Welcome to Hawkins…
Episode 1 of Stranger Things was the perfect pilot but it was so fast paced that it was difficult to find some purchase amidst the mayhem. The Weirdo on Maple Street gives us time to breath and delve into the characters a little more. We find out that Hopper may have been romantically linked with Joyce Byers and most pertinently that Eleven (or ‘El’ as Mike christens her) recognizes the missing Will Byers.
By the second episode, Stranger Things is splicing many different genres into one exemplary whole. Nancy is living out her John Hughes dream by shedding the catacomb of her geekdom to become a beautiful social butterfly with Steve. Her even more nerdy best friend Barb fares less well however, first cutting her hand in an attempt to open a beer can and then seemingly becoming a victim of the Lovecraftian monsters that are bubbling under the surface all over Hawkins.
Mike and the boys are right in the middle of an even more high stakes version of E.T, with Eleven stashed in Mike’s basement. The more light hearted scenes with the boys mesh perfectly with the grim heartbreak that is being endured by Hopper and Joyce, as the missing child leads both his mother and the cop looking for him to wonder if they are cursed, each of them shuffling round Hawkins like Lynchian ghosts.
Episode 2 was not as high octane as its predecessor but Stranger Things is not supposed to be an event series like Wayward Pines, slow burning episodes like this one are not only to be expected, but are vital in terms of widening the universe and asking us to care about the characters.
Two episodes in and Stranger Things has posed more questions than answers but you can bet we will be seeing more of both the monsters and the shady scientists chasing them in coming episodes.