Stranger Things: The Weirdo on Maple Drive – Demogorgon (Review)


Winona Ryder as Joyce in Stranger Things

Chapter  two of Stranger Things “The Weirdo on Maple Drive” shifted firmly into E.T. territory with 11 as E.T. and Mike as Elliot. The only thing missing is that elongated bulbous finger and that cute/ugly mug and 11 has about the same knowledge of the English language as well. Although she quickly gets the concept of D&D and the demogorgon being the big bad who is after Will.

The previous chapter saw the death of Benny,  the owner of the hamburger shop, which was made to look like a suicide in this installment and the appearance of 11 right after Will went missing.  Joyce got a phone call that she believes was from her youngest and it fried her phone.

Joyce Byers is struggling to keep in control of her emotions and she manages to have  the funniest moment in the episode. Going into her place of work she gets another telephone, to replace the fried one, and  Joyce asks her boss for an advance to pay for it. She also asks for two weeks pay and he hesitates. After some hedging about paying her temporary replacement, she shames him into agreeing. Flushed with her small success Joyce then  blurts out:

“And a pack of Camels.”

Sticking with Joyce for a moment, there is something intrinsically likable about the slightly scatty single mother of two. A mom who can communicate with her youngest and enjoys both her kids equally.

11 is at MIke’s house and the drenched girl is scared and confused. The trio of boys attempt to communicate, although Lucas starts to get a bit too physical and Dustin decides the girl is deaf.

Another humorous moment occurs when Mike gives  11 dry clothes. She immediately starts to change in front of the boys and both Lucas and Dustin freak out.  Mike shows her to the bathroom and offers to close the door. She agrees to having it open a crack and she changes. Comically, after Dustin has time to think about it, he is obsessed with the idea of 11’s nudity.

While Joyce is out getting her two weeks advance and another phone, there is a real E.T. moment where Dr. Brenner and his crew show up at the Byers’ residence in white hazmat suits. All that is missing are the giant white tubes and the house being encased in white sheeting.

Brenner heads to the shed, another E.T. touch sans candy, and discovers some goo on the walls.

Meanwhile Nancy is invited to party at Steve’s place and she accepts. She also offers her sympathy to Will’s older brother Jonathan.  Mike stays home from school to look after 11 and, once again, this takes on an E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial tinge. Mike Wheeler showing off his dinosaur collection and the ending bit with the T-Rex is very evocative of the Elliot “plastic” shark scene.

Hopper continues to search for Will and he also starts investigating the suicide of his friend Benny.  Jonathan goes to see if his little brother is at his dad’s house and later stops to take pictures where Will went missing.

Joyce hooks her new phone up and sits down with the  instrument in her lap and waits for Will to call her again.  He does and this time Joyce hears his voice clearly. The new phone is fried like the first. She then hears music coming from Will’s room and she sees his lights are on as well.

She goes into her son’s room and sees something bulging out of the wall, a’la The Haunting of Hill House or A Nightmare on Elm Street. This terrifies the woman and Joyce rushes from the  house and starts her car.  The music and lights come on again and she hesitantly walks back to he house and goes in the front door.

Hopper learns of “the boy” at Benny’s diner before he died and earlier the police chief says he feels cursed. Nancy talks her best friend Barb (Shannon Purser) into going with her to Steve’s (Joe Keery) party. 

At the party Nancy is having fun while Barb is feeling pretty left out.  Jonathan stumbles across the party and takes pictures.  Steve and Nancy “chug” a beer and she urges Barb to try. Barbara cuts her finger and while she is stopping the bleeding Nancy is pushed into the pool.

Later Nancy tells her friend to go home. Instead Barbara sits on the diving board dripping blood from her finger into the pool. The lights go  out and some growling thing grabs Barb and takes her away.

Jonathan misses it.

Mike and his friends learn that Eleven has “superpowers.” One of her powers seems to be the ability to know which character Will plays in Dungeons and Dragons.   The lads ask eleven if she knows where their friend is. She tell them that Will is hiding. They then ask from who.

Turning the game board over she places Will’s character in the center of the black board. She then places the demogorgon next to “Will.”

More is revealed about Eleven in this installment. She calls Dr. Brenner “Poppa” and she was put into a small dark room, presumably as punishment.  This disturbing flashback shed a lot of light on her relationship with the doctor.  She can also speak but thus far her vocabulary is limited.

Observations:

The two big ’80s songs, and bands, in this episode were The Clash’s “Should I Stay Or Should I Go” and The Bangles’ “Hazy Shade Of Winter.”  (The next chapter features an ’80s classic; Foreigner’s “I Wanna Know What Love Is.”)

Joyce is going to run out of her two week advance pretty quickly if she has to keep replacing her phones. Brenner and his crew have bugged Joyce’s house and Hopper may be led to Brenner based on evidence found in the woods.

So far there have been two disappearances and one death attributed to the electrical company and its lab.

Stranger Things is streaming on Netflix and all eight episodes are available to watch right now.  Check this one out. The acting is top notch, especially the younger members of the cast and the storyline is addictive and nostalgic to the extreme.

CAST:

Author: Mike's Film Talk

Former Actor, Former Writer, Former Journalist, USAF Veteran, http://MikesFilmTalk.com Former Member Nevada Film Critics Society

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