Photo: Netflix

Stranger Things – ‘Dig Dug’

‘Dig Dug’ presents us with a rather uneven episode. Half the characters actually do very little – Joyce spends the entire episode trying to locate the unconscious Hopper, whereas all Dustin essentially does is lock Dart in his basement. On the other hand, we get some huge revelations regarding Eleven (or should we call her Jane at this point?). Nonetheless, despite a relative lack of action, the show was still largely on good form with great special effects, acting and some genuine suspense and scares.

Firstly, let’s start with Hopper, who basically spent this episode either unconscious or smothered in vines. Okay, not much to report here other than a nice look at the Upside-Down, so let’s move to Joyce and Will, who have realised that Will’s condition means he can now spy on the Shadow Monster. The map-reading was a bit too drawn out – and curiously accurate given how the drawings were twisted all over the house. Nonetheless, it was interesting to see Bob roped in for the first time and actually proving rather helpful (the pirate’s treasure line was a great Goonies reference). I’m not entirely sure how much this contributed to the overall story other than Bob’s realisation of the map, but we hopefully will see some more development of Will’s connection to the Shadow Monster after that truly blood-curdling scream.

It’s also interesting to see Nancy and Jonathan begin to ponder their feelings for each other, if only briefly

Dustin’s storyline is also one that didn’t achieve all that much this episode, despite Gaten Matarazzo’s entertaining charm. After the great twist that Dart is a Demogorgon, Dustin isn’t actually able to do much about it in this episode and instead, we have to sit through several scenes of him trying to get in touch with his friends. Nonetheless, his makeshift combat outfit was inspired and actually rather comical as he attempted to run in it, whereas the interesting pair up of Dustin and Steve should make for some interesting bonding next episode as they attempt to take out Dart.

Now, it was the Eleven scenes in this episode that were truly interesting. After the last episode’s heartbreaking first contact with her mother, Terry, Eleven finally gets to meet her in real life, only to sadly find her in a catatonic state. However, upon discovering that she too has some telekinetic abilities, Eleven gets to see the true meaning behind the ominous four words her mother keeps repeating. After witnessing her own birth (creepy), Eleven then sees how Terry’s attempts to rescue her ended in forced electroshock therapy, leaving her in her current state while pining for her daughter. While some nefarious involvement from Hawkins Lab was anticipated, actually watching what they put Eleven’s mother through was difficult to watch.

A decidedly mixed episode, but also one with great revelations

We finally get more insight into Jonathan and Nancy’s plan: namely in which they meet up with your generic crazy conspiracy theory character who, despite doing some rather excessive research on Barb’s disappearance, was, of course, far from the truth. Nonetheless, their plan of a watered-down leak is a good one, and looks set to cause trouble later on. It’s also interesting to see Nancy and Jonathan begin to ponder their feelings for each other, if only briefly – let’s hope this isn’t dragged out tediously.

Kudos to Lucas for just going all-out and telling Max everything – surely a terrible idea. After understandably thinking this is a joke, Max slowly begins to believe him, further building their relationship and preparing her before she inevitably gets involved. Max’s brother Billy is still yet to do anything of note other than set himself up as a bully and nemesis of sorts to Lucas and Steve – after five episodes, we really need to see a development here.

All in all, a decidedly mixed episode, but also one with great revelations. After a lengthy set-up, let’s hope we get some more payoffs next episode.

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