Friday, July 5, 2019

REVIEW: 'Stranger Things' - Mike, Steve and Robin Open Up About How They Are Truly Feeling in 'Chapter Seven: The Bite'

Netflix's Stranger Things - Episode 3.07 "Chapter Seven: The Bite"

With time running out - and an assassin close behind - Hopper's crew races back to Hawkins, where El and the kids are preparing for war.

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 Seven: The Bite" was written by The Duffer Brothers and directed by The Duffer Brothers

There have been two very distinct threats this season: the Russian agents operating within Hawkins and the Mind Flayer snatching bodies of various citizens. The effectiveness of this season was always going to come down to how those two separate plot threads merged by the end. The connective tissue was already there to make it easy. The Mind Flayer was trapped in this world because of the gate closing and regained some of its power because the Russians have been trying to open it again. However, the characters investigating each of these concerns have been very separate from one another. There is a huge chunk of the cast who don't even know that Russian agents have been terrorizing their friends. Mike, El and company didn't know that was going on at all. They had more pressing concerns than trying to figure out where Dustin and Steve have been. Of course, the other party was fighting for their lives as well. They did so while being unable to communicate with the outside world. Meanwhile, Hopper and Joyce left the state to get some Russian translations in order to figure out what's been going on. They are left searching for the kids throughout this hour. Everyone is destined to come crashing together in the finale. There are just more answers on the horizon that may create a somewhat expositional closing to the season. That may be unfortunate. However, this hour has to be commended for portraying its action and horror beats in a different way. In the early going, it felt as if the show had done all of this before. This season was once again building to a conclusion where the young leads had to barricade themselves inside a cabin to protect themselves from the Mind Flayer. Nancy is armed with a gun, Jonathan has an ax, Lucas has his slingshot and El has her all important powers. It's a battle that has been seen before. The scale of it is ramped up though. Plus, the direction does a solid job in proving that it isn't all on El in order to defeat this foe. Jonathan and Lucas both take turns with the ax hacking apart the various limbs that threaten to tear the friends apart. Meanwhile, Nancy gets numerous direct hits on the monster. There is just the looming fear that it can quickly come back together. Those rejuvenating powers may be the most ominous aspect of this threat. Plus, El is significantly wounded in this fight. Sure, she can still track down Dustin when the time comes for it. But she has been infected with the Mind Flayer. A small piece of it is now digging around her leg. That's absolutely horrifying. It may be small scale horror but it's very effective in possibly taking out the most important weapon that this world has to offer. More importantly, none of this takes away from that moment in which Mike tries to open up about his feelings for El. He was proud to declare his love for her when talking with his friends. But now, he struggles because he doesn't know how to explain it in a way that makes sense. It's not the most pressing concern either. He just has to be willing to share her because she has such a wide open life full of possibilities. He can't be greedy and possessive. That is one of two emotionally grounded conversations here. The other happens in a bathroom stall between Steve and Robin. Drugging those two has been really good for comic relief. It creates a massive burden on Dustin and Erica that ultimately prevents them from escaping the mall. It may trap everyone in that location for the final showdown. But again, these character moments are so important because they get the audience to actually care about the action that happens around them. There was the overwhelming sense that the show was planning on putting Steve and Robin together romantically. Steve sees things in a similar way. And yet, the drugs help Robin come out as gay while Steve immediately supports her. That's a beautiful and powerful conversation. There was always the fear that the show didn't actually know how to talk about the LGBTQ+ community. But this twist proves that they do. Maya Hawke has been a fantastic addition to the show this season. And now, this creates a bright future for her. Of course, that's if she survives the incoming threat of Russians and the Mind Flayer without truly knowing or comprehending everything that is now happening to her. But again, the show frequently asks the characters and the audience to just go along with a lot because it's so insane and crazy to think about.