The Pestle


Ep 19: “Stranger Things”

October 31, 2017

In this episode we discuss Netflix’s “Stranger Things”:

  • the title sequence of Stranger Things;
  • the composition & camerawork;
  • pacing, themes, differences between seasons 1 & 2, and much more!

We can see here that the framing has left an empty space on the right as if someone is missing, perhaps representing his daughter. This could also create some dread, as if the monster could fill that space up at any moment.

Nancy & Jonathan sit beneath a tiger mural, considering going after the Demogorgon with bear traps. A clear foreshadowing of the undertaking they’re discussing.

The Byers are framed in two, above them is light in a separate panel, they’re below, with the snow swirling outside as if they’re in the Upside Down, separated from the safety of the light, or perhaps that the Upside Down is encroaching & creeping in…

Look at the way the three letters connect in the center of “Stranger”, representing the three best friends who are connected, but also notice how the “G” presses up against them representing the missing 4th friend who cannot quite reach them. You can see that same style of “G” on the bottom for “Things”, representing that he’s stuck in the “upside down”. Also, as the “G” flies into its landing spot it briefly touches with E, perhaps representing 11? Or perhaps the “G” is representing 11, her duel presence in the Upside Down and her powers pushing against the world. Whether or not any of this was intended, I find it incredibly interesting how you can utilize every moment to communicate your story.

“You don’t enter the theater and pay your money to be afraid. You enter the theater and pay your money to have the fears that are already in you when you go into a theater dealt with and put into a narrative.”Wes Craven

Notes & References:
“Master of None” awards

This Week’s Recommendations:


  1. Joe Howes says:

    Thanks guys for the analysis of Stranger Things 2.

    I enjoyed being with those characters again, and being in that world again, enough that I forgave the story for not blowing my mind. I really found my attention wandering though … Dart, Elle’s arc, the possession, none of it landed.

    As a video game guy, one thing that I really missed was Max earning her way into the group. She blew away the top score in Dig Dug … why didn’t we ever see that? Why was “She’s AMAZING at video games!!” enough?? I so wanted to see the guys watch her play and see her turn around everyone’s opinion with her hand-eye coordination. What a comedic missed opportunity to have her drop into Dragon’s Lair “No I haven’t seen this one before. It’s a cartoon?” and get farther than any of the other kids.

    Without her adding some real skills or some real inspiration, I don’t know why the hell she was there. Her brother’s presence is an even bigger mystery.

    Listening to this episode taught me some really foundational details things about storytelling. It’s easy to appreciate great storytelling, but it can be tough to nail down what isn’t working about bad storytelling unless you’ve got some storytelling study and chops behind you. Like the Transformers episode, I learned a lot more about what makes a great story from this one.

    When we finished S2, I knew I’d never watch that season again. So many of the arcs were exhausting.


    I still have to admit that I enjoyed the watch. I guess for me a follow-up story can coast on character and mood for awhile, but I’m definitely going to be disappointed if the story doesn’t take us somewhere interesting next season. The problem with coasting is eventually you come to a stop.

    Thanks for giving me some detailed reasons why so many parts of the season didn’t work for me!

    1. wes says:

      I’m definitely in your camp, Joe. I ran through the first 6 episodes without too many concerns before my patience finally gave in and I got upset, because 6 hours of hanging with this group is so much fun I was happily clicking play. I get that they were largely dealing with trauma, but that is neither strange nor a thing to grip our attention, particularly since it wasn’t mined very well.

      And holy crap, what a great idea about Max earning her respect in the group by showing them up in Dragon’s Lair! Whereas Dig Dug felt more of their attempt to foreshadow the whole 2nd half of the season in the tunnels, and they totally relied on Max’s skateboard and bad attitude to legitimize her as an outsider that fits her in with the group.

      Miles of frustration with this season, and I’m definitely going to watch next season, but I’m not chomping at the bit anymore, the Bros got me worrying, lol.

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