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Stranger Things "Chapter Eight: The Upside Down"


Justin

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:mac_alert:  SPOILER WARNING: This is a discussion on the eighth episode of Stranger Things. It contains spoilers for the series through S1:E8. Do not read this page if you do not want to know what happens through the end of Chapter Eight.

 

 

 

Stranger Things "Chapter Eight: The Upside Down"

 

"The atmosphere is toxic"

 

Season 1, Episode 8   54m

 

 

Stranger_Things_Chapter_8_The_Upside_Dow

 

 

Stranger_Things_Chapter_8_The_Upside_Dow

 

 

Stranger_Things_Chapter_8_The_Upside_Dow

 

 

Stranger_Things_Chapter_8_The_Upside_Dow

 

 

Stranger_Things_Chapter_8_The_Upside_Dow

 

 

Stranger_Things_Chapter_8_The_Upside_Dow

 

 

Dr. Brenner holds Hopper and Joyce for questioning while the boys wait with Eleven in the gym. Back at Will's, Nancy and Jonathan prepare for battle.

 

Winona Ryder, David Harbour, Matthew Modine

TV Sci-Fi & Fantasy

Director: The Duffer Brothers

 

Soundtrack: When It's Cold I'd Like To Die (Moby), Horizon (Tangerine Dream), White Christmas (Irving Berlin)

 

 

 

 

 

Unanswered Questions:

  • What is The Upside Down?
  • Where did Eleven go?
  • Why is the atmosphere toxic?
  • Is the Library a "hive" for the monsters?
  • What, if anything, is the grid motif throughout the series hinting at?
  • What is happening with Will Byers?
  • ​What will come of Will Byers coughing up the monster-slug into the sink?
  • What deal did Chief Hopper make?
  • Is Chief Hopper leaving waffles for Eleven in the woods?
  • Did Will Byers get his Atari for Christmas?
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What made my heart sink more than anything during this episode was the use of the Moby song "When It's Cold I'd Like To Die" towards the end. I've always associated that song with one of the most touching and powerful endings on The Sopranos. (Stay with me here.. old fans of The Sopranos will likely remember this as well) I'm probably reading too far into this, but who knows.

 

Season 6 Episode 2 of The Sopranos, titled "Join the Club", begins a story arc for Tony. It's quite cerebral and you may not know what you're looking at if you don't really think about it. In that episode, Tony Soprano has been shot by Uncle Junior and is in a coma, very close to death. Yet throughout that episode we are shown Tony Soprano, apparently hallucinating in his coma, living another life parallel to his own. In his coma, Tony is not living the life of a Mafia boss on his own terms, he's living the life of a traveling salesman and average American dad, not living a life on his own terms.

 

The experience begins with Tony's awaking in a hotel room at a Radisson Hotel in Costa Mesa, California. Instead of a Mafia boss, Tony is a mild-mannered precision optics salesman on a business trip, without his thick New Jersey accent. That night, he notices a strange light that glows on the horizon as he looks out the window.

 

The next morning he goes to a sales convention and is asked for ID to gain admittance. Tony realizes he has someone else's wallet and briefcase: one belonging to a man named Kevin Finery. Without ID, Tony is not granted access to the convention. He is unable to pay for meals, get another hotel room, or book a flight home because he can't use somebody else's credit card.

 

He returns to the bar, where a group of business travelers overhear him telling his story to the bartender (when asked what Costa Mesa is like, the bartender replies, "Around here, it's dead.") The group invites Tony to join them for dinner, during which he discusses his 'life' in more detail saying, "I mean, who am I? Where am I going?" Tony is seen saying "I'm lost" to himself. After he returns to his hotel room, Tony picks up the phone, but hangs up before dialing, while the beacon of light flashes on the horizon. A true sense of distance and isolation begins to sink in.

 

In this existence Tony is nothing "special". Just another average dad on a sales trip. He has zero control over his life. This existence is Tony's own frustrating hell. You come to realize that's exactly what we are seeing. Tony Soprano is literally at the gates of Hell. Or possibly Purgatory, caught between Heaven and Hell, living the life he sacrificed so much in his real life to avoid becoming. This is the hellish afterlife for a murdering Mafia don who, given the chance to change, chose not to change his life for the better. For those of you who believe that Tony Soprano was killed in the final moments of the series when the show went to black, this is a glimpse into his afterlife, a descent into hell suited for a man who schemed and murdered to avoid an average life as an average guy.

 

We see Tony in a parallel world, one that is like home but dark and cold, separated from his family, unable to communicate with anyone, unable to move forward, go back, go home, or make any meaningful connections. 

 

Maybe it's a reach to connect an old episode of The Sopranos with Stranger Things. Cara Buono, the actress who plays Mike and Nancy's mom, was in The Sopranos as Christopher's wife during Season 6, the same season as the story above. It's been one of her most well-known roles up to this point. Anyone casting her in a show would have been familiar with her performance that season on Sopranos, and likely that meaningful episode which set up Season 6.

 

I just wonder if it's a coincidental song choice by the writers of Stranger Things, or if it's a hint to greater themes. As a song from the '90s it seems out of place. When I realized this it made me wonder what exactly we're seeing in The Upside Down, and sent chills up my spine.

 

 

 

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I'm gonna give the ending a generous 7/10.   I think it could have been much better.    Actually, I think it might have been better had they just left the "One Month Later" off completely.

I found the sacrifice of Eleven to be surprisingly unemotional.   I expected to get choked up, not by Eleven's apparent demise, but by Mike's reaction to it.   Instead if fell kinda emotionally flat for me.

Obviously Eleven's not dead, and the Sheriff is leaving food for her in a box...but to be honest that was just cryptic and meaningless to me.  Im guessing his deal MIGHT have had something to do with his daughter?  Hard to tell, maybe the deal was to get Eleven back to the institute somehow as the sheriff came to believe that what research they were doing was necessary.   As for Will's after effects, its hard to tell whether or not he's imagining it or it is really happening, but I'm guessing that he was being bred a'la Alien when they found him.   (This last episode reminded me VERY much of the first part of the first Alien film).

Highlights for me were Eleven's use of her powers to wipe out the bad guys.   She was brutal, angry, fed up.   The scene where she crushes their brains (kinda like Scanners if anyone remembers that one) is hauntingly awesome.

Interesting that the brief explanation of the D&D game mirrored their own story, sticking in my mind the reference to the Lost Princess. 

This series gets a 9/10 for me, the last episode being one of the weaker ones.   Up until the "One Month Later" part, 8/10...but I had to knock a point off for that ending.  I really think the last sequence was too long and disjointed. 

I really didn't care for the Moby song.  It took away from the 80s feel of the soundtrack up to that point and made it feel like a crime TV show.

 

"For you - Rowsdower from the 70 - have been appointed Omnivisioner of the Game Grid."  ~ Atari Adventure Square

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I want to also add that while this cast was amazing, I was very much unimpressed with Matthew Modine as the villain.   I kept expecting them to ramp up his character, but it was very dry and underdeveloped.   

"For you - Rowsdower from the 70 - have been appointed Omnivisioner of the Game Grid."  ~ Atari Adventure Square

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I really didn't care for the Moby song.  It took away from the 80s feel of the soundtrack up to that point and made it feel like a crime TV show.

 

Yeah, I thought it was out of place. It's a weird choice to use a '90s song in something so unapologetically 1980s as Stranger Things has been. It stuck out like a sore thumb and I couldn't help but connect it with the one thing I associate it with.

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I guess as a series as stunningly pitch-perfect as this one comes to an end, there were strong chances satisfaction would be harder to obtain.

 

Personally, it all came together rather well in my usually-jaded eyes.

El's story led up to this moment of revelation to herself that she could take control of (and unfortunately, take blame for) the situation.

Unsure what happened to her and the monster, but it seems to hint that she closed the portal and took them both back into the Upside-Down realm.

Which is...a parallel dimension? Yeah, more to explore with this idea, which is probably what the creators will be doing when the series returns (which has been greenlit).

 

They wanna keep the same cast, but not necessarily do a sequel. Which...means what actually?

eh, we'll see. They've earned my trust.

 

But all-in-all, the extended ending showing all characters in a post-story state was satisfying and earned (given this is not a two-hour movie and we've spent a lot of time seeing them grow).

Hopper seems to be more relaxed and that deal turns out to have been settled (not talk about past events or else).

Makes sense the black suits behind the experiments (the mad doc was surely not the highest-ranked leader of the ops) would rather not draw attention to a local sheriff missing after many strange events had been observed locally.

I think that's the deal with the bad guys.

 

He might be leaving food for El out of respect and hope that she is still out there, either here or in the other realm.

Or...

 

Also, WIll Byers' outcome is very creepy and fitting for a horror tale that should have had him deaded by ethereal baddies and justifies the happy ending.

He's been seeded by some monster-verse creature (same as the other victims, only more recently) and by closing the portal, these tiny offspring are escaping to the sewers on a regular basis, it seems.

And poor Will is helpless to know what to do, except hide it and hope life goes on as normal as it can (and good friends and regular D&D sessions are very therapeutic, so good for hiim).

 

And I'm sure he got his Atari system.

Cuz it's the perfect ending to such a great ride back in time.

Also perfectly-fitting for this forum, as we realize that if we are chased and captured by a parallel-dimensional monster, scared out of our wits for days, coming home to an Atari 2600 unboxing can heal us back to normality.

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It was awesome.  To me, this last episode really felt like they just didn't know if they were going to have the opportunity for a second season.  So they wrapped it up nicely, then added a little gravy on the end just in case...

 

Poor Barbara though.  :(

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It was awesome.  To me, this last episode really felt like they just didn't know if they were going to have the opportunity for a second season.  So they wrapped it up nicely, then added a little gravy on the end just in case...

 

Poor Barbara though.  :(

Yeah, poor Barb :( 

"For you - Rowsdower from the 70 - have been appointed Omnivisioner of the Game Grid."  ~ Atari Adventure Square

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