I KNOW WHY THE CAGED RAT SLAMS ITS BODY AGAINST THE WALL (STRANGER THINGS RECAP)
I recently listened to a podcast where the host and guests shared a fabulous concept called “codependent fantasy game.” It’s where you take turns solving each others’ problems by pointing out the obvious ways your friends ignore reality and repeat poor decisions. How perfect, I thought, for the people of Hawkins. I can offer a bit of easily adaptable advice while there’s still plenty of season left for the characters to make a change for the better. And then repeat their poor decisions and make it worse again. Drama!
Nancy: Stop opening the door to the darkroom while Jonathan is working in there. He is working very hard. He cares about his photographs. He has told you several times. It is a very achievable adjustment. Raise your hand to the door and then move it forward until it runs into the door, at a speed that is fast enough to create a sound when it hits the door but not so fast that you hurt yourself. If you find this challenging, you can try using your voice instead. But then-- and this is key-- you have to listen for the answer. You can do this. I believe in you.
Billy: Oh, wait. Which one am I talking to? Who’s the real Billy? There’s the one who called 911 and is trying to get away from danger, and then there’s the one who approached that first one with a horde behind him made up of other poor souls who have been face-slurped by the Mind Flayer. What would only the real Billy know? Or does Upside Down Billy also know these things, because the Mind Flayer extracted all of the real Billy’s brain contents? Just to be safe, I’ll keep the advice simple and applicable to both Billies: be cool, Billy. Be cool.
Mrs. Wheeler: Please don’t wear those giant earrings in the pool. They are going to drag you down, and you will lose one or both of them. Also, stop lusting after Billy. There is absolutely no scenario in which that ends well for you. But seriously, I'll be happy if you make a real commitment to pool-safe earrings. Baby steps.
Hopper: You are really feeling yourself for screaming at a fragile teenage boy to make him stop smooching your adopted daughter. You think a brooding teenage daughter is an improvement over a making-out teenage daughter? Oof, I’ve got some bad news for you. Brooding teenage daughters make up-- let me double-check-- yup, one hundred percent of the slots on the Winonameter. Little Women? Teenager. The Crucible? Teenager in a bonnet. Girl, Interrupted? Teenager, interrupted. You get the idea. Eleven is currently at a Beetlejuice, which is relatively mild-- some slamming doors, some furrowed brows-- but we know how much further she can go, so it’s time to apologize and set things straight with Mike and El. But good work on the shirt for the not-a-date with Joyce, I appreciate a festive fabric that says “I’m classy enough to order chianti, but breezy enough to pronounce it wrong.”
Joyce: You know that Hop is going to get sad and mean when you spend your Friday night brushing up on electromagnetism with Mr. “Gangly Never Looked So Good” Clarke, the hot science teacher. (Seriously, that garage door leg reveal was quite the burlesque.) Joyce, I know you’re excited to do diligent high-stakes research that no one in your life will take seriously despite overwhelming evidence of an immediate threat, but take a second to give Hop a call. Let him know that you’re playing with magnets in another man’s garage instead of showing up at the plans you made with him. The whole town will appreciate it.
Dusty: You’re crushing it with the Russian shenanigans. Just work a bit on modulating the volume of your voice when you talk about your spy secrets.
Steve: You also get kudos for the international espionage. Just work a bit on modulating the volume of your sailor outfit when you sneak around for spy secrets. (Side note: “Steve’s hair can’t show its full glory under the sailor hat” translated to Russian then back to English via Google comes out as “Steve's hair cannot fully open under the sailor’s hat.” The poetic truth of language is astounding.)
El: Max is doing a great job taking care of you, just keep listening to her. Shopping is a legit solution to teen romance problems, am I right?
Mike: Lucas is a good friend, but his ideas are terrible. Shopping is not always the solution to teen romance problems, am I right?
Mrs. Driscoll: I admire the spirit of scientific inquiry that compelled you to grab one of the rabid rats and put it in a cage, but maybe don't. I mean, it's too late now, but don't do it again. Just trust me on this one.
Oh, and to finish the thought of the title: it’s because it’s full of demonic energy that will eventually cause it to explode and then escape the cage as a slithering pile of innards that take the shape of a small inchworming monster controlled by the Mind Flayer. Also because magnets.