Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

One of the most moving parts of Stranger Things 2 is hiding in plain sight

Photo: Netflix
Photo: Netflix

One of the most moving parts of the Stranger Things 2 (and that’s saying something, considering the season tugged mightily on the heartstrings) was the tender, yet strained, bond between Sheriff Jim Hopper (David Harbour) and Eleven (Millie Bobby Brown). More than just a surrogate father-daughter relationship, the union is colored by the loss of Hopper’s own daughter, who he mentions only in the most vulnerable of moments.

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Series creators the Duffer Brothers have clearly put a lot of nuance and care into building this dynamic, and a discovery from Reddit user keulenshwinger shows the extent of their subtlety.

It centers around a blue bracelet on Hopper’s wrist, which many users began noticing in season two of the series. Here’s a shot of it from episode six of the latest season.

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Screenshot: Netflix
Screenshot: Netflix

The thing is, it’s been there the whole time. More importantly, Harbour himself posited, it has a purpose. The actor told users on Twitter to go back to the first season with a keen eye.

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Chronologically, it begins with a blue band seen in his daughter Sara’s hair in a flashback of the season one finale.

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Screenshot: Netflix
Screenshot: Netflix

That band reappears later, when Hopper is visiting Sara in the hospital. Given that she’s lost all of her hair, however, Hopper wears the band on his right wrist.

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Screenshot: Netflix
Screenshot: Netflix

Ah, but that’s not the first we saw of the band. Let’s jump back to the first episode of the series and our very first glimpse of Hopper. Shirtless and blinking awake after a bender, there sits the band on the same wrist.

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Screenshot: Netflix
Screenshot: Netflix

In an especially subtle bit of business, you can see him purposefully fidgeting with it during an intense call with his ex-wife in episode five of the first season. Their split, it’s easy to infer, came in the wake of Sara’s death, so it’s natural she would be on his mind.

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Screenshot: Netflix
Screenshot: Netflix

So we know he wears it throughout the majority of season two based on the first photo above. When it reappears in the closing moments of the season, however, it’s not on his wrist.

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Screenshot: Netflix
Screenshot: Netflix

The Duffers gave us a scene where Hopper and Eleven reconciled after a seismic (and telekinetic) shouting match between the two. In it, Hopper even opens up about Sara. And though the Duffers could’ve easily shown us the moment when Hopper passed the band down to Eleven, there’s something much more satisfying about the strengthening of their bond manifesting with such subtlety.

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How many other shows about alternate dimensions and Dungeons & Dragons monsters operate with such emotional subtlety? Haters to the left.

Randall Colburn is The A.V. Club's Internet Culture Editor. He lives in Chicago, occasionally writes plays, and was a talking head in Best Worst Movie, the documentary about Troll 2.

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