Stranger Things is the eight part, Netflix event series. On the evening of November 6, 1983 in Hawkins, Indiana, an innocent night playing Dungeons & Dragons takes a tragic turn for a group of friends when Will Byers disappears…seemingly into thin air. As friends, family and local police search for answers behind his disappearance they are drawn into an extraordinary mystery involving top-secret government experiments, terrifying supernatural forces and the discovery of one very strange little girl.
Chapters 3 & 4 Catch-Up can be found here
Chapter 5 – “The Flea and the Acrobat”
Chapter 6 – “The Monster”
We now have a triumvirate of groups who are desperate to learn the truth of what happened to Will and each is investigating. First, there’s the dogged and pissed-off Hopper who has decided the simplest option to finding out what exactly is going on at Hawkins Laboratory is to break into it, which he does with some abandon. Slugging one guard and holding a gun on another, and with alarms blazing, he makes his way down into the secured area and sees the portal in the wall. But before he can probe further, he’s accosted and knocked out with an injection to the neck.
The boys question their science teacher Mr. Clarke about alternate dimensions and, good teacher that he is, he explains using the simple analogy of the acrobat and the flea; on a tightrope, an acrobat can only go forwards and backwards but a flea may go sideways and underneath as well. To create such a ‘gate’, he explains that immense power would be required and that gives our young sleuths an idea.
Hopper wakes up on his sofa, unharmed and with no mark on his neck. Paranoid, he immediately strips his trailer and it isn’t long before he finds what he’s looking for – a bug. His home has been wired for sound and it’s proof that he’s on to a big conspiracy; not that he needed any.
The funeral of Will takes place, a strange event for mother Joyce, brother Jonathan and his friends Mike, Dustin and Lucas, all of whom he is still alive – in some form at least. Joyce has got rid of her ex Lonnie who had shown up; the layabout was only there for the insurance payout on his youngest son. Hopper then pays her a visit, tears apart her home in the hunt for more bugs and tells her that believes she’s right about her son. Further, he’d visited the morgue and confirmed the body – and thus who they’d buried that afternoon – was fake. The look on Joyce’s face is wonderful, and continues to make you wonder – where the hell has Winona Ryder been all these years?! She’s bloody marvellous!
Mike, Lucas and Dustin have come up with a theory; if Will is in another dimension, there must be a gate somewhere that leads to it and such a gate would emit high levels on electromagnetism. If they follow north on their compasses, it might just lead them to it. They set off with Elle, who is experiencing awful flashbacks to her time at Hawkins Laboratory when she was put in an isolation tank to enhance her psychic powers. Forced to locate some KGB agent on the other side of the world, it was here that she first came into contact with some lifeform that, for all intents and purposes, is a monster. The mere thought of returning there fills her with dread and, unbeknown to the boys, she sabotages their compasses so they walk around in circles.
Lucas is incensed that Elle has been tricking them and a fight breaks out between him and Mike, a fight Elle quickly stops using her abilities. Lucas storms off, calling Elle a traitor and Elle runs off. Meanwhile, Nancy and Jonathan search the woods for the monster at night – well, what better time to look for monsters eh? – and Elle crawls through a gate in a tree, finding herself in another dimension. And a dimension that has a hungry monster in it at that.
Picking up exactly where it left off, Chapter 6 sees Nancy rescued from this ‘Netherworld’ by Jonathan and rather shaken by the experience. Jonathan takes her home, then spends the night in her bedroom, but for comfort ok? As if these two would ever get together, right? Well of course they will.
Over at the Wheelers, Joyce is finally out of her house. Thank God, she’s basically been stuck in that hole since we started. She and Hopper are on the road, keen to talk to a Mrs Ives who had tried to sue Dr Brenner over her missing daughter some years ago. They uncover a tale of LSD and isolation chamber experiments and it becomes clear that this is Eleven’s mum, Eleven’s real name being Jane. Not only that, but Hopper is now convinced there are two missing kids, albeit from many years apart.
Jonathan and Nancy are busy in town getting tooled-up for another monster hunting trip. But Nancy’s sometime boyfriend Steve has other ideas; he knows Jonathan spent the night with Nancy and is livid. But being Steve, his way of dealing with it is to plaster offensive graffiti about Nancy around town; it’s fair to say this relationship is now dead. A fight between Jonathan and Steve breaks out and Jonathan gets arrested, rather putting paid to their immediate monster hunting plans.
In the woods, Lucas is out alone with his compass whilst Mike and Dustin are searching for Elle, who’s spent the night in the woods. They have the bad luck to run into the school bullies left humiliated by Elle’s special powers a couple of days earlier who are out for serious revenge. Chased to the quarry, Elle then appears and shows her powers to the full, breaking one bully’s arm with just a thought. Her flashbacks have shown that the gate between dimensions was opened when she was forced to confront the monster once more; she feels guilty and terrified at the same time. Elsewhere in the woods, Lucas has found Hawkins Laboratory using his compass. He’s close to the gate.
- All of the child actors are excellent but Gaten Matarazzo as Dustin and Millie Bobbie Brown as Eleven/Elle are knocking it out of the park.
- Notice the graffiti scrawled by Steve and his cronies? It used some of the actors real names. Fourth wall break!
- How’d Hopper know to immediately search for bugs?
- Likewise, the boys immediate supposition of a gate with high levels of electromagnetism. Too easy of leap just to keep the story moving? We’ll forgive them.
- With two episodes to go, it’s only a matter of time before Hopper and Joyce, the boys with Elle and Nancy and Jonathan come together.
- Just what is the monster exactly? We’re given few clues.
- Mrs Ives’ sister, in trying to explain the experiments her sibling was subjected to, asks “Have you read any Stephen King?” It’s almost a reference too far, but also a delightful nod at one of the main influences on the entire show.
- Only two episodes to go? It’s been way too short!