Cold Open: Joyce is trying to find Will who is busy getting possessed by black smoke “Supernatural” style. The Smoke Monster fully enters Will and he becomes…. YES—
E-Will. —You’re Welcome, America.
Analysis: The smoke monster is everything that is wrong with Season 2. Season 1: the big bad was a predator- corporeal, eating, breathing, and reproducing. This season: it’s a smoke monster- ethereal and spooky, essentially an evil spirit. Evil spirits are fictional and it destroys the idea of the Upside Down. The Upside Down is a PARALLEL universe: what is here is there, but different because it evolved without the sun. There aren’t spirits here running about, so there shouldn’t be spirits there running about. That’s why season 2 fails! The creators undermined their own mythology for the sake of creative expedience and it drains the scares right out of us.
Joyce tries to wake Will, but he can’t remember what happened because E-Will is being all E-Will.
Hop sees El and is justifiably pissed, but imprisoning a teenager is just not a workable solution. Hop tries to ground El and it goes…about as well as can be expected with a teenager with terrible super powers. She hits Hop with a book, throws furniture around, and blows the windows out. They’re also a lot alike; they both react without thinking.
Hop, you’re not the best Dad. You take crazy risks without the slightest concern whether or not you will come home to your ward. Grow up!
Nancy easily lies to the now placeholder Cara Buono that she’s staying at Stacy’s…. and it works. UGHHH. It’s actually a plot to catch the lab guys red handed and give the data to the Crank from episode 1. She and Creeper are faux-waiting for Barb’s mom and then get “captured” by the government guys. It’s legit 1980s creepy and one of the few good scenes of the episode.
Joyce is trying to nurse E-Will back to health. His temperature is below normal and she tries to give him a bath. Joyce you should really read- Chicken Soup for the Demonic Soul.
We get a very hamfisted clue as to how to defeat the smoke monster: E-Will is scared of the bath water. Side note: there is a cool juxtaposition with Mr. Clarke describing fear responses in organisms.
Hop is with Joyce and Will and trying to get him to describe his E-Willness and he can’t unless he uses …..crayons? Will, I get it- you’re the artsy one of this D&D tribe, but as Daniel Tiger tries to instruct my girls- Use your words…. Use your words. There we go. Will uses drawing to craft what is revealed to be a network of vines. Joyce uses the drawings as her latest Crazy Home Journal interior decorating and puts them up everywhere.
We return to El cleaning up the house and finding The Trapdoor of Contrivance. We see a box labeled Vietnam. So, Hop is a Vet, not a surprise. El discovers the evil lab box and finds stuff on her mom. El uses her mojo to go to the imbetween and make contact with her. El’s quest begins to find her mom.
Hop reveals that he might be the worst Dad/Cop ever and realizes E-Will’s drawings are vines and he takes E-Will’s statement that they are killing to be literal and rushes off without consulting anyone about his plans or whereabouts or any backup whatsoever civilian or otherwise. Hop, how did you get through Vietnam or even your teen years?!
Dylan looks for his “pet”. His poor mom is a fright looking for their cat. Dylan finds Dart eating Mr. Snuggles or whatever he’s called.
Hop digs down into the pumpkin patch and enters a tunnel of Upside Down and for hamfistedness the camera rotates making him upside down on the screen.
NOTE: smoke from Supernatural and this show below….