The Bathtub Recap: We get a sweet moment between Mike and Eleven, finding there are growing feelings there. Then comes Dustin to ruin their preteen romance in hilarious fashion. No time to laugh though as they hear Lucas frantic on the other end of the walkie talkie. They can’t figure out what he’s saying until they finally hear him say the bad men are coming. Out the window, Mike and Dustin see vans fast approaching. On their bikes they flee with Eleven and while we get some great action and tense moments, you can’t help but think that infamous sequence in E.T. when Eliot and his friends are riding their bikes to keep E.T. out of the hands of the government.
Then as they think they’ve escaped capture, another van turns the corner in front of them, blocking them off. Then Eleven makes their bikes fly over the van! Except she doesn’t! No, instead we get our expectations subverted and Eleven launches the van over them, making it land upside down on the street to block off the pursing vans. Another great iconic moment from this show!
The boys and Eleven get to the junkyard and hide out. Lucas joins up and apologizes to Eleven. Friends again! As helicopters fly overhead, Lucas tells them what he saw at the Lab and they determine the gateway to the Upside Down must be there.
Hopper and Joyce show up to the police station to get Jonathan, learn from the bully whose arm was broken that Eleven is with Nancy’s brother and the group comes together. Jonathan and Nancy explain why they have the monster hunting gear. They all go to the Wheelers, see the Hawkins Lab folks there and then go to the Byers house to locate the boys, grabbing Will’s walkie talkie and reaching out.
We get a good moment of Stevo tired of his goober friends, ditch them, and go to the theater to help wash off the marquee. Good on you Stevo!
Nancy makes contact with Mike on the walkies and after some back and forth, Hopper does enough to convince them to tell him where they’re at. Somehow, Labbies show up with tranquilizer guns and just as they are about to find the boys and Eleven hiding out in a bus, the Unstoppable Hopper shows up with his fists of fury!
Everyone’s finally together (whew! It’s taken awhile) at the Byers house and after they catch each other up, Eleven tries making contact with Will or Barb in the Upside Down. It doesn’t work and she eventually realizes she needs more than a walkie talkie. She needs water.
Dustin comes through again when he calls Mr. Clarke, who is on a date watching John Carpenter’s The Thing (another 80s horror/sci-fi classic!), and asks about sensory deprivation. Getting the details, they all head to the middle school to set up a kiddie pool and fill it with 15,000 lbs of salt. Yay science!
Eleven goes in the water, floating and entering the blackness. There, she finds Barb’s body and then finds Will hiding in his fort in the Upside Down. After she returns from the blackness, Hop has a plan to enter the Upside Down to find Will. Joyce goes with him where they get instantly caught by the Hawkins Lab security after getting onto the grounds. Meanwhile, Nancy is saddened by Barb’s death and tells Jonathan she wants to finish what they started and kill the Monster.
The boys and Eleven hang out at the school and before the episode is over, we see Will in his fort and hear the Monster close by before the wall explodes and we’re left wondering what happens.
Reaction: Another solid episode that really rides the emotion of our main characters all finally coming together. The van launch by Eleven in the beginning is definitely a high point. We want to see our “heroes” succeed and find Will. Barb’s death is one of those series deaths that bummed out a lot of watchers. She seemed to have become an instant favorite despite not being in the show very much.
80s Refs: E.T., The Thing