The Upside Down Recap: We’ve come to the last episode finally! Joyce and Hopper find themselves separated and questioned by the Lab folks. Brenner does his best consolable routine and Joyce ain’t buying it. Meanwhile Hop is getting the less than cordial treatment and gets the business end of a tazer. Hop has a plan though. He makes a deal with Brenner and makes it so he and Joyce can go into the Upside Down to rescue Will. Brenner tells his people he doesn’t expect them to live and we find out Hop’s deal included telling the Labbies where Eleven is so long as the boys aren’t hurt (not cool, man). He’s putting a lot of trust in these people but I guess it makes sense so they can get to Will. Nancy and Jonathan are at the Byers house going full Monster hunting, rigging up traps and preparing for the encounter. This has shades of Nightmare on Elm Street again as the teens realize they have to pull Freddy Krueger (the Monster) into the real world to defeat him. While Joyce and Hopper are in the Upside Down, we get our best view of the alternate dimension of Hawkins. We also get flashbacks of Hop with his daughter, Sarah, and his ex-wife, finding that Sarah got sick unexpectedly and that has taken a traumatic toll on our cop Hop, making him the man he is today. Nancy and Jonathan draw blood to gain the Monster’s attention and guess who shows up? Stevo. Oh, Stevo, do you have the worst timing ever. He’s there to apologize to Jonathan for being a royal douche and is surprised to find Nancy there too. Stevo forces his way inside, totally confused and not sure what to make of what’s going on especially when Nancy pulls the gun on him, urging him to leave. The lights start going crazy and the Monster breaks through the wall. This is such a great sequence because we get Stevo’s freaking out while Nancy and Jonathan are keeping calm and trying to kill it so Hop and Joyce can navigate through the Upside Down without encountering the Monster.
The Monster leaves but not for long. Nancy tells Stevo to leave and he does but at his car, he hesitates. The Monster attacks again and pins Jonathan to the ground, getting a decent supply of Demagorgon saliva on him. But, we get a great surprise as Stevo returns grabbing a bat with nails pounded through the end. He swings away and this is when Stevo becomes Steve, redeeming himself completely (at least to me). The Monster ends up in the hallway, caught by the bear trap where gasoline has been poured. Jonathan throws in a lighter and the Monster gets roasted (or so we think).
While all this happening, the boys and Eleven are waiting in the middle school. Dustin continues his win streak, finding hoarded chocolate pudding (isn’t that always the case). Mike and Eleven share a kiss (awww) but the calm tender moment is short-lived when the Brenner and his cronies show up. Everything goes full red dawn and the kids are running for their lives.
Back to Joyce and Hop, they are on their way to the Byers house (Upside Down version) when they cross the path of some very ominous egg-like things that look as if something has hatched from them (yep, Aliens reference here. Thank God there are no facehuggers running around). They find Will’s fort empty and we get another Hopper flashback that shows us Sarah had cancer.
The Monster is injured from its confrontation with the teens and leaves a trail of blood. This leads to the middle school in the Upside Down where they find Will cocooned to a wall with something in his throat (gross). Hopper pulls it out and it looks like some kind of worm/snakelike creature (nope!). Between more flashbacks where Sarah is dying and attempting to being resuscitated by the doctors, Hopper is doing the same for Will. The whole sequence is intense but after Will breathes to life, we not only get the great reunion between Joyce and her son but there’s this triumph for Hopper, finding closure and not losing another mother’s child.
We’re not done yet though. Things intensify at the middle school as the Lab folks catch up with the kids. Eleven saves them by making many of the baddies die by brain scramble or something (they all bleed out of their eyes and noses). However, lights flicker and the Monster is drawn to the school. It shows up and attacks killing many of the remaining Lab folks, including Brenner. Eleven is extremely weak and the boys take her to a classroom. The Monster finds them and the boys do what they can as Lucas uses his wrist rocket (again, reminiscent of the Losers Club wounding Pennywise in Stephen King’s, novel, IT ). As it gets closer, one of Lucas’s shots sends the Monster flying back into the chalkboard. The boys are surprised and then realize Eleven made that happen.
She holds the Monster against the wall as it fights against her. She says goodbye to Mike and screams (which my guess is intensifies her telekinetic strength) before the Monster disintegrates into flecks and “ash”. However, Eleven disappears while this takes place and we are left to wonder what happened to her.
In closing, we get some resolution to the strange events in Hawkins. The boys are back to playing D&D, finishing a new campaign that may or may not hint at Season 2 happenings (remember the name Thessalhydra). Will returns to the normalcy of life as “the boy who lived” while Mike is sad, missing Eleven.
Hopper is a hero but it looks like he has dealings with the Lab, though we don’t know to what extent yet. He takes eggos into the woods, making us think Eleven may in fact be alive.
Steve buys Jonathan a new camera and has Nancy give it to him. It’s strange to see Nancy and Steve together again but we have to wonder if in the future things change. It’s hard to imagine Nancy and Jonathan not ending up together at some point.
Will is the boy who came back to life. But things are not as they seem. During a Christmas dinner, he goes to the bathroom to wash up and he coughs up smoe kind of slug-like thing into the sink and the environment around him flashes to the Upside Down, leaving us to wonder…
Things are in fact NOT back to normal…not at all. But we won’t find out anything until October 27th!!!
Reaction: Lots to say about this episode but I’ll keep it short and concise. Any time we get a final episode of a season, we know there are character resolution, answers provided, and possibly new questions offered. We get all of that in this episode. The biggest questions however are, I think, the most important things we’re left with. First, is Eleven alive? And second, what is happening to Will? The latter is key to the future of the story because the tear into the Upside Down has obvious affects on Will since he was exposed to it for so long. What does that mean for him? What does that mean for Hawkins?
80s Refs: Aliens, A Nightmare on Elm Street, D&D, IT
Call to Action: I hope you enjoyed this month of returning to Season 1 of Stranger Things. I enjoyed writing these posts a lot and hope my format was pleasing to readers. My CTA is to rest and get ready for season 2 which will be released on the 27th. I have a final thoughts post coming that day as well. Keep on the lookout!