Thursday, January 11, 2018

Stranger Things, Season 1, episode 8: The Upside Down

Last episode Joyce and Jim were captured by the Ominous people

They try to convince Joyce to join sides by telling her about the monster that eats people and they totally want her to help them save people because they’re good people who just want to save people, Joyce

These would be the people who faked the death of her son, presented a fake corpse to her to bury in a fake funeral. In other words, Joyce would like to set them all on fire then hit them with hammers.

While they’re questioning Jim with tasers and planning to fake is death via drug overdose. But Jim remains confident and strong and makes a deal - a deal which seems to involve giving up El in exchange they get to see the portal they have in the basement. They’re dressed up in Haz mat suits to head into the ominous black void - all the while Jim has devastating flashbacks of his daughter dying from her illness as they examine the alien landscape, the ruins of Will’s camp, ominous eggs and general ominousness, looking for Will

Nancy and Jonathan are not hanging around, they gather all their monster tools, all their weapons, set an array of weapons and are totally ready to take the monster down. Which is when Steve arrives to make nice with Nancy and then freak out when he sees the state of the house and Nancy and Jonathan on high alert waiting for the monster to come. He won’t leave, he and Jonathan argue - and Nancy points a gun at him

Ok, I want a spin off series of Nancy the monster hunter, I’m just saying.

The lights blink… the monster arrives and since Steve keeps freaking out she just kicks him out. I say again, spin off

The monster tries to eat Jonathan and Nancy’s bullets don’t do a whole lot - but Steve comes back in time to part save the say so they can lure the monster into a trap. And set him on fire

Seriously, these three, monster hunters. Nancy the boss. Make it so Netflix, make it so.

In the void, Jim and Joyce find evidence of the monster’s burning injuries.

The kids are still hold up in the school gathering pudding for an exhausted El and arguing what to do (there’s talk of helping Nancy but everyone recognises now that Nancy has taken several prestige class levels of badass and probably doesn’t need them). El and Mike keep building on that chemistry, talking about dances, El joining Mike’s family and them eventually kissing.

This moment is interrupted when the Ominous squad arrives to try and kidnap El

The problem with that plan is absolutely no-one has come up with a way to actually capture El. They’re surrounded, lots of guns are pointed and El promptly melts their brains. Really.

Do not mess with her

She does faint though, so the second wave can arrive and kidnap everyone. And Papa can hug her and declare how much he cares and how they’re going home. She resists - repeatedly saying “bad” - Mike and Joyce have both shown her a much better image of home than what he has to offer. She doesn’t melt his brain though - because the monster appears - it’s attracted to blood and El just mushed many many many many brains. And eats everyone except El and the kids who promptly run

The kids retreat and Lucas manages to delay the monster with a slingshot. Seriously several machine guns just opened up on this thing but a slingshot makes it delay. It’s going to eat them all so El steps forward. Mike tries to stop her, predicting the inevitable - and she pins him to stop him meddling

El confronts the monster. It’s epic, it’s awesome. It can’t move an inch from the wal where she slams it. She says goodbye to Mike - and then she and it vanish in a wave of motes

And in the shadowy realm, Joyce and Jim find Will, save him from the horrible tentacle rammed down his throat and Jim talks Joyce through CPR to save him. Yes, he lives. Everyone lives.

Except maybe El? But this got a second season so I doubt it.

We have lots of lovely reunions, everyone lives, everyone’s alive - and Jim gets in an Ominous car. This is Ominous.

And a month later we catch up in their real lives, happy, playing games, alive. Noteworthy:

Nancy is with Steve not Jonathan and I kind of like that. Yes Steve was an arsehole, but he clearly at least stepped on that redemption path, Nancy was attracted to him (and points to Stranger Things sexual woman is ok. The monster got her virginal friend. Nancy got some and that’s FINE) and I the whole plot would kind of force Nancy and Jonathan together as some kind of completeness - this feels like it’s Nancy’s CHOICE, not what is written in the plot.

At the same time she buys Jonathan a nifty camera - which Steve knows about and clearly approves of. So we’ve also shattered any sense of possessive jealousy. I like it

Jim is ominously leaving food in the woods. Which is Ominous. And Will is vomiting black goo and tentacles - which also feels very ominous. Plot hooks!

And so ends Stranger Things and it had a lot I loved. For a start can we give points for a story focusing on kids where parents were INVOLVED? Not inexplicably absent? From Karen quietly playing parent of the year (she was awesome) to Joyce and Jonathon’s complex, loving, imperfect, but awesome relationship. And yes, Joyce’s set gnawing was the second best I’ve seen.

Nancy was awesome and the way her Jonathan/Steve storyline continued worked well. I like that the group of friends included a Black kid and a disabled kid - but I think Lucas may have been the only POC in the series and both of them felt… peripheral? I mean if both characters weren’t there would the plot have actually changed? There were also no LGBTQ people but compounded by a whack of homophobic slurs. I hate erasure and homophobia but have a special pet hate for anything that combines the two.

I liked this show. The plot was good, the visuals and aesthetics excellent and the characters awesome. I liked it a lot… I really did

But… I don’t get the hype? I mean, I liked it, it was a solid, good show definitely. But my gods people are rhapsodising about this and I DO NOT GET IT. This is almost as confusing to me as the hype over Leftovers