A new original series from Netflix.
Starring Winona Ryder, David Harbour, Finn Wolfhard, Millie Bobby Brown, Gaten Matarazzo, Caleb McLaughlin, Natalie Dyer, Charlie Heaton, Cara Buono, Matthew Modine, Joe Keery, Noah Schnapp…
The wife and I started watching Netflix’s newest series, Stranger Things, a few days ago, as our local convention, Salt Lake Comic Con, had managed to nab one of its stars for the upcoming event.
Millie Bobby Brown, aka “Eleven,” will be appearing in 10 days alongside such luminaries in entertainment as William Shatner, Billy Boyd, Stephen Amell, and dozens of others.
But this post isn’t about Comic Con.
It’s about Stranger Things.
Last night, we got to episode 8 and, lo and behold, that was the last episode. I didn’t check the number of episodes before we started, foolishly thinking it would be at least 10, in line with other Netflix original series.
So, episode 8 is unspooling in front of us, and we can clearly see that this is it, so I tried to look back over the series overall and decide what I thought of it.
First, let me say that I enjoyed it. I really did. From the spot-on 80’s cosmetic touches to the music, to the characters… all that was great.
I saw a bit (or more) of my boyhood self in Mike (Wolfhard), Dustin (Matarazzo), and Lucas (McLaughlin), the three middle-school-aged, Dungeons and Dragons playing, socially-awkward misfits who find Eleven after their friend, Will (Schnapp), disappears on the way home from a marathon D&D session.
Eleven, clearly, isn’t a normal girl.
Evil scientists (Matthew Modine), corrupt corporations, government conspiracies, and supernatural/interdimensional monsters aren’t even the worst of tiny Hawkins, Indiana’s, problems. There’s underage drinking, sex, and high school cliques to deal with.
After all that, at the end of 8 episodes, the ending felt a little… anti-climactic.
Yes, the big plot-lines are tied up: Dr. Brenner (Modine) is killed by the monster he helped bring into our reality. Will is rescued, but is not left unchanged (probably for season 2), Mike, Dustin, and Lucas all find a bit more confidence in themselves to bring out of the game and into the real world. Mike’s sister, Nancy (Dyer), winds up with uber-douche Steve (Keery), while love-lorn Johnathan (Heaton) begins to find a semblance of a real family life again with his little brother Will and his dedicated-but-overwhelmed mom, Joyce (Ryder).
But Nancy’s friend Barb? Dead in the “upside-down.” What about her parents?
And Eleven? Eleven is… gone? Sacrificed herself to kill the monster and save Mike, Dustin, and Lucas.
Or is she? A wooden box in the woods where Police Chief Jim Hopper (Harbour) leaves food, including Eleven’s favorite, Eggo waffles, begs the question I won’t even bother asking here.
But despite all of the stuff that gets tied up, the ending felt a bit… unsatisfying? All of the pieces are there, and taken individually, they all make sense and work, but once they’re all put together, it just feels… off. Like the ending of the show is a bit out-of-phase with our reality.
Mike and the guys even address this in the show-ending gaming session when, after they defeat the “big bad,” and Mike is proud of himself for putting together such a great game, the others complain about stuff that they did or saw while they were playing that didn’t make sense, or never got finished, or didn’t mean anything.
It’s like show creators The Duffer Brothers knew the finale was lacking… something, and this was the only way they could address it. I suppose it could be a nod toward the now-expected season 2, but, if they hadn’t been renewed, what point would that exchange have had?
I don’t know.
But I’ll watch season 2, if/when it come out, because the rest of the show is so well done.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go have some Eggos.