TLDR for those with no patience: I’m not feeling jolly after episode 3. The episode title is a lying liar. Why must you hurt me this way, Stranger Things Writers? I am STRESSED and CREEPED OUT by something as normal as CHRISTMAS LIGHTS and I need to know what that body was RIGHT NOW.
First thoughts of the episode went like: I really want to know how Barb is! Wait, shit, shit, no I don’t. I don’t want to know how Barb is. Damn it. I had to go and say that. Welp, she dead.
There was a clear juxtaposition between Barb and Nancy’s hands as Barb desperately grips the edge of the pool trying to escape the hellflower monster and Nancy desperately grips Steve during their first sexual encounter. Well done there, Stranger Things. Playing with my emotional strings like that, how dare you.
This entire episode really brought some impeccable visuals. I’ve praised the writers and the casting already, and this time I want to commend the directing/editing and shot choices. From Nancy vs Barb, to the light trail leading the little girl down the hallway, to the terrifying angle focus on the letter N, this episode was a visual treat.
The interlude with the boys and Eleven came as such a relief after all the initial creepy, because El Continues to Have No Time For Your Bullshit, Dustin™. I burst out laughing when he dropped the Millennium Falcon in front of her not once, but twice. Then we check in on the scientists as they continue to do UNWISE sciencey shit and I have a Han Solo kind of bad feeling about this, probably prompted by the Star Wars reference. I want to go on record to say whatever thing they were bolting to the floor, it is a bad thing.
Moving on: Nancy, you might have wanted to consider Steve’s choice of friends before you decided to sleep with him. Seriously no one wants a reenactment of orgasms in the middle of the lunch room, Tommy the Taint. Any other friend in the universe would read Nancy’s clearly embarrassed body language and Steve’s stiff laughter and desist. Tommy. STAHP. (And also, shut up.)
After I had shifted to a more “meh” attitude for him last episode, Steve tries to get me to actively dislike him again in this one. Unauthorized paparazzi photos are wrong. No question. Jonathan crossed a line by taking that photo of Nancy with only a bra on, and it was inappropriate. But so is cornering Jonathan after school with a group of bullies, ripping up all of his photos, verbally abusing him, and breaking his camera. I’m conflicted as to who is the bad guy here, and starting to root for a boyfriend-less Nancy solving mysteries as a badass single lady.
All of El’s flashbacks continue to break my heart in new and interesting ways. Her “Papa” is the WORST. The actual worst. “Incredible,” is the EXACT WRONG RESPONSE to El killing the two men trying to throw her into her in the solitary confinement closet. (This is aside from the obvious fact that locking her in a closet every time you’re displeased is literal child abuse, dude!) Everything about him creeps me out, from his fluffy white hair, to his suit, to his dead fish eyes, to his soft creepy voice and I just want him to GO AWAY. None of those scientists should be allowed around children, ever.
I’ve never been so happy, or so stressed out, about LIGHTS LIGHTING UP. Which is what lights DO. And then they do it and it freaks me out! But in slightly happier news, I finally understand a cultural reference! Yay, me. That’s what the alphabet Christmas lights are all about. And then things get disturbing as Will spells out RUN, the lights go nuts, and that HELLFLOWER THING comes out of the WALL oh my fuck.
AND THEN there’s a body in the quarry. What? Wait, what? Will wasn’t anywhere near the quarry. And he was literally just doing the creepy light-brite spelling with his mom. Was it…his ghost communicating with her? Trying to keep her safe? First of all, that’s heartbreaking. Second, Eleven seems to be operating under the assumption he’s alive and hiding. I’m going to go with what the writers seem to be clearly foreshadowing, that Will is somehow hiding in the place that hellflower thing comes from, trapped in the strange, spooky echo of his house. Which is definitely not safe in any way, but is still more hopeful than a soggy body in the quarry.
I need to know if that’s Will’s body and I need to know NOW.