Strangers Things – Episode 3: Holly, Jolly

Season 1, Episode 3

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Don’t let me down Steve…

We need to talk about Steve. In the first two episodes Joe Keery turned the jock trope on it’s head with a likeable and humorous turn as Steve Harrington. Now that he has had his wicked way with Nancy however, Steve appears to have reverted to type, which is a shame for such a promising character. I am going to go ahead and predict there is a redemption on the way for the wonderful coiffured Steve Harrington later in the show.

The teenage melodrama takes a back seat in Holly, Jolly however, as the disappeared Will Byers shows up dead. There is obviously more than meets the eye here as Will is seemingly still communicating with his mother through various Christmas lights that Joyce has placed around the Byers home. Winona Ryder is bringing a wide eyed mania to Joyce whilst maintaining believability but it is David Harbour as chief Jim Hopper who continues to be the shows MVP.

Hopper doesn’t have much to do in this episode but his scenes at the lab are some of the episodes best and his desperate stare as Will’s lifeless body is pulled from the water humanizes Hopper in a way that no line of dialogue could. The whole scene is played perfectly with the right mixture of horror and awe. The backdrop of David Bowie’s ‘Heroes’ (here performed by Peter Gabriel) fits perfectly and continues a string of strong soundtrack choices throughout Stranger Things.

The other intriguing aspect of Holly, Jolly is the very first scene. The juxtaposition of Barb’s struggle with the monsters and Nancy’s sex with Steve is visually striking but it also suggests that Barb is in some kind of parallel universe which opens up a whole new can of worms for a show already bursting at the seams with ideas. 300 words and I haven’t even had time to properly go over the link to MK Ultra (something so utterly horrifying and real that it could have a TV show all to itself).

Holly, Jolly feels like the moment that Stranger Things fulfils it’s vast potential. Keep this up and we are looking at the best TV show of 2016.