Move aside, Steve Harrington. There’s a new hero in Hawkins.
*SPOILERS AHEAD* Seriously. If you haven’t seen the third season of Stranger Things, set aside the next eight hours to do so, bookmark this article, and come back later. Trust me.
If, like me, all you’ve been able to talk about since July 4 is Stranger Things 3, you’ll notice that most of your conversations revolve around a) character redemption arcs, b) Mind Flayers and c) new characters who steal the show (Robin and Erica, I’m looking at you).
But there’s something about binge-watching an entire season of a show you’ve waited two years for that makes you recognise elements you might’ve taken for granted before. Case in point: Mr Scott Clarke.
You know him as the Hawkins Middle School science teacher and head of the AV Club. He’s the go-to guy for our heroes from the first episode when he introduces them to the latest radio technology, which Eleven promptly destroys. He’s also the person who feeds Mike, Dustin and Lucas the knowledge they need to close the gate between our world and the terrifying alternate dimension to which El accidentally left the door open.
Which leads me to my argument: without Mr Clarke, the gate to the Upside Down would never have been closed. Without Mr Clarke, Stranger Things probably would’ve ended after one episode. If this teacher hadn’t gone above and beyond for his students, the show we know and love would’ve played out a lot differently. And for that, we owe Scott Clarke some long-overdue recognition.
Let’s go through this, shall we? In season one, when the boys have learned Will is stuck in an alternate dimension, Mr Clarke explains the concept of travelling between dimensions through the story of the flea and the acrobat. He says a huge amount of energy would be needed for this but theoretically, opening a door to another dimension is possible. Later, Mike, Dustin and Lucas use the same story to explain the Upside Down to Hopper, Joyce, Nancy and Jonathan.
Following the conversation, Eleven announces she’ll need a sensory deprivation tank in order to locate Will. The solution? Call Mr Clarke. On a Saturday night at 10pm, this under-appreciated science teacher abandoned his date to talk Dustin through a complicated theory with no idea his knowledge was about to save a life. He’s just that nice.
Not to mention that he joined in the search party for Will right away in the early part of the first season, and it was Mr Clarke who discovered the torn piece of hospital gown that became a crucial piece of evidence in Hopper’s investigation, eventually leading him to uncover the secrets of Hawkins Lab and Eleven. You know, no big deal.
Once Stranger Things moved into season two, the writers decided to give Mr Clarke a break for a while. He still hovered nearby, ready to help out at a moment’s notice with no idea these kids were actually using his explanations of scientific theories to fight monsters. But when the third season dropped, Mr Clarke was back in action. This time, it was Joyce who called him off the bench and into play.
When Joyce figured out something weird was happening because her magnets wouldn’t stay on the fridge (which is pretty amazing, by the way. Joyce Byers is also seriously underrated), she sought out a bunch of library books and the best science teacher Hawkins had to offer in an effort to get to the bottom of the demagnetised magnets. Mr Clarke appeared in the door of his garage like a true hero and proceeded to happily explain the finer points of an electro-magnetic field well into the night.
That information ended up playing a key role in Joyce and Hopper’s investigation, much like Mr Clarke’s advice on travelling to another dimension did way back in season one. This unassuming teacher has no idea what’s been going on in his town, yet he’s been solving its problems for three whole years. Without his knowledge, the Mind Flayer likely would’ve won. Instead, its defeat can be traced back to Hawkins Middle School of all places. All things considered, there is really just one conclusion to draw from this: Mr Clarke is a legend.
We may not know what dangers the kids will face in season four (because surely there’s going to be another season) but if the previous seasons have taught us anything, it’s that Hawkins would be nothing without Mr Clarke, the world’s greatest science teacher and the unsung hero of Stranger Things.
Stranger Things 3 is now streaming on Netflix.
Image via Netflix.