Stranger Things 3 (“The Flayed”)

Season 3, Episode 5
Date of release: July 4, 2019 (Netflix)

There is a monster with some teeth in the hospital. They better be evacuating the building or Hawkins really is going to be food for the monsters from the Upside Down and all of the mind flayer’s friends, although I am wondering why the flayed in the form of Tom and Bruce needed to be in the hospital in the first place and why they were killing most of the staff and presumably patients. I am wondering why Mrs. Driscoll wasn’t allowed to return to the factory and join the other flayed people, and I am wondering why the asshole white guys Tom and Bruce (even their names are asshole-white) had to be tasked to get rid of Mrs. Driscoll. Was it really just because the mind flayer believed that Eleven and her friends would come after them through Mrs. Driscoll (they were)? Was it really just because Tom and Bruce hoped that Nancy would return and they would have a chance to finish her off (it’s what Bruce sort of said)? There isn’t really any logic behind the premise of some of the flayed staying behind to clean up some of the “mistakes,” because that would create the possibility that the mind flayer is an intelligent being with a master plan, and I really don’t want that to happen. A non-human villain with a master plan is being personified via said master plan and I don’t want the mind flayer to turn out just like any other evil human in Hollywood film history. Can’t the mind flayer just be a shadow monster who sends his dogs and other monsters into the real world to wreak havoc? Why would the mind flayer be so smart about taking over the world this season, when it could have done the same during the previous season, but didn’t?

Two love birds and a Russian are walking in a forest…

The episode was still entertaining though. Maybe not Joyce and Hopper’s story, which is starting to annoy me thanks to the repressed sexual energy of the two, but the Russian underground lab, as well as the teens and Nancy/Jonathan teaming up to figure out what is happening and what needs to be done now, were interesting storylines, both filled with the necessary amount of humor to soften things up and not have the audience get scared by all the scenes set in flickering light or darkness (like the whole final sequence in which the two flayed corpses merged and became one monster — which is apparently something the mind flayer was unable to do previously for some convenient reason). I am fully enjoying the adventures of Steve, Robin, Dustin and Erica, thanks to the fact that neither of the people take the situation they’re in too seriously. They don’t have Will or Eleven or Mike with them, who would be dragging them down, and instead they just go along the mightily long tunnel, finding their way to the big machine that opens the gate again. Yes, it’s annoying that the foursome thinks they can loudly talk and slowly walk without being discovered by any of the Russians working there (the convenience in this episode was almost unbearable), but Dustin has never faced any real-life drama, so all he can interact or has experience with is this supernatural bullcrap, which makes him an entertaining character to watch when he reacts to something strange and weird happening. The same can be said about Erica, but she is essentially a new character, and her childish nature has removed herself from acting like a character in a drama series would. Why Robin would be so into this spy crap is beyond me though — the writers haven’t explained that yet, and it seems like she just went along with the ride because the group of characters needed a more mature newbie alongside the established characters, who then can be gruesomely killed for emotional value like Bob was. I previously said that the show could kill off Billy to give Max an emotional punch, but now I guess Robin is an equally readied character to be killed off the show like it’s a show written by Joss Whedon.

This Russian underground lab has lax security for American kids to be watching some of the science happening.

The other team-up was solid. I appreciated that Nancy and Jonathan quickly joined the kids and they were already deep into their own adventure, but when it wasn’t about the danger they were soon to face, the writers decided to focus on the relationship stuff between Nancy and Jonathan, as well as Eleven and Mike. It turns out I am not as interested about these two romances as I was when I started watching the season. Maybe it’s because it’s handled too much as a comedy element, which bites itself with the supernatural stuff that has been going on, or maybe I just find it unrealistic that Eleven and the other kids would face a seriously life-threatening situation, when they were going against Billy in the previous episode, and now have all the time in the world to just talk about stuff and go to the hospital where they can have some fun with food and other stuff. I get that kids wouldn’t be as traumatized about certain events and find quick ways to be kids again, but before the episode depicted the moment between Mike and Eleven close to the end of the episode, there was some seriously awkward crap happening with the kids, who thought that catching food with their mouths was a great idea to kill some time. I don’t know if I should find it troublesome because of the way the writers handled the drama of the show, or super realistic, because it’s how kids would behave in real life.

And then there were freaking Hopper and Joyce, who were babysitting a Russian scientist. I was not at all into the story. Hopper’s angry phases is completely out of character for the show, and even Joyce’s impatience in front of Murray felt like the writers have rebooted her character just to suit that scene, as well as suit her weird relationship with Hopper. Those two have turned into a bickering version of a famous detective duo who solve murders every week, only this time around it’s not a crime procedural and the audience is being thrown into the potential of Hopper and Joyce ending up together. Especially now that they are dealing with Murray, who already helped Nancy and Jonathan to realize that they were into each other. But yeah, Hopper’s seriousness is completely missing at this point, and even Joyce has no reason to worry about her boy any longer, turning her into a different character as well. I guess I have to get used to these rebooted versions of Hopper and Joyce, but five episodes in and I am not doing so great.

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