The first season of Stranger Things was a phenomenon, a comet streaking across the sky in the summer of 2016. There were memes and tributes and thinkpieces. As we zero in on the premiere of season two of the show, it makes sense to take a look back. And when we look back, we need to ask ourselves a pretty important question: Was Mr. Clarke, the boys’ helpful and extremely useful science teacher, one of the show’s heroes or just a completely irresponsible lunatic who lucked into a positive result? Let’s do that, shall we?
THE CASE FOR MR. CLARKE AS A HERO
The case for hero is pretty straightforward and rests upon three pillars.
Pillar One: It was his explanation of the flea and the acrobat that led the boys to the realization that the Upside Down could be reached by poking a hole between the two realities. He also hooked them up with the radio equipment that allowed them to make contact with Will using Eleven’s powers. And most importantly, it was his explanation of how to build a sensory deprivation tank that allowed the boys — with the help of Hopper and Joyce — to build a makeshift tank out of a kiddie pool and rock salt in the gymnasium so Eleven could break through to the Upside Down to find Will. Mr. Clarke didn’t technically realize this is what he was doing, but his vast knowledge of science things proved vital to the overall success of their plans, and without him Will would be dead with snakes infesting his body and the Demogorgon would probably still be snatching people today, in 2017.
Pillar Two: He is a supremely good dude who values learning and academic curiosity in a way you wish every teacher did, and he is always patient and helpful when his students have a question.Those are the kinds of qualities you hear repeated back to you when a Nobel-winning scientist is asked about a teacher that changed his or her life. Even if that was all we knew about him, even in a world before the experiments on Eleven ripped a hole between realities and unleashed a faceless bloodthirsty beast, you could make a reasonably sound argument that he’s a hero under the theory of “teachers are the real heroes.”
Pillar Three: He has a really tremendous mustache. Probably not as important as the first two pillars. But worth noting.