Summary: Mike and the other boys plan to go looking for Will after school with El. Joyce sets up lights in her house and manages to make contact with Will and has a run in with the monster. Jonathan is exposed as a pervert. Nancy investigates Barb's disappearance. Hopper turns his eyes to Hawkins Lab to find Will but his investigation is turned on its head when he finds Will's dead body in the quarry.
The Good: Like the last 2 episodes, this was perfectly fun and enjoyable television.
El wandering around the house was a small scene but really good. I enjoyed seen her get flashbacks so we can slowly start piecing together her past, but the best part for me was how real it felt. Some of El's dialogue does seem a little forced, but her exploring a new environment felt very real. It was refreshing to see some character work being done and it really helps the show get more scenes that let it take a break from the rapid revealing of plot developments.
Joyce's storyline was the most engaging in this episode. It was easy to understand her motivations as she looked for her son in her own house, and it was equally believable that others would think she's crazy. It was very exciting to see Joyce finally get into contact with Will and the brief monster scenes were quite tense and exciting. I look forward to seeing where the storyline goes from here.
Hopper's investigation was simple but still very fun. Hopper is a fun character even if he is a bit of a stereotype and I really enjoyed him Steve Gomezing his way into the Hawkins Lab to continue his investigation. I get the sense that he's not going to give up on Hawkins Lab just yet and that makes this another story I'm interested to keep following.
The ending twist was definitely a good one. This show has felt largely by-the-numbers so far, so it's good to see that there are a few twists and turns in the story to keep it exciting. There are many places the story can go now (see: The Unknown), which should add a welcome sense of excitement and intrigue to the story.
The kids' storyline was fine but unspectacular. Not much to say about the story, but I definitely did enjoy all of the moments where the personalities of the kids came against each other. It lets each of them stand out amongst the others. I particularly enjoy Dustin.
The rest of the things that I mentioned as good in previous episodes remain true. This show knows what it is and consistently succeeds at accomplishing what it attempts to accomplish.
The Bad: I don't want to sound repetitive but of course this episode had the same problems as the rest. Too predictable, too clichéd, too simple.
More specifically, there were a few scenes I didn't like. It felt dumb that Jonathan just hung up all of his pictures for one, it felt like another dumb thing for him to do that led to his camera being destroyed. At least he will presumably start developing something of a relationship with Nancy soon judging on how the story is progressing with both of their storylines.
I didn't like that Joyce didn't inquire more from Holly. She is desperate so surely she would want to know if someone else can not only validate her sanity, but also perhaps offer some more insight on how to contact Will. It also felt a little dumb that both Joyce and Karen would lose track of Holly and not notice the blinking lights at all.
There were a lot of small scenes that did kind of push the limits of realism as well like the bullies and Joyce getting all of the Christmas lights. It would take a while to get through all of them, but there were several small things that just didn't seem very well thought out.
The Unknown: Lots of questions again.
Is Barb dead now? I don't see how she would survive whatever happened to her in the opening scene.
What about the monster? How does it travel between dimensions? Are there more than 1 like I suggested last time? How is Will escaping it? Is it in the main dimension now for good or did it go back?
What is going on in Hawkins Laboratory? The newspaper clearly reports Dr. Brenner taking El. Will Hopper learn about this? How will he?
What was in the forest with Nancy? It didn't seem like the monster. Perhaps another character?
How is Will able to control the electricity so precisely? How does he know how to contact the main dimension anyways?
How about that ending? Is that really Will or is it a fake set there by Hawkins Lab as a cover-up? Could it be that Will's spirit is alive but needs to be put back into his body? Or is he actually dead and the monster killed him?
Best Moment: Tough to pick as always because nothing really stands up. I'll pick the ending reveal because it does make the plot much more exciting going forwards.
Character of the Episode: Joyce for her performance and the overall engagement in her story.
Conclusion: This was more solid stuff with familiar praises and complaints. I do think this was a bit better than the last episode and hopefully the ending can make the rest of the season more exciting.