(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
And then there is the telekinetic Elle.
In my first two blog posts on the theme of redemption in the Netflix hit, Stranger Things, we saw how police chief, Jim Hopper, is the sanctifying agent who saves Will Byer’s life. Hopper destroys the serpent within Will, and in the process comes to terms with his inability to save his daughter from cancer many years before.
The telekinetic Elle serves as a second figure of redemption in Stranger Things. Elle is the curious result of a science experiment gone bad. She has a supernatural ability to channel electric currents. A number of times she uses this power to save her friends, a band of Goonies-like boys riding their bikes on a grand Spielbergian adventure. Yet, each time Elle taps this force she is weakened and her nose begins to bleed.
By the conclusion of the series the only way to save Will Byers, who is stuck in the Upside Down nether world beyond this time-space continuum, Elle must lie in a pool of water so that the electrical currents she channels go extra far and do extra damage (I know; it’s sci-fi people. As Wil Brown said to me, “I can’t do psychotic or demonic horror, but sci-fi horror is one step removed from belief so I can stand being scared.” My sentiments exactly.)
The corrupt government agents bear down on Dustin, Mike and Lucas. The boys and Elle also find themselves being tracked and chased by the ghoulish bear/wolf-monster-thing that inhabits the Upside Down world. Be devoured by a ghoulish bear/wolf-monster-thing (who screams annoying loud and annoyingly often) or be taken in by G-men and stored away in an underground bunker for the rest of your life? The children have some hard choices to make.
Eventually Elle and the boys run out of choices and the ghoulish bear/wolf-monster-thing has won. He moves into eat the yummy morsels before him when suddenly Elle becomes like the slain lamb of God, seen in the book of Revelation, for the sake of the boys. Elle takes one last, longing look towards Mike, the boy with whom she has come to trust and possibly love, and then Elle releases all the kinetic energy she has left in her waif-like body. The ghoulish bear/wolf-monster-thing is annihilated, but so too is Elle. Elle makes the ultimate sacrifice so that the boys can live; and live they do.
Jesus Christ makes the ultimate sacrifice on the cross for us, saving us from the pit of hell. Harsh word? Yes, harsh reality similar to the Upside Down. Aren’t we grateful for those that go before us fending off the forces that seek our end and demise?