Summary: Mike decides to hide El (Eleven) in his house when she tells him about the dangerous people after her. El tells him and the others that she has seen Will and he's hiding. Nancy goes to Steve's party with Barb. She and Steve have sex and when Barb goes outside by herself she is attacked by the monster. Joyce comes into contact with Will through the phone.
The Good: This was more solid and enjoyable stuff for the most part.
We had some major developments regarding Will's disappearance. Joyce has come into contact with him in a very mysterious scene (see: The Unknown) and she has also provided a lot more insight on this apparent other dimension where I assume Will is hiding. The fact that El has seen Will is also very interesting and raises a lot of questions about her too (again see: The Unknown).
Aside from that, this was more of the same. The kid characters remain very likeable and fun. They each have distinct personalities and when they come into conflict with each other, they all raise very valid arguments. I'm glad to see kids portrayed like actual kids instead of as adults only incredibly stupid. They have probably been the strongest part of this show so far and I am always engaged when they are on screen.
I liked several small scenes too. Joyce's desperation when facing her boss felt very real and I really loved how she tried to use her missing son to get what she wants. It was a nice little bit of humour and realism in the show. El and Mike getting to know each other was also very good. It's nice seeing kids being kids and trying to show off to one another and to have some good fun. Once more, kudos to the writers for portraying kids properly and to the child actors who have done an incredible job so far.
The 80s atmosphere remains very good. There are loads of 80s references which are very fun to spot and they also help with the continued setting development.
The Bad: Some things didn't work for me however.
I didn't like the Nancy storyline. I was never engaged and I can't be bothered to care about the characters involved. They are very shallow and stereotypical and honestly bore me. Though I do like the development that Barb has been taken by the monster as it should give these characters something more interesting to do, I was annoyed at how unemotional that entire scene felt. I felt nothing when Nancy chose to stay with Steve since that was inevitable and I felt nothing for Barb even though she was sitting all sad and alone. I wish more character work had been done to make me care more for these storylines.
I also didn't like that Jonathan was conveniently there taking pictures of Barb. I don't understand what his motivation was to go take pictures of the forest and it doesn't make sense to me how it would help him find Will. Even worse, I don't see why he would stop to take pictures of the party instead of doing what he came there to do. It felt ridiculous that he would just sit around taking pictures. It's really creepy and also odd that the tone didn't seem to focus on how creepy it was. Overall, it felt like a flawed and forced development for the sake of getting a character in a position for him to do something convenient to the plot (see: The Unknown).
The characters remain shallow and the story is clichéd and mostly predictable. As I stated that was part of the allure of the show, but it still prevents it from hitting the next level. The good thing about this is that it shows excellent self-awareness from the creator and the writers. They know what this show is and so they won't damage it by reaching too high. It's not a bad thing for the show to settle on the level of good instead of shooting for great, but it will explain why my scores won't be extremely high for this show despite all that it does right.
The Unknown: Plenty of questions.
Who are the people going after Eleven and what did they do to her in the past? Why did they lock her up? Is she even real? Could she be an artificial human? Or perhaps an experiment for whatever powers she has? How did she escape? She also saw Will in this other dimension apparently? How? When did she go there? Does she have an ability to travel there? Do the government people? Was she sent into that mysterious hole or whatever that is being hidden?
Why is Will hiding? Where is he hiding exactly? How can he talk to Joyce? How did he get the phone? What was with that scene anyways? How did Will or the monster or whatever turn on the electronics from the other dimension? How did the monster apparently just phase through the wall like that? Also what is with the flickering lights? Does that signify when the monster is around?
Did Barb's blood attract the monster? How did she end up in the other dimension? How was the monster just conveniently right there? Is there more than one monster?
How will Jonathan taking pictures factor into the main plot? Surely it's not all for nothing especially considering how he had to do many illogical things to get into the position he was in. I get the feeling that his pictures will be revealed to someone else at some point for some conflict.
Best Moment: Nothing has stood out so far. I'll go with Mike showing El his house. It was a lovely reminder that these 2 are still just kids despite their roles in the story and it was the best character work the show has done so far honestly.
Character of the Episode: I will go with Mike for thinking logically with what to do with El and coming to a logical conclusion.
Conclusion: This was more of the same stuff, but there were more specific flaws this time around. This show remains enjoyable of course and it's easy to understand why so many love it. For me though, the show doesn't offer enough emotions and character storytelling to really hit that next level.