Stranger Things: "Chapter Three: The Case of the Missing Lifeguard"
July 4, 2019 2:16 PM - Season 3, Episode 3 - Subscribe

With El and Max looking for Billy, Will declares a day without girls. Steve and Dustin go on a stakeout, and Joyce and Hopper return to Hawkins Lab.
posted by Fizz (25 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
Oh wow, are they going there? Are they going to make Will canonically gay? Or are they just going to tease it?
posted by rikschell at 3:10 PM on July 4 [4 favorites]


That would be really awesome if they just had Will come out, but I am doubtful that they will do this. I think you're right, it'll be hinted at or teased in some shitty vague way.

I'm kind of bored with Nancy and Jonathan's story line. Actually, I'm just bored with Jonathan.

Enjoy Steve, Dustin, & Robin focusing on the 'Russian spy' angle. Max & Eleven are also really fun to watch. Just give us a side-show where they go around solving crime using telepathic powers and breaking up with all the boys.

You can see all the lines starting to converge, but some of these story lines just feel stronger than others.
posted by Fizz at 4:15 PM on July 4 [7 favorites]


Yeah, it'd be awesome if the show did canonically have Will come out, or otherwise be confirmed as gay in the text, even if it doesn't mean "coming out" and future plots focus on what it's like to be a closeted kid in 80's Indiana. But if it's not official and the possibility of Will being gay is just vaguely alluded to, that would feel like trying to gain brownie points for representation without actually earning them. Wearing purple wizard robes while happily declaring freedom from girls? Could be great as a sincere hint towards his developing identity, but if it's just to emphasize how Will is stuck in an arrested development, where getting interested in girls is equated to "normal" growing up, that's not a good look. Ugh. Let the kid catch a break!

"It's not my fault you don't like girls!"

Oof. That moment of silence afterwards...

"Heather" offering the cookies was so ominous!!!! No thank you, lifeguard doppelganger! I think that creeped me out more than Heather braining Ted with the wine bottle.
posted by rather be jorting at 5:02 PM on July 4 [5 favorites]


I like that the doppelgangerification seems to turn them into Stepford authoritarian asshole versions of themselves, like a hangover from the 50s or something. I hope it continues.
posted by fleacircus at 8:11 PM on July 4 [6 favorites]


This felt like all-but confirming that Will is gay, and his beating down of Castle Beyers was tragic and well-done.

Body-Snatchers is a really good angle for this season to take.

I can't imagine what the music budget for this show is. Like, "Material Girl" at least was the right cultural counterpoint for the mall montage. "American Pie" almost felt like they were showing off.
posted by Navelgazer at 8:35 PM on July 4 [8 favorites]


I have to be up for work in 6 hours but fuck me I guess. More please.
posted by mrjohnmuller at 9:02 PM on July 4 [2 favorites]


I feel like there have been fewer pop songs this season, but they’ve really made the ones they’ve licensed count. I was hoping the older kids would listen to more nascent alternative music (after last season’s Fad Gadget needle drop I was holding out hope that we’d have a triumphant montage involving Steve and Dustin cut to I’ve Tried Subtlety by Game Theory), but I wonder if they splashed out so much on the big hits that they had less for lesser-known songs.
posted by pxe2000 at 2:26 AM on July 5


It's one thing for Will to be teased and called a slur by bullies at school, but for Mike specifically to say "you don't like girls", phrased in that exact way, seems too deliberate to me. Especially since Mike knows what the bullies say about Will.

I assume Will is going to come out to his friends, at least, at some point, but honestly with the way everybody is acting this season it doesn't seem like a super safe time to do that? If I were in Will's shoes, feeling as alienated from his friends as he does here, I wouldn't feel safe divulging something that could just alienate them further.

Anyway, I do love the irony that the mall, that bastion of capitalism, is actually a front for some kind of Soviet experiment.
posted by tobascodagama at 7:22 AM on July 5 [10 favorites]


The D&D scene here felt so deeply real. I don't know if they are setting up Will to come out as gay, but the dynamic of one (or more) party members discovering girls and doing an abrupt fade on friends that were not interested is a very familiar one for me. I did try bringing a girlfriend to a Shadowrun session and boy howdy did that not work out super well for anyone involved.
posted by Rock Steady at 7:30 AM on July 5 [15 favorites]


I have strong sympathy with Will JUST WANTING TO PLAY SOME GODDAMN D&D.
posted by kyrademon at 2:20 PM on July 5 [36 favorites]


I would like to see David Harbour acting less big. Rein it in, dude.
posted by Don.Kinsayder at 8:41 PM on July 5 [5 favorites]


Clearly, the critical ingredient in having a junior high supernatural mystery investigation team is having one kid who is a superpowered badass.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 10:17 AM on July 6 [3 favorites]


I like how Robin solved the puzzle, which I thought was all Elucidated Brethren of the Ebon Night stuff.
"The significant owl hoots in the night."
"Yet many grey lords go sadly to the masterless men."
"Hooray, hooray for the spinster's sister's daughter."
"To the axeman, all supplicants are the same height."
"Yet verily, the rose is within the thorn."
And so forth...
posted by fifteen schnitzengruben is my limit at 4:01 PM on July 6 [9 favorites]


I like how Max and El’s storyline mixes sci-fi monster horror with the low-key horror of seeing into your brother’s bedroom or your friends’ private conversations. Meanwhile, Dustin and Steve’s parallel “investigation” makes for some nice comic relief. Jazzercise!

It’s poignant to see Will briefly in his element again as Dungeon Master, even if his efforts are in vain. He tried so hard. (But I’m surprised he’s willing to go out to Castle Byers alone at night, after the last two seasons.)

Joyce Byers is a badass and I love how she just ignores Hopper’s whining.
posted by mbrubeck at 4:38 PM on July 6 [6 favorites]


In the first episode thread someone pointed out that Robin is played by Maya Hawke, daughter of Ethan Hawke and Uma Thurman, and in her first lines in this episode she sounds exactly like her mother.

And I'm a big fan of the "no time for bullshit" version of Joyce.
posted by soundguy99 at 10:05 PM on July 6 [3 favorites]


I'm not usually the Actor Recognizer in our family, but after a couple scenes with Robin, I was so sure that I knew her from somewhere that I looked her up and discovered her parentage. I still don't think she looks like either of them very much, but her speech mannerisms are SO MUCH like her mother it is remarkable. Images from Kill Bill kept popping up in my head every time she spoke.
posted by Rock Steady at 7:12 AM on July 8 [1 favorite]


Based on what I've seen so far, I don't think this season is going to do a lot to spur sales of the official Stranger Things Dungeons & Dragons Game Starter Set. Maybe a tie-in with a ham radio manufacturer would've been more appropriate.
posted by exogenous at 10:04 AM on July 8 [1 favorite]


Speaking of Actor Recognizing, I was looking at the show's wiki page just now and finally registered that Mayor Kline's played by Cary Elwes. Good lord! Cigar-guillotine man is CARY "AS YOU WISH" ELWES!
posted by rather be jorting at 11:29 AM on July 8 [12 favorites]


I think all the people thinking Will is going to come out are totally reading the narrative wrongly. This is an 80s nostalgia show. In the 80s if a kid came out as gay in small town America he/she would likely be ostracized & leave town for the big city to reinvent themselves as they found others like themselves & allies more accepting than the neighbors they left behind. That's not nostalgic. Anything else would show blatant disregard for the culture of the times.

Much more likely Will just isn't ready for girls yet & wants to keep exploring this new kind of outlet for his creativity with his friends. I can very much relate to Will. I took a lot longer to develop socially than most & used D&D the same way. "You're gay" was the standard slur back then for someone who didn't fit in; I had it hurled at me many times by bullies.

Eventually I moved away & reinvented myself, found others like me & accepting allies but on a completely different vector; intellectual, disruptive & a bit transgressive technologically. And it took a lot longer than most but along the way I did find love. Two of my girlfriends have made the cover of Wired.

Maybe I'm wrong but a youth-coming-out story just doesn't feel true to the spirit of the times. It would be ahistoric, inauthentic for a narrative that prides itself on its authenticity.
posted by scalefree at 6:53 PM on July 9 [4 favorites]


The apparent racial integration in Hawkins is ahistoric, but I'd much rather have Lucas's family be there than be "more accurate." (Having the biggest racist in town be a kid from California? Sometimes I wonder if the Duffer Brothers have actually BEEN TO Indiana...)

But, I hear you. Coming out in the age of Ryan White would have led to terrible things--the sort of things this show doesn't do except as metaphor. Tons of LGBTQ people have said they identify with Will's story, though, and I think the writers are trying to honor that, while still being somewhat cagey. Is it just a Jo March situation where he's not ready to grow up yet?

We may never get a full answer. Some of these kids are still really young to be pairing off as seriously as they are. I hope the final message of this show is not "True Love begins at age 13."
posted by rikschell at 7:57 AM on July 10 [8 favorites]


Waitaminutewaitaminutewaitaminute - is the shitty job at the Hawkins Misogyny Gazette a JOB job, and not just a summer job, Nancy? TELL ME YOU HAVE COLLEGE PLANS, PLEASE. Or another plan to get out Hawkins (and ideally take Joyce, El, and Max with you). This town needs you more than it deserves you, don’t hold yourself back.
posted by EvaDestruction at 7:59 AM on July 10 [4 favorites]


In a later episode, either she or Jonathan calls Nancy's job an internship.
posted by tobascodagama at 8:42 AM on July 10 [1 favorite]


scalefree, I hear you as well, and generally second rikschell's comment: Coming out in the age of Ryan White would have led to terrible things--the sort of things this show doesn't do except as metaphor. Tons of LGBTQ people have said they identify with Will's story, though, and I think the writers are trying to honor that, while still being somewhat cagey.

This is where not discussing events past the episode topic of the thread makes it tough to engage further with this, but later episode threads bring up perspectives from other MeFites who grew up in 80's Indiana that are relevant to the discussion here, and provide some good food for thought regarding the notion of depicting a youth coming-out story feeling or not feeling true to the spirit of the times.
posted by rather be jorting at 11:17 AM on July 10 [4 favorites]


Yeah, Steve graduated (and didn't even get into Tech) but Nancy (and I think Jonathan, but I could be wrong) have one more year of high school. Definitely a summer job (did they have "interns" back then?)
posted by rikschell at 6:03 PM on July 10 [3 favorites]


I do love the irony that the mall, that bastion of capitalism, is actually a front for some kind of Soviet experiment.

In retrospect, it's surprising that no one else that I know of went there before now. Malls had been sprouting up like mushrooms across the American landscape before the eighties proper (the Dixie Square Mall, scene of one of the car chases in Blues Brothers, had already been closed when the movie was filmed), but I think that they really came into their own in that decade.
posted by Halloween Jack at 6:41 AM on July 16 [1 favorite]


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