Friday, August 25, 2017

Stranger Things, Season 1, Chapter 2: The Weirdo on Maple Street

Mike, Dustin and Lucas take Eleven back to Mike’s house and quickly realise Eleven is not a usual child, being disturbingly silent and having little concept of privacy. They can’t go to their parents because doing so would reveal they were out at night looking for Will when they were told not to so concoct a plan to have Eleven (dubbed El by Mike, seeing her tattoo) knock on the door in the morning and introduce himself to Mike’s mother and get whatever help she needed.

El remains creepily silent (Dustin and Lucas are not exactly on side with helping her) and the next morning she is adamantly against the plan, signally she doesn’t want to tell anyone as bad people are after her who will kill them all. By what we’ve seen she’s not wrong with poor Benny.

Mike skips school (understood by his very understanding mother who thinks he’s traumatised by his missing friend) to show El the wonders that this era has to offer - reclining chairs and so El can slowly become a little more talkative. We do get an insight into her terror of confined spaces with a flashback of people in an institution locking her in a small room while she screams for her father. Clearly not a happy childhood

She also sees a picture of Will and seems to recognise him. When the rest of the Geek squad return, Lucas is done with them harbouring, what he assumes, is an escaped mental patient and tries to tell a parent - only to have El hold the door closed with her telekinetic powers. This is duly impressive to the three kids who love all things magical and super-powered. They’re totally on side with helping her hide out now. They also thinks she knows where Will is - and she reveals via DnD models because communcation is somewhat difficult for her. Will is hiding from a monster

Jonathan and Joyce are dealing with missing Will… badly. Joyce is imploding messily and emotionally and it’s painful to watch. She’s making flying, melting down all over chief Hooper and convinced that the weird phone call she received was from Will, though it did fry her phone making her go to her place of work, get an advance because she spent all her money on missing papers, to buy a new phone. It’s really excellent acting because it is terrible to watch her completely implode

Jonathan is trying to hold it together and support his mother which is- he goes to see his dad Lonnie to see if Will ran away him. Clearly not - though we do get a suggestion from Lonnie that Joyce is partially to blame for their break up. I’m not entirely convinced as he’s pretty much the worst from what I can see.

We do get a flashback into just how much Jonathan supported his little brother in the face of their parents’ arguing and how Lonnie was trying to force Will into having hobbies he wasn’t interested in but Lonnie considered better or more appropriate (sports vs computer games it seems). It seems Jonathan has been a rock for this family for some time.

Hopper continues to try and hold it together and do his best to find Wll and keep Joyce fairly stable and reality based - while managing difficult things like her belief Will called her and then fried her phone and is using these weird obsessions to derail the investigation.

He also learns about the body of Benny - the man who tried to rescue El and was killed by the ominous ominous people. His death has been dressed up as a suicide and, worse, people who were in his diner remembered there was a child there - a boy (because El’s short hair means everyone assumes she was a boy). El doesn’t look anything like Will but honestly no-one got a good look and it’s hard to think how someone would look if you shaved their heads - so there’s a cobbled together theory that Benny committed suicide after doing something unspecified to Will which involved head shaving

All this leaves Hopper quite disturbed since his town is usually a pretty quiet place that lets him ineptly get on with doing nothing

Joyce spends the rest of the day and night cradling the phone - until it wrongs with more breathing and one word… before it is fried again. Joyce has a completely traumatic melt down over it… and then the lights flicker. And a music player just turns on and starts playing randomly and GOOD GODS WOMAN WHY ARE YOU STILL IN THE HOUSE?!

She investigates… and the wall bulges like there’s a monster behind it pushing its way out. And all the lights go out. Sensibly, if belatedly, she runs out the house and gets in her car. Then the lights come back on… and she goes back in the house

Does she WANT to be murdered?

We also have a whole storyline with Nancy, Mike’s sister, going to a party with Steve her Inappropriate boyfriend, bringing along Sensible Friend Barb who she then doesn’t listen to and they end up in bed together. Jonathan is also there taking creepy pictures like a creepy person. I have no idea why this storyline or these characters are here.

But Barb, who has cut herself, mopes by the pool and when the lights go out she disappears the sound of monster noises which is probably bad.

The ominous lab people are still around doing ominous things - including using geiger counters (or something which looks very like them) to sense where the monster has been

On the second episode I think this show has struck an artful balance in not pushing my tolerance. It throws in storylines and pacing I’m not particularly a fan of and they juussssst start to annoy me with their slowness. It’s not that I LIKE the pacing it’s just that it manages to pull it back each time before it actively annoys me. But it’s the second episode and we’re still in the introduction time - but I worry that we seem to have a lot of bloat, still.

I'm still intrigued, but equally