Movies & TV / Columns

A Bloody Good Time: Top Eleven Stranger Things Moments

July 14, 2017 | Posted by Joseph Lee

Opening Logo courtesy of Benjamin J. Colón (Soul Exodus)

So I haven’t really had a chance to talk about it here, but I, like seemingly everyone else, really enjoyed the hell out of Stranger Things. I could make all the comparisons others have to stuff like E.T. and IT, but instead I’d rather just explain why I enjoy it in a different way. And of course, it was recently announced that the new season arrives on October 27, so we can finally get answer to the questions we’ve had for a year now.

In the meantime, let’s relieve season one by looking at not just the ten best moments, but the eleven best moments. We had to go to eleven on this because Eleven herself takes up half the damn list.

I shouldn’t need to tell you that this list has MASSIVE SPOILERS, but I did anyway. Read on at your own risk.

#11: Anything Dustin says.

I actually didn’t watch this show until long after my friends had, which resulted in everyone telling me to watch it. Because they all accurately predicted that this would be right up my alley. Of the normal kids we’re introduced to, Dustin’s my favorite. He’s hilarious and as the comic relief kid, he has the most difficult job of the cast. Granted a lot of his work is the script, but Gaten Matarazzo has impeccable timing and delivery. In a show as tense as this one gets, you need that every so often.

Thankfully the script doesn’t just make him the funny one, as he’s a welcome addition to the cast for his personality and devotion to his friends. I liked him a lot better than Lucas, even though Lucas was actually the only sensible one of the group. Dustin usually gets a good line in every episode, which made me like the show even more.

#10: Steve gets punched in the face.

I don’t go much for shipping in movies and TV but if I did, I would definitely be with the people who think Nancy is a much better fit for Jonathan than she is Steve. Steve redeems himself near the end of the show but for the majority of it, he’s a colossal douche that is clearly just pretending to be nice. Or maybe he really is nice and is very succeptible to peer pressure. Either way, I wanted someone to punch him. That was before he started slut shaming Nancy.

Eventually he goes too far and when Nancy and Jonathan confront him, he gets what he deserves. He pushes Jonathan too far and the dude snaps, laying in punch after punch. People around the world rejoiced, I’m sure. It’s always good to see a jerk get beat up and he does eventually help out our heroes, so it’s a win/win. Plus now he can rip-off 80s movies and sell people Domino’s.

#9: Joyce makes contact with Will.

It seemed Joyce couldn’t catch a break in, well, most of this show, but especially in the beginning. After her son goes missing, she gets a phone call in episode one from Will, but it destroys her phone. It seems like outside of a general search, no one is helping as much as she’d like them too. No one even believes that Will tried to contact her, not even Jonathan at first. But Joyce loves her kid and is determined that he’s out there and alive.

So she realizes that he’s using electronics to try to contact her and gets a lot of Christmas lights strung up in their home. Once again, no one buys her story and the fact that she’s buying phones and Christmas lights has people looking at her funny. But it all pays off when she gets Will to communicate with her. Of course this also leads to a tense moment later, when he is able to tell her to run from the Demogorgon. It’s a great moment showing just how much she loves Will and how she’s willing to do anything to find him.

#8: The twist with Will’s body

The mystery of Stranger Things, at least at first, is “What happened to Will Byers?” It quickly changes into other mysteries, like the Demogorgon, the Upside Down, Hawkins Lab and, of course, Eleven. But the driving force behind everything for our heroes is still Will. That’s why it’s such a huge blow at the end of episode three when Will’s body is found in the water at the quarry. It’s a huge gut punch even though you’re sure there has to be some rational explanation. There’s no way Will’s dead, right?

Even Hopper (my favorite of the adults, if I’m being honest) seems skeptical of the discovery, so he goes into the morgue to investigate. In an intense and uncomfortable scene, he cuts open the body and discovers that it is, in fact, fake. More than that, it’s filled with stuffing. This follows Eleven making contact with Will, so we already knew he was alive somehow, but the body raised a lot of questions.

#7: Hopper trashes his place looking for bugs

Here’s Hopper again, this time displaying his own bit of paranoia in episode five. Of course it’s not paranoia if they’re really out to get you. In this case, he’s just returned from investigating to his house, but he doesn’t remember how he got there. Then he finds a hidden microphone and proceeds to tear everything apart looking for more. It makes perfect sense. He’s been a practical character all season so when he finds one, the best solution is to search for more.

That’s kind of Hopper in general with this show. He’s the one who gets things done. He doesn’t mess around, he doesn’t blindly believe everything he’s told and he’s got a chip on his shoulder. It makes him one of the best characters of the show and he gets a lot of little moments like this. I’m glad David Harbour is becoming a bigger deal now because he’s earned it with this role.

#6: Jonathan, Steve and Nancy torch the Demogorgon

As I mentioned above, Steve gets a moment of redemption later in the series after hitting his lowest point. Jonathan and Nancy are about to catch the Demogorgon and light it on fire, when Steve shows up at the worst possible time. The Demogorgon arrives and Steve runs off. You would think that’d be the last we’d see of him, but no, he decides he’s not going out like that. The guy runs back in and helps in whatever way he can, saving two people who don’t like him from an otherworldly monster.

The three work together and eventually, torch the creature. It’s a really cool moment, even if it ultimately does nothing to prevent it from escaping. Three normal people banded together and stopped something that a few days prior didn’t even know existed. Not only that, but it manages to put their differences in perspective and they become better friends after the whole ordeal.

#5: Hopper breaks into Hawkins Lab

And we’re back to Hopper. Basically episodes 4-6 are full of great moments with him, as at this point he’s already discovered the truth about Will’s body. When he realizes that the security footage of Hawkins Lab has been altered, he takes matters into his own hands and breaks into the secure facility to get answers. There are cameras and guards everywhere. He not only gets in, but he gets all the way down to where they keep the gate before he’s finally subdued.

It goes back to what I said earlier. Even though he has very little reason to suspect that there’s a huge conspiracy, he has a keen eye for when things don’t add up and that’s enough. It turns out his suspicions are correct. Now the season changes with him trying to figure out how to stop the scientists and hopefully save Will. It’s another turning point in a series full of them.

#4: Eleven flips the van

There’s not much I can really say here to give it context or explain why it’s cool. A kid with telekinetic abilities flips a van that had been chasing her and her friends. It’s a scene that totally feels like E.T., only if E.T. decided to go through instead of over. I shouldn’t have to explain to you why this is cool. Just watch.

#3: Eleven saves Mike

The next of several Eleven moments sees her saving her friends from the bullies who have been bothering them all season. This time it escalates quite a bit, as they threatened to cut out Dustin’s teeth if Mike doesn’t jump off the cliff. The same cliff that, you know, could probably kill him even if he does hit the water. It’s a cool moment for Mike, as he jumps to save his friend with very little hesitation.

Of course El isn’t going to let that go down, because she saves his life and puts him right back safely on top. But it gets even better when Eleven storms in with her “big damn heroes” moment to knock people down and break arms. Eleven’s just a badass in this show. I hope she’s not gone for good because of moments like this. It’s heroic, awesome and heartwarming all in one.

#2: Finding Will in the Upside Down

This is what the season all boiled down to. After seven episodes, we finally know where Will is and we know he’s alive. Not only that, we know what’s coming after him. Joyce and Hopper are taken to Hawkins Lab for interrogation but eventually Hopper persaudes them to let him save Will. Sure, he promises them Eleven, but I still see that as him knowing Eleven could handle herself. She does wipe them all out when they find her, after all.

They finally find Will and Hopper saves his life, giving himself a bit of redemption after he couldn’t do anything to save his own daughter. It brings his character full circle and it finally resolves the Will-Joyce story in the best way. It also gives Will the chance to actually have a story in season two, instead of just being a plot device for everyone else’s stories.

#1: Eleven slays the Demogorgon

Eleven’s story built up to this. She’s believed she’s a monster because of the fact she opened the gate that unleashed the Demogorgon. The fact that she’s used her telekinesis to hurt people probably doesn’t help that. So to make up for the wrong she believes she’s done, she sacrifices herself to stop the monster and save her friends. In retrospect, it’s probably something we should see coming considering Mike was making plans with her for after everything’s over. Never make plans in a horror movie (or show). You want your schedule to be absolutely open or bad things will happen to you.

The kids have no other options and the monster is looming, so she uses her abilities to force it against the wall and actually disintigrate it, but not before telling Mike goodbye. It’s like she knew she was going to disappear with it. There are a lot of theories about where she is, and the most popular one seems to be the Upside Down. Of course, we’ll find out in October. Either way, it doesn’t take away from what is a great character moment and a powerful conclusion to the season one story.

Ending Notes:

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Closing Logo courtesy of Kyle Morton (get your own custom artwork and commissions at his Etsy account)

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