Summary: Lucas and Mike don't see eye to eye and split up. Mike and Dustin find El when she saves them from the bullies. Lucas goes to Hawkins Lab and sees several vehicles heading out to find El. Nancy escapes from the monster and becomes closer to Jonathan. Steve is upset and gets into a fight with Jonathan. Jonathan accidentally hits a cop and is taken to the police station. Hopper and Joyce go to meet Terry Ives about her missing daughter and figure out who El is. Flashbacks reveal that El opened the gate.
The Good: This was more solid stuff as expected from this show. The season is picking up nicely as it nears its conclusion.
The opening sequence was well done but it had some flaws (see: The Bad). I'm thankful that we weren't left with the cliffhanger throughout the episode and that we got to resume right where we left off. I was very happy with Nancy's reaction though. It was good to see her so afraid after what happened and Jonathan is likeable as he is very kind and caring towards her. I love that Nancy pieced together the blood after staying awake all night. After all why wouldn't she if she was thinking about it all night? It would come up at some point and I'm glad that the show acknowledged it.
I enjoyed seeing Hopper and Joyce together. Their story was pretty simple but I enjoyed seeing them piecing together that El exists and I'm excited to see how they will factor into the other storylines with the kids and teenagers. Terry Ives not being able to talk felt clichéd but it was a good way to explain how she lost the lawsuit against Hawkins Lab. I'm glad that the show thought through that much.
The kid storyline had some good moments in it. Most of which were from Dustin who is extremely likeable. I've enjoyed Dustin more than the other kids since the beginning but he really shined in this episode as he was not only the voice of reason, but also very funny and consistently entertaining. While the other kids are fighting, Dustin remains the moral compass who ensures that we remain engaged in the storyline. The writers have done excellently with the kids which I think is the show's biggest accomplishment.
I enjoyed El's storyline for the most part too but it also had flaws (see: The Bad). I enjoyed the flashbacks though they were pretty slow. They explained a lot about the gate and felt very exciting and intriguing throughout. This storyline was decent enough.
The Bad: There were several small problems though as usual. The clichéd and predictable nature of the show is still here. The ending of the last episode was pretty surprising and I thought it would lead to something special, but it was just misleading as Nancy is alright and the story continues to feel painfully average and unspectacular.
I hated the bullies storyline a lot. It was stupid that they were so threatening and I didn't like how apparently one of them was able to go around and surround Dustin and Mike. It was pretty unbelievable but even worse was that they made Mike jump into the quarry. He would have died! It's incredibly stupid that they would go to such lengths and really took me out of the moment. What makes less sense is how El saved Mike. She arrived in time to see him jump which means she should have been able to prevent him from jumping at all but it was just done for dramatic effect. Also she broke the kid's arm, shouldn't that have consequences? But it really doesn't look like it will.
I didn't like how easy it was for El to rob the store. It was pretty stupidly simple and I'm disappointed that it had no consequences. Also shouldn't the Hawkins Lab people be more aware and prepared for something like this so they can quickly get El back? It seemed to take them forever to finally start heading out.
The Unknown: Mr. Clark is getting more screen time than expected. Surely he will factor into the story somewhere down the line. The question is how will he factor into the story?
What happened to Terry? How did the Hawkins Lab people take her child? How did she get special powers?
Best Moment: Probably Dustin talking to Mike after they talked to Lucas. He's just so likeable, logical and entertaining and it feels refreshing in this show.
Character of the Episode: Dustin.
Conclusion: This was more solid, yet still flawed stuff. The story is picking up as it heads to the finale and I'm sure it will be a satisfying but unspectacular finale. This show is, as I've been saying since episode 1, very ordinary but still easy to enjoy.