Stranger Things delivers it’s strongest episode yet…
Before we get into the finer points of The Bathtub, I want to take a moment to reflect on how impressed I have been with the performance of Millie Bobby Brown. As Eleven she has bought incredible emotion and has stood out in a show full of great performances. In recent years, the strongest actors coming out of Hollywood have all been women. Not to heap on the pressure but it would be great to see Brown follow in the footsteps of Jennifer Lawrence, Elizabeth Olsen and Brie Larson.
As for the episode itself, The Bathtub is, from start to finish, a revelation. From the jaw dropping opening sequence where El flips a car to the last scene in which Will Byers safety is potentially fatally compromised, it is an almost flawless 45 minutes of television. Hopper and Joyce finally unite with Jonathan and Nancy in their search for Mikey and the boys. Doubting Lucas becomes a new convert to the church of Eleven and El goes to the ‘upside down’ to confirm the death of Barb and the deterioration of Will. RIP Barb. In a sea of wonderful 80’s haircuts, yours was one of the most outlandish (although not in the same league as my boy Steve Harrington’s obviously).
One of the things I loved about The Bathtub is that even though there is so much at stake, Stranger Things delivers by far it’s funniest episode. Several laugh out loud moments help to break the tension without ever feeling out of place. A rare skill. Yet another exemplary aspect is some of the background characters. I have spoken before about how Stranger Things is generally a perfect homage to classic 80’s cinema and Nancy and Mike’s parents feel like a perfect example. They are an amalgamation of all the hysterical, bumbling parents inherent to 80’s cinema and a special shout out to the jerk off cops as well, another 80’s pastiche.
Stranger Things dips into different genre’s liberally but the kids knowing more than their parents is definitely a horror film trope (see Nancy Wheeler’s namesake from Nightmare on Elm Street) and so it is as the episode ends with Hopper and Joyce surrounded by armed guards outside the Hawkins Labs compound.
Everything is in place for what should be an unforgettable finale. No pressure…
Steve Watch: What’s that? Surely not? Is Steve going to rise from his self imposed mediocrity like a phoenix from the flames? Maybe not but he at least took a step in the right direction by ditching his shitty friends and helping to clean off the graffiti aimed at Nancy. Still time for a strong finish Steve.