Thursday, July 4, 2019

REVIEW: 'Stranger Things' - Dustin, Steve & Robin Look for Secret Agents in 'Chapter Three: The Case of the Missing Lifeguard'

Netflix's Stranger Things - Episode 3.03 "Chapter Three: The Case of the Missing Lifeguard"

With El and Max looking for Billy, Will declares a day without girls. Steve and Dustin go on a stakeout, and Joyce and Hopper return to Hawkins Lab.

In 2018, there were 495 scripted shows airing amongst the linear channels and streaming services. The way people are consuming content now is so different than it used to be. It happens according to one's own schedule. As such, there is less necessity to provide ample coverage of each specific episode in any given season from a show. Moreover, it is simply impossible to watch everything. As such, this site is making the move to shorter episodic reviews in order to cover as many shows as possible. With all of that being said, here are my thoughts on the next episode of Netflix's Stranger Things.

"Chapter Three: The Case of the Missing Lifeguard" was written by William Bridges and directed by Shawn Levy

Billy and Heather present as pure evil now. They have truly been taken over by the creatures of the Upside Down who wish to build in our world. There may be more nuance to the situation than that. And yet, that's how it is presented throughout this episode. For the longest time, it's just El receiving several ominous visions about what has happened to Billy and Heather. It all starts innocently with her just spying on people with her abilities. It's a fun form of teenage bonding with Max. But something much more sinister is going on. The audience knows that none of the evidence left behind is as innocent as it seems. It can't be explained away by Billy working out and taking ice baths. Instead, it's confirmation that the threat from the Upside Down has once again returned to this world. El and Will can sense that now. Of course, it takes the course of this episode for that to become a reality for most of the characters as well. It doesn't spread to the entire ensemble. Dustin, Steve and Robin are still investigating Russian agents at the Starcourt Mall. It's clear that the actions by the Russians helped activate this new threat from the Upside Down without having to dig up the original portal from Hawkins Labs. Joyce and Hopper go to that facility to confirm that nothing suspicious is happening there once more. They are still met with a mysterious stranger who can quickly subdue Hopper. He walks around with authority as the chief of police. He has faced supernatural threats. And yet, he may not be capable of beating a guy in a fist fight. Instead, Joyce sees the assailant escape on his motorcycle. All of this comes after Hopper surprisingly opens up about his feelings of wanting Joyce to feel safe in Hawkins. He knows about her secret plans of selling the house and moving away. That is a very reasonable impulse. Why would she want to stay in the place that has caused so much trauma for her son? Hopper suggests that she has a community here who are capable of understanding everything she went through. She won't find any judgment from them. She won't be laughed out of the room like Nancy is when she presents her story about rats to the editors of the local paper. Now, that office is bound to get a significant shake-up moving forward because Heather's father is the head editor and he is knocked unconscious by his daughter and Billy. That suggests that even more humans will be exposed to and used by the mysterious new threat from the Upside Down. Max and El come face-to-face with that bleak new reality without even truly knowing the scope of what's going on. Will knows that the creatures are back. That could snap everything into focus for the friends once more. He is lashing out at the world because his sense of identity and innocence has been lost. He wants to have a fun time with his friends playing D&D once more. Instead, Mike and Lucas are convinced that the best way to end any mission is just to burn it all down in an act of self-sacrifice. Now, that could be a severe case of foreshadowing. The overall narrative has done that before with the various D&D missions. That creates more questions though. Right now, everyone is working their own little piece of the narrative in the hopes that it will all come together. This new threat rises significantly before everyone realizes just how damning and sinister it could truly be to their lives. That feels realistic even though it does start to feel a little familiar without doing quite enough to suggest that life in Hawkins has changed all that much. It's summer and there's a mall. Many characters are in relationships or worried about them. But now, things are likely positioned to kick into high gear as an army of soldiers are coming together with terrifying intentions.