Stranger Things 2: The Spy

Season 2, Episode 6

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For anyone new to these reviews, I heart Steve Harrington. I took a shine to Steve really early in season one and then followed his progress in a feature imaginatively called Steve Watch. This might be a choice time to remind you that I am a fully grown, thirty year old man. Anyway, the reason I bring this up now is after five episodes of Steve floating about between story lines pining over Nancy, he makes a stirring comeback in The Spy. Steve and Dustin make for a superb partnership. I could literally listen to Steve Harrington giving Dustin relationship advice for hours and hours. Even the admission that Steve makes his hair look so fabulous by using Farrah Fawcett hairspray doesn’t make him any less cool. If anything, I love him more for it. I suppose other stuff happened in this episode too that I should reluctantly start speaking about so I should move on…

Lets get Nancy and Jonathan out of the way. Am I supposed to be happy these two got together? It not only feels like a betrayal of Steve Harrington – the worse kind of betrayal – but also a betrayal of the characters. Nancy and Jonathan never felt like a thing last season and their hook up didn’t really feel earned here. The scene in which Murray lays bare the truth to Nancy and Jonathan about their feelings was excruciatingly long and unnecessary, especially in an episode that saw Eleven kicking her feet off screen the whole time.  Speaking of El, Hopper’s speech to a seemingly empty room that was intended for Eleven was genuinely emotionally resonant in it’s affection. I’ve said it before but David Harbour as Hopper might just be the best thing about this show.

The main bulk of The Spy was taken up with the escalating situation at Hawkins Lab. Will Byers can’t catch a break and he now seems to be intrinsically linked to the shadow monster and everything else lurking in the upside down. Once again, Stranger Things 2 poses more questions than answers. Why does Will remember Joyce and Mike but not anybody else? One thing that is cleared up however is the loyalty of Dr Owens who seems to be fighting in our corner after he is appalled at the suggestion that Will should be left for dead in order to control the vines. Last thing on the Byers, how formidable was Joyce at the beginning when demanding proper medical attention for Will?  Winona Ryder really becomes a fierce lioness when one of her cubs is in danger.

I’m going to finish on a moral. The gangs motto is “friends don’t lie”. Dustin lied about Dart which has now led to the death of a bunch of scientists at the lab and, even more pertinently, it almost caused Steve Harrington’s hair to move out of place when he was being chased by a pack of adolescent monsters. The clear moral being; lying is bad, especially to your friends.

Pop Culture Watch: The split screen of Nancy and Jonathan in their respective rooms before they each decide to go and speak to the other is a nice reference to a similar scene in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom between Indy and Willie.

No film has had a greater influence on Stranger Things than Stand By Me and that is referenced by Steve and Dustin having a heart to heart while walking on the train tracks. Dustin repeatedly describes Dart as a Demogorgon, another nod to  Dungeons & Dragons and the investigative reporter Murray has a poster of the Michigan punk band MC5 on his wall. Pretty cool Murray. The aforementioned Farah Fawcett was a member of Charlie’s Angels and finally, the shitty hair metal band that Billy is listening to while lifting those humongous weights was Ratt. Not so cool Billy.

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