Stranger Things 2 takes a bit of a detour this episode as we follow Eleven's adventures hooking up with her 'sister' Kali. Will she stay with the gang and therefore forget about everyone else in Hawkins? Well, duh, obviously not, but great to see an experimental episode where we stay with one plot for a full episode and get some in-depth character detail. Apparently not everybody liked it, in which case they can naff off! We're paying our Netflix subs for something different! If you don't like it, head to ITV4 and watch Midsomer Murders!
80's Reference of the Episode Award goes to...
Eleven leaving her friends and going on a quest which involves some heavy duty training as she moves the truck, a bit like Luke having to raise an X-Wing out of Dagobah's swamp wouldn't you say? This whole episode has more than a touch of Empire Strikes Back about it, the Star Wars sequel from 1980.
The shots following El arriving in the city after being on the coach brings to mind Madison, the mermaid played by Daryl Hannah, as she first explores New York city, wide eyed and full of wonder. Splash was released in 1984, directed by Ron Howard and stars Tom Hanks as a man who falls in love with a fish. Come on, we've all done it. Seriously, a fantastic comedy film with a heart, and a couple of shots of Daryl Hannah's bum if you're into that kind of thing. Okay, enough of that nonsense, back to Stranger Things 2...
A gang of misfits, chased by the police and living in the underbelly of the city? Kali's gang sounds like they'd fit right in with The Warriors, the titular gang from Walter Hill's 1979 action thriller. Despite initial negative reviews, the film has gone on to become a cult success.
Bit tenuous this one but we thought the factory Kali's gang hang out in was a bit of a dead ringer for The Joker's base in the Axis Chemical Works in Tim Burton's Batman film from 1989. The lighting, the smoke, the boiler or whatever the machines are in there.
There's a bit of an X-Men vibe running through this episode. El being mentored in using her powers, how being different shouldn't be as reason for hiding yourself, even mirroring the scene where Xavier could make himself and Magneto invisible to enemy soldiers when operating behind the Iron Curtain as Kali cloaks her gang when the police raid their base.
When El and Kali track down Ray, El ends up using her power by holding out her arm and squeezing whilst Ray struggles for breath. We've seen that trick a few times from a particular Sith Lord.
The TV show Ray is watching when Kali and her crew invade his home. This show ran in the US from 1984-88 and was about a young girl adopted by a grouchy old man, sounding familiar at all? It did appear in the UK, usually at some god-forsaken time in the morning.
One of Kali's gang is called 'Funshine'. This was also the name of one of the original Care Bears, the multi-coloured bear characters. If you haven't heard of these guys then lucky you. Originally launched as a design for greetings cards in 1981, then a range of toys, then cartoon series, then three feature films, then pretty much anything you could stick a picture of a bear on. Impossible to avoid in the first half of the 80s, see also Cabbage Patch Kids.
Philip Glass Ensemble – 'Open The Kingdom (Liquid Days, Part II)' Plays over the flashback montage of Terry.
We first heard this piece in episode 5 as we saw how 'momma' received electroconvulsive therapy that destroyed her mind. Not exactly music to relax to.
Bon Jovi – 'Runaway'. As Eleven runs away. No idea why they decided to choose this track.
A 1984 chart breakthrough for the American be-permed rockers Bon Jovi. Their lead singer, Jon Bon Jovi, who we're guessing also came up with the band's name, was famous for his huge permy hairdo back in the day. It was their third album, Slippery When Wet (urgh) which turned them into global stars, with singles such as Living On a Prayer and You Give Love a Bad Name selling around the world.
Big Giant Circles – 'Outside The Realm'. El and Kali talking.
A laid back, atmospheric ambient track, which sounds like the kind of new age thing you'd have had playing in a yoga studio in the mid 90s, Big Giant Circles is the recording name for the Dallas based musician Jimmy Hinson, who writes music for and inspired by video games.
Fad Gadget – 'Back To Nature'. El meeting the rest of the gang.
Fad Gadget, real name Frank Tovey, was a huge influence on the development of electronic music in Britain in the early 1980s. Back To Nature was released in 1979, the second single on the Mute label. Mute would go on to be the home of Depeche Mode, Erasure, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds and more recently Goldfrapp.
John Carpenter – 'The Bank Robbery'. El checking through Kali's archive of news clippings.
As well as being a fantastic genre director, writing and/or directing films which have clearly exerted a strong influence on the Duffer Brothers such as The Thing, Halloween and The Fog, Carpenter is also a highly respected composer of film soundtracks. This track comes from the 1981 Kurt Russell starring Escape from New York, another film Carpenter directed. If you want to hear more we'd recommend his album Anthology: Movie Themes 1974-1998 for starters.
The Runaways – 'Dead End Justice'. El and the gang heading out on a mission.
If this song sounds familiar to you, it's because The Runaways, an all-female American rock band active from 1975-1979, had another of their tracks, the very similar-sounding Cherry Bomb, used to similar effect recently in Guardians of The Galaxy. The track is therefore on the top-selling Awesome Mix Vol.1 from that film.
The Icicle Works – 'Whisper To A Scream (Birds Fly)'. Plays out over the end credits.
Formed in Liverpool in 1980, the band are often seen as one hit wonders, but depending on if you were British or American you had a different single that charted, so does that technically make them two hit wonders? 1983's 'Love Is A Wonderful Colour', a track with the kind of chorus Phil Spector would have dreamt of in the 60s was the single the Brits took to their hearts, whilst the former-colonials in the US propelled Whisper To A Scream to number 34 on their hit parade.