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Stranger Things Review 2.05 – 'Dig Dug'

Warning: This review contains spoilers. Don’t read if you haven’t watched it yet. In episode four[1] of Stranger Things: Nancy and Jonathan got caught by Hawkins Lab people and secretly recorded Dr.

Owens’ explanation for what they’re doing. Eleven had a fight with Hopper and while cleaning up her mess, she discovered files on her mother. After she tried to make contact, her mother’s psychic self vanished.

Will drew a series of vines that led Hopper to discover underground tunnels into the Upside Down. Dart was a baby DemoGorgon and ate Dustin’s cat.

Season 2, Episode 5: Dig Dug Directed By: Andrew Stanton Written By: Jessie Nickson-Lopez

One of the good things about binge watching a show is that you don’t have to wait so long to find out what happens in the next episode. It’s especially tough to wait a week for the next, say, Game of Thrones or Hannibal back when it was on. I didn’t think I’d have to do that with Netflix shows, but here we are.

Complaining aside, it was a great cliffhanger to end the last episode with Hopper entering the Upside Down tunnels because I’ve been wondering what in the world could happen to him down there. As it turns out, there’s nothing good in those tunnels. Not a single thing.

Crazy, right? It’s full of killer vines, evil plants that spit spores at you and no way out. Hopper is incredibly resilient and pragmatic and he still can’t help but get trapped like so many random animals.

We spend a good portion with him down in the tunnels and it’s really cool how he comes up with so many ways to survive as long as he can. Hopper’s story eventually ties into the Byers’ story this week, as Will has a vision of Jim in the tunnels and tells Joyce about it.

Even with all of the drawings all over the walls she can’t make sense of them until Bob shows up. Now, if you’ve been following along with these reviews, you know that for the moment I don’t like Bob. It’s partially a joke and partially because I’m convinced he has ulterior motives.

This is not a reflection on Sean Astin, mind you, because he’s quite good in the role. Bob gets a moment of triumph here, as Joyce uses his brain to help her solve the problem. I like the way Astin and Winona Ryder play off each other here.

Bob’s trying to be a good boyfriend/potential father figure and Joyce is having absolutely none of it because of the “Hopper may be dead in the Upside Down thing.” To Bob’s credit, he doesn’t shy away from the situation, even when Joyce begins to jump into random holes. This might be the episode where I turn around on the guy, but I’m keeping my eye on him. So yes, Bob helps everyone find Hopper and they save him from dying.

Then Hawkins Lab swoops in to start burning it and we’re left with another big twist. It seems that the connection between Smog Monster and Will is more than just some psychic possession. He really does feel its pain and when the scientists begin torching vines, Will goes into a straight up seizure.

Once again, Noah Schnapp is able to handle just about everything they give him this season, which makes it irritating that he was barely present in a story about him last season. Will’s health crisis ends the episode but there are other characters dealing with a lot stuff.

The Eleven and Dustin side plots I was into while I didn’t really care about the Lucas/Max and Nancy/Jonathan stories. Let’s break it down. First, Eleven does what she does best and goes out on her own to find her mother.

She does and we get perhaps the most heartbreaking moment of the entire series. It’s an origin story of sorts for Eleven and an explanation of what exactly Dr. Brenner did to her before season one.

I’m not going to explain everything, but it ends with Brenner not only stealing baby Jane (Eleven) away from her, but he also fried her mind with electroshock. I’m so glad he got eaten by the DemoGorgon in season one. Eaten alive is one of the worst ways to die and he deserved every second of it.

Millie Bobby Brown deserves some credit here too. She’s proven she’s a great actress before, but now she has to sell a lot of emotion for a kid to pull off, similar to Schnapp as Will. Eleven is processing the fact that her mother’s not dead, but she is in fact gone and extremely horrible things were done to her.

There’s some slight hope in that Terry seems to partially share Eleven’s abilities but man, that whole flashback bit was hard to watch. I hope there’s some way to fix Terry because I want El to have a happy ending.

The other stories aren’t much, so I’ll rush through them. First, Lucas has to explain the entirety of season one to Max, who rightfully doesn’t believe him. This is more to push the fact that her brother’s a possibly racist jerk than anything else, as well as eventually bring Max into the fold.

I like Sadie Sink’s performance here and I’m definitely glad that Lucas is getting things to do, but this could have been cut down to a single scene and accomplished the same thing. Next, Dustin has to deal with Dart. He spends half of the episode trying to find his friends (and calling Mike’s dad out on his uselessness) before running into Steve. “Hey, do you still got that bat?” I’m totally down for a Dustin and Steve adventure as they fight an otherworldly beast.

Sign me up right now. What I’m not down for is the Nancy and Jonathan story this season. The will-they-or-won’t-they is fine, but this thing about trying to bring down Hawkins Lab for what they did to Barb feels like it’s there to give them something to do.

Not only that, but it feels forced. It feels like a direct response to the #JusticeforBarb hysteria on social media, and social media trends should never, ever, control a story’s direction. As I once again feel the need to point out, Barb was a nothing character anyway.

Let Nancy and Jonathan have their own story that isn’t about someone else all the time. Overall this episode is a slightly downward turn. It’s overstuffed, particularly with some uninteresting plot points, but it does feature more strong performances from the child actors and some more interesting possibilities.

I mean, how great is a Dustin and Steve team-up going to be?

References

  1. ^ episode four (411mania.com)

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