Season 3, Episode 6
Date of release: July 4, 2019 (Netflix)
There is a monster with some size in Hawkins. They better be evacuating the town or nothing will be left of it after the mind flayer has gone through all of its residents and real estate. At least some of the back story is being established now, although I do think that most of it was conveniently created for this episode. When the mind flayer said that he has been building it for Eleven since she opened the gate before the events of the first season, all I could think of is that the writers made the monster intelligent and smart, even if it has been anything but all of it during the first or second season. Again, why couldn’t the mind flayer have done all the stuff he did here during the second season? The gate was open for a while, which means he could have sent some of his shadow into our world to prepare is manifestation, but for some reason he needed to wait until he was exorcised out of Will’s body, and he continued to wait until the Fourth of July festivities to call all the rats to him, so he would at least have some form. Besides that, when he spoke about having built something for Eleven, did he mean his own manifestation, or is there something else going on which is waiting to get revealed over the course of the next two episodes? And why would he say that he has been building it for Eleven, when his endgame is to kill Eleven and everyone else? I would believe someone who opens a gateway to another world and gives you freedom to do whatever deserves a bit of leniency and at least eternal life, even if that life is in Hell.
This episode reminded me of how inconsistent the show has been so far this season. Eleven’s group gets all the thrill, horror and emotion of facing the evil, while Steve’s group gets the ludicrous spy games with the nerds, who barely take this situation seriously, or make it look like it’s a great adventure game that could actually be created at an amusement park for real, in place of escape rooms. Meanwhile, Joyce and Hopper are still annoying me with their aggressive behavior, but with those two I don’t even know if it’s part of the thrill, horror and emotion, or if it’s supposed to be funny and weirdly romantic. I wanted to punch the hell out of Hopper for letting Alexei go, believing that his idea of convincing Alexei that it’s much safer with those crazy lunatics like Hopper and Joyce, because it truly was a crappy idea. The reason it worked, and Alexei went back to Murray’s place to tell the story of the machine was because of the convenience the writers needed for the story to work out and for Hopper and Joyce to hear that the gate is being opened again. All this could have happened without Alexei getting the keys to the Convertible, and the five-or-so minutes that were wasted on this story could have been cut out of the episode (which was already above average in length with about 56 minutes) or been replaced with a few character arcs. Some of Billy’s back story was given with this episode, maybe the writers should have gotten deeper here. Maybe the monster fight at the beginning could have been more thrilling. Maybe the events in the underground Russian facility could have been given more seriousness, but for some reason the writers decided to give Alexei the attention and to make Hopper a crazy person again who only needs another bottle of vodka and maybe a few pills to be completely unreliable as the hero and father figure to Eleven (let alone being the love interest for Joyce).
I also cannot believe that Joyce hasn’t gone even more crazy, now that she believes the gate is being opened again. She had all this experience about her son being in the middle of this deadly craziness, but in this episode she did not make the effort to reach out to Will and check if he is alright. She did not start getting worried about the safety of her son. She was not talking about how her boy is in danger again, because the gate is being screwed with. No, she stayed on Hopper’s level of crazy and phoned the Philadelphia library, just to put some fire under the guy’s ass. After this episode, Joyce and Hopper definitely deserve each other, but they have very much been acting out of character, compared to the previous two seasons. And I still cannot believe that Joyce’s first, second, third and fourth call weren’t to Will or Jonathan. It’s obvious by now what the writers really cared about, and it’s not to put common logic between this season and the previous ones.
But goddammit, if the underground Russian facility isn’t bringing entertainment into the show right now. I have no idea why I’m having so much fun with it, since it’s one of the elements that make this season so weirdly inconsistent from the rest of the show, but I think I could start explaining it away with how teenagers are involved in the story and how it’s essentially a supernatural horror version of THE GOONIES, only the characters aren’t searching for a huge treasure at the end of the map, and the villains aren’t mutants, but evil and torture-hungry Russians. First of all, consider me disappointed that the Russians are indeed evil and that they couldn’t hold themselves back in punching the crap out of Steve, while they only put a slap on Robin (good, at least they’re not sexist Russians). I was really hoping that they were trying to open the gate to find a way to kill everything that’s inside, but judging by the behavior of the men that were with Robin and Steve, it doesn’t look that good. Secondly, Erica and Dustin are kind of the new dream team of the show. Their behavior might be totally wacky for tweenagers and I have no idea why they aren’t the slightest bit scared about having to come up against Russians with automatic rifles, but here they are, sneaking through the facility and hatching out a plan to save Steve and Robin. I’m getting the feeling Erica and Dustin are going to be the action heroes of this season and that they might cause the whole facility to explode or something, burying all the evidence of the Russians ever having existed under the surface of Hawkins, which might or might not be a good idea.
Maybe my problem with this season is how seriously wacky and crazy it has been so far. The first two episodes barely went into stuff and focused on crazy character drama (I still can’t get over drunk Hopper getting mad over being stood up), but now that the season is firing on all cylinders, the writers figured it was the bets time to just go all in. Screw the logic, screw consistency. Everything should be just nuts. After all, Russians are involved, and when it comes to depicting Russian characters in American Cold War stories, nothing that is not nuts is apparently not entertaining enough.