A reflection on the value of life in Stranger Things S1E1

Contains spoilers

Image of Benny Hammond from https://strangerthings.fandom.com/wiki/Benny_Hammond
Image of Benny Hammond from https://strangerthings.fandom.com/wiki/Benny_Hammond

Last night I watched the first episode of Stranger Things. There was this moment where this woman pretends to be a social services worker, answering a call from a man who has found himself taking care of a girl who he thinks has run away from a hospital, who he thinks has been abused, who has only said one word (“eleven”). He didn’t expect social services to show up so late, so he welcomes her in but tells her he didn’t tell the child someone was coming yet, so he walks a bit ahead of her, wanting to get to the child first so he can explain what’s about to happen, so the child will be less afraid. The woman takes advantage of this gesture, this moment where the man is focusing his attention on the child, as she takes out a silenced pistol and shoots him in the back.

And the scene just moves on. No sad music, no one mourning the loss of this big, compassionate man who took this girl in. And I didn’t really even notice how devastating this was while watching. I just moved on too, thinking, okay, whatever, that’s how this show is going to be. People are expendable, apparently. But today, reflecting on the scene, I’m sad. I’m sad that it felt fairly normal, that I wasn’t that surprised that a script would just eliminate the most compassionate character in the episode without any fanfare.

And it makes me wonder, are there shows out there that do the opposite? Are there shows that magnify compassion, that celebrate it, that put the spotlight on small acts of tenderness? Because that’s what I want to watch.

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