We pick up right where the last episode left off with Jonathan looking for Nancy while she crawled into the Upside Down. Their calling out to each other, voices all weird and distant, while Nancy is hiding from the Monster. Just as Jonathan comes across the hole in the tree, Nancy’s hand bursts out for a pretty good jump scare that got me (I feel like I should have called out some of these jump scares in previous episodes. My bad).
Stevo and his gang of jerks are driving to Nancy’s house so he can see her but upon looking through her window, he sees Jonathan on the bed with her and jumps to conclusions. Nancy is definitely traumatized by the experience in the Upside Down and the Monster so she asks Jonathan to stay and we get some funny awkwardness between them (I seriously have to ask where her parents are at because this is twice that she’s had guys in her room at night).
In the morning, Jonathan wakes to find Nancy looking at a kids book of animals–predators to be exact. She tells him how she thinks the Monster has predatory tendencies and makes the connection between the it and being drawn by blood (we’ve known this since Barb was taken but the injured deer gives further proof).
Hopper shares his findings with Joyce and when he mentions the kid’s room in the Lab, Joyce asks if a drawing on the wall was “good” because we’ve seen in some flashbacks that Will’s got a decent artist’s touch. Hop eventually comes back to the story he read about Terry Ives (remember her?) and that she claimed to have had a daughter taken by Dr. Brenner. More investigative work and Hop gets an address. He and Joyce drive to Terry’s sister’s house to talk to Terry but find she is not all there after years of drug use. Some background information from her sister reveals that Terry was pregnant when she was a test subject for Brenner. We get a direct mention of Stephen King from Terry’s sister, which makes me think of Carrie or Firestarter, which are two stories about girls with telekinetic powers. They leave without much else to go on.
There’s a quick scene with Mr. Clarke being visited by the lady who killed Benny back in episode 1. Don’t worry. Our favorite science teacher is not harmed but we know the Hawkins Lab folks are on the trail of the boys and Eleven.
Dustin is the voice of reason, doing his best to bring peace between Mike and Lucas. As boys do, they fight and make up. At Lucas’s house, he listens to Mike and Dustin but he’s not willing to search for Eleven ahead of searching for Will. So while Dustin and Mike set out to find Eleven, Lucas goes on a solo mission, looking for the gateway to the Upside Down to find Will.
A flashback of Eleven going back into the sensory deprivation tank, assured by Brenner she can’t be hurt, is cut off when she wakes in the woods. She goes to a nearby grocery store, steals some eggos and causes a scene as the store manager tries to confront her.
Jonathan and Nancy are at a surplus store and buying all kinds of supplies including: gasoline, ammo, and a bear trap (all the things you need). They tell the clerk they are going monster hunting, which is such a good line and moment. As they’re leaving, someone drives by telling Nancy they can’t wait to catch the movie. Nancy rushes to the nearby theater and finds that someone spray painted her name and a less than cordial term. She finds the perpetrators, Stevo and his cronies, in an alley and confronts them. Jonathan shows up and eventually a fight between him and Stevo ensues. Jonathan is the clear winner and we get a great Karate Kid moment where one of Stevo’s friends tells Jonathan that Stevo’s “Had enough, man!” (Cobra Kai!) The cops show up and Jonathan and Nancy get taken to the police station.
This episode finishes strong. Lucas is off on his solo adventure only to come to the fence line of the Hawkins Lab where he sees military personnel on the facility grounds. Meanwhile, Mike and Dustin are on their bikes, come across the grocery store Eleven just made a scene at, and immediately figure she had something to do with the cops there. The mouth breathers (the bullies) show up and the boys are forced to run, eventually ending up at the quarry.
One of the bullies has a knife and catches up with Dustin (this reminds me of Henry Bowers in IT and the horrible act he commits against Ben). The bully tells Mike to jump off the ledge and into the quarry lake or he will hurt Dustin. Mike complies because he’s just a good friend. He jumps, shocking them all but when they rush to the ledge, they find Mike suspended in air. He rises up and we find that Eleven has come to save the day! She knocks one of the bullies over and breaks the arm of the knife wielding mouth breather (so satisfying…is that bad?).
As Mike, Dustin, and Eleven have themselves a group hug, she tells them she thinks she’s the Monster and we get a flashback where she finds the Monster in the blackness facing away from her. She approaches it from behind and eventually touches the Monster, drawing its attention to her. Everything in the lab goes crazy and we realize that this action caused the rent in reality. Her making contact opened the gateway in the lab basement! What?!?!
Reaction: A solid episode once again (I don’t think there’s one that’s not necessarily fast moving, progressing the story). I remember the revelation of Eleven’s touching the Monster in the blackness causing the gateway to be very satisfying. I just liked that it was that simple. Brenner was playing with fire and brought this phenomenon to the real world. It’s a solid story plot element that doesn’t “reach” and the fact that Eleven thinks she’s the monster is heartbreaking and a great character moment for depth.
80s Refs: Carrie, Firestarter, Karate Kid.
Call to Action: Just because, go back and watch Karate Kid. Such a classic. Sweep the leg!