Friday, July 5, 2019

REVIEW: 'Stranger Things' - El Exerts Her Powers to Explore Billy's Tragic Past in 'Chapter Six: E Pluribus Unum'

Netflix's Stranger Things - Episode 3.06 "Chapter Six: E Pluribus Unum"

Dr. Alexei reveals what the Russians have been building, and Eleven sees where Billy has been. Dustin and Erica stage a daring rescue.

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 Six: E Pluribus Unum" was written by Curtis Gwinn and directed by Uta Briesewitz

The show is certainly aware that it uses El's powers as a convenient plot device to share information or help the group of young protagonists in any kind of dangerous situation they get themselves in. And yet, there is a major difference from being aware of it and even commenting on it with actually challenging those concerns or expanding upon them. The audience and the other characters of this world fully expect El to be the person to save the day in any given situation. She was the one who killed the demagorgan at the end of Season 1. She was the one who closed the gate at the end of Season 2. There is the full expectation that she will be the key to defeating the Mind Flayer this season. She is always positioned at the center of each plan of attack. Sure, there have been many supporting characters who have had their moments as heroes. Those moments have been very rewarding as well. And yet, El is the one who basically ensures that this world is protected from these creatures that just want to see its total and complete destruction. That's really the only motivation the show cares to give the creatures from the Upside Down. This season was all about building and body snatching. But that was really just in service to the creation of a new monster. One that is a familiar sight who has now risen in a new world. The Mind Flayer is no longer just contained to the bodies of certain individuals or the Upside Down. It is rising over Hawkins. Again, it will be very difficult for this small town or the American government to keep a lid on this crazy story. This is a place under siege by Russian agents working a nefarious mission while this terrifying monster has essentially slaughtered numerous people. That's absolutely terrifying and can't go unnoticed in the grand conclusion of this year. Secrecy was always so important. When Hopper calls in Dr. Owens to inform him that the Russians are in the process of opening the gate in Hawkins, it's all treated as this clandestine mission that can't be talked about. Joyce doesn't have the patience for that. She knows that everyone needs to rally together in Hawkins as quickly as possible. This threat is severe. Everyone should know that lesson by now. They strangely don't. Or they just assume that El will be able to fix it because she is all powerful. That's the impression the show has always given as well. There have been no major ramifications outside of the nose bleeds to her using her powers. Even those don't seem like much of a bother at this point. It's just a hassle that she has to go through. Mike may be right to worry about brain damage that could extend from El using her powers too frequently. Max is right to say that El knows her powers better than anyone else because she's the one actually using them to aid with this mission. Mike may be too personally invested in keeping her safe. That's not an inherently bad thing. The show still essentially wants the audience rooting for this young couple. This has been a tough season for them as they have adjusted to normal teenage life and romance. The process of getting older can be very stressful and difficult. That's before adding supernatural creatures descending on this town trying to end the world. That increases the pressure extensively. This hour just chooses to spend a whole lot of ton in Billy's memories without really adding anything the audience didn't already know about him. In fact, it seems like this season especially likes introducing things to the audience only for the characters to slowly catch up. It will be rewarding once the entire ensemble is back together. Right now, it just has to be satisfying to see Dustin and Erica break Steve and Robin from their imprisonment after they've been drugged while also being smart enough to fool the Russians who thought they built this impenetrable facility.