Why Dustin and Steve Make the Best Double Act in ‘Stranger Things 2’

Kim Taylor-Foster
Horror Stranger Things
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If Stranger Things Season 1 focused on the antics of, and dynamic between, a core group of four (Mike, Dustin, Lucas and Eleven) with other characters on the sidelines, Season 2 switches its gaze. Season 2 is all about pairing characters off, sending them on their own adventures and exploring relationships in more depth.

The most entertaining of all of these has to be Dustin and Steve. We’re only sorry it took the best part of five episodes for them to pair up. Still, it was worth the wait — and here’s why.

Switch of Power

When you pair a high schooler with a middle schooler, you’d ordinarily expect the senior to be in charge. But the dynamic shifts in the coupling of Dustin and Steve, to put the curly-headed, smart-mouthed younger of the duo firmly in control from the moment they’re thrown together.

This is hilarious partly because Steve started off in Season 1 as Mr. Popular in school, very much in charge and a person that automatically commands respect because of his status. Dustin, however, is the nerdy outcast who is bullied and laughed at, and who can’t get girls to like him.

When Dustin can’t get hold of Lucas, and is given short shrift by Lucas’s sassy sister Erica, he heads to the Wheelers’ house to knock for Mike. He even asks for Nancy. But neither of them are home — they’re both off following their own leads, trying to deal with whatever’s going down in Hawkins.

As Steve pulls up in his car armed with a bunch of roses meant for Nancy, Dustin calls on Steve to help him out with Dart. The slug-like lizard he adopted has transformed into a troublesome fledgling Demogorgon and he needs some assistance. Steve just happens to be in the right place at the right time as far as Dustin’s concerned. He’d far rather it was someone else but this is a two-man job and beggars can’t be choosers.

Stranger Things 2 Dustin Steve
Steve with his nail-studded baseball bat.

“We have bigger problems than your love life,” Dustin precociously tells Steve as he makes a beeline for Steve’s car and lets himself in.

“Do you still have that bat?” Dustin demands.

“Bat? What bat?” asks Steve, confused.

“The one with the nails?”

“Why?”

“I’ll explain it on the way.”

“Now?”

“Now!” Dustin is annoyed at the questioning and delay and responds with a do-what-I-say tone. Steve doesn’t argue.

Stranger Things 2
Steve rides around with his bat in the car, it seems.

Steve’s Words of Wisdom

Soon after, in episode 6, Steve snatches back the grown-up role as he investigates the cellar Dustin has locked Dart in. Dustin offers to stay up top “in case he tries to escape” and Steve sighs — before going in. Taking on the responsible role allows him, and the series, to re-establish his more advanced levels of maturity, and play with the power balance before digging out a mutual respect.

So, let’s not lose sight of the fact that Steve is more experienced. He knows — or at least thinks he knows — more about life than Dustin and is ready to impart his wisdom when it comes to the likes of appearance and girls. The two are, of course, linked and Steve likes to think he’s a master of both.

As the two are laying their trap for the baby Demogorgon, Steve is getting to the bottom of how Dustin came to have the creature in his possession in the first place. Turns out Dustin had kept it to impress new girl Max. Steve tells Dustin he’s trying way too hard.

“Not everyone can have your perfect hair, all right?” argues Dustin.

“It’s not about the hair, man. The key with girls is acting like you don’t care,” advises Steve.

“Even if you do?”

“Yeah, exactly. It drives them nuts.”

“Then what?”

“You just wait until… uh… until you feel it.”

“Feel it?”

“It’s like before it’s gonna storm, you know? You can’t see it, but you can feel it like this uh… electricity.”

“You mean like the electromagnetic field when the clouds in the atmosphere…?”

“No, no, no, no, no. Like a sexual electricity. You feel that and then you make your move.”

“So that’s when you kiss her?”

“No, whoa, whoa. Slow down, Romeo. Sure, okay, some girls, yeah, they want you to be aggressive. You know, strong, hot and heavy. Like a… I don’t know… like a lion. But others, you gotta be slow, you gotta be stealthy, like a ninja.”

Whatever you may think of Steve’s misguided advice, he then warns Dustin against falling in love with Max, which is extremely sweet: “Don’t,” he says. “She’s only gonna break your heart and you’re way to young for that s—t.”

He goes on to tell Dustin how to improve his look, sharing his own hair styling tips and encouraging Dustin to copy.

“Fabergé,” he reveals. “It’s Fabergé Organics.” He points to his hair. Don’t forget he’s wearing yellow rubber gloves and carrying a bucket of meat at this point.

“Use the shampoo and conditioner, and when your hair’s damp… it’s not wet okay? When it’s damp…”

“Damp,” echoes Dustin, taking it all in.

“…you do four puffs of the Farrah Fawcett spray.”

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That hair, though.

Dustin Makes Steve Drops His Guard

The touching conversation between Dustin and Steve about girls and hair is evidence of the bond they’ve developed. But Steve’s tough persona returns as soon as he’s in the vicinity of Dustin’s friend Lucas, and their new ally Max.

Clanging a piece of scrap metal against an abandoned car Lucas and Dustin are crouched next to, Steve says: “Hey, d—ckheads. How come the only one helping me out is this random girl? We lose light in 40 minutes, let’s go.”

Coming soon after the heartwarming episode above, in juxtaposition this scene highlights the super-sweet bond that’s grown in one-to-one situations between Steve and Dustin.

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Aw, these two.

They’re Comedy Gold

When Dustin wants to preserve the dead Demo-dog by putting it in the fridge, he calls on Steve to help him out. It falls to Steve to do the dirty work, again: putting the lifeless corpse in Mrs Byers’s appliance.

“Is this really necessary?” asks Steve, cradling the Demo-dog’s body wrapped in a blanket, its extremities sticking out at either end.

“Yes it is, okay?” responds Dustin curtly. “This is a groundbreaking scientific discovery. We can’t just bury it like some common mammal, okay? It’s not a dog.”

“All right, all right, all right,” concedes Steve. “But you’re explaining this to Mrs Byers, all right?” He crudely stuffs the creature into the fridge and they both slam the door.

Dustin Channels Steve at the Snow Ball

As he gets ready for the party of his life, Dustin heeds Steve’s advice and goes to town on his appearance, turning himself into a Steve ‘Mini-Me’. It’s at this point that we KNOW Dustin looks up to his new comrade. If we didn’t already from the “he’s awesome” comment he makes when Steve steps outside their barricade in episode 6 to confront the Demogorgon, that is.

And what’s even more adorable is that it’s Steve that gives him a ride to the ball. Before Dustin goes in, THIS CONVERSATION HAPPENS:

“So, remember, once you get in there…” begins Steve.

“Pretend like I don’t care,” finishes Dustin.

“You don’t care.”

“I don’t care.”

“There you go. You’re learning, my friend. You’re learning.”

Steve reassures him. “You look great, okay? You look great. Now you’re gonna go in there, look like a million bucks, and you’re gonna slay ‘em dead.”

“Like a lion,” says Dustin, recalling their conversation from earlier in the season before doing his characteristic purr. Steve tells him not to do that, then wishes him luck as he goes into the dance.

Let’s hope Season 3 brings us more of this partnership because we can’t get enough of Dustin and Steve.

Kim Taylor-Foster
Kim Taylor-Foster is Entertainment Editor for Fandom in the UK. She was raised on an unsteady diet of video nasties and violent action flicks.
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