What about Bob?
That’s what “Stranger Things” fans should be asking after watching Season 2 of the Netflix show, but not just because of Bob Newby’s (Sean Astin) final big scene.
It turns out that examining Bob’s actions could be the opening into the world of the Upside Down that fans have been searching for.
(Warning! “Stranger Things” Season 2 spoilers below!)
In an interview ahead of the latest season’s release, Astin told HuffPost he just wanted his character to do “something heroic, no matter what it is.”
Throughout Season 2, Bob accomplished that goal multiple times over. He was the one who figured out that the strange images Will Byers (Noah Schnapp) was drawing actually formed a map of Hawkins, Indiana. Later, he essentially sacrificed himself in order to turn on the power and unlock the doors at Hawkins Lab, allowing his friends to escape the Demogorgon-like creatures known as demodogs. (Bob wasn’t so lucky.)
“Even helping figure out the map, that was enough. But then getting to do that [death scene] was so satisfying,” the actor said.
However, the character’s most heroic contribution might still be forthcoming. It seems his scenes might have slyly hinted at the key to defeating the monsters in the Upside Down: water.
In “Stranger Things” Season 2, we get multiple hints that the monsters from the Upside Down hate water. And it’s all thanks to Bob.
When he’s working out the map at the Byers’ house, Bob “the Brain” cracks the case by noting that the Upside Down’s tunnels “don’t go over water.”
Later, after Bob heads to the basement and restores the power to Hawkins Lab, Dr. Owens (Paul Reiser) notices a demodog in the stairwell on the security cameras. Bob turns on the sprinkler system, and the demodog runs away. Easy peasy.
Bob’s scenes also put other parts of the show in new light.
During one moment in Season 2, Will doesn’t want to get in a bathtub of warm water after being possessed by the Mind Flayer.
“He likes it cold,” Will says, all weird and freaky-like. While his comment might just be referring to the monster’s affinity for cold temperatures, Bob’s water-related moments suggest the monster might also be resisting the tub regardless of the heat.
Then, of course, there’s Barb’s (Shannon Purser) death scene in Season 1.
In the human world, the pool at Steve Harrington’s (Joe Keery) house is full of high-quality H2O. But when Barb goes to the Upside Down, it’s empty. It’s a detail that can easily be forgotten unless you consider what we eventually learn in Season 2.
We asked Astin about this water theory, and he proposed that Bob wouldn’t know much about it either way.
“One of the things that Bob doesn’t get to do is really experience the Upside Down. He doesn’t meet Eleven ... He doesn’t really know even in his death. He doesn’t know in the amount of time between learning about this other world and being chased down the hallway by these demodogs,” he said.
The actor claims he’s unsure whether water has a “supernatural effect” on the monsters, but Astin did bring up that his own dogs and cats react at the mere sight of a spray bottle, even though they’ve barely ever been sprayed with water.
“I don’t know if there’s anything story-wise, or within the sense of the world — that it melts them, or it’s like a vampire with sacred water on it or something ... I think for Bob in that moment, it’s like, ‘Oh, watch me freak the dogs out.’” he said.
Sure, Bob could’ve just been treating the monsters as dogs — dogs that don’t like getting sprayed with water — even though he wasn’t around when Dustin (Gaten Matarazzo) coined the phrase “demodogs.” But the evidence for water is there.
BuzzFeed asked creators Matt and Ross Duffer about the impact of water on the monsters. They said they “talked about water,” but didn’t get into the theory, adding that it was a “cool idea.”
Their vague answer is reminiscent of the time HuffPost asked the Duffers about a pre-Season 2 theory that the monster represented the Upside Down taking over the human world. When asked about the theory, the Duffer brothers said it “sound[ed] interesting.”
It turned out to be 100 percent correct.
If you dig even deeper, there may be a precedent for water having an effect on the creatures. The Duffer brothers draw a lot of from their creative forefathers, such as Stephen King, Steven Spielberg and, perhaps, M. Night Shyamalan.
Allow us to explain: Shyamalan helped jump-start the Duffers’ careers by bringing them on to work on the show “Wayward Pines.” Water plays a pivotal role in Shyamalan’s movie, “Signs,” being the weapon used to defeat the film’s alien/demon monsters.
So using water as a method to defeat the Upside Down and its associated creatures could be a nod to Shyamalan.
What’s more, in “Signs,” Joaquin Phoenix’s character is also told to “swing away” as he hits cups of water at the monsters with a baseball bat. “Stranger Things” already has the bat. The next step in the “Signs” handbook is to just add water.
If the water theory turns out to be true, Bob should be memorialized for giving the town a chance to survive. (Water you waiting for, Hawkins?) Just don’t go around tweeting #JusticeForBob. Unlike Barb, Astin said his character got to have his moment in the sun.
“Bob is heroic. Poor Barb didn’t have a chance to acquit herself in any shape or form, whatever happens [in terms of hashtags] happens, and I’m fine with it, but I like #TeamBob.”
How about #BobNewbySuperhero?