Stranger Things 2: Chapter Five Review

STRANGER THINGS 2: CHAPTER FIVE: DIG DUG

Mom, I saw him. – Will

Saw who? – Joyce

Hopper. I think he’s in trouble. I think he’s going to die. – Will

Everybody’s confused and wondering exactly where Jim Hopper is as the episode starts, and this was definitely the hour I couldn’t wait to jump into most after finishing its predecessor. Ending on a perfect cliffhanger in Chapter Four, the fate of the Chief turned a good binge into a must binge. You could technically end your viewing night after the first three episodes and not feel obligated to immediately move to the next, but that was not the case following Chapter Four.

Hopper is in the Upside Down and no one can figure out where he is. Joyce frantically dials his phone but gets no answers. Meanwhile, Jim wakes up after falling unconscious courtesy of the evil vines and some spitting plant creature that leaves him stumbling and choking in the haze. Sadly, he had a chance to try and escape, but instead drew his gun and flashlight and moved deeper into the area. Then, he lost his opportunity to get out.

This is without question the most trouble that character has ever been in, and the most intriguing point about it is the complete absence of El, who is busy attempting to understand her past. The two are on the outs to some extent, but she could have been quite helpful to her unofficial guardian one would think.

After waking up, Jim realizes the precarious nature of his predicament, and he also sees he’s basically been buried alive as the vines have formed over the hole he dug and blocked his exit. He gets resourceful, tearing off a portion of the shoulder and arm of his uniform to cover his nose and mouth. He sees two tunnels and chooses the left one, but so does some type of slithering monster that follows behind into that opening.

Will’s description of his visions is unpleasant, as he compares them to dreams you can’t forget. There are those that you have to think hard to remember, and this is one from which he can’t wake. As someone who has often said he would pay someone if they could come up with something to stop dreams completely, I’m not a fan of Will’s situation. Seriously, deep, dreamless sleep is my ultimate goal in this life.

I’ve got to say, I’m starting to get fatigued with Dustin this season. Even though he’s been my favorite character since the beginning, his act with Dart has become tedious and illogical to that character. He uses bologna to lure the creature into a cellar, which he shuts, but he’s still lying to his mother. He’s even faking phone calls attempting to get information on where the cat is when he knows full well the cat is in the stomach of the baby demogorgon.

“They saw her wandering around Loch Dora.” No Dustin, they didn’t, because that animal has been digested.

Eleven takes a ride with a nice truck driver that takes her to 515 Larrabee, as she’s about to meet her mother in person. She at first runs into her aunt, who erroneously assumes she’s a girl scout or a religious fanatic. “I want to see mama.” What now? Okay, I’m going to turn around with my jaw on the floor and walk you in, especially since you just opened the door with your mind. “Mama, it’s me, Jane. I’m here now.” All Terry does is continually repeat a series of words that seem unconnected, and El doesn’t know how to react.

Yes! Brett Gelman has arrived on Stranger Things. Nancy and Jonathan go to visit Murray Bauman, a conspiracy theorist (Gelman) that has more than a few theories and pieces of research on Barb’s whereabouts and other odd things that have been happening. He shows them a wall that looks like Carrie Mathison’s home in Season 1 of Homeland, featuring over 200 tips on Barb, Will, and others. “The answer to what happened to her is up there. I just have to connect the right dots.”

Nancy tells him his timeline is off, the mystery girl with the buzzed hair isn’t Russian, and is instead from Hawkins Lab. Jonathan then suggests Murray take a seat before they continue with what they have for him. Yeah, probably a good idea. He has no idea what he’s stumbled into by permitting this visit.

After playing him the tape they made at the lab, he breaks out vodka and Billie Holiday, says he believes them, but that the only thing that’s important is for “them” to believe the duo. He’s worried the general public is simply not wired to understand any of it, and their reaction will be swift and unfortunate. His first drink is bad, and he decides to add water, to which he realizes a strategy. “We make it more tolerable.” We water this information down and carefully parcel it out, with attention to tact and timing.

Lucas makes a play for Max, this time with a well-crafted idea to make her think her favorite arcade cabinet is out of order. There’s a second machine in the back, and as she heads for the secret Dig Dug machine, she runs into him instead. He lays out the story for her, with a few omissions, but her response backs up Bauman’s fear. She thinks it’s a joke, then that the story lacks originality, and can’t believe he would think her that gullible to believe it. “Storytime’s over isn’t it?”

We feel for him, but we’d have said the same thing. When he goes with “friends don’t lie,” it’s tough to sell considering he lied to get her in that back room to try and explain what’s been happening and why their group has been a tough nut to crack. The bigger problem for him is Billy, who has a keen dislike for him, and might actually attack him if he finds out Max has been in any contact with him. Yes, Billy continues to be brutally awful, and his inclusion in the series at all is honestly the biggest mistake the series has ever made.

Also terrible? Lucas’ sister.

Max does start to buy the story when Lucas puts his hand over her mouth to stop her from repeating any of what she said, but she’s skeptical. If she weren’t, I’d worry about her.

This is the episode where Bob Newby crossed over from potential annoyance to solid character for whom we can root. He’s super smart, which we knew, but when it comes time to make sense of Will’s drawings, he’s the one that opens that figurative safe. He makes a few jokes about “X” marking the spot, which also reminded me of him playing Mikey in The Goonies a bit. The vines aren’t exactly roads, but they “act like roads.” They don’t travel over water. Then comes the revelation no one else has seen, but Bob the Brain is all over.

“It’s not a puzzle. It’s a map. It’s a map of Hawkins. Right, Will?”

Tremendous work, Bob. Also, notice he was all about trying to find Hopper, and once they reach the spot and locate him in the Upside Down, he helps. He’s still largely in the dark, but he realizes in the tunnels that they’re inside Will’s map, but doesn’t know how the boy would have that kind of information. There’s no envy or jealousy to be found from Bob to Hopper whatsoever, or vice versa from this point on, and it’s not about Joyce Byers at all. It’s such a different approach than many other shows would go with, and it’s incredibly refreshing. This show is not about long-standing love triangles. There’s enough of the romance to make it click, but not so much as it stifles and asphyxiates the larger show.

On that subject, poor Steve shows up with roses and runs through his speech to Nancy in his head, but Dustin rolls in and changes his plans. You see, there’s this terrifying monster trapped in his cellar, and that problem needs to be addressed. First, do you have the baseball bat with nails hammered into it? Yes? Great. We’re going to need that post haste. Also, I like the idea of Steve and Dustin hanging out for a little while. It may do both of them some good.

El dealing with her mom is gut wrenching, but finally she’s doing some things over the past two episodes that have been interesting. One creative problem with this season has been splitting Eleven from the guys, because’s so much less fun to watch when she’s on her own in full emo mode sobbing into an empty black abyss while wearing a blindfold in the real world. Her interaction, particularly with Mike, but with all four of the boys, is what made that character what it was. That connection has been lost, and that’s made Millie Bobby Brown’s scenes some of the least entertaining portions of the new season.

El sees his mom’s story, from her own rushed and dangerous birth to what happened to Terry Ives after Jane was taken away from her. It explains the gibberish she’s speaking as she rocks in the chair. Terry pulls a gun in the laboratory lobby, shoots a security guard on the search for her daughter, ends up strapped down and deals with electroshock therapy that basically destroys her memories and her mind. There’s an image of a rainbow drawing outside a door where Jane and 008 were held.

One of the words Terry can’t stop repeating is “rainbow.” We also hear various things doctors are saying, including “they’re on their way,” “stay with us,” and “breathe.” All of those are part of Ives’ chorus, as are various pieces of a safe combination. Inside that safe was the gun she took to the lab. So El shows us why her mother is such a basket case and also what she’s saying.

Finally, Joyce and Bob find Hopper in the tunnels and fee him from the vines choking him to death. When he gets to his feet, he and Joyce ALMOST kiss, but that’s about as far as it goes. Bob never saw it. The bigger happening is outside, as the Hawkins Power & Light vans arrive and out come guys in hazmat suits with flamethrowers. As they begin to clear the area and burn the vines, Will falls and shakes violently, almost like he’s being…

…set ablaze.

Mike looks on in horror. Several of the men on the scene surround Will, and we then realize that the main baddie is truly inside of Will in a complicated way. He gets hurt, and could possibly even die when people attack the vines, or attempt to stop the spread. Uh oh. That’s an issue.

I’m @JMartOutkick. I’ve got a code for you. It’s Code Shut Your Mouth.

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