It’s early, but I’d bet this will go down as the most divisive installment of Stranger Things 2, and maybe the entire series to date. On paper, an Eleven bottle episode sounds amazing. But perhaps the biggest problem with “The Lost Sister” is the placement of the episode. Things had just started to really pick up, and instead of building on the frightening scene at the Hawkins Laboratory, we go hang out with a mohawked fella named Axel and a lovable gentleman named Funshine (maybe the best worst name ever).
“Mama,” Eleven can be heard saying. “It’s me, Jane. I’m home.” The episode opens inside Eleven’s mother Terry’s “dream circle.” Among the quick glimpses we get are a young Terry, a rainbow room, a baby, two children, a sunflower, some bald guy, and Dr. Brenner. Suddenly, Eleven snaps out of it; her nose and Mama’s nose are bleeding. Eleven tells Aunt Becky about the other girl in the rainbow room; she thinks this is why her mom wanted to talk to her. Luckily, Terry had kept files of other missing kids, and as Becky looks through them, Eleven immediately notices one: an Indian girl from London. After an initial unsuccessful attempt, Eleven stares at the mysterious girl’s picture and is able to locate her. When she rushes to tell Becky, she overhears her aunt on the phone talking about, and maybe trying to contact, Hopper. This causes to Eleven to run off. Meanwhile, Mama’s TV goes from static to the Action 8 News. And the TV really wants us to notice the 8. Thanks, we get it.
PREVIOUSLY: “Chapter Six: The Spy”
Eleven is back on the road, and, thankfully, this time she takes a bus and doesn’t hitchhike with some strange guy. She arrives in Chicago, and when she steps off the bus, all she sees are cops and rude “mouthbreathers.” Braving her way through skid row, Eleven comes across a seemingly abandoned warehouse, where she finds the bankrobbing crew from the beginning of the season. They aren’t very welcoming of “Shirley Temple.” Mr. Mohawk, a.k.a. Axel, is especially threatening, pulling out a knife. But he’s suddenly spooked by spiders crawling all over his hand. The thing is, no one else can see them. “I told you to stay out of my head,” he yells at Kali (Linnea Berthelsen), or Eight as we know her from episode 1. Eleven quickly proves that she’s no “schitzo” when she picks up Axel’s knife with her mind. Studying the girl, Kali pulls up Eleven’s sleeve, revealing the “011” tattoo, which leads Kali to reveal her “008” one. “Sister,” they say to each other as they embrace.
The sisters do some catching up on the roof. Kali is a very supportive long-lost sister. “What you can do is incredible — it makes you special, Jane,” she tells her. Kali’s gift is that she can make people see or not see whatever she chooses. Must be nice not having to worry about shopping for a Halloween costume. “Are you real?” asks Eleven, adorably touching Kali to make sure. After setting her sister up with a bed and blanket, Kali gets sentimental. “I just feel whole, like a piece of me was missing and now it’s not,” she shares. “I think this is your home.” Not sure which is a nicer home: this abandoned warehouse or Hopper’s creepy cabin.
It’s not exactly sweet dreams for Eleven as she goes to sleep. In her dream circle, she can hear the message Hopper left for her. “I want you to know I’m not mad at you,” he says. “I’m just sorry.” Kali interrupts, waking her up so she can be “properly” introduced to the rest of the team. The fellow outcasts consist of spider-hating Axel, Dottie, Mack, and Funshine. Kali saved them, so now they help her kill the people responsible for what happened to her and Eleven. “I’m a fighter,” declares Eleven. “I’ve killed.” I’d say Kali’s recruiting efforts are going pretty well so far. She wants her sister to find her anger and move a train car toward them. As Kali eggs her on, Eleven thinks of Max with Mike, the experiments done to her, Mama being taken, and her fight with Hopper. It works, the train moves, and Eleven falls to the ground. Kali is a hell of a motivator; she’s like the Tony Robbins for kids with superpowers.
Now that Eleven has passed that test, she’s shown the team’s wall of “bad men.” She recognizes one of them from her mom’s dream circle. The bald man is Ray Carroll, and he also hurt Kali. Fifty bucks says Ray’s about to be the one hurting. Eleven goes into tracker mode, and she’s even better than Jeremy Renner (that’s for all you Wind River heads). But before they can go eliminate him, it’s time for a classic ’80s makeover montage! Out is the old Eleven style and in is the slicked-back hair, popped-collar wearing Eleven. And how does she look? “Bitchin.” (Recap continues on page 2)
Also necessary on the journey to murder a bad guy is a pit stop for snacks and Tampons. As Kali makes the convenience store employee think his bathroom is flooding, the crew does its own version of Supermarket Sweep. Predictably, Eleven stocks up on Eggos. You can take the girl out of Hawkins, but you can’t take the love of waffles out of her. The worker eventually snaps out of it and pulls a gun. And with Kali’s negotiating skills not as polished as her make-people-see-what-you-want skills, Eleven steps in to send the poor guy flying. “Damn, Shirley,” Axel approvingly exclaims. Watch out, Steve, she may have found a new favorite hair guy.
Finally arriving at Ray’s place, Eleven continues to be a huge pick-up for the squad as she locates him and confirms he seems to be alone, which means it’s time to put the masks on (Future’s ’80s remix). Once inside, Kali and Eleven take theirs off. “Do you remember us?” asks Kali, before making Ray see them as their younger selves. As Eleven throws him against the wall, he tries to bargain for his life by offering to help them find Brenner, who he insists is alive. Eleven isn’t buying what Ray’s selling and begins to choke him, but she changes her mind after noticing a picture of Ray with two young girls, whom Axel has just stumbled upon hiding in another room, calling the police. This changes nothing for Kali, contending, “Did he show your mother mercy?” With Eleven relenting, Kali points a gun at Ray, only for her sister to knock it away. No time to argue about it though, since the police are en route.
Back at the warehouse, Kali checks in on Eleven. Insisting she’s hard on Eleven because of her own past mistakes, Kali reveals more of her own backstory: Following Eleven’s disappearance from the rainbow room, Kali used her gifts to escape; she eventually found a home, but lost them, too. Now, she hopes the sisters can team up to find Brenner, whom Kali makes visible to Eleven. “All this time and you haven’t looked for me,” the creepy-as-ever doctor says to his “daughter.” “You have to confront your pain.”
Later, Eleven is left alone with only her old shirt and fond memories of her friends and Hopper. Back in her dream circle, she can see Hopper and Mike at Hawkins Lab, where they’re in a bit of trouble. When they disappear, she awakens to cops entering the warehouse. After Kali temporarily makes the crew invisible, they make a run for it. Her powers continue to be helpful when she gives the illusion of a huge barrier between them and the police. But as they all hop in the van, Eleven says she isn’t going. “We belong together,” pleads Kali. “There’s nothing back there — they cannot save you, Jane.” Eleven responds, “No, but I can save them.” She heads off the opposite way, clearly leaving Kali hurt.
Eleven’s back on the bus. What a short but eventful trip. A nice old lady checks in on her, asking if she’s headed to see her parents. “I’m going to my friends,” Eleven proclaims. “I’m going home.” About time! Cue Diddy and Skylar Grey.
Most ’80s Moment: Everything. Like the rest of the series, “The Lost Sister” was pure ’80s, but a very different version of the ’80s we’ve become accustomed to on the show. Out were Dungeons & Dragons and Ghostbusters and in was the punkest hour yet.
“She’s in pain, she needs this,” Kali says of Eleven to her team of misfits.
“Bitchin,” Eleven adorably repeats.
“I’m going home,” Eleven declares to the nice old bus lady.
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