Chapter Six: The Monster
Warning! Full spoilers for the episode below.
Although the end of Chapter Five included bizarre choices full of tropes— especially in the case of Nancy—that doesn’t mean that the introductory sequence for Chapter Six was any less tense. We picked up right where we left off, with Nancy trapped in The Upside Down. As always, Stranger Things delivered on another sequence full of anxiety, as Jonathan and Nancy tried to make contact across dimensions. I was surprised, however, that the showrunners didn’t drag out the disbanding of this newly formed couple for longer. While the choice to get them back together quicker than expected came, it ended up paying off in interesting ways for Jonathan and Nancy that came later in Chapter Six.
Steve still has me conflicted, week-to-week and day-in-and-day-out. While he is certainly better with Nancy, Nancy has blossomed and flowered into her own character through her experiences with Jonathan. Steve, on the other hand, hits a bit of a low point in Chapter Six. Steve has returned to a state of pre-Nancy Steve-ness, but I’m still hoping that he’ll find some sort of redemption by the time the end credits roll on Stranger Things. We’ve seen lots of character development across the board, but Steven remains back-and-forth more than anyone else. So, here’s to hoping!
While Steve is out of the picture, Nancy and Jonathan continue to shine as a strange duo of companions. There was a sweet but somber moment following Nancy’s escape from The Upside Down, both after the initial escape, and later in bed with Jonathan. We see another similar moment with Jonathan and Nancy in the police station following later events, but we’ll get to that in a bit.
Despite the improvement of Nancy and Jonathan’s relationship, and even despite the continued partnership of Joyce and Hopper, the relationship between Mike and Eleven continues to trump all. They’re young and don’t understand love, but their relationship is compelling and heartbreaking and still stands among the best bits of Stranger Things. We see this both when Mike destroys Eleven’s pillow fort, and again during the climactic ending of Chapter Six. I fear that only heartbreak looms ahead, but know that I won’t be able to look away when it comes.
Among the relationships that remain strongest in Stranger Things, the younger cast continues to knock it out of the park. Dustin resumes his role as the voice of reason, especially in describing how a simple handshake solves all of their arguments and woes. He’s loveable in these explanations, but so clear in voicing how they must stick together, no matter what. Chapter Five was all about breaking up our characters, but Chapter Six rectified that quickly. Certainly, with only two episodes left, it will set up our various groups and characters for one final confrontation with their various adversaries. While this plot movement was predictable, Chapter Six didn’t falter entirely.
Stranger Things started to give us a little bit more information with showing how Eleven created the portal to The Upside Down during an attempt to contact “The Monster” and we were also given hints about how Eleven may actually be Jane, Terry Ives’ stolen daughter. While the sequence with Eleven was gorgeous and harrowing, and new scenes involving Eleven were appreciated, they both came as expected movement with Stranger Things. None of these situations came as huge surprises, and simply provided the proper plot movement for our various characters.
The biggest events in Chapter Six, like usual, came at the end of the episode. We had a pair of confrontations that once again paralleled each other. On one end, we had Jonathan and Nancy coming to blows with Steve and friends. For Jonathan and Nancy, they called Steve out about his behavior, which ended in Jonathan finally exploding. He was full of rage and love and everything in-between. Jonathan ended up accidentally “assaulting” a police officer, but speculation can surely be seized, that he won’t be held for long. Even deeper speculation is that Jonathan and Nancy will finally join forces with Joyce and Hopper as they lead an assault on Hawkins Lab.
Our second confrontation came with Mike and Dustin being chased down by Troy, in an effort to seek vengeance for the events that occurred in Chapter Four. This was a big moment for Mike, proving that he would do anything for his friend, or friends. He was ready to jump off of a cliff, and did, all for his friends. You’d be a fool to think that Eleven wasn’t going to save him, and she did, of course. And although Lucas was off doing recon after refusing to join back up with Mike and Dustin, the band is (mostly) back together. There was another tender moment with the trio all embracing each other at the quarry, and I’m sure Lucas will eventually be part of that group hug.
Stranger Things’ Chapter Six ended just about where I expected it would, for better and worse. While some surprises with Jonathan and Nancy were presented, Chapter Six was predictable in approach overall. While it certainly sets up the final two chapters to be chock-full of confrontation, the predictability of approach held this episode back in the end.