Adolescence turns kids Upside Down
The Show: Stranger Things, Season 2, Episode 2 The Moment: The bad Halloween
For Mike (Finn Wolfhard), it’s been a tough Halloween. Not only were he and his pals the only kids to wear costumes to school — “How does everyone but us know?” Dustin (Gaten Matarazzo) asks, speaking for every kid, ever — but Dustin and Lucas (Caleb McLaughlin) ruined trick-or-treat by including a new girl. Mike misses Eleven (Millie Bobby Brown). Back home in his room, he flips on his walkie-talkie. “I had a bad day,” he tells the static. “I wish you were here. If you’re out there, please give me a sign.”
He can’t know it, but Eleven is there, floating next to him in a black space beyond his reality. For an instant, he feels her presence. “Eleven?” he asks. Just as she reaches out to touch him, he gives up and flips off the receiver. The camera pulls back, the music comes up and we see Eleven alone in deep darkness.
How brilliant of showrunners Matt and Ross Duffer to do a sci-fi series about preteen protagonists. For early adolescents, life is the Upside Down. You toggle crazily between childhood and maturity, one minute debating your top candy bars; the next, desperately wondering if you’ll ever be loved.
In this one-day arc, Mike goes to school as a child; goes trick-ortreating as a petulant preteen; and goes to bed flooded with adult emotions. The final scene is right out of Romeo and Juliet: the lovers in the lightless tomb, coming this close and then losing each other again. Lovely. Johanna Schneller is a media connoisseur who zeroes in on popculture moments. She usually appears Monday through Thursday.