(Spoiler alert…this blog reveals the plot of the hit Netflix series, Stranger Things. Stop now if you want to wait and experience the beauty of that show yourself without knowing the end.)
re·demp·tion (rəˈdem(p)SH(ə)n/) n. the action of saving or being saved from sin, error, or evil; “God’s plans for the redemption of his world”; the action of regaining or gaining possession of something in exchange for payment, or clearing a debt; retrieval, recovery, reclamation, repossession
In the last blog I spelled out the Stranger Things story-line and began to lay out the conflict growing for Hopper, local police chief and inebriate. And now we get to the moment of redemption.
In addition to his personal demons, Hopper has to contend with Will’s mother, Joyce. She is a panicked parent out of control as she attempts to save her son. Joyce is, ironically, an old fling of Hopper’s from the idyllic days of high school. He cares deeply for her, and sees himself in Joyce’s predicament. Deep down he wants neither Will to die, Joyce’s life to fall apart, or his own loss of a child and destroyed life to go unanswered, without meaning.
Hopper’s eventual rescue of Will is quite moving, and our first example of redemption in Stranger Things. He and Joyce, in hazmat suits, enter another time-space vortex called the Upside Down. This dark and sordid world is steamy, full of cobwebs and cocoon-like growths that consume buildings and people. As Hopper flashes back to his terminal daughter in a hospital bed with a breathing tube coming out of her mouth, he jumps into action to save Will. He dramatically pulls a four foot slug out of Will’s mouth that is seeking to cocoon the boy. It is as if Hopper is pulling the breathing tube from his sick daughter hoping to find her lungs fill with air and she is well once again. Yet, it isn’t the deceased daughter he is saving, but his long time friend Joyce’s son.
Once fully removed, Hopper throws the serpent to the floor and blasts it with his gun. What better Biblical illusion than a serpent to explicate from the boy as the thing which keeps him from living? What Hopper couldn’t do to save his own daughter, he can do to save Will; and he does.
Hopper is the sanctifying Christ symbol in Stranger Things. He takes it upon himself to sacrifice his own well being and life to hunt Will down and then be that agent who brings Will life. The salvation Hopper affords Will is something Will couldn’t do on his own. Completely incapacitated by the evil in the Upside Down, Will is fully dependent upon another. Just as Christ finds us in our complete incapacitation under the weight of sin, our lungs fill with air and we begin to truly live at that moment of confession and justification.
More on redemption in Stranger Things the third and final blog…