Stranger Things Season 2 Episode 1 Mad Max

By in dustin, eight, eleven, Hopper, Jonathan Byers, Joyce Byers, kali, Lucas, mike, Nancy Wheeler, Steve Harrington, stranger things, stranger things 2, upside down, Will Byers
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Did Season two of Stranger Things begin with answers to all our questions? No, but there’s a good reason for that. The Duffer brothers are incredibly crafty and like to slowly spoon feed you the goods while they sprinkle in a new batch of hysteria to give you something new to wrack your brain over. The first episode, MadMax, doesn’t open up in the small town of Hawkins, but in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania with a group of people we have never even seen before that open the mind to so many possibilities.

Stranger Things Season Two Episode One Madmax

Have you seen Stranger Things Season 2? Spoiler City Below: read at your own Risk

As an alarm suddenly starts blaring in a building, a group of masked “robbers” (you would assume they are), run out into a van that is their getaway ride. As the driver zigs through the city avoiding the cop cars that are now on their tail, the group unmasks and we see that they’re made up of a guy with a mohawk, a girl that looks like a doll that was dipped in a skittle factory, a thick bald man with a long braid, a girl with a fabulous fro, and a girl with a side fade, purple hair, and smudged racoon-styled eyeliner around the eyes. Other then the fact that they may just have committed a crime, there’s nothing else you can tell from the group.

For a second, we are to believe that they’ve evaded the cops, but shortly after, they return closely tailing them. When it seems like the chase is too close, Mr. Mohawk turns to the purple haired girl and begs her; “Do something, Kali! Do something!”

What is she supposed to do? Throw bananas out the window and hope the cars slip?

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Kali closes her eyes and fist, and says, “Boom.” The cops reach an underpass and it collapses in front of them causing the first car to veer to the side and the rest to swerve to avoid hitting it. Before you get excited at the likeness to Eleven, know that the cop driver at the head of the line is heavily criticized for causing the wreck. Because when he steps out the car to look at the crumbling overpass, he realizes that the street is clear and the overpass is untouched.

The crime group celebrates as the van is already too far for the cops to catch up. Kali has a single bead of blood dripping down her nose, that she wipes with her arm, exposing a tattoo that says 008.

I’ll give you a minute. You must be a little verklempt.

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Kali has the power to make others see things that aren’t there, hence the cops vision of a broken bridge. And she’s clearly a former inhabitant of Hawkins lab. Meaning, there could be, at the very least, 10 other people in the world with powers similar to Eleven. Could you even imagine the magnitude of this should they unite? Imagine their abilities against the powers that be in the upside down. The awesomeness of a Demogorgon takedown by a group of kids with this type of power!! Now, I’m a little verklempt.

Our Boys in Hawkins

Back in good ol’ Hawkins, Dustin is desperately looking for change and we finally get a glimpse of his mother. She’s a bit annoying, hyper, joyous like her son, and dramatically whines at her boy. Everything you would expect. Over the walkie, Lucas Sinclair tells Dustin he has more change then Dustin could ever find in the sofa cushions because he’s been mowing a neighbors lawn. They call Mike Wheeler for his haul and he breaks open a piggy bank and tells them to call Will Byers and meet at the arcade.

The piggy bank, however, is not his. Nancy comes rushing in to find her brother stealing her hard earned quarters, which he claims he’ll pay her back for. She chases him out the house and we see a glimpse of the Wheelers. Mrs. Wheeler is a blonde now and looks like she is going through a midlife crisis. Mr. Wheeler looks as uninterested in his family’s life and as useless as ever.

Joyce drops Will off at the arcade and has a million requests, as expected. It may have been a year since the upside down trauma, but I couldn’t expect her to be any less paranoid. He’s not to go home alone. No more bike rides after hanging out for Will.

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The kids gather around the classic arcade game, dragon’s lair. Dustin is losing that change he found faster then he got it into his pockets. He doesn’t do well with losing and lets out a very well executed “Son of a bitch”. Dustin may not be able to beat the game as easily as he does “Dig Dug,” but at least he has the high score on that game to hang on to. Or so he thought. The resident caretaker of the arcade breaks the hard news to Dustin that he no longer holds the highest score.

Dustin rushes to Dig Dug to find that a player named Madmax now holds the number one spot on the high score list. Who is Madmax? The caretaker, who’s a teenager a few years older than the boys, won’t give up the information without something in exchange. He wants a date with Nancy, which I’m sure is never going to happen. Mike is unwilling to “prostitute” his sister in exchange for more information and as Lucas and Dustin argue that he should try, Will breaks off towards the entrance to watch a storm building.

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The storm is unusual because it’s red and Will turns to the guys to see if they can see it. Unfortunately, he’s suddenly standing in an empty arcade. And as he walks outside, he’s transported into the upside down. Within the red storm, a giant tarantula looking thing emerges towering as high as a skyscraper and taking a space the size of a small park. This is no Demogorgon. This thing is 30 times bigger.

Mike shakes Will back to reality and they’re standing outside the arcade below a dark unchanged sky. Was this all a dream? It sure as hell can’t be a flashback. Will never saw anything that faintly resembled this back when he was in another dimension.

Hopper’s Mornings – Coffee and Contemplation

As Jim Hopper walks into the station ready to take his messages from Florence and contemplate his day, he’s followed by an irritating investigative journalist that’s figured out the previous year’s unusual problems and is questioning Hopper. He doesn’t have an accurate depiction of what happened though and is more a conspiracy supporter than anything else. He thinks Eleven is a Russian spy, thanks to Mike’s dad who was convinced her shaved head meant she was a Russian. Plus, every conspiracy points to Russians due to the cold war and America’s fear of communism. He also thinks its tied to Barbara’s disappearance. She was kidnapped by the Russians apparently. The reporter knows little of the facts but is piecing together a Russian conspiracy he believes Hopper is helping to cover up. Hopper does a good job of deflecting the questions since it’s not true either way.

So much for coffee and contemplation. It’s more like swatting at the nosey fly and coffee.

The Harrington Couple

Nancy and Steve Harrington are still together and more mature since this all began. Steve tries to be as dedicated to work and school as Nancy is, but has accepted that he may end up working for his dad in the long run. A job with Dad would mean good benefits and insurance, good enough to start a family at Hawkins. Nancy doesn’t seem too thrilled but that may be because it reminds her of the cul de sac life that her mom has, which she mentioned last season she despised.

A roaring blue mustang flashes by catching the eye of all the envious high schoolers. A young girl skates out in one direction, and the driver is a jean jacket, tight pants, and destroyed-mullet-wearing, new guy in school played by Dacre Montgomery. All the girls check out his cheeks as he passes and I’m still wondering if they even notice the hair. I mean, it looks like the muscle car drove over it before he pasted it on.

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Hawkins School

Will opens his locker to discover a newspaper clipping of his return to Hawkins from the upside down last year. Someone wrote “Zombie boy” in marker on it. The poor boy went through the trauma of the upside down, spitting up slugs, and constantly returning to that dark place, and these mean kids still find a way to make fun of him. The implication being that since he was dead and returned, he is a zombie. The kid can’t get a break.

In class, the teacher introduces a new female student, Maxine. She likes to be called Max. Max is the same girl that skated out the hot rod’s car. The boys look at her the same way that Mike looked at Eleven the first time they met her. They couldn’t take their eyes off of her.

Joyce Byers

Joyce is working at the store when a guy comes in looking for green pumpkins. She goes to check for the pumpkin in the back and they end up making out in the storage closet. No fear, this isn’t a random act of lust. Bob Newby is Joyce’s new boyfriend. He wanted to get in a smooch session before they meet at her house that night.

It’s Jonathon’s turn to pick the movie for movie night. Bob’s request is that he doesn’t pick anything involving horror cause he hates scary movies. Boy, do I have some bad news for Bob.

Nancy, Jonathon, Steve, and Justice for Barb

There’s a party on Halloween and Nancy wants Jonathon to go. Jonathon is still an outcast that doesn’t engage in regular high school foolery, but now, with a bigger purpose. He’s taking Will trick or treating on Halloween. Jonathon has become Will’s protector since the upside down incident, possibly a side effect of the guilt he felt knowing he couldn’t protect his brother when he was swept into another dimension.

Nancy doesn’t want Jonathon to be alone. She already knows his antisocial routine down to what music he listens to. But she’s a little blind and slow, not to realize that Jonathon would be bothered by the presence of Nancy and her boyfriend. Steve runs up to Nancy and kisses her, and Nancy almost forgets she was talking to Jonathon, who is already down the hall when she remembers. Mark this as the reason why Jonathon isn’t faintly interested in going to a party and seeing his crush snuggled up with her bae.

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That night, Steve and Nancy visit Barbara’s parents for some KFC dinner. Barbara’s parents STILL don’t know the truth about their daughter. But how could anyone explain that she was swept into the upside down by an interdimensional monster and was eaten, while her friend was boning her brains out? I don’t think they could ever deal with not being able to bury Barb because her body is in a dump in the upside down covered in slugs.

They are putting up the house for sale and employing the investigative reporter, Murray Bauman. That gnat that has been bugging Hopper was hired by Barb’s parents. These people intend to spend their lives finding out what happened to their daughter, believing that Hopper was an unhelpful mess up that didn’t help them find the truth.

Nancy excuses herself and goes to the bathroom, where Barb’s parents have added pics like a mini Barbara shrine. Nancy breaks down crying over the sadness of Barb’s parent’s tortured future existence. Knowing that they will spend their lives searching and not living their own lives, is truly heartbreaking. Nancy can’t tell the parents the truth, besides the fact that they won’t believe her, Hawkins lab is most likely monitoring for that type of info leak.

Mad Max

The boys gather around to watch Max skateboard around the school because they’ve never seen a girl quite like her. They have no doubt in their minds that this skateboarding goddess is the Madmax with the high score at the arcade. The only one that is unimpressed is Mike, but when your last crush could move objects with the mind, everything else is going to be a downgrade. Max throws a paper into the trash before running into school and Lucas and Dustin dash for the trash like it was part of a game show. The note asks for the creeps to stop spying on her. The thought that their obsession with Max could be annoying never crossed their minds.

Dustin and Lucas decide to stake out the arcade to see if they could see if Max goes. They want to catch her in the act of playing. The good news is that Dustin has teeth now. The bad news is that he thinks that his “pearls” are irresistible so he makes this gross purring sound, every time he mentions them. The other thing is that Lucas and Dustin have a crush on the same girl and they don’t seem to see anything wrong with it. If either intends to date the girl, the other is going to feel some way about it. But they’re so knee deep in Mad max that they haven’t even considered it.

The blue car shows up and Max has an argument with the mullet guy before storming into the arcade. A closer look shows Max killing it at Dig Dug. MadMax has been confirmed.

Mike’s depression

Mike is still suffering from Eleven’s disappearance. The place where Mrs. Wheeler usually had a soft spot for letting Mike slide is worn down from all his acting up since Eleven vanished. He cursed out an old man, wrote graffiti on a bathroom wall and stole from Nancy.  They’re forcing him to donate two boxes of his toys to charity even if they have sentimental value. His parents have always been disconnected from their children’s reality so there’s no surprise they don’t realize Mike’s depression, and even if they did, they wouldn’t know it’s associated with Eleven.

I almost cried when Mike looked over Roary, the roaring dinosaur he showed Eleven, and the Millenium Falcon. He doesn’t want to give those away because they remind him of her. He gets on the walkie-talkie and calls Eleven. Apparently, he’s been calling her on the walkie every night for almost a year. That’s love right there. He drops his walkie-talkie and he hears a female voice call his name. Rushing back to the walkie, he finds out its Dustin. Dustin is returning with Lucas from their arcade investigation and they want to share the news, but Mike shuts his walkie off cause he honestly doesn’t care about that new girl.

Dustin gets home and hears noise in his trash. He doesn’t do anything about it and figures that it’s his cat, Mew Mew, but when he leaves, the trash can explodes with a roar. Note to self, don’t throw anything away at Dustin. And anytime something strange like this happens, it could only mean more bad news related to the upside down.

Will’s New Life

Joyce has to pull Will out of school and take him to a doctor at Hawkins lab routinely. It’s a huge disruption of the norm for Will and furthers the zombie boy taunts, as everyone knows where he’s going when he leaves school early. Hopper and Joyce meet for this and Will keeps the lab honestly informed of any symptoms he has had post-upside down. It’s not clear whether they’ve discussed the slug down the drain incident though.

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Will tells the doctor about the vision he had at the arcade. He felt that the giant spider thing he saw wanted to kill. Not that he wanted to kill Will, but he wanted to kill everyone else. He also felt frozen. The fear was so great within him that he couldn’t move. And as he told this story, Will’s EKG meter was spiking off the charts. The new head doctor in Dr. Brenner’s place, Dr. Owens, thinks that these are symptoms of PTSD. In the 80’s, PTSD wasn’t as well defined as it is now and not all doctors believed in it. But it’s the only thing that Dr. O can see as relatable to Will’s visions. It’s also the anniversary of WIll’s upside down taking, so it’s logical to come to this conclusion.

However, Will is imagining new things and since it’s related to the upside down, a place that has an incredible amount of power over their current dimension, Will’s symptoms should not have been taken lightly. Dr. Owen suggests that they support Will. He expects that Will will have tantrums and that it will get worse before it gets better. But the only thing he can recommend is hand holding and head nodding.

Joyce is not happy with Dr. Owens advice and wanted to go away to get a second opinion. It seems that Joyce has made the sacrifice of traveling to expensive doctors in the past to see if they could come to a different conclusion. But all they did was charge her extra for the same service. Hopper recommends against it.

Back at the lab, Dr. Owens responsibilities as new head honcho of Hawkins lab includes taking care of the gate. There are some slug-like tentacles coming out of the gate and they burn them frequently to keep them from spreading.

 

Jonathon finds Will drawing a zombie boy and Will tells him it’s a self-portrait. Jonathon realized instantly his brother was being teased at school. So, he explains how good it is to be different. But what bothers Will most of all, is that he is treated like glass. His friends are concerned, Joyce is always worried about him, and Jonathon wants to be apart of Will’s world at the sacrifice of his own social life. It makes Will feel like he can’t do for himself and it draws attention to his differences at school.

Bob comes in and finds that Jonathon has Mr. Mom as one of the movie options and gets super excited. He likes Kenny Rogers and Mr. Mom, which says a lot about Bob’s mellow personality. He’s nothing like the boy’s father. The phone starts ringing, while they watch the movie as a family, and Joyce gets nervous. Even though Will is in the living room with everyone else, a ringing phone still reminds them that calls once came from the upside down. Bob tells her to ignore the phone and I’m still wondering who it was on the other end.

At the lab, one of the techs is bouncing a ball off the wall when the systems start going haywire. All of the lights go crazy and its reminiscent of the light fluctuations experienced when a Demogorgon was coming through Joyce’s living room wall. But there’s no more Demogorgon, so what’s this?

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Will comes out the bathroom ready for bed, but the front door opens before he can head to his room. The red storm is brewing outside and Will sees the gigantic spider creature looming from the sky. Guess who’s not sleeping well that night?

Hopper’s day at work

Hopper heads to see the local farmer, Merle. Merle says his pumpkin patch has been poisoned. With Halloween so close, he’s sure it’s sabotage on behalf of his competitor, Eugene. The pumpkins are all green with rot and flies have swarmed the crops. Hopper inspects the field and hears a gurgling sound. He approaches a scarecrow near the sound and a crow jumps on the shoulder of the scarecrow cawing. That sound is upside down familiar and it was no crow. But Hopper convinces himself that he was just being paranoid.

Hopper goes home. He now has a trip wire set up outside of his house. When he calls out to someone in the house about dinner, I thought I had him all figured out. Ever since the Hawkins lab situation he had to have become paranoid enough to put a trip wire and maybe he started seeing the librarian again. The person tells him they were unable to reach him because there was no signal and that he’s late. But then they say that it’s 8-1-5 instead of 8:15. No one talks like that other than eleven.

Shortly after he sits down for dinner, Eleven sits across from him. Hopper and Eleven are living together.

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My heart couldn’t handle it.

 

Review: Here’s why this premiere episode was so successful.

  • We got to see where everyone is a year later and we know it’s not good for anyone. There’s a problem everywhere and Will is just a pot of upcoming danger brewing. His post-upside down existence has gotten worse since the slug. The recurrent visions only mean there is a new threat to Hawkins.
  • We know that Eleven survived the Demogorgon takedown.
  • New characters means more help.
  • We finally see that someone does care about Barb. Her death hasn’t only affected her parents but still, continues to effect Nancy.
  • There is hope of other gifted people like Eleven coming on board

 

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Stranger Things Season 2 Episode One Madmax

 

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