It doesn’t get much better than this…
In one of the greatest TV episodes I can remember, episode 7 of Stranger Things season 3 is chocked full of nostalgia, has a major motion picture feel to it, and journeys into one of the greatest movies ever made.
This is my Stranger Things season 3 episode 7 review which is entitled: “The Bite”. There is a crap load to get to into this so let’s not waste any time and dive right in.
But just in case you need to get up to speed; check out my reviews of the first 6 episodes.
- Chapter 1: “Suzie, Do You Copy?”
- Chapter 2: “Mall Rats”
- Chapter 3: “The Case of the Missing Lifeguard”
- Chapter 4: “The Sauna Test”
- Chapter 5: “The Flayed”
- Chapter 6: “E Pluribus Unum”
Baby, You’re A Firework
We open to “R.O.C.K. in the U.S.A”. by John Mellencamp as we get a great shot of the Fun Fair (presented by Mayor Kline) and this shot has a Hill Valley 1885 sense to it from Back to the Future III. Speaking of Back to the Future, we get the “Washington Post March” that is played from Red Thomas’ mayoral campaign car – but here it’s used to introduce Mayor Kline.
The Wheeler family sits at the top of the Ferris wheel to watch the fireworks, but in a very Jurassic Park-like feel, we see something gigantic moving through the trees.
Cue the opening credits…
The kids in the cabin realize that they’re about to be targeted as Wills spidey sense is tingling. Dustin and Erica have reduced a drugged up Steve and Robin and are trying to get the hell out of Dodge. For the record; I’d say Dustin is emerging as the real hero of this entire season as he has taken command of every situation and seems to be one of the main driving forces throughout it.
Where We’re Going We Don’t Need Roads
Back at the cabin, the kids along with Jonathan and Nancy are preparing to fight the monster that they are certain is about to show up. This time the monster is gigantic and El has her work cut out for her. She’s able to hold it off for a while but needs to help of Nancy shooting it in the throat and Lucas cutting off the ‘tongue’ which feels like a nod to King Kong.
And now I flip out. Dustin and Erica are trying to hide Steve and Robin and walk right into the theatre while Back to the Future is playing. Back to the Future came out on July 3rd, 1985 so I’m thinking this is the actual debut day as seems evident when the crowd erupts into applause at the end of it.
Seeing this crossover of the actual movie, and this new modern classic TV show is nothing short of tremendous. As Dustin leaves the theatre to contact the others the last thing we hear is:
“You built a time machine?”
Is that leading to something??
Joyce, Hopper, and Alexei are heading to the Starcourt mall hoping they can get in and dismantle the laser while also waiting for the National Guard which they’ve hoped they contacted properly.
Some Amazing Product Placement
The kids break into a supermarket to get supplies but also get bandages and help for Eleven who has been pretty badly injured. Lucas and Mike find a bunch of fireworks that they feel might work really well for some make-shift ammunition against the monster.
While they’re walking through the store we also spot some classic 80s cereal and I noticed:
- Smurf Berry Crunch
- Mr. T. Cereal
- Ghostbuster Cereal
- Rainbow Brite Cereal
- Pac-Man Cereal
- Cookie Crisp
- Honey Comb
- Cocoa Puffs
- Donkey Kong cereal
- G.I. Joe cereal (which I hadn’t even heard of)
We then get an awesome scene where Dustin is finally able to contact Mike via walkie talkie while sitting in the projector room of the theatre. We hear the classic Back to the Future score while they engage which is a beautiful homage to Marty’s walkie talkie conversations with Doc. When Dustin says “Please not now” to the dead walkie talkie batteries it’s hard not to think of Marty saying the same thing when the Delorean dies at the starting line.
I’m just going to assume you know every part of Back to the Future like I do and if not, you might need to go find another blog…
There’s also a hilarious mention wondering why the hell Marty is trying to hook up with his mother.
Back in the supermarket, we get a BRILLIANT inclusion of New Coke and some amazing self-awareness of Stranger Things. I wrote a whole blog on the history of New Coke that you really need to read if you’re unfamiliar with this. But basically, New Coke came out just before the summer of 1985 as an alternative to regular Coke. The problem is they stopped making regular Coke and everyone went nuts.
This led to massive backlash and the complete abandoning of New Coke just 78 days after it was introduced. In this scene, we see Lucas say how much he likes New Coke which makes him seem completely full of crap. He notes how it’s sweeter as that was one of the defining characteristics of it as they were trying to match the sweetness from Diet Coke that more people were becoming accustomed to.
In this amazing moment, Stranger Things shows their full self-awareness as Lucas talks about old Coke being like the original The Thing movie but how John Carpenter’s remake is “sweeter/bolder/better”. Stranger Things has often been compared to The Thing – along with a ton of other 80s classics – and it’s amazing to see the awareness of how some see it as a better version, while so many others prefer the classics.
Just including ‘Thing’ in the title shows the importance of that movie. The kids argue about if it’s “the same concept” or not which has been the genuine real-life discussion regarding Stranger Things.
It’ an amazing self-commentary along with a look at the real back-lash that was happening with New Coke. Just an amazing scene all around – and I could dissect this for days – but we need to move on.
Here Comes Billy
We get a long scene in a bathroom where Steve and Robin have finally come down off their drug hallucination and Robin admits that it was a female classmate she’s always like and not Steve ‘The Hair’ Harrington.
Steve drops the line “she’s cute n’ all” which is 100% out of Back to the Future when Lorrain is describing George McFly.
Hopper has seen Mayor Kline at the Fun Fair who’s talking on an epic 80’s style car phone a la Zack Morris. While walking through the fair though, Alexei is tracked down by the Terminator who shoots him with a gun fitted with a silencer. Too bad as Alexei had just won a Woody Woodpecker which is just like what he had been watching during Loony Toons earlier.
As they leave the supermarket, El has left some blood on the ground which BIlly is able to track like a shark. And Back to the Future has let out so Dustin and Erica can try to leave, blend in to the crowd, and not get spotted by the Russians looking for them.
We get to see the movie marquee and some of the great choices that were playing that July 3rd which was apparently a Wednesday:
- A poster for Pee-Wees Big Adventure which would come out on July 26th
- Return to Oz
- Fletch (an inspiration for this season in regard to the Nancy story as Fletch was about a reporter who upsets his editor, goes deep into a story and uncovers a big one)
- The Stuff (a horror movie similar to the blob)
- D.A.R.Y.L. (I had forgotten all about this, the story of a 10-year old boy that’s actually a government controlled robot. Basically the movie version of Small Wonder)
These all seem like some pretty fitting movies that have influenced Stranger Things. 1985 was a good year.
Come With Me If You Want To Live
The Terminator has chased down Hopper into a giant funhouse that includes a hall of mirrors. There’s no way this is a coincidence, but if you look on the outside of the funhouse there’s an image of a clown that looks A LOT like Pennywise from IT. There’s been a lot covered already about IT and Stranger Things existing in the same universe so I flipped out seeing this.
Hopper is able to shoot the Terminator whos wearing – wait for it Doc Brown fans – a bulletproof vest. We hear the creepy clown laugh from the funhouse as Hopper and Joyce escape.
We now get a a full reunion between Mike, Max, Eleven, Lucas, Jonathan, and Nancy at the mall with Dustin, Steve, Robin, and Erica where a bunch of them are meeting for the first time. Eleven has also taken out the Russian thugs with a display car by throwing it at them.
They now realize that something is infecting the cut on El’s leg and she screams in pain as it looks like the battle of Starcour mall is about to begin.
Final Thoughts On The Bite
Not that I didn’t massively love it already, but this episode solidifies everything to me that makes Stranger Things such an amazing modern classic. This episode combines so much classic stuff from the 80s but plays it out to a modern audience. It’s just like Lucas’ commentary on New Coke how it’s sweeter, bolder, and dare I say, better.
This show is able to take all the best things from all the pop culture we loved from the 80s but combine it into a new package. It reaches for the past while still pushing towards the future.
The only thing I didn’t like in my review of Stranger Things season 3 episode 7 is that I’ll never be able to watch it for the first time again.
I give “The Bite” an A+++