We gave it a B
“Frantic” seems to be Joyce Byers’ resting state. She frantically drives to the school, where, miraculously, she hears Dustin calling for Will right away, then frantically makes her way out to the field where Will is standing in a trance-like fugue state, and then frantically shakes him to try to wake him up. Although in the real world Will is just standing still, with his eyes rolled back into his head, in the Upside Down, Will is facing off against a giant shadow monster and losing — with smoky vines twisting their way into him via every available orifice.
PREVIOUSLY: “Chapter Three: The Pollywog”
Finally, Will wakes up, and Joyce tries to take care of him as best as she can: promising that she believes him, that they won’t go to a doctor, that she won’t let anything bad happen to him again. “It’s almost more than a feeling,” Will says, trying to describe what the Shadow Thing did to him. “It got me, Mom.”
A less tender parent-child interaction is going down at Hopper’s cabin, when Eleven returns home to find Hopper smoking on the patio. She storms inside before he can confront her, but he follows her inside. “Friends don’t lie! Isn’t that your bulls–t saying?” Hopper shouts at her, trying to get Eleven to remember whether anyone other than the mother and her child behind their house might have seen her. Hopper grounds her, which seems redundant given Eleven is basically under house arrest, but the true punishment emerges — no Eggos and no TV for a week. Hopper tries to move the TV but Eleven uses her powers to keep it stationary. The struggle continues until Hopper declares there will be no TV at all and pulls the plug out. “You are like Papa!” Eleven shouts, likening him to the evil man who kept her locked up in the lab. Hopper calls her a brat, and tells her to look it up in the dictionary, which Eleven uses her powers to throw back at him before knocking over furniture and retreating into her room with a closed door. A massive cry from Eleven breaks all of the windows, and it’s painfully obvious that she is just lonely, acting like any kid would.
Meanwhile, Dustin has Dart safely back in his tank, but won’t tell his friends about it because he’s scared they’ll report Dart to Hopper, who’ll take him away. And so when Dustin sees Lucas stomping around the Dumpster with Max and Mike, he plays mum and joins in the “search.”
When Will wakes up, Joyce discovers that his body temperature is too low and tries to run him a bath, unsuccessfully. Will wants the water colder. “We gotta get your body temperature back up,” Joyce says. “NO,” Will replies with a faraway voice, like Damien from The Omen. “HE LIKES IT COLD.” Understandably, Joyce is concerned, so finally, after about a dozen calls to the police station, Hopper makes his way over to the house where he finds Will shirtless and facing an open window in the freezing cold house. Will can’t or won’t describe what he’s feeling, so Joyce gets the idea to let him draw it, which he does, immediately beginning to scribble wildly.
Also not in school: Nancy and Jonathan, who are waiting in the park for Barb’s mother but seem fully aware that the government was listening in on their conversation. (Poor Steve, being taunted about the fact that his ex-girlfriend has already run off with “the freak’s brother.”) Everyone in the park looks suspicious, and when it becomes all too obvious they’re being stalked, they make their way back to the car, which, conveniently doesn’t start. A creepy man appears at their window offering them a ride. Another creepy man appears on the other side. Trapped. (Recap continues on next page)