Stranger Things Season 2 Chapter Six: The Spy Recap

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This episode begins with a Silkwood shower for Hopper, and emergency treatment for burns that aren’t externally visible for Will. At Hawkins Lab. Things are definitely different under Dr. Owens, as he moves from definitely willing to kill people/evil into a morally ambiguous gray area this episode. Brenner and his henchwoman Agent Frazier would have shot everyone at the Pumpkin Patch and left their bodies in the tunnels, without a second thought.

Dustin and Steve are still on the road to Dustin’s house, which moves around according to plot needs. Sometimes it’s a couple of doors down from Mike and Lucas, sometimes it’s a couple of miles.

Once it’s fully dark for maximum scary movie effect, they’re allowed to find Dustin’s driveway. Steve gets out his nail-studded bat, which feels like it needs a name. ANYTHING BUT LUCILLE, PLEASE. Dustin sends Steve and his pal, the bat, into the basement. Steve doesn’t find anything unusual down there except the skin that Dart shed with this growth cycle. Dustin follows him down to look around more closely. Oops, Dart’s gotten a little stronger and has busted out through the cement basement wall.

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Stranger Things Season 2 Chapter Five: Dig Dug Recap

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Well, that’s an image out of a horror movie, isn’t it. We get more clarity on El’s origin story this episode, as she finds her mother and aunt. She’s welcomed once they discover who she is, no monstrous acts required.

Back in Hawkins, Dr Owen’s quote from Sarton echoes through the episode, as decisions are made that will undoubtedly set us up for the eventual finale. Dustin finally understands that Dart is dangerous and seeks out help. Hopper is rescued from the tunnels, but the rescue exposes more problems than it solves. Bob the Brain helps Joyce, Lucas talks to Max, while Jonathan and Nancy talk to Murray Bauman, bringing the secret further into the world in different ways that may or may not be wise.

Joyce continues to work on the puzzle map, while Will explains his current experiences of the monster to Mike. Will sees what the monster sees and feels what he feels as the monster spreads further into Hawkins. The monster’s consciousness has gone from feeling like a barely remembered dream to an overwhelming presence in the front of his mind at all times.

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Stranger Things Season 2 Chapter Four: Will the Wise Recap

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Yikes! Things are heating up! Or cooling off, in Will’s very eerie case. Everyone is slipping back into warrior/investigative mode.

It’s especially nice to see in Nancy and El’s cases, since they’d both been relegated to the sidelines in their own lives by well-meaning but clueless men. Being safe starts to become meaningless if you’re a prisoner or expected to be a bystander while decisions are made for you.

Joyce races into the school parking lot and jumps out of her car. She and the kids quickly find Will in one of the ball fields, still stuck in the Upside Down and engulfed by the Shadow Monster. To the outside world, he appears to be having a seizure. Joyce tries to snap him out of it, but he doesn’t respond. Finally, the monster releases him and he snaps awake.

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Stranger Things Season 2 Chapter Three: The Pollywog

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In this episode, things take a distinct turn for the worse, though, following in the tradition of horror shows, the characters don’t necessarily realize it yet. Dustin thinks he’s found a cute, cool new pet. It’s like he’s never seen a movie before. Bob thinks he’s helped Will face his fears. He’s clearly never read a Stephen King novel. Max thinks she’s made some quirky new friends with no complications. Mike thinks he feels El nearby, and hopes to find her soon. Everything in Hawkins is always more complicated than that, and soon is a very relative term.

We pick up moments after we left off in episode 2. Dustin is stealthily sneaking whatever was in the garbage can into his room. His mom is asking way too personal questions. The family cat doesn’t like what he’s carrying. And Yertle the Turtle is being kicked out of her home.

Dustin pulls out a handful-sized unidentifiable amphibian and puts it in Yertle’s aquarium. I start fearing for Yertle’s life. This is surely connected to the Upside Down. Possibly it’s the larva that Will coughed up last season. Dustin’s curiosity is engaged, so he’s blinded by science and love. He can’t see the danger. He looks at the three musketeers bar that he and the pollywog are sharing (Dustin’s favorite), and names it D’artagnan, after the most noble of the musketeers. Dart for short. THIS WON’T END WELL. It’s not okay to break Dustin’s heart, show.  Or Metamaiden’s.

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Stranger Things Season 2 Chapter One: MADMAX Recap

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They’re back! Something wicked this way comes, into the town of Hawkins, and it’s come to stay. This first episode serves as a check in with all of the residents that we got to know last year, and an introduction to a few new arrivals.

10/28/1984 Pittsburgh, PA

The season 2 cold open takes us to a nighttime robbery in Pittsburgh. A gang of robbers made up of men and women of diverse races spills out of a city building, and into their getaway van. After a chaotic chase with several police cars pursuing them, they go through a tunnel. A woman named Kali appears to use her mind to collapse the tunnel entrance before the police can go through, causing the police cars to pile up in a multi-car accident.

It turns out that the collapse was an illusion that could only be seen by the driver of the first car. As Kali wipes away the trickle of blood dripping from her nose, we see the number 008 tattooed onto her wrist. We’ve just met one of El’s fellow test subjects.

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A Vagina for a Face: The Monsters, Men and Women of Stranger Things Season 1

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Ridiculous, Epic Amounts of Analysis, Commentary and Questions, Just in Time for Season 2

I have a lot of thoughts on Eleven, the Upside Down monster, and the other female characters from Stranger Things, going in several different directions. I want to explore as many of them as possible, so this is going to be another rambley post that goes all over the place. (Like I ever write anything else.) I’ll throw in some character analysis of the boys as well, since not all of them fall into the monster category. 😘

 

Who Is El?

Before we get to El, let’s look at her nemesis, the Upside Down monster for a moment. The Upside Down monster turns out to have a lot in common with the Alien monster and the Thing. All are female and using human bodies to incubate their young. All three are unusual in that they have monstrous appearances, unlike most female monsters. All are relentless in their drive to kill humans, which is really a combination of survival instinct and the drive to reproduce that all species feel. The narrative never points this out with any of these monsters, even though you’d think a breeding mother would elicit some understanding.

El, the powerful counterpart to the Upside Down monster, is a prepubescent girl on the brink of womanhood/menstruation, discovering her power as a woman, feeling the hormones rise in her body. She bleeds every time she uses her powers to symbolize this, and because women are kept shackled in our society, so that they can’t turn on men or become too powerful.

Female superheroes are rarely intelligent, attractive, powerful, and emotionally well-adjusted all at once. There will always be at least one area in which they need men to guide and support them. Superman, Ironman, Captain America, and Batman all function fine without a woman, even though they each have flaws. But Buffy, Black Widow, the Scarlet Witch, Wonder Woman and Cat Woman are emotional messes, children or childlike, who need lovers, brothers and father figures to show them how to function in the world.

So El is weakened by the use of her powers, and kept ignorant of the world, leaving her easier to control and less likely to escape. In our culture, most men can’t handle watching women who are better than them and don’t need them. Since these shows are made by men, this says some interesting things about male psychology. A truly strong, confident man wouldn’t need to hold women, and even little girls like El, back, to make himself feel strong and necessary. Yet in show after show, we find women who are overtly powerful, but held back by excuses their male creators have made up to keep them tied to men long after a man would have become independent.

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