Just like its predecessor, Stranger Things 2 was a joyous romp. The sophomore season of the Duffer Brothers’ Spielbergian horror delivered more of the same, but bigger and bolder, as sequels should; this time hordes of demadogs acting as Aliens to the prequel’s singular Alien.
I intend to write an article on the meaning of Stranger Things – child abuse, trauma and violence soon, but for today, here’s what I think should’ve happened in Indiana.
With Eleven stuck away in Hopper’s cabin in the woods for half the season before she hopped on a Greyhound to Chicago, but I couldn’t help wondering if our friendly nighbourhood telekinetic should have been put to better use.
I didn’t hate the divisive standalone episode in which Eleven walked into Class of 1999 but it did stick out like a sore thumb, both stylistically and story-wise.
Eleven’s journey needed her to take her from the woods into a strange, new world. A sprawling, unfamiliar scary city was the right move and there she could have understood and improved upon her psychic powers. In short, she needed a mentor – a Yoda to her Luke – and she kinda got one in the form of Kali, a ‘sister’ psychic also from the Hawkins government lab. But the decision to stuff all this into one, rushed episode was ill-informed. It would have been much better for the series if she skipped town around episode three, and these punks became a B-Story for three or four eps. Eleven should have become an unwitting pawn in their robbery and murder, as this would have channelled her anger much more than getting fashion tips and make-up tips from watching The Lost Boys in their Near Dark van.
Over three or four episodes, Eleven’s resolve and morals could have been tested in a series of ever-more challenging and illegal situations, eventually being asked to step up to become a killer, but refusing. Her character arc would have been a much more informed growth and would have felt more deserved. Also, the gang would have seemed less of a throwaway plot device.
Since it was obvious that Eleven was coming back to save Hawkins anyway, as Will became sicker and sicker at the shadow monster’s hands (tentacles) we could have seen Eleven honing her powers (as opposed to immediately being able to move a railroad car with her mind) and thus creating tension by making the audience crave her return and giving us a better pay-off.
HOW STRANGER THINGS 2 SHOULD HAVE ENDED
After a thrilling finalé and denouement (finally featuring Barb’s funeral) we were shown the kids at the Back to the Future-esque Snow Ball Dance. The season’s final shot was a tantalising exterior of the school (becoming a glorious ‘camera move’) which took us into the Upside Dow. There, the Shadow Monster loomed more huge and terrifying than ever in a half-satisfying, if somewhat tired, tease.
This is how I’d have ended it. Same school exterior, same camera revolve, same Shadow Monster but then, a figure runs from the school into the night.
It’s a woman, muscular and toned and wearing army fatigues, she sports a machine gun. Think Linda Hamilton as Sarah Connor. She sprints passed the camera and stops, resting her back against a tree.
The camera settles on her face to reveal… it’s Barb!
And she’s a muthafkkin’ WARRIOR!
Yes, I know the last time we saw her was as a corpse with a leech climbing out of her mouth, but this is the Upside Down and normal rules don’t apply.
Now THAT’S how to end a series!