fun. Very weird first episode in that almost every character is notably different from how we've known them before, with the possible exception of Lucas, who could stand to grow up a lot more.

El's basically a normal teenager now.
Mike's still a little insufferable but this relationship has clearly brought out a bit of his playful side.
Dustin is needier.
Max is taking far more shit than the should.
Joyce is oscillating between humor and grief rather than fear and more-fear.
Will is more mature and talking like Jonathan now even if he wishes they were back two seasons ago before he got taken.
Hopper is in completely over his head with this whole "parenting-a-teenage-girl" thing.
Steve has gone completely from "hottest shit in Hawkins" to "lovable loser."
And even Billy, I feel, changes quite a lot by the end.
posted by Navelgazer at 2:40 PM on July 4 [8 favorites]


Oh wow, just when I thought this show couldn’t get more 80’s, it GETS WAY MORE 80’s, GUYS!

Everything about that mall, yikes!

Interesting that Dustin doesn’t have his front teeth again.

I never would’ve guessed the Soviet angle, but it makes sense to go that way. Red Dawn!

I truly believe the Duffer Brothers have access to a time machine and are using it to spy on my childhood.
posted by rikschell at 3:04 PM on July 4 [2 favorites]


Yeah, they’re still nailing the ’80s thing. The addition of the shopping mall feels perfect. I also love how season 2 “aired” just before Halloween and this one in early summer, so they each felt so perfectly seasonal as I watched them. (But why did season 1 premiere in July, when it was set around Thanksgiving and Christmas?)

I didn't catch at first that Mrs. Wheeler (Karen, Billy’s swimming pool pick-up) is Mike’s mom.
posted by mbrubeck at 6:03 PM on July 4 [3 favorites]


That town's too small and poor for that much mall but okay.
posted by fleacircus at 6:35 PM on July 4 [10 favorites]


It's interesting (and a little maddening) for once to see a show where the character's DON'T process their trauma.
posted by fleacircus at 6:43 PM on July 4 [3 favorites]


That town's too small and poor for that much mall but okay.

I dunno. I (probably from experience bias) compare it to Bartlesville, Oklahoma, where I went to high school. That's about 30K people, pretty spread out, with a once-thriving Main Street that the mall put into dire straits. Also, we don't know how much Hawkins is a sort of hub for other outlying towns.

(tangent, when I worked on a show with Marc Summers, who is an incredibly nice guy who makes a point of always eating with the crew, he asked me where I was from, and I mentioned Bartlesville, and he told me stories about touring with Nickelodeon and visiting that mall when it first opened. If you've ever got the chance, work with Marc Summers. He's one of the good ones.)
posted by Navelgazer at 6:54 PM on July 4 [13 favorites]


It's the next episode, but I'd argue that "Enzo's" is less likely there, honestly.
posted by Navelgazer at 7:03 PM on July 4 [6 favorites]


Yeah the fancy restaurant was not believable.

I lived in Hutchinson KS, which was ~40k ppl iirc, and it got a mall, and the downtown cried and all that, but it wasn't as much mall as all that and was often pretty empty. More importantly Hutchinson wasn't a kind of ravaged rust belt town like Hawkins seems to be, nor does Hawkins have oil money flowing through it, probably.
posted by fleacircus at 7:17 PM on July 4 [2 favorites]


That's a solid point. Bartlesville had a lot of oil money in it and a couple of tentpole companies feeding both white collar and blue collar jobs. (Conoco bought out Phillips and moved all but some white collar jobs out, and Schlumberger bought REDA and I'm not sure what all they did with it since) But Hawkins had, at least, Hawkins Lab, which clearly kept a lot of scientists and engineers emplyed at fairly good pay. The Wheelers and Harringtons also seem to suggest a decent economy for the upper-middle-class.
posted by Navelgazer at 7:46 PM on July 4 [1 favorite]


True, we just don't know enough about Hawkins. Though even the malls in large and affluent KC suburbs didn't have a bank of four escalators.. Looks like the location is Gwinnett Place Mall in an Atlanta suburb.
posted by fleacircus at 8:03 PM on July 4 [1 favorite]


The set decoration on the mall was perfect.

A few months ago I took a trip home, and the hotel that I stayed in was in the parking lot of what was the mall of my childhood. Some of the anchor stores were still intact, but there was a pit where most of the smaller stores had been. Seeing it come to life again in the show was nice.

Also Steve in the sailor suit was great, how did Steve become the best character when he was such a creep in the beginning of season one?
posted by fifteen schnitzengruben is my limit at 8:13 PM on July 4 [10 favorites]


Robin is played by Ethan Hawke and Uma Thurman's daughter Maya. I wonder if Ethan asked Winona for a favor?
posted by k8t at 12:54 AM on July 5 [2 favorites]


k8t, I was thinking exactly that. I was really underwhelmed with her performance (she has two facial expressions and one flat way of speaking), and we learn more about her from what other characters say about her than through her performance. I suspect nepotism was part of how she was cast.

The mall seemed... different from the malls in the northeast, where I spent my formative years. I remember malls of that era being really dark, and Starcourt seemed very well-lit. A few of my home malls were converted factories and automotive assembly plants, and I kept waiting to find out that Starcourt was the former site of the lab.
posted by pxe2000 at 2:12 AM on July 5


Oh! Also!

I really like how the show depicts the effect of the mall on downtown Hawkins. I’m too young to remember what the downtown looked like before we got the mall, but I know in retrospect that it had a bad effect on the local economy. Since this show is 80s nostalgia, and since we’re experiencing it through the kids, the Duffers could have just portrayed the mall as a big positive. I’m glad they didn’t.
posted by pxe2000 at 2:18 AM on July 5 [2 favorites]


Wow, I was annoyed the entire episode and had to force myself to finish it. The relentless, self-aware lampshading of "80s!", "nostalgia!" rubs me the wrong way and takes me out of the show. Also, I was 20 in 1985 and maybe the show would work better for me if I were six years younger? And didn't hate the 80s?

It was fun hearing "Hot Blooded", which you don't hear often these days. Although I think of it as more of a 70s song. One thing that strongly resonated with me were those pool scenes. In my town, we all went to the city pool in the summer, from when we were little all the way through high
school. It was always that crowded, too.

The "father overprotective of his daughter regarding boys" trope is less
funny to me than it is bit creepy, though it's certainly in keeping with 80s teen comedies.

Is it just me or was anyone else saying to their TV, "Don't waver, Mrs. Wheeler! Go get some of that!"
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 3:44 AM on July 5 [2 favorites]


IMHO the dialogue (and/or directing of actors) on this show is real bad, and it kind of makes it hard to judge how good the actors are. I thought Robin was okay. She's one of the few younger people in this show who actually looks like an actor to me, except the actor who plays Will who is growing into it.
posted by fleacircus at 4:04 AM on July 5 [2 favorites]


The all-gleaming-white walls of Starcourt remind me more of the Carousel Center in Syracuse (built 1990) than the Dayton Mall (built 1970) where I grew up. But as a new mall, it definitely seems within the realm of period appropriate. The foliage and water feature are spot on.

Steve's redemption arc seems to have stuck this season. I never would've guessed I'd learn to love the guy, but we were all dumb as kids in our own way. Hopper, on the other hand, seems to have learned nothing about parenting over the last 6 months.
posted by rikschell at 4:30 AM on July 5 [4 favorites]


I find Mike so incredibly unlikeable. He's definitely going to be a GamerGater when he grows up.
posted by orrnyereg at 6:45 AM on July 5 [11 favorites]


Yeah, Mike sucks.

Re: the mall, I just kind of assumed that it was somewhere on the outskirts of Hawkins where it could draw in visitors from a couple of different towns. But also we know that a lot of real malls built in that time would actually end up shutting down 20-30 years later precisely because their local economies could no longer support them, so in a way Starcourt makes perfect sense in a faltering rust belt town like Hawkins.
posted by tobascodagama at 7:10 AM on July 5 [1 favorite]


We're just going full-on grouchy, sloppy 80s sitcom dad with Hopper now? From smart but sad reluctant hero to "[BLAAAAARRRRRRP, SCRATCHES GUT] Keep yer hands offa my daughter, boy!"
posted by DirtyOldTown at 7:26 AM on July 5 [12 favorites]


I think past seasons of Stranger Things biggest flaws is foregrounding the boys and backgrounding the girls too much. I mean, Eleven and Nancy and Joyce were total badasses, but they didn't have numbers parity. The creators have done good work improving that. Being true to the 80s inspirations has its own pitfalls.

It also seems that the creators are aware that Mike is being a dick. They pushed hard on the Eleven-Mike ship, and I hope they take it in interesting and authentic directions, and don't feel beholden to wrap it up in an 80s teen romcom way. Because at the end of the show next season these kids will be old enough to be bonded for life as friends, but HELL NO as good couples.
posted by rikschell at 7:29 AM on July 5 [2 favorites]


What's up with the soundtrack? I don't recall so many 80s songs in past seasons - it seems that the balance has shifter to songs from the cool synths of the earlier seasons.
posted by larrybob at 2:56 PM on July 5


My partner and I definitely noted the drastic increase of licensed songs in season two. I think it’s the inevitable outcome of a nostalgia-driven show suddenly having as much money as they like to fill-in period details with precision, instead of hinting at them in a more generalized (less expensive) way. I expected all that to get even more ostentatious in s3.

Also, while “Hot Blooded” was indeed released in 1978, anyone who grew up in the Midwest in the ‘80s knows that pop culture lagged behind by a good number of years compared to whatever was hot and new on the coasts. Especially in smaller towns or more rural areas, which tended to receive such things second- or even third-hand. Lots of ‘70s cars, hairstyles, and music trending well into the ‘80s where I was raised.
posted by mykescipark at 4:12 PM on July 5 [15 favorites]


The mall seemed... different from the malls in the northeast, where I spent my formative years. I remember malls of that era being really dark, and Starcourt seemed very well-lit

Looked spot on to me based on my local mall in NJ. There were some details that were so exact that I'd forgotten - the pebbled-concrete planters jammed full of rubber plants, Jazzercise. One thing glaringly missing though? Smoking. You could smoke in the mall hallways, there were big square trash cans with sand-ashtray tops everywhere, and all the teenagers used to hang in clusters smoking.

The "father overprotective of his daughter regarding boys" trope is less
funny to me than it is bit creepy, though it's certainly in keeping with 80s teen comedies.

Being true to the 80s inspirations has its own pitfalls.


Yeah, I really enjoy this series but I wish it weren't so sexist. I get that the 80s were more sexist but I wish I could remind the creators "this is a TV show you are making now and you don't have to repeat the tropes - you could subvert them if you wanted to." I feel like what they're doing is what feels like a surface level of subversion and maybe that feels satisfying, but we're still not getting actual human female characters.

I like Robin. She seems very real to me.
posted by Miko at 8:11 PM on July 5 [6 favorites]


Holy cow Starcourt is a real (dead) mall!
posted by Miko at 8:30 PM on July 5 [5 favorites]


That EW link has a big spoiler for the series in the very first paragraph, BTW.

That town's too small and poor for that much mall but okay.

Probably serving the area.

Liked the first ep, especially that Billy got Barbed.
posted by Halloween Jack at 9:50 PM on July 5


It was fun hearing "Hot Blooded", which you don't hear often these days.

Indeed. I cannot hear it without thinking of the observation made on the podcast Songs You’re Sick Of (sadly on a seemingly permanent hiatus) that for all its undeniable charm, “Hot Blooded” has some terribly lazy songwriting: rhyming, “You don’t have to read my mind,” with, “To know what I have in mind,” really takes cocaine-fuelled chutzpah.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 10:09 PM on July 5 [6 favorites]


Still not as annoying a lyric as "when I wore a younger man's clothes".
posted by tobascodagama at 7:11 AM on July 6 [1 favorite]


One thing that I still can't figure out (and maybe this is fleshed out in an episode I haven't watched yet). Did Suzie exist? Her description is the classic "my summer girlfriend, she goes to a different school, you wouldn't know her" story.

I wonder if the "creepy abandoned factory" was anywhere on the map of Hawkins before this season. It always had a weird geography, even in the first season, but I don't think I could put all the parts together now.
posted by fifteen schnitzengruben is my limit at 12:49 PM on July 6


I dunno, while Dustin seemed pretty oblivious to how miserable he was making his friends by dragging them out to that hill with nowhere near enough water, he definitely expected to receive some kind of response on "Cerebro".

(Speaking of which, that's clearly an anti-Chekov's gun, right? Like, we're supposed to hear "Cerebro" and think that Eleven is going to have to hook herself up to it by the end of the season, so they're probably not going to do that.)
posted by tobascodagama at 1:32 PM on July 6 [3 favorites]


> The relentless, self-aware lampshading of "80s!", "nostalgia!" rubs me the wrong way and takes me out of the show. Also, I was 20 in 1985 and maybe the show would work better for me if I were six years younger? And didn't hate the 80s?

Heh, I had a similar reaction to a specific "80's!" moment in the s3 finale, but not from the perspective of someone who was 20 in 1985. I don't hate the 80s since I don't have any conscious memory of the time, but I do wonder how much of this would resonate differently if I too had been a teen in the 80s.

For me, the 80's stuff is more like an interesting set of aesthetics and vibe rather than nostalgia. When I get the show's allusions to specific 80s or older pop culture or other entertainment I know, it's a nice bonus, but the 80s'ness itself isn't much of a draw. The supernatural elements and how the characters deal with them are what keep me coming back to the show. I'm less interested in the romance/relationship storylines, and I agree w/ Miko's comment above. While I do mostly enjoy the show, I don't like the weird sexist vibe in the way it treats its female characters compared to its male characters. Freaks and Geeks did a terrific job writing female characters in the 80s, so I don't think it's so much 80s-style sexism as it is the fact that the Duffer Brothers are two straight men who think emphasizing that a girl or woman is "really, really pretty" is emotionally impactful (rolls eyes).
posted by rather be jorting at 3:32 PM on July 6 [10 favorites]


Yeah, they’re still nailing the ’80s thing

Ehhhh. . . it's feeling a bit overwrought this season, IMO.

The relentless, self-aware lampshading of "80s!", "nostalgia!" rubs me the wrong way and takes me out of the show. Also, I was 20 in 1985 and maybe the show would work better for me if I were six years younger?

I was 16/17 in '85, and I think I'm feeling pretty much the same as you. The first two seasons got a lot of things right about the era, but this time around it's like the Duffer Brothers (born in 1984) are making a sort of mish-mosh of all sorts of elements that they've pulled from '80's movies and TV shows. It's overwhelmingly "Hollywood action-comedy '80's" in a lot of ways - not just the set design and costuming but the characters and plot elements, too.
posted by soundguy99 at 9:57 PM on July 6 [5 favorites]


Literally nothing of consequence happened in this episode. Glad they played their cards early so I know what to expect. Jesus.
posted by turbid dahlia at 1:13 AM on July 7


Here's a ridiculous nitpick...the mall drove me freaking crazy because in 1985 I lived and hung out at the biggest mall in Indiana because it was five minutes away. Starcourt seemed much bigger. Malls in Indiana at that time were mostly one story with the anchor stores having two floors. The two story mall is something I associate with other regions.
posted by fluffy battle kitten at 2:01 PM on July 7 [3 favorites]


The return of Steve Harrington, World’s Worst Babysitter, makes me very happy. I’m glad they didn’t play it as “yeah, whatever, we did these things, but I’m cool and can’t associate with you.” I would’ve been very disappointed if Steve’s growth had regressed the way Hopper apparently has, with his growth from reluctant guardian to adoptive father papered over with stereotypical “gruff, clueless Dad.”

I’m also pleased to see that Jonathan looks less green, and Billy looks slightly less greasy. There will apparently be plenty of other things grossing me out this season, but at least their makeup has improved a bit.

Did Susie exist?
My money is on yes, but she’d be surprised that Dustin thinks he’s her boyfriend.
posted by EvaDestruction at 3:26 PM on July 7 [8 favorites]


We're just going full-on grouchy, sloppy 80s sitcom dad with Hopper now? From smart but sad reluctant hero to "[BLAAAAARRRRRRP, SCRATCHES GUT] Keep yer hands offa my daughter, boy!"

That was what's bugging me the most about what I've seen of season 3 so far. He's a totally unsympathetic character now.

Agreed that the mall is too much for a town like that. I grew up in the 80s in a much more populous and prosperous town than Hawkins (still not a proper "city") and it had one story.
posted by Foosnark at 7:51 PM on July 7 [2 favorites]


I took Starcourt to be the actual same mall as the one in Day of the Dead. I was mistaken.

Hawkins is in a mythical geography of Indiana, where it’s hilly and forested and rustbelty and there’s a national security lab and people send their children to Purdue. This fictionally merges Northern Indiana including “The Region” with the rest of the state south of the glacier line and on south into Tennessee, where Oak Ridge is located.

Everything north of Indy is flat as a pool table. I’m from Bloomington. IU and the University of Kentucky have an historic rivalry, and IU has been an important scientific research university for some time. I found myself amused.
posted by mwhybark at 11:22 PM on July 7 [2 favorites]


I grew up in NJ in 80's. That mall is not enough mall. :-)

I'm enjoying the season so far. The actress who plays El is fantastic. Sad to hear the Duffer Brothers didn't grow up in the 80's. Maybe if you grew up in the 90's you were supersaturated with 80's culture / movies?
posted by xammerboy at 11:18 PM on July 8 [1 favorite]


> Sad to hear the Duffer Brothers didn't grow up in the 80's. Maybe if you grew up in the 90's you were supersaturated with 80's culture / movies?

As a 90's kid, I don't remember growing up with much of 80's culture / movies at all (besides Back to the Future on tv reruns and 80s pop hits on radio station playlists). Mostly growing up in the 90s for me meant being supersaturated with stuff of the 90s - Disney golden age (movies and channel), Nickelodeon, Baby-Sitters Club, horse girl books and other YA Lit, Star Trek if one was so inclined (I was so inclined), grunge & alt rock (Nirvana, Smashing Pumpkins, Foo Fighters), Sailor Moon, DBZ, the rise of boy bands and teen pop chanteuses (or declaring yourself 2 cool 4 pop), just to name a few.

I think mass-marketed vicarious nostalgia skips a decade? Or maybe I personally was just more interested in 70's and older stuff when I started getting interested in pre-90's culture/movies - Douglas Adams, Monty Python, M*A*S*H. Bell-bottom jeans definitely made a comeback around the 90s/early 00's. I don't think it was until high school that I became more interested in checking out 80's stuff like John Hughes movies (Bueller!) or deeper cuts of new wave music, but also I don't remember the 80's being en vogue much (vs nowadays it's making a huge resurgence seemingly everywhere).

As for malls, I seem to remember them being far less colorful than the Starcourt back in the 90s - maybe there was a sea change towards beige-r or more monochromatic colorways after the 80's? And Orange Julius wasn't a thing in my part of California, but I definitely remember seeing Hot Dog on a Stick!
posted by rather be jorting at 1:17 PM on July 9


Hot Blooded being a bit long in the tooth is completely appropriate, as it's not about Billy - it's about the mothers on the side of the pool, ogling a lifeguard young enough to be their son.
posted by Jilder at 3:12 AM on July 10 [5 favorites]


I took Starcourt to be the actual same mall as the one in Day of the Dead.

The mall zombie movie was Dawn of the Dead (1978), but the mall connection definitely still gets evoked. Day of the Dead is largely set in an underground military bunker, but it was released in the year that s3 is set.
posted by HeroZero at 8:17 AM on July 10 [3 favorites]


Music like Hot Blooded being a little older is exactly right. This is the era that saw the birth of "classic rock" stations, after all. See my comment about this phenomenon from Season 2. Ivan F and others have similar memories of the sonic landscape. It's not like people, even kids (maybe especially kids) only listen to what just came out that year.
posted by Miko at 8:32 AM on July 10 [3 favorites]


I spoiled myself for the whole season since I wasn’t allowed to watch it until the kid got home from vacation but the one thing I was not spoiled about in this episode was the exact thing I needed to be emotionally prepared for.
posted by Ruki at 7:01 PM on July 11


In the opener of Mike and Eleven making out, I wasn't sure who I was looking at at first. El's hair at the moment is very much like slightly shaggy boy's haircuts of the 90s, so I had a short moment of being excited that one of our main cast turned out to be queer. Alas.

Why did Nancy hide the fact that she'd stayed over at Jonathan's? Joyce saw the lipstick on his cheek and didn't make a thing of it, so it seems like she knew about it. Hiding it from Will? Or should we read it as "Joyce knew they were together last night, but didn't know that Nancy stayed the night"
posted by vibratory manner of working at 12:14 PM on July 15


I get that this is something that would happen in the 80's (and maybe happen now), but isn't Billy still underage? I'm creeped out by that storyline.

The female characters all dealing with a lot of sexist assholes is feeling less like realism and more like using the time period as an excuse for being sexist.
posted by dinty_moore at 7:05 PM on July 17 [1 favorite]


And it's also inaccurate with regard to small-town journalism, which by necessity was more egalitarian with regard to gender. At the big city papers, where there was much more specialization and professional competitiveness, the sexism depicted may well have been representative of the 80s. I don't know, but it doesn't fit with my experience of small-town newspapers. And, as others have noted, it's weird and off-putting to so prominently feature crude sexism even while the shows utterly erases racism.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 7:34 PM on July 17 [1 favorite]


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