Chapter Two: The Weirdo on Maple Street
Warning! Full spoilers for the episode below.
Right now, there are definitely still a lot of different threads that will hopefully begin to interweave as Stranger Things continues on. It’s nice to have moments with each different set of characters, but it’ll be nicer when all those plots come head to head. There are many intriguing threads across Stranger Things right now, and I’m anticipating what will come next.
To begin, I suppose, I’ll start with Steve and Nancy. Sure, they’re still not the worst teens I’ve ever watched in a series, but that doesn’t mean that I love them. Of course, Nancy’s interaction this week with Will’s brother Jonathan hinted at a possible crossing of paths, and his camera work from afar signified far more interest in Nancy than known previously. Still, I could do with less Steve and Nancy. I did find value in those moments created by Jonathan, and even more so in those moments involving Barb, but we’ll get to that in a bit.
Stranger Things continued to give us background on Hopper this week as well. I didn’t address him in my Chapter One review because he didn’t play a huge part besides serving his part as law enforcement. In Chapter Two, Hopper began to show promise as a multi-faceted character. He’s sharp, when he wants to be. He’s a great detective, when he wants to be. He’s haunted by his past, constantly. We learn about his daughter, and how that event has shaped him seemingly ever since. We learn how Hopper feels like he’s cursed, and he begins to shine through in those moments. He knows that something is happening in Hawkins, and he isn’t quite sure what, but in those glimmering moments you can tell that he wants to find out. As one of the few leading adults, it will be interesting to see how Stranger Things continues to treat his character.
Although Stranger Things has kept him looming silently for the most part, Matthew Modine as Dr. Martin Brenner continues to keep me intrigued. It’s a role inspired by that of The X-Files’ Smoking Man, which I can appreciate and adore all the same. I loved the musical cues used in Chapter Two, especially as he appeared on screen before investigating the Byers residence. We caught a few short glimpses of him in Eleven’s flashbacks as well, although he continued to remain stoic and silent in those moments as well. I wouldn’t be surprised if we see some sort of flashback sequence focused on Brenner, but only time will tell. He still remains a mystery, and although it’s a mystery I’d like to see solved, it may not be entirely vital to the story that Stranger Things is telling.
My favorite moments contained in Chapter Two, though, continued to be the interactions between Mike, Dustin, and Lucas, especially with Eleven now in the mix. While so many shows struggle with portraying younger kids on screen and making them feel legitimate, just as Spielberg himself has done, Stranger Things has found success in doing so. Dustin is tragically hilarious, Lucas is levelheaded to a fault, and Mike is kind and caring, and his moments interacting with Eleven were a highlight within Chapter Two. These moments contained laughs, learning trust, as well as heartbreaking waves of emotions for Eleven. We saw the realization of exactly what friends mean and how important promises are. Each and every interaction in Chapter Two that involved Eleven was fantastic, even without the supernatural elements. I cannot wait to see how Eleven and company continue to progress, not only in their search for Will, but in their continued interactions going forward.
We saw the realization of exactly what friends mean, and how important promises are.
Then, we have Joyce, who continues to teeter and totter on what may be deemed sane. Winona Ryder continues to astound as a mother who will do anything for her son, whether she has to buy 100 replacement phones, or put up with supernatural invaders in her home. While Chapter Two delivered on character development, the horror elements that Stranger Things brings into play are effective as ever. Joy and hope for Joyce shift to shock and terror, and it’s haunting all the same. We see Joyce, be her sane or unwell, as a mother dedicated to her son. It’s a beautiful mix of motherhood and obsession, and will surely be an interesting narrative thread to follow as Stranger Things continues.
Finally though, coming full circle, I want to return to Barb. Now that we have seen two different individuals “taken” by the “monster” is it too early to look at the patterns? When Will was taken, it was asked, “Why Will?” and now that Barb has been taken, it’s “Why Barb?” as well. Does the monster seek out innocence? Honesty? Or is the other side of the coin? Will presents both sides of the argument, as does Barb. Will was unsure in his choice to cast a protection spell, or to throw a fireball at the Demogorgon. Was it his uncertainty that drew the monster to him? Or was it his innocence and honesty? “It was a seven. The Demogorgon — it got me,” says Will before leaving Mike’s house. In those moments, we see that Will is honest to a fault, even if it’s “only” Dungeons & Dragons. Then we have Barb, who falls into a similar template. She is as innocent as can be, injuring herself awkwardly while trying to shotgun a beer with the “cool” kids. She just wants what is best for Nancy, wanting to protect her best friend from possibly being taken advantage of. Barb is honestly innocent. On the flip side, perhaps she felt rejected, alone, or outcast by Nancy. What did the monster seek out, if anything at all? Now that we have two cases of monster-related disappearances, it’s lovely to be able to look at these trends. Will they end up being explained? We can only hope so.
Stranger Things continued to deliver in Chapter Two. While there were still supernatural elements and spooky happenings, that was not the focus. Chapter Two delivered on character, through and through. Whether it was the charming and heartbreaking moments with Eleven and company, the obsessive conflict presented by Joyce, or the background into Hopper’s curse, character was rightfully and truly king in Stranger Things’ second episode.