I will be honest- this is not my favorite episode in the series. We don’t see the monster until the last act and it’s more like a setup for episode 3. However, it should be noted that a B-rating for Stranger Things is like an A-rating for any other show.
The cold open begins with a still soaking wet El on Mike’s basement couch. The boys aren’t sure what to do with El. Then again, given the boys we’re talking about, it’s pretty clear that they wouldn’t know what to do with any girl. There’s a very good showing not telling moment in this scene: Mike offers El some clothes and she attempts to disrobe in front of all of them, revealing her lack of any socialization. Lucas continues to emote that this is total bullshit. SIDE NOTE: I feel pretty bad for Lucas; he’s the only one of the group that wants to live in Rationality Land. Every minute Lucas spends with his friends he must think: “I live in the f#cking suburbs and THESE are my friends?! FML!!!” El again shows her tattoo as her name, which gives me the worst creeps every time as it is so tied to the holocaust and how El was indubitably thought of and treated by Evil Modine.
Joyce is going slowly crazy in her casa of poverty. Hop arrives and notices immediately the burn marks on her phone. He’s been up all night looking for a son whose discovery would, in some small way, relieve the pang he feels for his daughter’s death. Joyce insists that Will called her. Hop doesn’t believe her because she only heard breathing. Hop remains unconvinced, causing Joyce to lash out – “Don’t you think I’d know my son’s breathing, wouldn’t you know your daughter’s?!” In this moment, we watch Hop’s heart die a little. Creeper goes up to Hop outside because he wants to question his dad with Hop. With a not so soft punch to the chest, Hop refuses him.
Back at Mike’s house of psychics and valedictorians who are aroused by bathrooms, Mike is trying to explain how he will reveal her to his parents. He explains what he believes is the clear path forward, but El listens politely and says – NO. She makes a finger gun maneuver to show that if he tells, they all will die.
We cut to Evil Modine; he learns that the Monster is in Hawkins. His lack of emotion is chilling. I wonder what GS Level sociopaths achieve in the Federal Government? Do they start out as an 11 or just go straight to 14?
Cut to Hawkins High School, where Nancy continues to be a Toxic Friend to Barb. Then, Barb gets shit on by everyone nearby. Poor Barb. Steve and his henchmen plan a pool party where Barb gets to be both a driver for Nancy and a fifth wheel. Nancy, you really suck. The cool kids see Will’s brother Creeper hang up missing poster creepily. Nancy tries to console him before it gets all awkward and stuff. Then, Creeper leaves and goes on a roadtrip to see his shitbag father.
We cut to Lucas getting further exasperated by his friends who want to harbor a whacko. Lucas must be downing two pepto bismol bottles a day at this point!
Creeper drives to his Dad’s place and flashes to a time he listened to The Clash with Will.
Joyce goes to work. This is where we meet Donald. Donald is a Huge Dick. Joyce needs an advance, a phone, and some smokes. He parts with the needed requests like Joyce is a heroin addict trying to steal from the till. Before we hate on Donald too much, last night his wife told me to say hi to everyone- Take that Donald!!!
Evil modine and his henchmen go to Will’s house and find oozey monster stuff in the shed where Will was taken.
We cut to Mike’s house. Mike is playing hookey and managing to bore to death a girl who has been a putative prisoner for her entire life. Mike …. Buddy, I get that long-planned D&D scenarios and AV Club membership hasn’t adequately prepared you to talk to girls, but there are some opportunities for growth here. Face it, if a girl who’s only been around Evil Modine is bored by you, maybe you should reflect a little on your life-choices and hobbies? Just saying. El ignores Mike’s blabbering and walks like “Lamb” in the film “Witness” to point to Will. Mike realizes that she has seen Will and might know where he is. The scene in Witness:
Witness– Great Film, see it! Mike’s mom comes up to check on him. Mike needs to hide El from his Mom and puts El in a closet, causing a horrific flashback where she was tortured by being put in isolation by Evil Modine whom she called Papa – Evil Modine, you suck. After this scene, it should be clear to everyone that Stranger Things is as much like E.T. as Hostel is to Rick Steve’s Europe on PBS.
We cut to Hop who is called to the Diner where he finds Burly Diner owner is dead. We also find out that he was Hop’s friend. Poor Hop.
Creeper arrives at House of Shitbag Dad. Shitbag Dad is everything you’d expect: he has a floosy strung out girlfriend, a washed out face, blames everyone else for his misfortune, and judges everyone because they aren’t “Real”. Will’s not there either.
We return to Mike’s bedroom. The guys are all there and arguing over what to do about El. Lucas is ignored … again for trying to speak some reason to his idiot friends. Lucas is about to tell the grownups everything and opens Mike’s bedroom. Bad idea- El puts on her serious face and uses her Carrie/Akira powers and slams it shut, not once, but twice. El’s nose is bleeding from her Carrie/Akira mojo exertion. Poor Lucas.
Hop interviews a local who was close to the Late Burly Diner Owner. The Local remembers a kid with a crewcut, giving Hop a glimmer of hope. Another search party has slight success because the Sheriff is guided by Mr. Clark to a shred of clothing, which they believe is Will’s. The camera pulls to a great shot of the evil government building angled up to give it a look of …. you guessed it- an evil castle. BOOM!
We go the House of Steve. He chugs a beer and it really arouses Nancy. But how? There’s not a single toilet outside!!!
Hop is now at home in bed next to a random lady. He goes out into the cold and reflects on how his life and town have gone to total shit. Poor Hop.
We’re back to Mike’s house where El takes the boys to the tabletop board and turns it over to the black side of the board to convey that this is where Will is. He is in the black, but he’s not alone. She takes out the Demagorgon action figure and puts it next to Will. Poor Will.
Creeper is out in the woods looking around. He hears a scream. Creeper investigates and discovers that teenagers are having a pool party. Creeper does the natural thing and furtively takes secret candids of Steve, Nancy, Barb, and the rest. We can only hope Creeper kept his pants on the entire time. I’m certain Creeper’s conduct will get you the Death Penalty in Indiana. In the future, Creeper changes his name to Mike Pence and pursued a career in politics. Barb tries to fit in by shotgunning a beer and cuts herself. Poor Barb; Creeper takes photos of that too.
Back to Joyce’s house. Joyce gets a call and it burns through the phone again- Donald is going to have a shit! The lights flicker and The Clash comes on – Good Cuckoo Clock moment!!! Cuckoo clock- if you’re going to mention something unique in a story, it needs to payoff or have meaning later in the narrative that moves the story forward. The lights begin to flash on and off and she feels the presence of her lost son, but another presence manifests – an evil one- and it nearly pushes through his bedroom wall like a stretching condom.
Back to Steve’s house. Everyone except for Barb ends up jumping into a pool to lame 80s generic rock. Barb gets ditched by Nancy so that she can can have relations with Steve. Creeper takes more pictures, including one of Nancy undressing. You just know that Creeper will end up being arrested on a Japanese Subway one day. Creeper takes some more photos of Barb sitting on a diving board. He’s out of film and must wind the camera with his full attention, thereby, missing a greatest scene of the episode. Barb’s wound drips blood in the water. Yes, blood! We see a brief shot of the Monster’s evil face before it takes her into the abyss.
Remember, you read it here first! The monster hunts at night, for blood, and takes his victims back to his lair like a …… you guessed it – A Vampire!!!
The episode concludes with Barb getting rescued and Nancy getting chlamydia. No such luck. Poor Barb is gone into the Monster Zone and Nancy is having fun.
Thanks again, Gentle Reader. If you liked this review, please like it, retweet it, and tell Lisa Bowman!