The first post had the low-hanging fruit of the "fun stuff."
From the looks of it, the gang welcomes Dustin back home, then goes with him to put up an antenna. At the end of the day, it looks like Dustin wants everyone to stay, but they're bounding off as couples (in the last, you can see Lucas and Max running off hand in hand). This schism may lead eventually to Mike's statement that they're not kids anymore.
2/3. Yes, that was the exact sequence of events, and yes it did eventually lead to Mike's "We're not kids anymore," but it wasn't directed at Dustin, so full credit denied.
The next sequence, I'm tying only by Max's striped shirt and an obvious venue. Max and Eleven arrive at the mall together. We then see them dressed up at a GlamorShots shoot (if you're too young to remember, before Instagram filters, you could go the mall and put on a costume and pretend to be a fashion model). Then we see Max in her room dancing, and El in what looks like a very bright, crisp 80s print. In the first sequence, we see El in an ill-fitting shirt in a dull color, and she arrives at the mall in a plaid top... the kinds of clothes that Hopper might have obtained for her over the past few months. I think Max takes her shopping, then they have a sleepover. Which seems like it would be super fun for both lonely girls.
3/3--I'm not, however, docking myself for getting the wrong name for the photography chain. Everything else, right down to not dressing the way Hopper would dress her, was exactly right. And the sleepover with a psychic was super fun until she spied in the wrong direction. (I remember junior high sleepovers; a chance to psychically spy on whatever the boys were doing would NOT have been wasted.)
Finally, we see Dustin arrive at the mall late. He appears at Ahoy with Steve and Robin. We see all of them sliding down the center of the escalators. This is all the same day; you can tell by Dustin's outfit (Steve and Robin are in uniform throughout the trailer, so they're harder to pin down). My guess here is that Dustin goes to see Steve at the end of his shift, then the three of them are goofing around a little. I expect something to go wrong, because it's Stranger Things, but the slide looks like them just being silly--it wouldn't be the fastest way to escape a monster.
0/2. Dustin arrives mid-shift, and, worse, that isn't the same shirt he's wearing because it's a different day and they're totally running from Russian soldiers.
So, I only got 5/8 on the low-hanging fruit. Oops....
On to the more serious stuff.
There seems to be rampant speculation that Joyce has stood him up, because it cuts to one of the other pictures below of Joyce eating alone at her house. But we will see later that Joyce is with him at the carnival and he's wearing the same shirt (sans jacket), so I think those are unrelated scenes. He may be meeting Joyce, or he may be meeting someone else. Either way, it's earlier in the day of the day he goes to the fair.
1/3. Joyce did stand him up in this scene, and because he re-wears the shirt (CHEATERS!!!) it's not earlier on the same day as the fair. However, the scene of her moping is, in fact, entirely unrelated. She misses the date because she's busy Joyce-ing on a mystery.
Best guess, given the show... either they're together and both get bad news or he's with someone else and she brings bad news.
1/1. I'll take it. They'd just found out that their Russian prisoner/friend ("friensoner?") got shot.
The next things I said weren't very prediction-y, just kind of analyzing photos, so no scores.
His time in the Upside Down may well have given him some powers, and maybe this is where we'll start to see them... and he does NOT like them.
O/1. Nope, no powers other than feeling the shadow monster, and that has nothing to do with this scene.
Which appears here, as El leads the way into a hospital. We see both girls and three of the boys. If Dustin has gotten separated from the group (I think he's the one Mike gives the "We're not kids anymore" speech to), then maybe, on his own, he got injured, and they are rushing in for him. Or the gang is just still separated from him and they're rushing in for Hopper... remember, he's not seen anywhere that appears to be after the fair. Or Joyce. But with El leading the way and looking a little frantic, I'm guessing Hopper. Or Dustin.
0/3. Not a hospital, nothing to do with Dustin (though they are separated and he is in trouble; they just don't know it). And El isn't being all that frantic here.
I'm inclined to think it's her own vision, because it starts with her trying to go into her symbolic "bathtub" before it explodes and sends her into the overwhelming vision.
1/2. It is her own vision, but no, it's not a symbolic bathtub; it's an actual one.
She seems to land on an oceanfront beach... This looks to me like it's meant to be a California beach. Remember where El's new best friend, Max, moved from? Remember Billy saying it was her fault they had to leave? I'm going to go out on a limb here, if a pretty sturdy one, and say we didn't get the truth last season about Max and Billy and their parents. Something more is going on, and Eleven will see it. Who is she looking for when she goes under and sees this? Brenner? Billy himself? (see below)
2/3. It's Billy she's looking for and it is California, but if it has something to do with the reason they moved and he blamed Max, I'm missing it.
I tend to agree with the general fanon theory that this is morphing him into a monster... But I'm not sure he's the only one. We also see Jake Busey's new character here. He looks crazy, and if you look at the collar of his shirt, you can see that there seems to be some kind of infection on his chest. I think the monster may be several people, all amalgamated into this giant rat king thing. Maybe El is trying to reach Billy to see if she can find a way to separate them and save them?
3/4. Straight up, totally right on the first three; but no, El didn't seem to be making an effort to separate them.
Nancy is quite the 80s fashion-plate here. Maybe going into the Post for a job interview, maybe for an article interview. That Jonathan is also there suggests that they're working together--probably being interviewed for a story rather than for a job (you don't do two-person job interviews, typically, and neither of them has a journo degree yet). Most of the shot of Nancy are in this dress. She's clearly wearing it here, though she's wet and scared. The same rainy night that Will is looking at pictures?...This set clearly shows Nancy and Jonathan at opposite ends of a hall with the creature between them. Maybe it's even the same hall where we see the Busey character walking? Whatever it is, it suggests that the Post interview is fairly late in the season, as they're working toward what seems to be the first of two climaxes.
1/3. They're not being interviewed; they're being fired. It's not the same time as Will's breakdown, unless I'm remembering the timing wrong. But it's totally the same Busey sequence, and part of the mid-season climax.
We know the final chapter is called "The Battle of Starcourt," and sure enough, we have a shot of all the teenage leads in a battle at the mall. You can see Eleven's bright yellow print shirt here, so it occurs on the same day as her vision of the ocean, though I expect that takes place earlier in the day, as you can see a wooden roof behind her in the second shot, much more likely to be either at Hopper's or at the shop with the Eggos than at a bright, neon 80s mall. (Re: Shot of Eleven with arms outstretched) It's obviously a different day from the hospital (?) climax, because everyone is wearing different outfits. Dustin has rejoined the gang, and the older teenagers are acting in concert with them. Unlike other climaxes in the series, we see no sign of the adults. Maybe they're off doing something else--the laser thing?--but whatever it is, it's not here. This does, however, establish that Dustin is not dead in the scenes where they're not together.
3/3. It's Hopper's cabin, and it's before the battle. It's not the same day as the hospital. The adults are in fact doing the laser thing.
Here, we see Steve, sporting a black eye, getting injected in the neck by someone behind him. We can only see a bit of wavy hair. It could be Robin, or it could be Joyce. I've seen speculation that this shows a possible death scene for Steve, but I don't think so. Either of those people would appear to be a good guy. Maybe Steve's been infected, and someone has found a cure before it's too late, and they catch him and inject him with it. At any rate, if he does die, it's not here, because we see in the group shot that he still has the shiner and it seems to have been cleaned up a little bit.
1/2. Steve doesn't die here. It is Robin we see behind him. That said, Robin is not injecting him, and he's not infected.
Here is the Mileven kiss. She's wearing a plaid shirt of the plain variety, so maybe this is early on, before the shopping trip.
1/1. I'll take a point where I can get it.
I think we'll open on a hope spot, with the welcome home party and building the antenna, but the rift with Dustin happens fairly early, leaving him to spend most of the summer with Steve and the mall crowd.
We'll see people sicken and either become monsters or be drawn to them (there's also a creepy shot of people walking together who seem brainwashed), and it will lead to a first climax (think "escape from the Death Star" in Star Wars), then the action will gather after they've absorbed whatever cost has come, and will lead to the battle at Starcourt (think, destruction of the Death Star).
2/3. We saw them sicken and both become and be drawn to the Mind Flayer. But that doesn't really lead directly to the battle of the mall.
Some people seem to be saying the the Duffer brothers have promised a major character death. (Why this is a thing is beyond me. I mean seriously--yes, if it's natural for a character to die, then do it and don't back away, but no, it's not a requirement for "seriousness." But that's neither here nor there.) The two most likely seem to be Hopper and Joyce, and my instinct is Joyce.
1/2. One for narrowing it down to those two, missed which one. (Should have known, too; they were writing it while everyone was talking Hellboy... since the movie flopped--thereby freeing up David Harbour and possibly keeping his salary down--I wonder if the lack of a body means he can be brought back.)
On the other hand, Hopper getting seriously hurt would piss Eleven off in a major way, and she seems to be throwing down quite the power show. And again, we don't see him after the fair, unless the shot in his uniform is after it.
0/1. But take it back, because it didn't happen mid-season, we do see him after the fair, and El doesn't have a chance to respond to it.
Heck, maybe the whole "I want you to feel that this can still be your home" is in the epilogue scene, and a very alive Hopper tracks down a very alive Joyce and proposes to her and brings the whole family back before it's too late.
This was a joke, no score.
And the major character death is Billy, who, if he becomes the monster, may be too far gone to save.
1/1. Billy too, as the monster, too far gone to save, though he gets a moment.
19/34 on the main post, making my score 24/42.
Could be worse.
It wasn't a misfire, but I didn't feel quite as invested in the story. The Russians just... didn't work for me. I mean, yes, the possibility of war with the Russians was pretty constant and they did make the original Red Dawn then, and there was certainly no love of the old USSR. But that worked in context with Murray being paranoid about them. Not so much with them actually coming to Hawkins. (I will give the caveat that I haven't been much invested in anything lately, and that may play into it.) It felt like a lot of plot lines were added (Russians, mayor), while others got weirdly abandoned or abridged (Max and Billy's parents--we see some, but frustratingly little--Brenner, Kali). Hopper's dad behavior was funny, but a little off-kilter.
That said, there was plenty to love. Murray joining in on the adult adventure--and the adults having, until close to the end, something like a screwball comedy plot, was actually kind of endearing. I liked Alexei wanting to go the fair and have fun, and everyone cheering him on while he won a stuffed roadrunner. The girls really carrying the serious adventure plot--as a team of complete besties--was a great. Mike, under pressure, saying that he loves Eleven, and her saying it back at the end of the season. The acting was terrific. And I love that they managed to get Gaten Matterazzo to sing, no matter how contrived the scenario. (And the sweetest part of the Suzie thing, to me, was that he spent all summer talking about how beautiful she was, just like Phoebe Cates--only hotter--but when we see her, she's a sweet little nerd-girl who loves "Neverending Story.") And then they got Caleb McLaughlin singing, too. I mean, yeah... if you're going to raid Broadway for your cast, at least get them to sing once! :D
For a town the size of Hawkins, the Hawkins Post is quite an operation. My hometown paper came out once a week and was mostly run by one dude, who owned it and wrote all the editorials. He hired me for a few cents a word to review local theater, but that was mostly in the interest of giving me experience... and I do want to say, that was the mid-eighties, he was an older conservative guy, and never ONCE did he laugh at my idea of being a writer, nor did anyone else. If anything, I've failed to live up to the expectations of the adults of the time. That strikes me as a really off-key note. I was about to say, "It was the 80s, not the 50s," but it was so off-kilter for the 80s I remember that I find myself wondering if the cultural portrayal of the 50s was that far off base.
The way the kids are deeply invested in their romances is on point, though. I've noticed working with teens now that it's not as prominent, but in the 80s, "going out" was SERIOUS BUSINESS. Maybe too serious.
I'll probably have more to say--the theme of creating one's identity is fertile ground--but for now...