We gave it an A-
Jonathan and Nancy aren’t the only ones having romantic issues. Lucas, for his part, is desperate to patch up his relationship with Max, and asks his dad for advice. Without looking up from his morning newspaper, Lucas’ dad says that whenever he and Mom get in a fight, he apologizes and then gets her whatever she wants. Lucas asks if he does that even when she’s wrong. Finally looking up from his newspaper, Lucas’ dad declares, “She’s never wrong, son.” I’m glad this season finally gives us a sense of Lucas’ home life, since it seemed conspicuously absent last season compared to his other friends.
Thanks to some help from the older guy who manages the arcade, Lucas is able to secure some one-on-one time with Max, which he uses to tell her the whole story of what the party went through in season 1. Obviously, Max doesn’t believe him one bit, though she can tell how passionate he is. Unfortunately, that’s just when her evil racist brother shows up to drive her home.
With Lucas so preoccupied, Dustin is having trouble contacting any friends to help him restrain Dart. Using his hockey gear and a trail of meat, Dustin is able to corral Dart into his basement as punishment for eating his cat. Desperate for more help, he goes to Mike’s house, but only his parents are home. This gives way to a hilarious scene from one of my favorite Stranger Things side characters, Mike’s dad Ted. Luckily, Dustin does find Steve (on his way to apologize to a still-absent Nancy), so he ropes him in, creating probably my favorite two-person team of the season so far.
But the biggest stuff in this episode, of course, involves Eleven. After hitching a ride to her mom’s house, Eleven sees something in her mom that not even her aunt does. Watching the electricity flicker and the TV channels change rapidly, Eleven notices that her mom, too, is bleeding from the nose, and realizes she’s trying to communicate. So the young girl puts on her blindfold and goes back to the astral plane, where she starts reliving her mother’s memories. After falling pregnant unexpectedly, her mother was rushed to the hospital — but though she distinctly remembers seeing her living, breathing, crying daughter Jane emerge, all the doctors inform her that the baby didn’t survive. She never quite buys this, however, and after getting a gun out of a safe, broke into Hawkins Lab herself to find her baby. She found Jane in a room marked by a rainbow on the door, but before she could take her she was hauled away by security and subjected to electro-shock therapy for being insane. So now she’s barely conscious, but the words she keeps muttering (“rainbow,” “sunflower,” etc.) are all references to her journey to get her daughter back. Now her daughter’s here, but is she aware of it?
Meanwhile, the Byers finally make a breakthrough, and reach the spot where Hopper went into the Upside-Down. Joyce and Bob follow him down, and once they find him are able to extricate him from the vines trapping him. Immediately after, they run into a Hawkins Lab technician, who orders them to clear the area before he unleashes his flamethrower on the vines. This has an unexpected effect: Will, apparently bonded closer with the shadow monster than anybody thought, starts screaming in pain as the vines are burned. And so ends the most explosive episode of Stranger Things 2 so far.
Most ‘80s moment: Definitely the Reagan/Bush ’84 campaign sign in the Wheelers’ yard, though a close second goes to the arcade guy calling Max “Road Warrior” as a reference to her username.
“Our children don’t live here anymore. You didn’t know that?” I love Ted.
“It’s crazy, but I really liked it. I mean, I had a few issues. I just felt it was a little derivative in parts. I just wish it had a little more originality, that’s all.” — Max’s savage commentary on the plot of season 1
“Sorry, you ate my cat.” — Dustin after shutting his pet-turned-monster in the basement.
NEXT: “Chapter Six: The Spy”