Stranger Things: Chapter 7: The Massacre At Hawkins Lab
May 28, 2022 2:57 PM - Season 4, Episode 7 - Subscribe

As Hopper braces to battle a monster, Dustin dissects Vecna's motives -- and decodes a message from beyond. El finds strength in a distant memory. (S4 Volume 1 Finale)
posted by oh yeah! (79 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 


Don't think of it as a one-hour, forty-eight minute episode. Think of it as an hour long episode with a bonus 48-minute villain monologue!

(I kid. I really, really dug this, more thoughts later, etc. But that villain monologue went far beyond "yeah, yeah, we all got it" and deep into "I've forgotten why I wanted this fool banished to hell but I now have a new set of reasons for wanting that.")
posted by Navelgazer at 3:31 PM on May 28 [13 favorites]


Season 4 volume one???? WTF?
posted by Archer25 at 5:22 PM on May 28


WTF?

They're releasing this season's last two (movie-length) episodes on July 1st.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:40 AM on May 29 [2 favorites]


I will note that, in this crazy-long episode, we never checked in on Pizza Team even once, unless I missed something, meaning that we're going into the wait until July 1st with the last missive from them being Eden and Argyle hot-boxing the van in Suzie's driveway in the previous ep.
posted by Navelgazer at 8:07 AM on May 29 [5 favorites]


Places online had Episode 7 being released on Jul 1, too. I'm wondering if they went ahead and released it now to resolve the massacre storyline so that we wouldn't have to spend a month thinking of El as a school shooter.
posted by hydropsyche at 9:45 AM on May 29 [2 favorites]


I think some places online just got it wrong - this is the release schedule I'd been reading about for a good long while. Also, this episode makes (in my opinion, at least) a much stronger breaking point. If we were to see this season as one incredibly long movie, the end of this episode (with Hop & Joyce reunited, the mystery around Vecna mostly solved, Eleven's powers presumably returned, and Nancy stranded in the nightmare hellscape) is a classic "break out of Act II and into Act III" moment. I could always be wrong, though.

I have questions about the Upside-Down being frozen in time to the day that Will disappeared (or, probably more relevantly, the day Eleven opened the Gate) because, well, how would Will have seen the letters on Joyce's wall to make use of the Christmas Light Ouija Board then? Half credit to Nancy for recognizing that she needs to be safe about her guns with Holly in the house. Negative many many points, however, for assuming that a shoebox is a secure enough solution to that particular problem.

Also: I recognize that it's 1986 and maybe not everyone has a walkman yet (though Max can't be the only one, right?) Still, I feel like we missed a very necessary conversation between all of our scrappy heroes where they made sure everyone knew what their favorite songs were. That seems like not only just good safety there, but also like the conversation that a group of teenagers would immediately get into in that situation, right?
posted by Navelgazer at 10:08 AM on May 29 [15 favorites]


I had about 90% of where we were going with this show (i.e. what is left to resolve before the END of season 5) before e7. I called 1 at intro in e1. I didn't place the Vecna connection. I had a totally different theory for where I expected this season to end - and I was expecting a Dark Phoenix style cliffhanger with the information that we were operating with (that's thrown out now).

In all, this is probably their best season of writing. I don't know if it is because they fleshed out a sold set of supporting cast (Eddie is my new favorite Steve). I'm all for the nostalgia created through the homages this season because they've done it in a way that is entirely unique and creates a beautiful (yet terrifying) story.
Satanic Panic? Carrie? Elm St? Fright Night? Camps by lakes - a la vorhees? Hoosiers? Firestarter? Evil Dead? SW:ESB for the whole 001-011 thing? Fast Times? I mean.. those are the *easy* references in post hoc from my head. There's a lot of Red Heat and Rocky 4 with a nice dose of Rambo 2 and 3 in all the Hopper scenes. I mean - yeah the part of the nostalgia that is amazing is that they borrow from these and *still* make a coherent plot.

Anyway, I've rambled enough - I gotta go mow a lawn.
posted by Nanukthedog at 10:39 AM on May 29 [5 favorites]


Satanic Panic? Carrie? Elm St? Fright Night? Camps by lakes - a la vorhees? Hoosiers? Firestarter? Evil Dead? SW:ESB for the whole 001-011 thing? Fast Times?

I am absolutely delighted that the driver’s name is Argyle.
posted by Ruki at 4:54 PM on May 29 [8 favorites]


Ok, so waving your hands in the upside-down induces electric current on the other side, which lights up bulbs. But a lite brite only has one bulb! You couldn’t write messages with it. Do the writers even know how a light brite works?

I don’t know what is says about me that this is the one nonsensical detail out of so many that I’m getting hung up on.
posted by qxntpqbbbqxl at 6:18 PM on May 29 [30 favorites]


Satanic Panic? Carrie? Elm St? Fright Night? Camps by lakes - a la vorhees? Hoosiers? Firestarter? Evil Dead? SW:ESB for the whole 001-011 thing? Fast Times?

I am absolutely delighted that the driver’s name is Argyle.


I'd also add some good old-fashioned Scooby Doo, with Nancy, Steve, Robin and Eddie as Daphne, Fred, Velma and Shaggy, respectively.
posted by Navelgazer at 7:00 PM on May 29 [14 favorites]


Speaking of keeping loaded weapons where children can easily get to them, what exactly was Dr. Brenner's thinking with having 001 pose as an orderly?
posted by Pyry at 8:15 PM on May 29 [5 favorites]


001 had been fitted with a microchip to keep him in check. Dr. Brenner thought he could be "cured" perhaps, and the microchip was keeping his powers at bay to give Dr. Brenner a chance to work on his attitude. That's why 001 got Eleven to remove his chip first thing when they were down in the boiler room.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:28 PM on May 29 [4 favorites]


Or, since 001 was the first and apparently the most powerful psychic Brenner had found, once 001 grew too old to be in "school" with the other children, Brenner kept him around as a sort of secret backup and weapon - if the whole project went south or came under threat, he could either unleash 001 against a threat or escape with 001 and start the program over with the original test subject.
posted by soundguy99 at 8:37 PM on May 29 [2 favorites]


But that villain monologue went far beyond "yeah, yeah, we all got it" and deep into "I've forgotten why I wanted this fool banished to hell but I now have a new set of reasons for wanting that."

About halfway through I yelled "Get him while he's monologuing!" which my wife thought was funny but my kids did not appreciate. As soon as I saw him posed with his hand extended towards 002, I knew he was Vecna, and it didn't need a long monologue to get there - at that point the only question was how El was going to send him to the Upside Down. The lingering shot of the tattoo on Vecna's arm was just the anvil on the cake.
posted by nubs at 8:42 PM on May 29 [6 favorites]


I'm not sure if this is where the show is going, but I think it's also possible that 001 is actually the father of the rest of the kids in Brenner's study. We'd understood that El's mother was taking part in MKUltra without knowing that she was pregnant at the time, and that Brenner then took the baby and told everyone else that Terry miscarried, but from what we know of Brenner it wouldn't be surprising if he took more active control over those circumstances in trying to create more subjects.
posted by Navelgazer at 8:51 PM on May 29 [1 favorite]


And oh did I cackle when the long-haired metal dude sang/said:
"Here we go again..."

And then the "bad-ass" teens furiously motoring away on their bicycles à la any great 80s movie.
posted by mephisjo at 11:24 PM on May 29 [4 favorites]


I guessed the Creel twist a few episodes ago, and I could tell that the orderly was manipulating Eleven, but I didn't connect up the two storylines until this episode and I thought that they came together in a satisfying way. There was a clever bit of misdirection early on in the season when the military connects the killings to the Hawkins lab -- we are primed to assume that they're completely wrong because of course we know it's not Eleven.
posted by confluency at 3:13 AM on May 30 [3 favorites]


So some thoughts on part I of S4 as a whole, now that I've had some time to digest it all:

-it feels like their production values really got amped up this season; I guess they had a budget of $30 million per episode...so a total of $270 million for the full season.
-struggling with the Joyce/Hopper/Murray storyline - while it hasn't been bad, it's been mostly plate spinning for those characters while important stuff happens elsewhere. Kind of hoping/wanting the fact that there's a Demogorgon there will help tie it back into the main plot really quick, otherwise it's just going to be Joyce/Hopper/Murray ride in at the last second after whatever nonsense happens on the return leg. I mean, every season since the first has had an element of "bringing the band back together" in time for the finale, but this detour feels long and not as on point as the trip of Surfer Boy pizza crew (and I do look forward to Hopper and Argyle meeting, plus I need more info on the Argyle/Eden hotboxing fallout).
-Really enjoyed Steve and Eddie bonding as two worried parents about Dustin.
-The big idiot ball moment of the plot for me was when Robin and Nancy infiltrated the mental hospital, and the director realizes something isn't quite right with their story, but leaves them to meet Creel anyways while he checks it out.
-Kind of hoping we get some information on what happened to 001 when he first reached the Upside Down - what happened in those intervening years before El tore open another gate?
-Don't know how they solve the Eddie problem at this point - what evidence could come out now that could clear his name? Am I thinking he will be the one to save Nancy, though - otherwise that shot of him lovingly patting his guitar way back in episode 1 doesn't pay off. Eddie's awesome guitar riffs for the win.

Satanic Panic? Carrie? Elm St? Fright Night? Camps by lakes - a la vorhees? Hoosiers? Firestarter? Evil Dead? SW:ESB for the whole 001-011 thing? Fast Times? I mean.. those are the *easy* references in post hoc from my head.

I didn't realize it at the time, but that was Robert Eglund (aka Freddy Krueger) playing the older Creel in the mental hospital.The whole hallway and setup for Creel's cell was right from Silence of the Lambs, which is a 1991 film, but boy they sure leaned on it - which makes sense in a season pulling more from horror films.
posted by nubs at 10:17 AM on May 30 [9 favorites]


Robin and Nancy infiltrated the mental hospital, and the director realizes something isn't quite right with their story, but leaves them to meet Creel anyways while he checks it out.

I might have been reading too much into the performances, but I kinda felt like director guy was intentionally being a dick there - like, "Oh, you two girlies wanna meet this killer? Sure, let's see you freak out, even if letting you in is against the rules. Especially if you're lying about who you are. It'll serve you right."
posted by soundguy99 at 3:43 PM on May 30 [9 favorites]


That's how I think it's supposed to be taken, soundguy99, but as someone who has worked in the area of mental health, its just not something you allow to happen. All of kinds of negative outcomes are possible, and not just for the visitors. But I'll let it slide for the sake of the show.
posted by nubs at 4:05 PM on May 30 [2 favorites]


I am impressed how things are all tying up and looping back around threading the past seasons. Looking for to July to see how it all wraps up.
posted by jazon at 8:49 PM on May 30 [2 favorites]


I'm mildly annoyed at the wait for the final episodes, but at least they picked a good stopping point. I could hardly watch the first couple of episodes for all the cringey over the top bully stuff, but since then it's been excellent aside from the occasional appearances of the basketball bros.
posted by wierdo at 9:47 PM on May 30 [2 favorites]


I think One is absolutely right that Brenner is obsessed with control. Brenner also has the kids call him "Papa" -- he likely feels fatherly to One and wants to "keep him in the family" -- so he keeps him as an orderly. Which is probably also intentionally humiliating. One is a psychopath but Brenner is also quite terrible.
posted by pelvicsorcery at 2:48 AM on May 31 [2 favorites]


Maybe it's years of watching Face Off (the prosthetics show, not the John Woo movie), but when Henry/One was introduced the eyes were the same as Vecna's, so that reveal didn't come as any surprise. Then it was just a case of enjoying the journey from A to B.

A colleague told me he settled in to watch season 4 and was twenty minutes in, marvelling at the de-aging CGI before realising that Netflix had started him over from season 1's first episode. Why he would admit to that is beyond me.
posted by Molesome at 3:23 AM on May 31 [4 favorites]


I could hardly watch the first couple of episodes for all the cringey over the top bully stuff

I was bullied in grade school in junior high, in EXACTLY the same way Angela was doing it.

It was not over-the-top.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 3:44 AM on May 31 [27 favorites]


So I know that over at the "Streaming Things" podcast, they're feeling pretty confident that Nancy is done for.. That is to say, the season has been going in a way where it feels like we're going to have to lose one or more major characters, Max already escaped Vecna and if you keep doing that there'd be diminishing returns, they've been setting up getting Nancy and Steve back together so obviously that it feels like there has to be a reversal coming, etc.

And I definitely get all of that. But also, Nancy is one of my favorites (irresponsible gun-storage aside) so to lay out the case for why Nancy should at least get out of Nightmare Hellscape for a little bit...

1.) As far as we know, this is her first Vecnavision™, and Chrissy, Fred and Max all had a one or more before going into the air. (Patrick we know less about, though there was still definitely a buildup of stuff.)

2.) That was, no exaggeration, at least twenty-minutes of exposition-dump at the end of the episode. Now, Nancy wasn't getting the benefit of One's monologue and Eleven wasn't getting the visual aid of Henry Creel's homelife and all of that, but still, Nancy is one of two people who basically understands what's going on now and between her and Eleven, Nancy actually I believe has the more relevant pieces of the puzzle for putting together what's been going on. It'd be wild and frustrating and redundant for her to die in the Hellscape now and have the heroes have to piece together stuff that we as the audience already know. (Probably, I mean. Audience-superior drama is possible but it's generally not very sustainable, especially in a series like this that lives in mystery and suspense.)

3.) We see that one bit that she went into her trance before starting to climb the bedsheet. Meaning that she's still in the Upside-Down. Assuming that Dustin is right about Vecna's motivations (and Dustin is kinda always right about this stuff) then Vecna gains nothing by killing Nancy right now. Or, more specifically, killing her where she currently is located. It wouldn't create a gate. And even if it did, we already have a gate right there.

4.) There are still 4 hours left to go in the season, including an hour and a half in the next episode. Dramatic-tension-wise, she's probably gotta last at least until near the end of that, and that's a hell of a long time for her to be trancing.

If this all seems like a response to a discussion we aren't having in this thread, well, it totally is, but I can't talk back to a podcast, so here I am. Nancy might not survive the season, but she has to last long enough to get out of this current situation and reveal what she's learned at least. Right?
posted by Navelgazer at 5:57 AM on May 31 [7 favorites]


i was sure Steve was done for at the end of Chapter 6, but was rescued at the start of 7 and doesn't seem too worse for wear. I wasn't thinking Nancy was done for either, as her targeting by Vecna seemed to come from out of nowhere. I felt that he was targeting her because she had talked to his dad and done a lot of the leg work to suss out where he came from. the sudden interest in her really came out of nowhere so I hope they aren't setting her up for elimination.
posted by jazon at 8:24 AM on May 31 [1 favorite]


I felt that he was targeting her because she had talked to his dad and done a lot of the leg work to suss out where he came from. the sudden interest in her really came out of nowhere so I hope they aren't setting her up for elimination.

Mmm, I think that Vecna/Peter/001 is targeting people who are blaming themselves for things/feeling guilty about things. Nancy has been blaming herself for Barb's death all this time, so Vecna has likely had his eye on her for a while.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:35 AM on May 31 [9 favorites]


If he was having his chest burned away, there'd be no lungs to scream with.

But fuck yeah, I'm looking forward to the finale episodes.
posted by porpoise at 11:36 PM on May 31


So, some eagle eyed folks from Reddit (or at least, that's where I cam across it) have noticed that, according to the date stamp on the camcorder recording El's humiliation in the second episode, the day at the roller rink and following weird dinner with Murray was March 22nd, 1985. That was a Saturday, so this date makes sense in the continuity of the show.

It's also, according to Joyce in a scene from Season 2, Will's Birthday.

Unclear whether this was an oversight on the part of the writers or not, but since Will's storyline so far has basically been one of background frustration and waiting for his sexual identity to come out officially, it would make sense if this was the show's nod to Sixteen Candles, where everyone was too distracted with their own shit (El and Mike with each other, Joyce with new job and Hopper/Murray shenanigans, Jonathan with his guilt over lying to Nancy/Purple Palm Tree Delight) to remember it.
posted by Navelgazer at 5:03 AM on June 1 [6 favorites]


I can't believe I'm like 9 hours into this season and they're still slowly getting the gang back together. It's incredible how long this season is, but how little actually happens, and what does happen is usually so heavily telegraphed and foregone of a conclusion it's tedious waiting for the show to catch up. I haven't hated it, but man, just feels like hour and half audiovisual experiences based on Stranger Things. Just Stranger Things things.
posted by GoblinHoney at 9:12 AM on June 1 [12 favorites]


Shout-out to Cara Buono's mom style. I have always loved her in anything she's done and it amps the level each time she's in a scene.
posted by I_Love_Bananas at 3:30 AM on June 2 [5 favorites]


having a violent gang of jocks filled with self-righteous moral majority purpose over an injured or murdered white girl is pretty 80's and american tho. true to life for me, at least, except that i remember that the Black jocks were noticeably not a part of those gangs
posted by eustatic at 4:11 PM on June 2 [9 favorites]


So, having watched through this a few times now, I have a working theory that Vecna kinda sucks.

Not meaning that as an insult, mind you. I'm saying that Henry Creel/One/Vecna is designed, in this season all about bullies, to be the prototypical candyass bully. Good at manipulation? Yeah, kinda, as long as he can cherry-pick only the most pliable victims and keep them isolated. Powerful? Sure, as long as nobody's fighting back, but Eleven took him on as a seven-year-old with barely any control over her powers and won, and Max escaped his clutches just by simply attacking him physically for, like, a second.

Moreover, he's clearly insecure as all hell and obsessed with what certain people think of him. With Eleven, he wanted somebody he could craft into an adoring protegée. With Max, he was pissed that she found her way into the Dreamscape's version of the Creel House. With Nancy, it appears that she was getting close to piecing together his origin anyway, so he wanted to control the narrative in a way that would keep her afraid of him.

And his narrative is, of course, delusional as fuck, all self-justifications and self-aggrandizement. Why does he kill? Well, you should see the stuff in his dad's past, it's terrible. Won't bother explaining why he killed his mom and sister, of course, and by the time he'd done that he passed out before he could finish off his dad, but oh wait, that was his plan all along, you see? He's full of shit and he knows it, because he's a bully.

He indirectly set off the Satanic Panic surge going through town, of course, and that's a legitimately frightening social movement here, but it's unclear how intentional that was (my guess: not at all but he'd of course take credit for it) but he's having to go after the folks who feel like they can't talk to anyone about what's going on because his attempts at manipulation on a personal level are pretty weak.

He's still a threat, and they still need to deal with him, obvs, but at this point I'd say the bigger threat are the forces in town and currently outside of town that are over-terrified of him, which will be an interesting direction for the final two episodes to go in (if that is, indeed, the way this is headed.)
posted by Navelgazer at 4:53 PM on June 2 [10 favorites]


Was there any reference to Murray’s fluency in Russian before this episode?
posted by TWinbrook8 at 4:13 PM on June 3


Yup! I think as far back as Season 2, but it comes up a whole lot in Season 3, where Joyce and Hopper bring the captured Russian scientist (Aleksie) to Murray's place because he's the nearest person they know of who speaks Russian, and he acts as Aleksie's translator for several episodes before using his skills to infiltrate the base under Starcourt.
posted by Navelgazer at 5:09 PM on June 3 [10 favorites]


> "I think it's also possible that 001 is actually the father of the rest of the kids"

This had occurred to me as well.

It would also, in a show that frequently riffs on 80s movies, give them an excuse to at some point harken back to what may be the famous twist in any 80s movie ever.
posted by kyrademon at 6:44 AM on June 4 [11 favorites]


I appreciate the amount of effort they put into giving all the members of their ridiculously over-extended cast of characters at least something to do. The amount of screen time they get seems to tally with their interestingness, but I don't know that anyone's especially shortchanged.

Also, I'm assuming Nancy has to survive, because she'll end up in a happy triangular relationship with Steve and Robin (not a closed triangle, obviously).
posted by Grangousier at 5:04 PM on June 4 [1 favorite]


Also, I'm assuming Nancy has to survive, because she'll end up in a happy triangular relationship with Steve and Robin (not a closed triangle, obviously).

You haven’t been reading the fanfic, I see.
posted by Mogur at 5:32 PM on June 4 [7 favorites]


That was a hell of an infodump, there. He's been saving up his villain monologue, that's for sure.
posted by rmd1023 at 7:16 PM on June 4 [2 favorites]


I guessed the Creel twist a few episodes ago,

Yeah, this was a shoe that we’ve been waiting to hear drop since three or four episodes back: when we see the extended flashback of moving in at Stately Creel Manor, the credits have Raphael Luce being credited as Young Henry Creel.

There are not too many candidates for Older Henry Creel.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 4:25 AM on June 5 [3 favorites]


I didn't guess it but I was impressed at how well they tied the two plot-lines together.
posted by octothorpe at 1:24 PM on June 5 [1 favorite]


I still don't quite understand why they made the decision to release this season in two parts, but if they had to do it then this is an ok place to leave things. I did find it odd that we got no time with Will/Mike/Jonathan but on the other hand, they are not really the most interesting of the disparate storylines.

I know many have been complaining about the Joyce/Murray/Russian storyline being boring but I honestly quite like it. As an official Old Person, it is nice to see other Olds still doing things and making a difference - because I am sure that once they get out of Russia with Hopper, their return to the Hellmouth Hawkins will be really super-important to the plot. As frustrating as the early parts of the season are with the fractured viewpoints, we've seen in previous seasons that this is just the way they do things - there are all these little splintered groups that don't talk to each other and they wind up coming together and killing off the big bad.

Speaking of the big bad, if Vecna is this season's Boss, then who/what is the overall series Boss? Dustin classifies Vecna as the Mind Flayer's four-star general - but then who/what is the Mind Flayer really, and how did it get tied to Hawkins? I realise this will be S5 but I still wonder.

Although I find Will/Mike/Jonathan to be the least interesting story this time, I am still dying of curiosity to know what is on the mysterious painting Will has done. Is it a fantasy smooch between him and Mike? Obviously something that will reveal his true self that he is equal parts eager and reluctant to show Mike.
posted by Athanassiel at 6:44 PM on June 5 [4 favorites]


nubs: "Don't know how they solve the Eddie problem at this point - what evidence could come out now that could clear his name?"

They don't need to clear his name. The police chief knows it's not Eddie; that's why he called in the Feds (do we know what branch Torturing Military Guy Lt. Col. Sullivan is from?).

The question is how to come up with a convincing cover story for wide consumption, the way they did for the events of previous seasons. A lot of people have seen the corpses of the victims — and one of them is Jason, who is unwilling to keep secrets. This will be a tough needle to thread.

In other news, I think the Hopper plotline is a subtle reference to Stallone’s 80s œuvre and how his characters were able to withstand huge amounts of physical trauma with very few lasting effects. I mean, he gets his ankle broken and doesn't even limp afterward. When Joyce gave Hopper a big bear hug I wish he’d have said “owowowowowOW OW OW PLEASE NO HUGS RIGHT NOW.” I really don’t know why the Duffers painted themselves into that Hopper-in-a-gulag corner in Season 3, but now we all have to suffer through a bunch of contrivances as a result.

But I will say this: Season 3 was great on production design and really, really bad on plot and pacing and tone, and it felt like the Duffers were checking out mentally and just ticking all the fanservice boxes. This is a satisfying return to form. I'm not saying I needed a Season 4 (or a Season 5), but I'm glad they're cleansing the palate.
posted by savetheclocktower at 10:22 PM on June 5 [2 favorites]


It would also, in a show that frequently riffs on 80s movies, give them an excuse to at some point harken back to what may be the famous twist in any 80s movie ever.

...Okay, I grew up in the 80s and still don't recognize this - what's the twist?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 3:47 AM on June 6 [1 favorite]


Luke, I am your father…etc. - the antagonist being the parent of the protagonist.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 4:07 AM on June 6 [5 favorites]


Hopper intentionally broke his ankles so that he could slip out of the shackles when needed to but was able to still both walk and run?

Did I miss something?
posted by archimago at 7:27 AM on June 6 [2 favorites]


I wasn't sure if he broke his ankles or if he was having his ankles dislocated or maybe just banged up and swollen so the shackles were loose or what. It was very sloppy, and none of them would've really been great for mobility.
posted by Kyol at 7:40 AM on June 6 [1 favorite]


On the "twist" referenced above: gotcha, I think your describing it as an "80s movie" threw me. I see "80s movie" as almost a genre of its own (think, like, this vast swath of John Hughes/teenage slasher/Cold War action stuff) and thought you meant something like "Freddie Kruger secretly fathered kids" or something.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:55 AM on June 6 [2 favorites]


Not that this helps a lot, but I thought hopper was having the other prisoner bend the shackles just enough so that he could work his feet out of them, with the risk that a badly struck blow could break his ankle.
posted by Navelgazer at 12:01 PM on June 6 [6 favorites]


Just finished episode 7 and came to the conclusion that this season's theme is "Narrative Opulence".

The season all could have been much shorter and tighter, probably just 7-8 episodes. BUT. They had ideas, and actors, and budget, so they stuffed this turkey full of all sorts of goodness. Surprisingly it works pretty well (except for the villain monologue) and the actors are hitting their marks so it's a joy to see.

But sweet jesus, this could have been helluva lot shorter.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 5:33 PM on June 7 [4 favorites]


When Joyce gave Hopper a big bear hug I wish he’d have said “owowowowowOW OW OW PLEASE NO HUGS RIGHT NOW.”

I choked up at the Joyce/Hopper reunion because of his monologue earlier in the season. I got the sense that he would never have believed that anyone would care enough about him to come halfway across the world to rescue him, and I'm not even sure he believed it completely right at that moment.
posted by dlugoczaj at 7:51 AM on June 8 [8 favorites]


I also though One could possibly be the father of Brenner's brood of psychic kids. It would explain his hostility towards them as he would have been forced to participate in the "terrible play" of procreating that he has such disdain for. It seems short sighted of Brenner to keep him around particularly in such an antagonized state although I can buy that Brenner has enough ego to believe he could control One. I still think it's odd that Brenner wouldn't have a fail safe for the tracker like it explodes if it's tampered with. That seems like an idiot ball moment I do have trouble buying.

Having Robert Englund play the victimized father to a Freddy-like character was a fun twist.

I still wish the Russian sub plot was cut down. You could have that arc with a lot less of it playing out on screen and be totally fine.

I didn't see the Creel/Vecna/One reveal coming but that's because I wasn't actually trying to solve the mystery. I was having more fun with the journey and catching all the little nods to various tropes of 80s movies. I do wish it hadn't been such a long expo dump, but I was still fairly entertained even through a monologue that would make Dr Evil say "GET TO THE POINT."

I really like Eddie. He's a fun character and for him to go from dungeon master of the hellfire club to realizing that he is not at all a real leader gives him a decent character arc for a new secondary character. I do like the comedy of the dude who likes Ozzie Osbourne spending most of the season screaming, hiding, and running away. Reminds me a little bit of the Yellow Fever episode of Supernatural.

I was recently chatting with someone I work with who is in her early 20s and she loves the show which kinda surprised me because she doesn't seem interested in horror at all or really anything 80s. I wondered what it was like watching the show without it, but apparently it holds up without getting even a majority of the references.
posted by miss-lapin at 11:00 AM on June 8 [3 favorites]


The scenes in the lab were so freaking repetitive.
posted by The corpse in the library at 12:21 PM on June 8 [1 favorite]


Hopper intentionally broke his ankles so that he could slip out of the shackles when needed to but was able to still both walk and run?

Uh....no? He was asking the other guy to warp the shackles by flattening them slightly, which would make them the right shape to slip off of his feet. Like from that old movie I Am A Fugitive From A Chain Gang.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:26 AM on June 9 [9 favorites]


Someone's been watching a lot of old movies. :)
posted by octothorpe at 10:24 AM on June 9


Well, now I have the name for my Pretender's cover band.
posted by Abehammerb Lincoln at 2:07 PM on June 10 [8 favorites]


We loved it. I think it was an earlier post in this season that mentioned the jock-hero's Tom Cruise accent, and now none of us can un-hear Risky Business-era Tom. Close your eyes and it's eerily spot-on. Somehow we also missed Jaqen H'ghar this whole time too. A Man Needs a Name!

The computer stuff was a little too goofy. They could've gone all 2400 baud-terminal-Wargames and still pulled it off, but whatever. Also - I could swear I saw the words WEYLAND YUTANI scroll by in all of that mess which is fun for a bunch of reasons.

We knew the orderly was up to no good but hadn't made the Vecna connection prior to the monologue, which seemed to go on forever (I had a migraine ramping up about this time so maybe it only seemed to go on forever).

The chaos in Susie's house seemed like typical big-family shenanigans to us, down to the exasperated father's "SLOW DOWN!" I feel seen. It was hilarious because it was so spot-on.
posted by jquinby at 6:46 AM on June 11 [2 favorites]


They should make a spinoff called Normaller Things, with the same characters just hanging out, having romances, and playing games. You know, normal stuff.
posted by signal at 7:02 PM on June 13 [6 favorites]


They should make a spinoff called Normaller Things, with the same characters just hanging out, having romances, and playing games. You know, normal stuff.

No kidding, I would watch this. Part of me hopes that this is the spinoff they have planned that only Finn Wolfhard has correctly guessed at so far (but my personal guess about that is a series about Suzie's house.)
posted by Navelgazer at 6:10 AM on June 14 [3 favorites]


The computer stuff was a little too goofy. They could've gone all 2400 baud-terminal-Wargames and still pulled it off, but whatever. Also - I could swear I saw the words WEYLAND YUTANI scroll by in all of that mess which is fun for a bunch of reasons.

I'm not screenshotting anything but some of that computer code looked like HTML 4.0 to me--one of the weirder anachronisms in a show that is usually pretty damn good about that sort of thing.

But sweet jesus, this could have been helluva lot shorter.

The only episodes that felt overly long to me were the first two. I understand that we needed to understand where the characters were now after the third season--and I appreciated that it wasn't quite as dark as the first half of season 2--but it did seem a little extravagantly paced. I've seen complete lottery draws that took less time than a few of those dice rolls.

Really, this is the season that made me wish Netflix would give up on the binge model already. I know they are working towards it, but this season would have really benefited from following the "release the first three, then weekly" model that the other streamers generally use.
posted by thecaddy at 8:59 AM on June 15 [1 favorite]


They should make a spinoff called Normaller Things, with the same characters just hanging out, having romances, and playing games. You know, normal stuff.

This reminds me that my hope for Picard was that it was just going to be him making wine, doing crosswords, taking the dog for long walks with an inexplicably Irish Romulan, occasionally taking the TGV across France to do a little shopping in New Paris, and trying and failing to come up with a sufficiently believable excuse to avoid having to attend one more of Riker's avant garde trombone recitals in Toulouse.

I was disappointed.
posted by sonascope at 10:15 AM on June 15 [12 favorites]


I would totally watch that.
posted by octothorpe at 11:29 AM on June 15 [2 favorites]


I also agree that Netflix needs to move to the HBO model.
posted by octothorpe at 11:30 AM on June 15 [1 favorite]


I’m glad so many of you like the connection between Vecna/One. For me, it felt disappointing though. Like, literally the least interesting thing to have Vecna be an actual human person. Also it brings up a lot of questions: One was a skinny young guy but Vecna has quite the dad bod. Are those bats really fatty? What’s he been eating all these years? How did he escape the demogorgons? And the mind flayer, is their relationship what Dustin is assuming, or do they both just live in the upside down like neighbors? Does the mind flayer visit? Do they hang out?
posted by heyitsgogi at 5:03 AM on June 17 [2 favorites]


do they Netflix and chill?
posted by kokaku at 2:13 PM on June 20 [3 favorites]


So far, I think my ranking of the seasons is 1 > 3 > 4 > 2. The third season, after the nearly disastrous second season, hit a kinda perfect balance of camp, and really showed the show understanding its real strengths: a fscking fantastic ensemble and great visuals (borrowed or otherwise).

Seriously, going back and watching the first season again, there's so many scenes that were just mind-meltingly good. I remember being just stunned at how fucking COOL that van flip was - whhhhhaaaaat!? And in that same season we have the xmas light Ouija board, Eleven saving mike when he jumps off a cliff, magnets, discovering the Upside-Down... The density of awesome was just crazy. Season two I basically don't remember even though I also just rewatched it. Season 3 picks up the awesome again and mixes in the camp. Susie and the monster being pelted with endless fireworks stand out as fantastic.

For season four, I completely understand the shift to teen horror movie tropes - it's a vein they haven't mined yet, and trying to retread the same ground was part of what really hurt the second season. But the Vecna voice is just a biiiit too much for me - in the midst of some of the dream-murder sequences, I kinda wanted the victims to shout 'Stop it! you're acting like a child!' And, OMG the exposition in this last episode just went on soooo long. Show don't tell, motherfuckers!

The Max scene in Episode 4 was great, and I also really liked the dive into Lover's Lake - that whole sequence is beautifully shot. But lots of other parts just drug on too damned long. I agree with I guess almost everyone that the whole Russia storyline goes on waaaay too long. It serves two purposes: a) undo the dumb plot choice made at the end of season 3, and b) keep the characters apart so we can pull them back together for the finale. Neither of which is translates into compelling storytelling. Likewise, the Eleven rehabilitation storyline could have been cut in half with nothing lost.

I have also really liked Max and Lucas getting a lot more time in the lead this season. Mike continues to be pretty useless - I guess he's slooowly becoming his father - and Will continues to seem like he could have some great story, but it never actually happens. (I can't help but think that the hidden painting is going to come out in a big way in the last two episodes.) Meanwhile, so many of the seemingly secondary characters really manage to shine - I love Robin and Steve and Dustin and Mr Clarke and Erica. I genuinely wonder if all of this was shot at double the length - with like a full three hour storyline for the nerdy kid who gets killed in the second episode - and then they just edit the focus onto the parts that characters who worked out the best? (Except, of course, the whole fourth season just runs too damned long... they aren't /that/ adept at editing.) Must just be great direction, I suppose?

Anyhow, will be great to see how they stick the landing. Hopefully all of the exposition is out of the way!
posted by kaibutsu at 2:49 PM on June 20 [1 favorite]


I could tell that the orderly was manipulating Eleven

My spouse guessed that the orderly was 001 as soon as he mentioned "spending a lot of time with him right in this room."

My theory was that Papa was 001, and his own powers are what led him to research it in others. Maybe he was the biological father of all the kids. And the orderly was 100% playing a role in Papa's plan; conspiring with El and the punishment scene were an act.

So much for that.

001 being Vecna helps me appreciate the whole Wes Craven/Clive Barker-ness of this season as a whole. I thought I preferred "alien" monsters from the Upside Down who weren't humanoid, didn't speak English and didn't have "evil" motivations, but now that it comes together it makes more sense.

My theory now: Dustin is wrong about the Mindflayer ruling the Upside Down and Vecna being "his five-star general" -- they are unrelated.

Vecna is not very efficient at opening gates for an invasion force. He doesn't seem to have been active between 1978 and 1986 -- maybe establishing his foothold in the Upside Down and learning his powers. The snack-sized gates all seem to be located in or near Hawkins, and not in good strategic places. They don't have monsters pouring out or a troop buildup on the Upside Down side; the Watergate had a few bat-things "guarding" it but the one in the trailer had nothing at all. I think they're just a side effect and the murder is the point, and the Mindflayer is not even taking advantage of the side effect (at least not yet).

Vecna is probably not trying to break back through to the normal world on a permanent basis, because he's safer and more powerful in the Upside Down and can still project his will and do his murders from where he is.
posted by Foosnark at 7:32 AM on June 22 [1 favorite]


For those who want a spoiler we've all seen coming (blink and you'll miss it).

I would have love for the Suzie screen text dump to feature gopher protocol stuff instead of html but even that isn't that old (and lets face it, Minitel is way too French for this show).

I'm enjoying this way too much to try to complain about it not being perfect. But I don't understand how El went from somewhat speaking properly in the flashbacks, to having serious speech development issues in S01. I understand why, it would have been a drag and made the flashback sequences harder to realize, but if they'd pulled that off, it would have shown serious skill.
posted by WaterAndPixels at 8:01 PM on June 23 [2 favorites]


Juuust caught up with my wife, and we're both loving the season in general but our consolidated take:

Hopper shoulda died at the end of Season 3.

I like David Harbour just fine, but having Joyce being exasperated and conscripted into driving the gang around instead of introducing Argyle (who I also like fine, but introduces a very improbable element of... does he own a pizza shop? Does nobody care that he stole a van?) as yet another character on the character pile. And I like Brett Gelman fine too, but I could live without Murray and the cognitive dissonance of Murray being a competent action hero instead of the blustering goof of the last season.

I thought the 001/Vecna monologue was much more compelling than watching two middle-aged men sitting in a Russian prison talking about fatherhood. The whole Russian thing feels like a shaggy dog story, and at some points like a dream Murray is having after falling asleep watching Smiley's People or something.

Hopper had a great death! Heroic. Moving. I would have been 100% okay with that being the End of Hopper, and with 25% less weird meandering Russian prison smuggler stuff.
posted by Shepherd at 5:48 PM on June 24 [3 favorites]


(also irritating me: I am 99% sure the Watergate Gang did not dive into the water, swim down 40 or so feet, and burst through into another dimension with oars. I just rewatched the end of E6 and they did definitely not dive into the water with oars. Where did the oars come from? Why does everyone have oars? [Also, in the episode where they break into the Creel house and the door is locked, doors with standalone keyholes do not open if you just turn the handle from the other side, STEVE.])
posted by Shepherd at 5:52 PM on June 24 [3 favorites]


I can't rewatch it at the moment, but as I recall there was a boat with oars right where they popped into the other world.
posted by The corpse in the library at 5:09 PM on June 25 [1 favorite]


I’m really surprised that people seem broadly positive about this season. I’ve been really into all the previous seasons but i’m really disappointed by this one. I think we’re only watching still because we’ve sunk so much time in. It feels to me like they’ve forgotten how to make a TV show. Each episode is kind of a mush structurally; for a run of only 7 episodes i’d be hard pushed to tell you what happened in any given one.

We’ve always seen the show as a existing on a kind of Stephen spectrum (spielberg < -- > king) and it's at its best when it moves and explores the tension between the two (s1 is great at this). This series is almost 100% on the King end (that whole visit to Dustin’s girlfriend part being a notable exception) Our assumption is that they’re trying to do that thing Stephen King does in his bigger books with the alternating chapters following different strands with a brutal cliff-hanger at the end of each which drags you through. But it works for King because each of his chapters is almost a short story with a proper arc and often a distinct style/pov. I don’t think the Duffers pull it off, by then end of most episodes we’ve been drifting off to make a cup of tea etc. and not bothering to pause. Last night i did that during One’s monologue and he was still talking when i came back. It’s just so self indulgent.
posted by tomp at 12:45 AM on June 26 [3 favorites]


Yes, Narratively opulent.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:21 AM on June 26 [3 favorites]


I figure Vecna was locked out of the real world until 83, when Eleven re-established the gate. Just...eatin' bats and getting ripped, I guess.

He tells Nancy he 'always remembers those he kills' so he's been at it since season one, though personally that feels like a retcon to me. But maybe he's had to refine his tactics since S1 since clearly they didn't work, so he's going back to his roots.
posted by Jilder at 7:53 PM on June 27 [1 favorite]


I can't rewatch it at the moment, but as I recall there was a boat with oars right where they popped into the other world.

I am probably spending far too much time caring about multidimensional oars but they just kind of appear with oars in the first few seconds of s7; it's possible that there is a 1983 Upside Down boat with oars and they came through the portal and then scouted around and found the boat from 1983 with oars and then grabbed the oars and saved Steve; I couldn't make out a boat among the weird vein-vine detritus, though.
posted by Shepherd at 3:52 PM on June 29 [2 favorites]


Since nobody else has mentioned it (I think), kudos for the use of Prophecies from Koyaanisqatsi.
posted by computech_apolloniajames at 7:19 PM on July 10 [4 favorites]


I could tell it was Philip Glass, but I thought it was from La Belle et la Bete.

It's been a devil's bargain since the end of season 1. Leave the show as a perfect statement of what it is, mysteries and final twist cliffhanger included, or break it open into a messier extended narrative in order to share more time watching characters we grew to love in a compelling setting. The diminishing returns hit right away, but there has been good material in later seasons. I really enjoy hanging out with Dustin and Steve, Max and Lucas, Nancy, and El. Some of the others, less so. Hopper should have stayed dead, his plot line has made Joyce un-fun, which is a crime.

The biggest problem, I think, is that the multi-season extension means the creators feel the need to reveal and explain everything. And the Upside-Down works really well as a mystery horror dimension, but once you take us on a guided tour of why it is there and how it got that way and who lives there and their phone numbers, it's a lot less scary and less interesting. Horror works because of fear, fear works because of the darkness. Once you start shining a light into every corner, you ruin the premise you started with.

None of this changes the perfection that is season 1, though. It will always stand on its own, in the same way that STAR WARS (before it was A New Hope, if you can get a copy of the original before Lucas shat all over it) stands on its own as a work that feels like part of an expansive universe that was better left to our imaginations.
posted by rikschell at 7:58 AM on August 2 [2 favorites]


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