Words: Stranger Things (Lots Of Spoilers), Part II

So, yesterday, I talked a lot about why I liked Stranger Things. Now we come to some of my criticisms of the show. None of these spoiled my enjoyment of the show as such, but here we go:

Minor Idiot Plots: So I have to modify what I said earlier. There are a few minor instances of the Idiot Plot. The subvariant, in this case, is People Don’t Tell Each Other They Know Things: Jonathan doesn’t tell Mom he’s figured out that she’s seeing and hearing real things, and when Nancy very reasonably asks if they shouldn’t tell her, says something like, “No, she’s been through enough.” Well, yes, and a very large part of all she’s been through is nobody believing her. It should be obvious to anyone that telling Joyce she’s not crazy is the best thing you could do for the poor woman.

Toxic Atmosphere: This is one of those writing moments that truly baffles me, because there was absolutely no reason for it. When Hopper and Joyce are prepared for their trip into the Upside Down, Evil Dr. Brenner tells them the atmosphere is toxic. Um, no. Will has survived there for something like three or four days. I’m assuming he found water somewhere, because he’d be in a lot of trouble if he didn’t. He probably didn’t find food, but he wouldn’t die in four days. Hypothermia would be a bigger problem, but there’s probably a temperature cold enough to be uncomfortable but not cold enough to kill. But breathing a toxic atmosphere? For four DAYS? Or even three? Really dumb. I can only assume that the writers did this so they had a reason to show everyone getting dressed up in those scary, scary HAZMAT suits. Which frankly, was pants-on-head idiotic, as the risk of catching a disease from an entirely alien biosphere would have been enough to justify that.

The Creature: I think, for me, the development of the Creature (Demogorgon) was one of the most irritating things, because it was an example of a) a mistake I typically see from new writers, not professionals, and b) it would have been very easy to solve. Here was the basic problem: The writers wanted to give Nancy, Jonathan, and Steve a victory over the Creature. The writers also wanted to make the Creature something that only El could defeat. Something, to be exact, that El would have to apparently die to kill, because it would be immune to Human weapons. And the writers also wanted it to kill Brenner the Evil Scientist.
You can easily see what they did, and I used to make this mistake as a new writer, and I’ve seen new writers make that mistake many times: they wanted their Creature to have mutually contradictory qualities, and they tried to make that work. The result was that we have a Creature that is banished back to the Upside Down by kids armed with a spiked bat, a pistol, a bear trap, and some fire, but an episode later shrugs off hundreds of rounds of assault rifle fire at point-blank range like they were Super Soakers.
Now, the solution to this was pioneered as far back as Beowulf. All you needed was for Nancy, Jonathan and Steve to kill Grendel, and then have that draw the attention of bigger, badder Grendel’s Mom. This would have necessitated a bit of explanation, but certainly nothing too difficult.

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