Ado­les­cence turns kids Up­side Down

Toronto Star - - ENTERTAINMENT - Jo­hanna Sch­neller

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.

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