FULL SPOILER REVIEW AHEAD
Directly following episode 1, Stranger Things episode 2, The Weirdo on Maple Street start as the boys are back as Michael’s house, in the basement, all drenched, asking a bunch of questions to “11”. The kids are being surprisingly adult, asking her if she has parents they can call, until Dustin makes a remark on her shaven head and asks if she has cancer, reminding me that these are kids. I giggled a bit. Michael gives her some clean clothes and the boys are freak out when she attempts to undress herself right here and there. There is a really gentle moment between “11” and Michael, he attempts to close the bathroom door to give her some privacy, she doesn’t like that and is scared, so he lets the door only slightly open in order for her to feel safe, it’s sweet, it’s gentle. I like Michael. Meanwhile Lucas throws a bunch of ableist shit that I try not to be bothered by because, well, they are kids. Michael makes a fortress for “11” to sleep in, and then gives her the nickname El. As he leaves the basement, El cries by herself and I sat there wondering about her past and her pain.
The next morning in Joyce’s house, Joyce isn’t doing very well. Hopper stops by her house to check with her about the weird phone call from last night. Hopper is skeptical, Joyce doesn’t appreciate her word being doubted, insists that she knows her son’s breathing as he would know his daughter’s. I understand both sides, Joyce’s powerlessness and Hopper’s pain at being thrown a statement as such.
But Hopper moves on, which I admit took me by surprise. He continues to ask her a few questions, they all find it odd that the phone was burned off when the call ended, and Hopper decides that he was waited long enough and that he will visit Will’s father, which frustrates Joyce. Jonathan follows Hopper out of the house and insists that he should be the one to go to his father’s.
In Michaels’ house, at the dinner table Michael throws a few jabs at his sister’s about her secret late night visit last night and whether she thinks she has studied enough for her human anatomy test, which gets him a kick under the table, but their parents are completely oblivious so who cares. After the breakfast Michael brings food to El and tries to get some information out of her, such as who is after her, if she is in trouble etc. El remains her mysterious self and gives strange but intense responses.
Back with the search, the two police officers whose names I haven’t been able to remember are discussing Joyce and making inappropriate and insensitive remarks, such as how Joyce is at the edge and basically how “crazy” she is. Hopper does the right thing and reminds them that Joyce’s kid is missing, and to have some goddamn class.
In School, Nancy and her friends are gossiping as teenage girls do (I guess) until they are approached by the “cool kids” who have decided to throw a party and think it’s hilarious how uncool Nancy is because she thinks Tuesday is an odd day to throw a ragger on. They notice Will’s brother putting up posters and making fun of him, I mean, family members who worry about a lost kid is SO uncool and weird, you guys, am I right? Nancy shows empathy, says it “sucks” which is quite the understatement but at least she’s trying to be sweet. My empathy was focused and remained with Jonathan though.
Lucas and Dustin are in class but they can’t stop wondering how Michael’s mother reacted to finding out about EL, and whether or not El slept naked. Meanwhile, it turns out that Michael skipped school to keep El company (so sweet, I melted) and is showing her around his house. El came across a picture of Nancy and said Nancy was pretty with the sweetest smile on her face (girl love is the best), and then had the chance to try Michael’s dad’s chair which scared her and then amused her. I melted even further as El smiled for one of those rare times.
Back with Jonathan who is driving to go meet his dad, he is listening to the Clash and is having a flashback to when he had Will listen to this song. Their mother was having an argument on the phone and we get a beautiful scene of the brothers bonding and Jonathan telling Will that although it’s ok to want a relationship with their dad, he doesn’t have to go to things he doesn’t want to go to. It is ok to like different things. It was touching and made me like the character of Jonathan even more.
Joyce goes to town to the store where we learn she has been working at for ten years now, in order to buy a new phone since her previous one had been burned off by god-knows-what, her boss is a bit of a dick and actually doesn’t seem very down with giving a woman whose kid is currently missing a two-week advance so she can get a new phone in case someone calls, but I really enjoyed Joyce showing a bit more toughness and personality and not backing down. As Joyce deals with her crappy boss, the men in black are going through her house and her backyard being modern ghostbusters. They seem to find gooey stuff.
Once again we return to Michael’s house where is he attempted to show his toys to El but quite frankly she doesn’t give a fuck. There she comes across a picture of Will and it is made clear that she knows who he is. Right when this is revealed, Michael’s mom returns home and Michael attempts to hide El in his closet, which triggers some trauma for her. She reminisces of a time, in what I can only assume to be the institute, where she was brought and put into some sort of empty closet as she screams for “papa” to some man. As this goes on, Michael’s mom is listening to Michael’s explanation as of why he isn’t in school, and although he attempts to lie (badly) she disregards it and lets it go, letting him know that she can only imagine what he is feeling due to Will’s disappearance, and that she is there for him. He then returns to the closet to find a crying El, and when he asks her if she is ok, she replies that she is, and repeats “promise”. We get a short scene of Joyce returning home with her new phone and waiting by herself, it hurt.
At the dinner, Benny the nice guy is finally found. Hopper reveals that Benny was his friend and I’m able to sympathise with Hopper even further.
Jonathan finally arrives to his dad’s, Lonnie, house and a young woman opens up the door. She isn’t very friendly but Jonathan doesn’t give a shit and goes in to start looking for Will but is interrupted violently as he is pushed against a wall by his father (lovely parent you got there).
Lucas and Dustin arrive at Michael to find out that his mom still doesn’t know about El. Lucas continues on his journey to rub me the wrong way with his insensitive and ableist words, and decides that he’s going to be a snitch. El then reveals her mad telekinesis powers to them by making sure that the door remains closed. Simply stating “no”. This was one of my favorite scene of the episode.
We learn a bit more about Jonathan’s dad, but nothing that we couldn’t have guessed before. He’s one of those sperm donors who most likely abandoned the mother of his kids, never helps raise or tend to the children whose existence he played a part in, was never present but still thinks he is the better parent. He attempts to manipulate Jonathan by talking shit about Joyce but Jonathan doesn’t take any of it and gives Lonnie one of the missing posters for Will in case Lonnie forgot what his own son looks like.
Hopper questions one of the last person to have seen Benny alive, and he learns that Benny may have not committed suicide as he hadn’t acted much different in the past days. The incident with the kid in the kitchen stealing food is revealed to him and Hopper starts to believe that this child perhaps could have been Will. As the audience, we know this to be false, but it is a very reasonable assumption, especially with the disappearance of a child and the appearance of another, and the shaved head thing (and the fact that EL can be perceived as a boy by people because…hair. Oh well.)
Nancy lies about wanting to go to the gathering for Will at her school, which, when you think about it, is quite the shitty lie considering that she should sort of want to go there out of respect but, hey, teenage girl’s hormone or something.
The search in the woods continues which seems to lead the police towards the institute. I am very intrigued.
Back with the boys, a pretty damn adorable scene takes place when the boys promise not to tel anyone about El because superpowers are really cool and if they had known they would have treated her differently. El doesn’t understand the word or concept of friends so Lucas tries to explain until Michael interrupts because they can’t possibly give decent line or two to the only black kid on the show thus far. Fine, be that way. The concept of friend and friendship is explained through the concept of promises, and being there for someone. It’s cute.
Barbara and Nancy are arriving to the cool kids only party and Barbara judges Nancy for being a teenage girl and liking boys, oh, and for having a bra that she hadn’t seen before (what?). “Cool kid” supposedly hot Steve opens the door and makes a fool out of himself as a way to seem extra cool. I gagged.
Hopper wakes up in the middle of the night, he seems agitated, anxious, depressed, and goes to smoke a cigarette. His lady friend gets up, joins him outside without any pants on and complains about the cold. Hopper talks about the fact that incidents like a missing child and a suicide haven’t happened in a very long time, but she doesn’t give a fuck about what’s on his mind because she is cold and blah blah why are you here?
Once again back with the boys, they are questioning her about Will and whether or not she knows where he is. El, once again, gives them a whole lot of silence and single words here and there, but it is made clear that although bad men are after her, something else is after Will. She places a wizard on the table, and a creature next to him. The boys are freaked.
At Steve’s house we watch as the “ragger” is basically a gathering of Steve, Nancy, a couple and Barbara who looked like she knew that she was the third wheel there. Steve tries to how off to Nancy by chugging a beer. Oh my, such manliness, where have my panties gone. He then challenges Nancy to do the same and she does, because teenage girls like to have some fun too, but Barbara watches with complete disdain. Nancy then aggressively pressure Barbara to the same even though Barbara repeatedly says no and demonstrate a lot of discomfort and annoyance, alas, she caves in and instead of making a hole in a beer can, cuts her thumb pretty badly. But nobody seems to care about her. As Barbara goes in the kitchen to fix her fucked up thumb, the kids start to get into the pool and have fun, nice friend you are, Nancy.
There we get one of the final scene of the episode. Joyce gets a call but it isn’t one she was hoping for. Instead, she heard Wills breathing again, and then he speaks to her, but the creature gets on the phone again and takes over. The phone burns off again, and as Joyce cries and yells, the lights start to flicker. The music in Jonathan’s room starts to play, but Jonathan isn’t home. As she enters, Joyce seems to feel Will’s presence, the music plays, the light flickers and brighten, and then a creature is apparent within/under the wall, a la Freddy Krueger. Joyce runs out and gets in her car but her keys aren’t there, the music starts to play again, she then demonstrate a huge amount of courage and re-enters her home.
Finally, at the ragger that really isn’t a ragger, both Barbara and Nancy are being terrible friends to each other. Nancy follows Steve upstairs to “chill” but Barbara stops her because slut shaming your friend for wanting to make-out/have sex/or simply being alone with someone they have a crush on is a great sigh of friendship. Nancy on the other hand, tells Barbara that basically she isn’t really needed here anyone and can just go home, which is an incredibly shitty thing to do, to leave your friend behind like this.
Nancy goes upstairs and after a little bit of will they-wont they, she undresses and they begin to make out. Meanwhile, Jonathan who was taking pictures of where Will disappeared (because taking pictures at night is a very logical and great idea) is now taking pictures of the party, and then Nancy. Barbara, who decided to stay behind and wait for Nancy to be done with we all know what, is chilling by the pool. Her fucked up thumb is bleeding onto the water and something catches her and drags her in. I thought that Jonathan would see this, but he left after taking a picture of Nancy in a bra, alright.
The episode ends with me feeling kind of bad for Barbara who was only present at this party because she was asked to give a ride to a friend and was then ditched. I’ll miss you Barbara, you and your high-waisted denim jeans, and your big glasses.
8/10 – This episode was great but some of the scenes seemed to be a bit all over the place or out of order, I wish we would have finished this episode with Joyce, but alas, this was till a great episode.