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Quickly, gather the fellowship!


SPOILERS for the first season of Strange Things:


I finally watched Stranger Things (the first season). It’s a lot of fun…well, once you hit the fourth episode. The characters are all great, and that is the number one reason to keep watching (the soundtrack maybe being number two). But the plot doesn’t stand up to much scrutiny, or at least is too vague for me to embrace. I would say it’s less frustrating than J. J. Abrams’ love letter to the Goonies, Super 8, in which a hyper advanced alien works to repair its interstellar spaceship by terrorizing 80’s small town suburbia. The logic of the alien does not hold up even during the course of the movie. In Stranger Things, the monster can at least be written off as a violent animal that’s simply hard to kill, but my real issues with the plot are the many vague, unanswered questions and frustrating pacing that crams all the most interesting stuff into a rushed final episode, while dragging out the initial setup.

So Eleven is a telekinetic psychic, which, apparently, makes it possible for her to open a doorway to a mirror universe. Or rather the monster opened the doorway, I guess, even though she says she did it? But the monster also opened a doorway in a tree, but that doorway seemed to close automatically. Yet the doorway in the government facility remained opened for the entire show, even after the monster was killed, as Hopper, Joyce, and Will were supposedly able to exit the Upside Down without any issues. So how does this work, exactly? Is the monster the only one opening doorways? And why was the doorway in the facility so large and permanent, while all the other doorways the monster opens, like the one in the Byers house, closed immediately or after a short time?

Why does someone/something moving around in the Upside Down affect lights in the real world? What’s the correlation there? It’s a good thing the only inhabitants of the Upside Down are one creature and occasionally an interloping human. Otherwise lights would be on the fritz all the time in the normal world.

And if the Upside Down IS a mirror universe, why exactly does it have only a single native inhabitant? Who built all those parallel buildings and cars? The monster?? It feels less like a mirror universe and more like another plane of existence that humans can’t perceive.  And either way, what does that have to do with Eleven? How does her being used to spy on Russians equate to contacting a parallel world? The series fails to establish any solid rules, and when it does, it fails to apply any logical reasoning to those rules. The final confrontation between Eleven and the monster was pretty much completely random and in no way foreshadowed or explained, it just kind of happened.

Still, Stranger Things’ triumph is in its characters and its atmosphere, which feels both whimsical and surreal, while also being tense and gritty. It’s so much fun watching the kid characters live out their real life D&D campaign while the teen and adult characters struggle through what’s essentially a horror film. It probably shouldn’t work, but it does, and I look forward to watching the second season, even if I don’t hold out much hope for it rounding out the vague logic of the universe.

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  • Turul

    Oo, Tanaka is in trouble~!

    • Kid Chaos

      Don’t you mean Genchu? 😜

      • McNutty

        Everyone is in trouble, except Cho

        • Kid Chaos

          Cho is trouble. :)

          • Turul

            A Christian priest, a Hindu guru, and trouble walk into a bar…

  • IDPounder

    Aw snap, Daddy’s home!

    • charles81

      To be fair. He did say that he was under orders from Yukizane to guard the border and not fetch Masuhiro and sure enough Yukizane saw himself into the ninja in exchange for Masuhiro’s release so if not for Ina taking the scooby gang to face the ninja, this all would have gone quite smoothly.

      Now fair enough, Ina presented him with new information which involved Masuhiro’s location which he may have been able to act on. Also he placed her under house arrest but considering she’d run away and indicated she intended a repeat performance I think it’s justified. Further, as for not going after her when she did manage to flee, she gave an order for him not to follow.

      Then again… Yukizane did recommend promoting Tanaka to his own position sooooo maybe it’s good news?

  • LordBolanderFace

    If Ricardo was really serious about making a profit off of war, he would have brought some doctors and/or medicine. As Professor Moriarty said, “The richest man in the world is the one who provides both the bullets and the bandages.”

    • multilis

      Japanese have doctors and medicine already, but didn’t have guns.

      • clogboy

        Then you unionize the doctors and medicine manufacturers. Get an insurance scheme going on. Passive income.

    • Arkone Axon

      Bear in mind that we’re talking about the same mindset that had the European investors sending colonists to the east coast of North America with the specific goal of… finding gold. Not planting profitable crops or establishing lucrative trade routes, but finding gold because gold gold gold.

  • endplanets

    Just, just stop general guy.
    When Genchu stood dramatically in the dramatic doorway it was awesome, but seeing you copy him by standing dramatically in dramatic doorway is just sad.

    • LordBolanderFace

      That’s Daimyo Guy to you, pal!

  • clogboy

    …Oh boy, season 2 is going to have SO MANY answers for you :)
    Actually, no. But that’s why it is a mystery. There are a great number of franchises that are good because some things are left to imagination, not in the last place IT, The Green Mile and The Conjuring. I mean, sure, the logic is outlined more or less plainly eventually, but not without a leap of faith.
    It does a good job balancing questions with answers. New elements are introduced while you’re making sense of something else, and that’s a train that keeps on running, without being bogged down with stuff that either never gets an answer or makes no sense. IMO one of the strong points (next to the characters and the general atmosphere) is that it leaves you with a sense of wonder, more so than it leaves loose ends. And while season 2 won’t have this surprise hit feeling, it’s still good, expanding on the foundation of season 1 and introducing new people and elements.

  • clogboy

    Like I said in previous strip, this better not be classified as a tavern, due to food being served. Or else Cho’s dramatic appearance will be the last. :p

  • FourEyedSamurai

    Serious Matsuhiro is so…..serious

    • Turul

      Grumpy daimyo.

  • bgrunge

    Regarding Stranger Things:

    -11 opened the gate when she saw the demogorgon, and freaked out and lost control of her powers.

    -The gate being open made the “membrane” between worlds thin, which allowed the demogorgon to move between the two at will, but only in the area near the gate.

    -the demogorgon cannot open a real gate, only temporary ones, and then only because of the existence of the real one.

    -the real gate stays because it is the real, permanent wound- the fundamental tear in reality.

    -the upside down isn’t a mirror world so much as it is a sideways world; it is obviously dependent on the real world to exist, and changes in response to changes in the real world, but does not mirror any intelligent life. Rather, it is instead infested with extra dimensional life that finds it no doubt much easier to access than the real world. Humans probably have an effect on some things in the real world from the upside down because they aren’t supposed to be there, and their constituent matter resonates with aspects of the real world (being from there)

    -11 was remote viewing when she saw the demogorgon. Remote viewing is akin to astral projection, and it is easy to imagine an astral projection getting “lost”, the way a person can in real life. Imagine if I tell you to cross a forest in the middle of the night- if you lose your direction and wind up somewhere you aren’t supposed to be, it isn’t surprising. 11 was moving through the “forest”, looking for russians, and went sideways and contacted the upside down by accident. When she was startled, she ripped the gate open.

    -the confrontation with the demogorgon was anticlimactic; but it makes sense. The demogorgon was ultimately nothing compared to 11. She’s the astral traveler, the powered being; it’s a scavenger and a beast hunting in her wake. Of course its gonna get wrecked by her.

    -finally, a series isn’t obligated to explain everything, and is often better when it doesn’t. That said, I find Stranger Things’ internal logic to be remarkably consistent, at least in the first season.

    • suburban_samurai

      Well, thanks for clearing that up!

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