Unlike a lot of shows, Stranger Things: Season 2 ends with giving you something to get hyped about, a bit of fan service, and presenting a calm before the storm.
Previous Recap: Episode 8 “The Mind Flayer”
|Director(s)||The Duffer Brothers|
|Writer(s)||The Duffer Brothers|
The Bench Players: Steve, Mike, Lucas, Dustin, Max, Billy
As everyone else is really putting in work to stop all the madness, Steve, Mike, Lucas, Dustin, and Max find themselves benched. Which especially sucks for Mike since he just saw Eleven and off she goes again. Possibly forever while Mike is stuck at Will’s house.
Nah, it isn’t going down like that. The kids plan on taking action and going to the center of all the tunnels and setting a fire. Which gets slowed down by two things: The first being Steve not going for it and then Billy showing up. Someone who Steve tries to handle but, as seen in season 1, Steve can’t take a punch. So he gets knocked out and Max, using some leftover knock out drug, handles Billy. In fact, she talks to him the same way Neil talks to Billy to get her point across. He will not be messing with her or her friends again. A threat that needed to be done because he almost beat the hell out of Lucas.
So, with Steve knocked out and Billy, Max takes Billy’s keys and they are off! With Steve only coming because Dustin insisted. But, in the long run, he turned out useful. For after setting fire to the center of the tunnel, helping out Eleven and Hopper temporarily, Steve expedited getting nearly everyone out. Leaving just him and Dustin.
Pushing the idea Steve may end up like Bob and die a hero but, luckily for them, as Eleven was closing the gate, that is all the Demo-dogs cared about. Not these two quick snacks but this girl closing the gate and trapping their hive master. Also threatening their life since, as we learn, it seems once cut off from the hive master, the Demo-Dogs drop like flies – Dart too.
The Exorcism of Will Byers & Closing of the Gate: Will, Joyce, Jonathan
To close the gate, first Will has to be exorcised. Which means heating him up to the point it is no longer comfortable for the Shadow Monster to stay in him. Something that is easy for Joyce to do since she is pissed about Bob. However, for Jonathan, he has to rely on Nancy for support because you know he is a little sensitive. So seeing his brother look like something out of The Exorcist [External] naturally doesn’t sit right with him.
But what starts as uncomfortable becomes scary when Will breaks a rope holding him down, Joyce goes to hold him down, and Will/Shadow Monster looks like he is going to strange or break Joyce’s neck. Luckily, Nancy isn’t squeamish or one easily frightened by this yearly nonsense anymore. Hence why she grabs a wood poker, which is glowing hot, and just pokes will. Not enough to really burn him, or set him on fire, but enough to startle the monster and not too long after, it exits Will.
Making the fact everyone is all wide-mouthed, and Nancy chases after the shadow, so facepalm worthy. For what was really stopping it from entering one of them and running off? We already saw that it has the power to increase its host strength. After all, Will is skin and bones and that grip looked something gruesome.
But, eyebrow-raising moments aside, for the most part, things are easy peasy for Hopper and Eleven. Yeah, the Demo-dogs attack them as Eleven damn near shuts the gate. Also, Eleven starts bleeding from both nostrils and levitating. But the show has yet to say whether the bleeding should be taken seriously so why worry about that? It isn’t like that could aneurysm of any form happening. Let’s just pretend bleeding from the nose is an everyday occurrence when overexerting yourself.
Hawkins Middle School 1984 Snow Ball: Nancy, Dustin, Steve, Joyce, Hopper, Max, Lucas, Eleven, Mike
There is a month time jump which places us on December 15th, 1984. In that month, it isn’t mentioned what happened to the Demo-dog Dustin places in Joyce’s fridge. Nor do we get to see if anything noteworthy happens. Such as how Thanksgiving goes for everyone.
However, we do see that Hopper is now Jane Hopper’s guardian. Also, we get so many moments I’m sure fans were waiting for. Of which include Eleven and Mike kissing, Max making her decision: Lucas of course, who she kisses, and then comes the sadder bits. Dustin, while confident thanks to following Steve’s advice on his hair, can’t find a girl to dance with. Luckily, Nancy does, even boosts his ego about how he is her favorite of Mike’s friends. Which, considering Dustin likely had/has a crush on Nancy, made his night.
Leaving Joyce and Hopper. Still, after all that has happened, it doesn’t seem there is any traction there. They are friends in a ride or die sense, but may not be anything more.
Other Noteworthy Facts & Moments
- If the season began on Halloween and we got a month time jump this episode, that means everything happened over the course of 15 days.
- Karen got seduced by Billy, to a certain degree.
- The tape Murray, Nancy, and Jonathan sent out got to major news networks and while the real truth doesn’t get out, Hawkins Labs does get the blame for Barbara’s death and is closed down.
- We see the Shadow Monster, in the Upside Down, over Hawkins Middle so it shall return.
Question(s) Left Unanswered
- How did Joyce react when she saw a dead Demo-dog in her fridge?
- What happened over the month time jump?
- Do you think anyone will actually call Eleven by her real name, Jane?
Nearly everyone but Dustin, before this episode, has had that emotional moment. The moment which shows the character could go beyond their archetype. Much less that their actor has talent beyond what we normally see. Watching Dustin lose to Lucas, on top of getting repeatedly rejected, that was Gaten Matarazzo’s moment. As he got took us from Dustin being confident after being hyped up by Steve to his smile being hit one after another, it was difficult to not get a little choked up. The kid who usually brought people together, or kept them together, or was good for a laugh, was seriously hurting.
Heck, maybe Dustin was coming to the conclusion that, even with his teeth now grown in, there might not be hope for his dating life. I mean, to add insult to injury, even Will was asked to dance and he has this whole zombie boy thing going. So what does that mean for Dustin?
But, at least Nancy stepped in and danced with him.
Nancy Giving Back
A part of me wants to consider Nancy a very selfish character. For even if you factor in the Justice for Barbara storyline, that was more about Nancy feeling guilty than anything else. However, with her consoling Jonathan, as Will was exorcised and then dancing with Dustin, she seems to be on a real road to redemption. Though I think she needs to properly break up with Steve before she can officially begin her journey.
The Puppy Love
I don’t know which was more swoon-worthy? Was it Max initiating a kiss with Lucas or Eleven and Max finally dancing at the Snow Ball? On one hand, Lucas has really put the work in and has gotten Max to not only trust him but maybe develop a crush on him too. I mean, he is honest with her, pursued a friendship while the rest of his friends pretty much went along with what Mike said, and reassured her she was cool when she felt vulnerable. Now, granted, things didn’t start well with him stalking her, but they got past that. Plus, you gotta admit there is something about Max not just letting her guard down and opening up to Lucas about her past, but also when she just seemed like any girl who was happy to dance with a boy she liked.
Yet, at the same time, Eleven and Mike being at this ball was a whole year coming. He mourned her disappearing and lashed out at Hopper for separating them to the point of tears. His first experience with love was taken from him by this guy who always knew where she was but never said a word. And yeah, he had Will back and the rest of his friends, but there is this certain loneliness to Mike, you know?
I mean, just look at his family. His dad is indifferent, mother increasingly self-absorbed so that is why Mike probably became attached to Will. That family dynamic, because they don’t have much, is so strong, so loving, so dependent on one another, it was enviable. So when Eleven came around and she depended on him to keep her safe and fed, and she protected and was the support he needed at the time, that is a serious bond.
Making it when they are awkward about dancing and they later kissed, as much props as you have to give to Lucas and Max, it just doesn’t compare. For even though their friendship was only active for a few weeks, if not months, it has left a everlasting impression. The kind which, if the romance doesn’t last forever, they’ll at least end up like Joyce and Hopper.
Will Featuring The Shadow Monster
The Exorcist vibes which came from removing the Shadow Monster from Will was astounding. Though the way Noah Schnapp has handled this other being within him, alongside the makeup team, really helped pushed how serious the condition Will was in. Especially when he went for Joyce’s neck. For I don’t know how much of that was planned but like when it seemed Eleven could accidentally kill Hopper, in that scene it seemed like everyone in the room could have died. If not been flung across the room as we see Will leap out the window with a demonic look in his eye.
Which luckily wasn’t the case but, just the possibility that Schnapp made seem possible is what matters.
We Couldn’t Get Eleven Calling Hopper Poppa?
I’ll admit, would this have been necessary? No. However, it would have been a full circle moment. One which would have matched Eleven finally going to the dance with Mike. Her calling Hopper Poppa would have meant two things: The first being her redefining what it means for someone to be a poppa and also Hopper getting to hear himself be called that again. Thus really setting in stone that the two of these people are well on their way toward healing old wounds from the past.
But, alas, we’ll have to wait until season 3 for this magical moment.