Monday, January 15, 2018

Stranger Things, Season 2, Episode 1: MADMAX

We open with the introduction of a bank robber who seems to have powers - seeing the future and able to cast illusions. She has an 8 tattooed on her arm - I never thought about it but the fact Eleven is, well, Eleven does suggest there are at least 10 more out there.

She does need some advice though - if you’re going to rob a place, do it with a co-conspirator who doesn’t have a mohawk. Really, I don’t care what kind of mask you’re wearing, if you have a mohawk you’re identifiable

After that we catch up with where everyone is.

The central kids: Mike, Dustin and Lucas are getting on with their lives rather happily with no great dramas - mostly concerned by a new student Maxine (Max) whose awesome arcade game skills means she’s completely blasting Dustin’s high scores. This leads to them following her around in awe with more than a little stalking.

Mike is having some family friction as he’s been acting up and stealing money from Nancy (which given her badassery is an act of considerable courage) and Karen is addressing that being supremely awesome (though that Regan sign in her front line has collapsed my faith in her. Oh Karen no).

Will is having more troubles. He still has “episodes” where he suddenly finds himself in the Upside Down only the dark and ominous ruined space now has a raging, red-lightninged storm tearing the place up.

Joyce is clearly worried about Will and trying to not hover over him in overprotective smotheriness. She and Sheriff Jim (who is awesome and supportive) take Will to the hospital to continue to be examined about these episodes. The doctor considers this to be PTSD and gives quite good advice and support to Joyce and Jim about what they need to expect and be prepared for - including more visions, more nightmares and increasing irritability. Above all the doctor insists they need to trust him and the Ominous People are gone

The Ominous people are in the basement and their Ominous computers are Ominously freaking out over the Ominous red storm. They’re also using flamethrowers on the portal.

Will himself is getting more agitated with both the storm and pressure and bullying from others. He snaps at Jonathan about how everyone is treating him - either the freak who came back from the dead or Joyce and Jonathan who are treating him like he’s made of glass. Jonathan continues to be supportive, awesome and the best big brother ever (hey, and points to Stranger Things for positive sibling relationships rather than having younger siblings constantly at war with the elders)

Joyce is also dating a guy. He seems… nice. Jonathan and Will kindly tolerate him. Joyce is also still paranoid about her phone ringing

Jonathan is still friends with Nancy and she is encouraging him to come out of his shell and socialise and party more… he is still dodging that. Steve and Nancy are still a thing, though Steve is having some shaky doubts over going to college, leaving Nancy and his own capacity. This may get more tense now new Designated Hot Guy has arrived in town with flash car and Unfortunate Hair.

Nancy does convince Steve to go to Barbara’s parents’ house. They’re not doing well with Barbara’s disappearance, blame Sheriff Jim and have hired an ex-reporter, Murray, to investigate. Apparently his fees are high because they’re having to sell the house to pay him

Murray is giving Jim grief, but Jim is not remotely impressed and shuts him down hard. He only listens to him at all because he chased rumours of a weaponised Russian psychic Girl. But when he realises all the rumours he’s heard are out of date from season 1 he ignores the wretched man

Instead he goes to investigate a pumpkin field which is full of blackened rotting pumpkins… which could be ominous, I guess. Do pumpkins rot?

He’s concerned about people chasing rumours about El because she’s living with him. And it’s adorable

One thing to note about Stranger Things is how they’ve done a good job of having opposite sex friends support each other without it turning into a romance. I noted last season about Nancy and Jonathan and how they are friends, willing to work together and support each other without having a relationship: and without jealousy or pushing. And now we have Joyce and Jim - I’m not convinced that Jim isn’t still pining after Joyce or we won’t get there eventually, but so far we have Jim happy to support Joyce despite her being in a relationship with another man; continuing to support her and Will. I like this - I like that friendship, respect and support is not merely a prequel or side effect of a religious relationship.