The Tung's Take: Stranger Things 2
Sorry, what? You’ve never heard of Stranger Things? Wow, what a kook you must be - a real individual free from the reigns of the zeitgeist. For the rest of us norms, we’re very happily wrapped in the vines of the Shadow Monster.
Always one for pithy cultural comment, my flatmate has endured a week of ‘I. AM. SHOOK’ and ‘OH MY GOD’ with the occasional ‘#JusticeForBob’ and ‘KISS! KISS! KISS!’ thrown in.
I’d love to let those soundbites speak for themselves, but join me as I attempt to break the noise with something more nuanced.
Literally just Bob: Bob is so delightful he’s either not long for this world or some sorta Upside Down evil doer. Turns out he’s just pure gold, which of course means he gets eaten by Demadogs and I’m left weeping into my tea. Given the best send-off as our Ellen Ripley fighting the aliens, we all need to Be More Bob.
Hopper and Eleven: Something about troubled men blossoming into father figures is a weak spot for me, and David Harbour brings such genuine depth and complexity to Jim Hopper’s story arc. His relationship with Eleven is so realistically endearing, their performance captures the reality of Stranger Things for me: I’d watch it without all the monsters. This kitchen-sink drama is where the heart is.
That soundtrack tho: Stranger Things changed the game for music in TV shows. An entire new industry has popped up around getting artists in ‘the next big Netflix show’. Luckily The Duffer Brother are free from such 2017 horrors, and Stranger Things 2 is rich in the jammiest 80s jams (DEVO’s ‘Whip It’, Duran Duran ‘Girls On Film’) and sluttiest glam rock (Scorpions, ‘Rock You Like A Hurricane’, Ted Nugent ‘Wango Tango’). Crank up your walkman, kids.
Episode 7. The worst. Don’t even wanna write about it. Lil punk Eleven is a cheesy cliche, and the episode has been widely derided as a shoehorned pilot for some weak-ass spinoff. Skip it entirely and you’ll have missed nothing, jumping straight back into the action at the lab. Where’s my refund for this ep, Netflix?
The Ugly (and the so, so cute)
Commenting on ‘the ugly’ anything seems harsh, so lets leave it at the Demadogs with toothy demon holes for mouths and move on.
As for the CUTE, where do we start! Dustin and his bromance with Steve. Steve Harrington in general. Lil baby Will the weed. Bob. Nancy and Jonathan up to no good. Mike and Eleven’s Notebook reunion. The Snow Ball. Dancing Hopper. Bob. Max’s evil brother. Bob. Dustin and Nancy slow dancing. Cute boys, cute men, cute romance, oh my.
1: Convulsing Will
Noah Schnapp is entirely remarkable in Stranger Things 2, no more so in his physical performances, writhing in pain as the destruction of the Shadow Monster destroys him from the inside out.
2: Eleven and Hopper play house.
Two cute babes living their best lives eating eggos and listening to Jim Croce. More please.
3: Bob’s Final Fight:
An exercise in pure tension, Bob’s life hangs in the balance with Demadogs around every corner. Sean Astin’s clammy fear is so real as the sweat drips into his eyes, and his death all the more gutting for it.
4: Daddy Steve:
The hero we didn’t deserve, bat swingin’ Steve is a delight. Badass babysitter, Steve saves the day when no one else is paying attention, redeeming himself from former jock to fully fledged team member.
5: Tunnel Vision:
This shot is so indulgent but so cool anyway. The Duffer Brothers enjoy playing with camera perspectives, and the flip upside down both here and in the final shot drags us back to the horror of our parallel universe.
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