We last left off with Hopper sneaking into the lab. Considering all the cameras they have set up, you would think that this would not have been so easy. When he breaches the biohazard area and runs across a locked door, this is when he is finally confronted by armed guards. After knocking one out and stealing a key from the other guard, he is able to enter into a forbidden part of the lab. Along the way he finds a child’s bedroom. Artwork on the wall reveals that the bedroom belonged to ‘Eleven’ before she ran away.
Meanwhile, we are brought back to the gang who’re now discussing Will being alive. This is the first time we are given a name for the alternative dimension – the ‘Upside Down’. ‘El’ had previously demonstrated this by flipping the Dungeons and Dragons board upside down to demonstrate where Will was and what was chasing him. Dustin’s explanation of the Vale of Shadows as a place of decay and death is given while we observe what Hopper is seeing as he ventures into a forbidden part of the lab where the creature has appeared from. Hopper encounters the lab that has been embraced and taken in by the Upside Down dimension; the lighting is dark, giving off a greenish tint. He comes across the strange tree that we’ve seen in the lab in a couple of episodes. When he hears something skitter across, he turns around and is incapacitated by by scientists in hazmat suits.
We are then brought Joyce’s house. Lonny, Joyce’s ex, re-enters her life and tells her she needs help. He’s decided to come in and take charge and starts ordering Jonathan around. He is quick to dismiss Joyce as crazy. However, given the state he finds her in, it’s not too hard to dismiss her. He proclaims that everything will be alright now that he’s back but, given what we’ve seen in flashbacks and through dialogue, I don’t think that will be the case.
The day of Will’s funeral we see everyone getting ready. Joyce has the strongest, most apparent reaction, appearing as if she is in a state of shock. All throughout the funeral, we see her stare off as if she’s mentally shut down. As Lonny talks to people and receives condolences, she is left to the side with people purposely walking around her as if to avoid her. We are taken into a memory of her spending time with Will while she’s doing the dish. He’s drawing a picture of his character ‘Will the Wise’. She wonders why a wise man would need to shoot fireballs and he explains that sometimes the bad guys are smarter, thus needing weapons to defend themselves. This feels too obvious to be foreshadowing, but I can’t help but not shrug it off.
Meanwhile, Hopper wakes up suddenly to find himself back in his home surrounded by drugs and alcohol. After checking himself out in the mirror, he starts checking around his house for anything indicating a government presence in his home. He tears apart his house, at one point literally ripping fabric, and finds a bug in one of his ceiling lights. His concerns are justified since it appears that this government facility has the whole town bugged. Dr. Brenner makes a brief appearance in order to listen to the conversation Will had with his mother and the one that was overheard by the gang when ‘Eleven’ made the connection with Will in the ‘Upside Down’. This is how he discovers where ‘Eleven’ is located.
Jonathan and Nancy meet up together after the funeral to discuss the creature. We learn some information about how far the creature’s reach is. Jonathan has mapped out the sightings of where the creature has been found. They realize that it has only really traveled within a mile’s radius, indicating to us that it has a limited scope of travel between the ‘Upside Down’ and the real world. We are given even more insight into how the creature can possibly cross dimensions when our favorite boy gang ask their science teacher questions about how one would travel through dimensions. The teacher, bless his heart, gives a rather earnest explanation using an analogy (the acrobat and the flea) to show how it’s possible to find loop holes around the rules that govern each dimension. With this information, the gang start devising plans to go rescue Will.
While our boys are plotting, we are brought back to Lonnie repairing Joyce’s home from her anxiety ridden destruction. While he’s repairing it, his true motivation for why he’s there starts coming out. Given the sue-happy society that we live in, it was pretty obvious what he was going for when he started talking about making the quarry owners pay for their son’s “death”. Thank goodness Joyce picks up on this bs quickly and promptly kicks him out despite his hemming and hawing. Good for you, Joyce. Further into the show Hopper comes and visits her, carrying a sign that blatantly states, “Don’t Say Anything”. After promptly checking the house for bugs, he confirms what Joyce already knew. Will is out there and he is alive.
Back with the boys, Dustin has figured out that something is going wibbly wobbly with their compasses. They determine that the compasses can direct them to where the gate to the ‘Upside Down’ is and, despite how anxious ‘Eleven’ is, they all venture out. It doesn’t take long for them to figure out that something is not right, especially after Dustin points out the setting sun. ‘Eleven’ has been manipulating the magnetic distortion around the compasses this entire time, claiming that it is not safe for them to find the gate. Lucas realizes this and starts going off on her. Mike and Lucas start duking it out until ‘Eleven’, overwhelmed with fear and emotion, uses her powers to knock Lucas back and knock him unconscious.
This high emotional state and the mentioning of this whole thing being her fault triggers a flashback. We see her submerged in a water tank in order to locate a Russian man for Dr. Brenner. While in there she hears a growling, which may be linked to the monster that’s wrecking havoc in the show. We see her running away, begging for help. After the flashback, we see that she has vanished from the boys.
Meanwhile, Jonathan and Nancy are hunting down the monster. Personally, I think this is the most stupid part of the show’s plot so far. After a brief argument, they run across a dying deer that has been hit by a car. Just as they are about to shoot it and put it out of its misery, it’s dragged back by the monster. They freak out and try to follow where they think the monster has gone. At first, it seems hopeless until Nancy finds a gooey tree trunk. She proceeds to climb in and walk into the ‘Upside Down’. It doesn’t take her long to find the monster nomming on the deer and, in one of the most cliched moments of all monster films ever, she alerts it to her presence by snapping a tree branch. The episode ends with Jonathan hearing her screams and not being able to find her while we are given a shot of the tree trunk slowly closing up.
GENERAL MUSINGS AND THOUGHTS
- Is anyone else not caring about the whole Nancy/Jonathan subplot? Because it’s my least favorite pairing and subplot right now.
- (Lonnie reveals his motivation) BITCH, I KNEW IT!
- I really like how much the science teacher treats the trio like adults. He doesn’t humor them or talk down to them. Sir, you get major good teacher points!
- Yep…Nancy and Jonathan are cliches. The weakness of the writing for them is very apparent in this episode.
- It’s easy to yell at Nancy for going into that tree, but…wouldn’t you do the same thing? I know I would. This is why natural selection will do me in one day…Here’s looking at you, Australia.
- Ooo…the monster’s mouth is so pretty. Also, YAY!!! WE FINALLY GET TO SEE ITS FRICKIN’ FACE!