Stranger Things Season 1 Chapter 7: The Bathtub Recap


The main characters finally pool their information and briefly work together in this episode, but, no one ever told Hopper that it’s safer to stick together. He ditches everyone but Joyce as quickly as possible, and we’re back to the original rogue age-based groupings by the end of the episode.

But first, there’s the most awesome evil van vs kids on bikes chase scene ever. El sends a van flying over their heads, rather than letting it catch them. It’s a mirror to the scene in ET when he makes Elliott’s bike fly. But El isn’t ET, and those aren’t benign scientists who are trying to save her life.

El and Mike had been in Mike’s basement cleaning up after the quarry adventure, and just about to kiss, when Dustin interrupted them to say that Lucas was radioing in with a warning. The evil scientists had located them and were on their way to Mike’s house, thanks to Mr Clarke’s enthusiastic sharing.

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Stranger Things Season 1 Chapter 6: The Monster Recap


In this episode, the OTPs all finally unite around their common goals. The villains also become aware of who their adversaries are. The fighters are separated from the slackers, and battle lines are drawn, even crossed in some cases. We are definitely gearing up for the major climax of the season, though I’m not sure if the “climax” will involve any of the OTPs even getting as far as first base.

We pick up where we left off, with Nancy and Jonathan frantically looking for and calling out to each other. They can hear each other, and eventually Jonathan notices the tree portal. He goes over to inspect, continuing to call for Nancy. That allows Nancy to pinpoint where the portal is, so that she can find it again. Just as I’m wondering if Jonathan has it in him to go in after her, Nancy’s hand pops through the gate, startling us all. He pulls her through to safety and they hold each other while the opening credits run.

Meanwhile, Douchey Steve and his Brat Pack are looking for Nancy because Steve, intuitive guy that he is, sensed that she was upset about something, and now she’s not answering her phone. Steve climbs up on her roof to be the Peeping Tom this time, and sees Nancy and Jonathan innocently sitting on the edge of her bed, with Jonathan’s arm over the top of her shoulders. It couldn’t be more friendly. But Nancy is a possession to Steve, not a person. All that he sees is another guy moving in on his territory, and the girl allowing it.

Hopper has told Joyce every detail he can remember about his investigations into Hawkins Lab and what really happened to Will. Now Joyce is having him go over the details again, looking for important clues. He’s been assuming that the kid’s room that he saw was where Will was being held, but Joyce helps him realize that the details don’t match. He starts to put together the idea that Terry Ives, the woman in the newspaper articles, might have been telling the truth. Thank goodness the characters and groups are starting to share information now.

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Stranger Things Season 1 Chapter 5: The Flea and the Acrobat Recap


We start to get some answers this episode, as both Hopper and Nancy quite literally enter the belly of the beast. The kids enter an homage to the film Stand by Me, with friendships tested and train tracks walked. We’ve entered the Stephen King portion of the season, so viewer beware.

Hopper has made his way into the buildings at Hawkins Lab secretly and alone, because he’s completely lost his mind. And he knows no one will listen to his crazy theories, just like he didn’t listen to Joyce, or even bother to talk to Nancy about Barb. He sneaks and fights his way all the way down to the monster’s lair. He finds 11’s cell on his way down. After that, he races through the halls, yelling for Will.

He takes the elevator to the monster’s floor as Dustin reads the description of the Vale of Shadows* to Mike and Lucas. It’s a scary, dark, mirror world to our own. The boys don’t know how to get there, and neither does El. She just knows that Will is stuck there.

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Stranger Things Season 1 Chapter 4: The Body Recap


Everything begins to change in this episode, the midpoint of the season, as even most of the pragmatists among the main characters realize that something mysterious and sinister is going on. We’re starting to reach the meat of the story, with more clues about the lab and cover up being revealed, and the characters beginning to work together. This show is so well done that, while it seems obvious how some of it will play out, I have no idea where they’re going to go with other aspects. Will the stock characters and situations stay that way, become modern clich├ęs instead, or evolve into something totally original?

This episode picks up not long after the end of episode 3. Joyce has told Hopper her story, and Hopper has told Joyce and Jonathan that Will’s body has been found. Joyce refuses to believe that Will is gone. Hopper at least does a cursory inspection of the house, rather than dismissing Joyce completely, but he also mainly talks to her as one grief-stricken parent to another. Any outsider would logically think she’s hallucinating, and he’s crushed by his own depression that’s been dredged up again full force.

Hopper goes out to his truck to drive away, but thinks better of it and settles in to spend the night sleeping outside of the Byers’ house. Joyce resolutely goes to the shed and gets an axe, then sits back down in her living room to stand watch, in case Will or the monster come back. Jonathan tries to pretend things are somewhere near normal so that he can get some sleep.

Song that plays at end of opening sequence as Hopper goes to his truck, Joyce gets the axe, and Jonathan puts on his headphones: Atmosphere by Joy Division. Joyce is like a Viking warrior goddess with her axe, ready to take on all comers to protect her home and family.

Is Hopper on suicide watch?

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Stranger Things Chapter 3: Holly, Jolly Recap


We get two of my favorite things this episode, an epic amount of Christmas lights and new information. The show is done with pleasant introductions, and ready to dive in deep, starting with wherever Barb is- possibly a metaphysical mirror image of the pool she was sitting next to, possibly the monster’s lair. Either way, she doesn’t seem to get out alive. Barb fighting for her life, as she screams for Nancy to help her, is intercut with Nancy and Douchey Steve getting to second base. It’s disturbing on several levels.

Nancy hesitates with Steve a few times, as if she might almost hear Nancy, or she could just be having second thoughts about what she’s doing with Steve. Steve continues to be a douche, and falls asleep when they’re done. Nancy is left to walk home alone in the dark through the neighborhood with the missing kid. At least she’s not a babysitter, or she’d surely never make it back to her house alive, given the horror movie tropes we’re working with. But she does make it home alive, and is met by her very worried mother.

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Dear Evan Hansen Rants: Evan and His Mom

Evan and Heidi

Ooohkay, I have a lot of thoughts on this show, which is funny because I have a lot of issues with it but I also have a lot of meta about it. Who knows how many parts to this there will be. Whichever part comes first will have a hint of some other parts of my analysis, because no piece is complete without the rest, but I’d have to publish a novel to do it all at once. To start, here’s my analysis of one of the most crucial relationships in the show – Evan and his mom, Heidi.

When the world sees Evan’s “Dear Evan Hansen” note*, thinking it was Connor’s suicide note, they’re horrified by how badly it implies Connor’s parents treated him. But those were Evan’s words. What does that say about Heidi? Heidi is the only one, besides the Murphys, who knows it was Evan. And it makes her realize how distant she’s been. She has the same reaction that the rest of the world had towards Connor’s family, but towards herself. As the “you are not alone” line from You Will Be Found plays after Alana shares the note, images of the letter and people’s reactions to it swirl around, and Heidi is briefly in the center of it, looking up at the images. We’re seeing her react to it, really seeing her son for the first time since his father left. She’s being confronted with how far she’s wandered from being the parent she’d intended to be, and how much that’s hurt Evan.

A person’s childhood and parenting shape who they are. Examining Evan’s mother and father, it’s clear how he ended up with the issues he has. Heidi is so exhausted and overextended from working hard just to keep herself and her son afloat and trying to get them a better life by going to school that she doesn’t have anything left for Evan emotionally. Understandably, she needs him to be okay so that she can focus on work and school. In many ways, he is her whole world. Everything she does, from spending so much time at work, to going to school, to looking for ways to get Evan into college, is for him. She is trying. When she hears about Connor’s suicide, she’s concerned about Evan’s reaction to it and tries to reach out to him. She asks him regularly if he still has enough pills and reminds him and encourages him to do the assignments his therapist gives him. She loves him dearly and is doing the best she can, and it’s not her fault that she’s only human and can’t be everything Evan needs.

That said, she also isn’t doing as well as she could. She hasn’t set aside a regular night, perhaps every Saturday or Sunday night, for them to have dinner together. Instead, as Evan points out, she randomly takes nights off without asking him or letting him know about it beforehand and expects him to drop everything and spend time with her.

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Stranger Things Season 1 Chapter 2: The Weirdo on Maple Street Recap


The plot thickens in episode two of Stranger Things, with Hawkins becoming a dangerous town for the first time in its history, at least according to Jim Hopper. Some of the kids who’ve clearly been perpetually bullied at school might feel differently about it. It’s a bad time to be a scientist, a good Samaritan, or a best friend in Hawkins, we know that much so far.

Mike and company have brought 11 back to Mike’s basement, and all three boys are talking at her while she tries to cope with being wet, cold, and in a strange environment during a thunderstorm. Dustin adds to the fun by making a loud noise to test his theory that she’s stayed silent because she’s deaf. Mike gets her some sweats to put on. 11 rubs them against her face like she’s never felt anything so soft.

The boys reaction to 11 getting ready to strip so that she can change her clothes is worth the price of admission, possibly the whole Netflix subscription. Mike quickly leads her to the bathroom, but she won’t let him close the door. “No” is clearly a very important word to 11.

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Stranger Things Season 1 Chapter 1: The Vanishing of Will Byers Recap


Okay, let’s do Stranger Things! I’m way late to the party with this, but, I figure, what the heck, maybe there are a few other people who want to watch in time for season 2. My first impression, as episode 1 starts, is omg, this is so 80s! Are those bikes going to take off like ET’s? The filmmakers got the look of an 80s show exactly right. Something made by Steven Spielberg, in particular, maybe The Goonies. Oops, Steven King just weighed in. Of course there’s an adorable dog and a little sister. Drew Barrymore might be able to look into copyright infringement here.

We begin on November 6th, 1983, in Hawkins, Indiana, at the Hawkins National Laboratory, run by the US Dept of Energy. This was the Reagan Era and the height of the Cold War. I’m sure a sweet old man like Ronnie wouldn’t have approved of any illegal experiments on children that could go wrong and terrorize a small midwestern town. Or maybe they were actually approved by Tricky Dick, and just continued by Ronnie.

Something is definitely going wrong, if the camera work and sound effects are anything to go by. Sure enough, one of the mad scientists runs by and gets attacked by something mysterious in the elevator.

Meanwhile, in a suburban basement, four preteen boys are playing the most exciting and intense game of Dungeons and Dragons ever, until Mike’s Mom breaks up the game because she totally doesn’t get the importance of fun and conquest. Will, Lucas and Dustin take off on their bikes toward their own houses. Lucas, the man of action, reaches his house quickly, then Dustin, the adorable mascot of the group, challenges Will, the sweet honest one, to a race. Will shows he’s not completely pure by taking off immediately, leaving Dustin in the, well, dust.

Lights have been flickering on and off around town. Will’s bike light flickers as he’s cutting through the grounds of the laboratory. He sees a figure in the shadows and falls off his bike, then runs home. He’s still spooked at home, and goes to the family’s shed to get a gun. The shed light brightens, and Will is gone.

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