What'cha Watching? (TV or Film)

Man, I watched Stranger Things to see if they do anything interesting with Will’s crush on Mike/being gay in general, and by the end of the season, it’s still not actually said out loud? Like, I don’t think you can call it subtext after this season, but it’s just… going to be a loose thread, while the Jonathan/Nancy/Steve love triangle (which we’d already resolved!) had to take up an agonizing amount of screen time this season? I don’t expect better from Netflix, but at this point, I’m not sure where this arc can even go except for him to become a villain for a while, and like? Don’t love that possibility. Don’t love the, frankly, queerbaiting either. Yes, I think he is canonically gay, but their unwillingness to even say it is craven.

Jonathan has a whole scene with Will where he’s like ‘I love you no matter what!’ and it doesn’t work at all unless we infer Will is gay, but as a scene, it’s the emotional payoff for Jonathan. This is Jonathan getting to connect with his brother, not Will’s coming out. He still hasn’t had one! How do you write it like this!


I mean, I assume that they’re planning on it being the big revelation at the end of Season 5, and that Will will sacrifice himself for Mike, which is also awfully tropey in a bad way.

Honestly, I think Robin being gay and being handled much better - despite being a “throw-it-in” last minute decision suggested by the actors, who didn’t want “yet another two people of the opposite sexes get close and thus end up romantically entangled” plot - and it sort of makes obvious that the parts that hew closest to the Duffer Brothers Original Plot Treatment ™ are also the weakest parts.
They’re also both pretty bad at drawing out romantic relationship stuff - as you note - and also seem obsessed with leaning on having romantic relationship stuff for everyone (see above about Robin/Steve, which would have been awful if we’d gone with what the Duffers wanted). This was already bad enough when it was decided that all the younger kids needed to get relationships except Will, who still gets asked to dance at the Snow Ball, despite being a weird pariah for the entire year, due to the Agonisingly Slow Gayness Reveal - which was both unnecessary and hilariously unrealistic (as a geeky teen, let me tell you many of my social group had relationships simultaneously at any point during my school days!).

1 Like

Addendum having seen the bloated “final episode” of Season 4 (which really should have been at least 2 episodes… it even has good places for cliffhangers at points!).

So, this has all the weaknesses and strengths of everything else the Duffers have done: it’s a bit sloppy, it needed a more aggressive script editor, and it really really wants to reference 80s movies in preference to thinking of ideas itself. On the other hand, almost everyone who has always been a good actor is a good actor, and you can mostly tell that they’ve actually spent the money on special effects (and there’s an overly-extended-but-still-fairly-nice callback to the first episode, with the “everyone losing and then everyone winning in parallel” sequence).

On the other hand, there’s a surprising amount of narrative cowardice in here too: not just The Endless Coming Out of Will Byers discussed above, but also things like the endless hinting about how they might kill off a Main Cast Member… resulting in one of the least-main cast members being killed off (and on that how does Max dying “naturally” in a hospital work with the whole One-needs-to-kill-and-absorb-their-life-force-painfully thing?), and generally just a depressing tendency to do the media-savvy “we can’t kill off the really popular characters” thing.
(Or have people perform utterly pointless acts just because they need Eddie to die a “hero”, which apparently now means “pointlessly wasting your life ‘distracting’ demobats for no reason, since actually One knew what was going on all along”. Being a hero isn’t about never running away, you pillocks.)

I dunno, Stranger Things is now far too aware it’s a “media sensation” (and the Duffers have too little editorial control applied to their writing) for it to ever be as good as it could have been if it had kept a little leaner, a little more determined to do interesting things, rather than the popular things (and a little more determined to also subvert, rather than comfortingly ape, the 80s genre settings it is inspired by).
[Plus, I hear that the Duffers are now admitting to “Lucasing” the earlier seasons (by which we mean “re-editing episodes to add or remove stuff to retroactively fit canon”, like what George did to the original Star Wars movies on their various re-releases. And the fact that they seem happy about doing this is a big red flag for me in general. Whatever happened to people planning things in advance?]

I was reading somewhere how part of why the show was broken into two “parts” instead of released all at once was because they straight up weren’t finished and were even touching up some effects in the last episode, like, literally two days ago. So I have a feeling that initially they were going to have Max actually die for real but after what a big hit the end of episode 4 was they changed it..

On the one hand I didn’t like that Eddie died because I was rooting for the guy, but it definitely wasn’t pointless. If they both retreated the bats wouldn’t have been distracted long enough and would have easily killed Steve/Nancy/Robin while they were incapacitated. Plus he got the most metal death in the series by summoning a bunch of demon bats by rocking out and then fighting them and getting ripped apart by them. The entire plan would have failed if he didn’t go back. I hope that Eddie’s name is cleared at some point though. More than the character dying I thought it sucked that he’s still definitely the killer in the town’s eyes, though realistic.

Also LOL at Max now being alive and touched by the upside down and hospitalized like Will was in season 2, I guess they realized they accidentally gave Will stuff to do and say this season and are course correcting to make sure his character has no reason to exist again.

Something that really impressed me about the this season was the Hopper stuff. After each sequence of it I was like “okay that was very well done but can we please get this over with how long are they going to drag this out for” but then they kept it going really well and it was rad.

I was surprised they dropped Owens and military anger man from the show completely after the latter invaded Papa’s lab.

I’m super hype for how they handle the final season now, they said there would be a time jump between seasons but like lol how?


1 Like

There were less suicidal ways to draw aggro from the bats than riding out on a bicycle away from the portal though - at the time that they start retreating, the demobats are already inside the trailer, so it’s not like he couldn’t have just “held the line” there, rather than making himself even more vulnerable. Again: there’s a tendency for ST in general to equate “heroic” with “near suicidally risky”, which really kinda doesn’t help it sometimes.. Plus, does no-one actually zip up their leather jackets?.
(I’m also not convinced that it wasn’t pointless - One does note that he’s aware of everything going on (and the bats are part of his hive mind), so presumably if he didn’t want the bats over there, he could have recalled them anyway. - and on that note, it’s kinda depressing that the big revelation of the entire series is that the cool alien antagonists aren’t semi-unknowable aliens, but just a psychic guy who misunderstood Nietzsche - calling back to my critique of Star Trek: Voyager, this is the same thing that spoiled the Borg by moving them from cool alien hive mind to “actually just run by Alice Krige from a room”)

I will say that I did like the Hopper stuff too - it felt a lot like a course-correction after the horribly flanderized Hopper in Season 3 - even if the whole Hopper survived a disintegration explosion thing by… conveniently falling down a level despite everyone else in the room being atomized setup is just ridiculous.

Oh, and if we’re ranking things now:

STRANGER THINGS Seasons (with subdivisions)

3 [The Thing plotlines, Robin/Steve/Dustin stuff]
4 [Hopper plotline/ Vol1 plotlines in general except Cali]
4 [Vol2 plotlines and Cali Vol1 and Vol2]
3 [Russian plotlines]

1 Like

Regarding the hivemind, It’s all part of a hivemind but that doesn’t mean he has instant perception and control over everything all the time - we see that in season 2 with the demon dogs and this season also. It’s why you’ll see some creatures just listless until someone’s around, and some like the bats that he just dumps on a spot to hang there. When the deal is just a single demogorgan in season 1, it’s tougher and able to create its own mini-gates and stuff. If Vecna wasn’t distracted on all fronts by every character doing something he would have just killed Steve/Nancy/Robin without much trouble instead of getting temporarily owned. They showed repeatedly how the trailer wasn’t going to permanently keep the bats away from the gate or away from Dustin and Eddie for long enough for the plan to work before killing them.

Also I have to be real about the leather jacket thing from personal experience I’ve had a couple of leather jackets during my life and if they’re zippered up sure they look good on me a leather jacket basically looks good on anyone but if they’re like only half zippered up or unzippered? They look FUCKING AWESOME. So I was going into some alternate dimension bullshit on a suicide mission where my job was either axe murder a monster in the attic or rock out so hard that bats from hell tear me to shreds or whatever I would absolutely not zipper my jacket. :smiley:

I liked and disliked the revelation of it being One all along. On the one hand it was sort of lame. But on the other hand I liked that what the kids were calling the mindflayer was still a uh life? of some sort that was just sort of existing out there. Because I liked the idea in season 1 where before we learn more you can get the impression that 11’s power and fear while in the tank is what created the entire upside down dimension. It’s cool to have more to their powers than just telekinesis and how they’re more intertwined with the initial upside down gates and stuff. So it was nice to work that creation aspect back into things without retconning how long the upside down has been around. And it does retroactively work really well with all of the upside down stuff that went down in the previous seasons. So on the one hand I agree it’s not particularly brilliant idea for a twist but it was executed really well. I do think it fits with the general 80s pastiche nature of the show too for the big bad to be this twisted monster human kind of being.

1 Like

The thing is, though One does seem be perfectly fine with the demobats being over there killing Eddie because he didn’t zip that jacket up before letting them nosh on him - after all, when he shows Eleven the visions of how her friends are all being owned, he includes this as part of it. I know Eddie couldn’t have known this, but in retrospect, it seems like “the demobats attacking Dustin and Eddie” is what One wants to happen, he’s overconfident enough that “strangling Steve/Nancy/Robin to death slowly” is precisely his A plan.
Also: why do we care about keeping the demobats away from the gate? It’s a narrow, defensible position which will funnel the them in a way that makes them much less of a threat than biking out into open space where they can mob you from all directions

I agree with this completely, their distraction plan worked as intended, thanks to Eddie’s sacrifice. :smiley:

True it’s not like anything bad would happen to anyone if a horde of those flooded out into our world. :stuck_out_tongue:

Remember a big part of why our friends go on the attack so heavily this time is that Vecna’s building an army of creatures he wants to send out into out world. By beating him now they didn’t stop the giant rifts to the upside down part of Vecna’s plan, but they did stop an army of crap from immediately streaming out of it. Which was cool because even if this was the finale of the show it would have been odd if they had a complete absolute victory.

Is it a distraction, if the villain knows what you’re doing and is deliberately distributing his forces to kill all of your people? Again: One likes strangling people to death slowly with tentacles - it’s basically his favourite approach that he uses by preference, if he’s not in TK range (if we include the way in which Mind Flayer controlled stuff tries to kill people in Season 2 and 3) - it’s not at all clear that he would have done anything differently even without Eddie present. (And the distraction plan was supposed to draw away the demobats so the Steve/Nancy/Robin team weren’t spotted by demobats (and thus alert One), not stop them being chowed on… which comprehensively failed, since One really wanted them to come into his parlor so he could get the drop on them unawares.)

(Similarly, I’m not saying we let the demobats through the gate - although, again, given that there’s an even more exposed gate in the middle of a road, it’s not like the demobats couldn’t have gone “topside” whenever they wanted - I’m saying that it’s much easier to deal with flying enemies if you get them at a choke-point, which is what the gates all are, naturally. )

I don’t really have any ST S4 thoughts except to sincerely congratulate Kate Bush on the Scrooge McDuck swimming pool of money she’s getting out of this deal.


Another idle thought about Stranger Things S4, I think the way they handled the mob justice plot was… a bit odd, in the context of the show. I think in the scene-to-scene moments it works, that conservative fearmongering and the racist overtones to the confrontation between Jason and Lucas and the way it escalated from ‘we need to kill Eddie Munson’ to ‘I mean, we don’t have to kill all of Hellfire but none of them are free from sin’ to ‘Nancy, isn’t your brother in Hellfire? kind of sus’ works well.

But… like, big picture? If I lived in a town that has had dozens of these horrific and often sort of unexplained murders, and my girlfriend became one of the most gruesome examples, and then two days later I watched one of my close friends float 8 feet in the air and be twisted like a pretzel by nothing, even I - a leftist and atheist - might have to go ‘well, shit, maybe it is Satan’.

I don’t think Jason necessarily needed to be written more sympathetically, especially by the writers of this show who would handle that poorly. But I think it would have sold the fearmongering better if he was ever presented with substantial proof of the Upside Down and rejected it out of fervor and bloodlust.

1 Like

I was thinking this too, they kind of took the easy way out writing-wise with how that played it out. The very end of it was extremely satisfying and all the individual scenes and progression of the character were good but they didn’t totally stick the landing.

If you want to get galaxy-brained about it, you can say that the Duffers re-editing old works to fit within the new lore they’ve created is actually another bit of pure King homage. King re-edited The Gunslinger in the early oughts to bring it in line with the rest of the DT lore, and Insomnia was re-released with an extra 150 pages to tie it back into The Dark Tower more concretely.

To be honest, not planning shit in advance and fixing it as you go might be the most King thing about Stranger Things.

Sure, and Mike Moorcock edited a paragraph in The Eternal Champion when it was published in 1970 versus the original version in 1962 to accommodate the fact that he’d decided that his other works were in the same overarching setting.

I’d argue that this is a bit more JJ Abrams, in that King mostly revised his work decades after the fact (The Gunslinger was written in 1982 and revised 20 years (and more than 20 books!) later), whilst here the Duffers aren’t even a decade (and only 4 seasons) into a relatively simple piece of narrative construct and they still seem to have had little enough idea about what they were going to do in Season 4 that they’re having to revise things that they only wrote 4 years ago!

I am LIVING for the WP+ watchalong for Twilight. I watched all 5 movies for the first time (Twilight 1 was a rewatch) over the past winter holiday with my cousins and it was hilarious. They’re in for a good time. God, Breaking Dawn part 1 is such trash. The rest are fairly respectable movies though.

I’m not sure I’m going to have much nice to say about Westworld (as one of the four people still watching it) but Thandiwe Newton’s urban ninja fit is something I want for myself

You’re in for a very bumpy ride, but it’ll at least be striving to be better? Season 1 arguably hits the lowest lows, but the relentless peril and repetitive grandiosity doesn’t taper off much even at the series’ best, so be wary of your tolerance for that.

There’s a reason Strange New Worlds is being hyped for specifically not having those stakes constantly, even if it’s taken on some of the baggage of rushed editing that’s usually geared towards those stakes.

I’ve actually wanted to revisit S2 specifically because the (at the time) less seasoned, more unsure creative teams had to constrain the Enterprise to the breakneck serial script and 80% of every set and shot being blue at all times of early Disco.

1 Like

Season 1 definitely has the lowest lows of the series, we almost tapped out like three episodes in when dumbass security guard got herself killed. But once two two plot twists were revealed and they go to that other setting towards the end of the season it was extremely fun. I still hate though that they designed something as metal as the Klingon sarcophagus ship but then destroyed it. :frowning:

Season 2 was just about perfect to me. Season 3 was a lot of fun too but had some stupid shit towards the end like how the apparently most of the inside of the Discovery is empty space? But I liked it a lot. Book is awesome too, I like his world also because it’s like he’s from some 70s pulp sci-fi planet ability-wise and stuff.

Only saw the first episode of season 4 but good stuff so far.


I liked S2 a lot better, though the Spock connection felt strained. Still, am happier to see some sentimental melodrama. That’s what I’m here for :slight_smile: For me S2 leaned way too heavily into the fact that the Trek universe has time travel, and it did it in a way that way that was exactly as bad as the way it used The mirror universe in S1. Also pretty grateful that they undid some of their worst decisions from S1 in S2.

S3 has a lot going for it. I think they finally know what they are doing with Phillipa. The writers really did themselves a service by giving the show it’s own setting to work within. They feel a lot more comfortable without the constraints of what we expect from a show set within the “past” of the franchise. There’s still a profound pessimism in the writing. Like, if it wasn’t for Michael, the federation would immediately descend into a military quasi fascist mindset. I guess you need something for the show’s moral compass to rail against, but it’s weird.

Book is a really good addition, providing some outside perspective that the show needs. I think the best thing about him is that he feels like a character that is just guest appearing in this show, but is the main character of some other show. That’s hard to do in an ensemble cast.

But yeah, you’re right. I’m enjoying the experience overall, but this is a super bumpy ride for the kind of Trek watcher that I am.

1 Like

Watched Netflix’s 12 Strong and a movie called Final Score.

12 Strong is some rank America propaganda starring famous American actor checks notes Chris Hemsworth. Hemsworth’s game for it and he cast his wife as his wife, which always feels…symmetrical? But no one wants to go back to the early '00s. Nobody. The grotesque jingoism. The overt racism. It’s a bad good movie? Good bad movie? If you shut your brain off it’s a good time but if you’re old enough to have absorbed anything from the early '00s, it’s a tougher watch.

Final Score is Die Hard But Soccer, starring Dave Bautisa. Bautista’s not as much of an everyman as Bruce Willis is (being the size of a restaurant refrigerator takes that out of the equation) but Bautista’s pro wrestling chops and humility (he’s not The Rock; he will take some serious beatings) mean his fight scenes are always great. I particularly like how they mix the action with the action from the pitch.