Summary: Nancy and Jonathan go to kill the monster and Steve arrives at the wrong time. They work together and hurt the monster. Joyce and Hopper work with the lab people to get into the upside down but have to give away El's location. The lab people go to get El but she kills them, summoning the monster. The monster kills Dr. Brenner and El is able to kill it but vanishes afterwards. Hopper and Joyce find Will and Hopper uses CPR to bring him to life. After everything goes back to normal but there is something different about Will.
The Good: This episode was a season finale and felt like it, making it more enjoyable though there are problems.
I'll dive into the Nancy/Jonathan/Steve storyline first. I enjoyed most of it, but not all (see: The Bad). I thought it was very tense to watch them fight the monster and it felt like a season finale storyline. I really liked that they decided to have Steve there as it added some unpredictability and managed to help close out his storyline this season.
I enjoyed Hopper's flashbacks too. They were effective at adding some emotions and created good parallels with Hopper's conflicts in the present, particularly the CPR scene. Though they may seem unnecessary, they served their purpose think and they were easily the most emotional parts of this entire series.
The school assault was pretty good too. It was tense and I wasn't sure how the kids would get free, and the inclusion of the monster was also very welcome and enjoyable. There was tons of action and I particularly enjoyed the scene where the kids armed the slingshot to fight the monster. It was comedic and tense at the same time, which made it quite an unusual success. Mike and El's scenes were also harmless, though not particularly good. It was a decent story. Meanwhile Dustin was as excellent as always.
The reunion with Will was good too. It was a strong emotional ending to the story of season 1 and definitely capped off the season in a strong way. I loved seeing the kids playing Dungeons and Dragons again and it was a very good moment to include.
The Bad: I had a number of problems with this though that really detracted from my enjoyment.
The Monster was completely different from what we have seen before in terms of his behaviour which is really annoying. The scenes with Jonathan, Nancy and Steve were fun but incredibly ridiculous. The monster has to go through the ceiling dramatically for his first entrance, but then he just magically teleports into the room somehow the next scene. How did the monster know about the trap and leave the first time? How did it not know the second time? How do bullets do no damage but a spiked baseball bat somehow does? Why didn't the monster instantly attack Jonathan like it did with Barb or Will? The monster never travelled far, this was established. So why did it instantly go to the school? All of these are inconsistencies that annoyed me about this episode and took away from the climactic excitement.
I didn't like the deaths of the lab people either. It was too sudden and anticlimactic. I also don't like that Dr. Brenner just stood there and got killed by the monster. El killing all the people in cold blood was pretty gruesome and it should have been treated as a much bigger deal. The other kids especially should have been grossed out by it and should have at least acknowledged that they just witnessed several people die.
Then of course there is the usual complaint. The ending was easy to predict and went to a very predictable happy ending that I saw coming since the beginning of the show pretty much. El's possible death was a bit of a twist, but it didn't surprise me, I pretty much just went "oh okay so that's where the story decided to go".
I wasn't a fan of the sequel bait ending either. This show has been fairly enjoyable but I have no interest in seeing another. This show came at the right time and captured some magic in being an 80s throwback show. But that magic most likely won't be there in a second season, and then we will be left with a subpar, generic television show.
The Unknown: A couple things that build to season 2.
Is El really dead? I doubt it honestly. Hopper was putting Eggos in whatever that box was so I feel he somehow came in contact with El. How did she survive though? Where did she go?
What is wrong with Will? What will be the effects of the tendril that Will had in his mouth? I assume he only survived because he was recently put in. Why did the monster do the tendril thing? What did it accomplish? It killed some people to eat, but what was the point of the tendril? Why did it choose to do this to Will?
Best Moment: Probably the death of El and the kids trying to fight the monster. That scene was exciting and fun and delivered a decent amount of emotion too.
Character of the Episode: Dustin didn't do a whole lot this episode, so it will go to El for delivering big time in the finale.
Conclusion: This was decent, yet flawed and unspectacular. This show has been very ordinary all the way through and never threatened to be anything special. And I highly doubt season 2 will be any better. This episode highlights how I feel about the entire season as a whole. Exciting but honestly just ordinary and forgettable. I will review season 2 once it's out but I won't have my expectations very high. Who knows, maybe I'll be surprised?
Overall, I honestly think I was a little but generous with my scores this season and that is because this show did have a unique effect with its 80s theme. Doubtlessly, this episode and all the other ones would have received much lower scores if this was just an ordinary TV show. But the 80s theme added some life to this and made it decent, when it could have been a real flub. Season 2 runs the risk of being a flub though so I will hope that it can find a new way to be enjoyable.
Summary: Nora and Matt say their goodbyes and Nora goes into the machine, but may have had second thoughts. It's unclear. Several years later, Kevin meets Nora in Australia and claims that he hardly knew her and asks her to a dance. Nora demands the truth and Kevin tells her that he has come to Australia ever since she was gone to look for her and he finally found her. Nora tells him that she went through the machine to the other world but changed her mind and came back upon seeing that her kids have moved on.
The Good: This was a spectacular finale. The storytelling in this season has been absolutely stellar, and the show has earned the right to end of on whatever note it pleases, so long as it has that same stellar storytelling. This finale may have been extremely unconventional, but it had tons of the aforementioned stellar storytelling, making for a tremendously satisfying finale, which ends the series on the perfect high note.
The episode opened up on a high note too. We got to see what happened to Nora after we last saw her and Matt back in "Certified" and I thought it was well done. We got a little more intrigue with the machine and then we finally got to see it and how it worked, which was pretty nice. But better than that was the amazing final scene between Matt and Nora. I seriously thought it may have been the best thing in the episode because it was just so emotionally powerful and satisfying in every single way. Nothing can feel more real than Matt's final speech saying how he's afraid of his future and if he's going to die. It was the perfect swan song for his character and made the news of his death very poignant. Additionally, I loved the mad libs obituary for Nora, it was a wonderful lighthearted character moment to conclude the relationship between Matt and Nora.
I was initially worried that the opening 10 minutes may overshadow the rest of the episode but thankfully that wasn't the case, and the rest of this episode was just as powerful and enjoyable. This entire episode centered around the Kevin and Nora getting back together, and the slow-paced storytelling made the entire plot feel so much for satisfying than it had any right to be. The Kevin/Nora story hasn't been bad throughout the show, but it certainly wasn't one of the series' highlights until now. Everything came together beautifully in this episode to make me buy into their relationship; the music, acting, symbolism, storytelling, dialogue and more delivered on the highest possible level.
Each characters' stories were also tremendously powerful moments. Kevin explaining how he had to search all of Australia during his vacation year after year because he just couldn't believe Nora was gone was incredibly emotional. There were so many different feelings during the duration of that speech which made it something truly special. I went from feeling sad about what Kevin was doing, hopeful for his relationship and genuinely happy hearing his excitement at finally seeing Nora. This scene actually broke the trend that showing is better than telling, because seeing Kevin say his story here was absolutely incredible. Also, for once the lack of the brilliant music score actually aided the scene a ton and helped us really feel for Kevin. And of course Justin Theroux absolutely killed it in the scene and in the entire episode as a whole. He has played Kevin so well that it's clear that something is off when we see Kevin for the first time in this episode because the subtle touches of Kevin's character that we have grown accustomed to are different.
On the other hand, Nora's story delivered just as poignant of a viewing experience. The best aspect is that we don't know if she's telling the truth and there are hints placed throughout the episode which suggest both possibilities. I will lean towards Nora lying, but the storytelling is strong enough for it to also work the other way too. But then again it doesn't matter if Nora was lying or telling the truth. What matters is that Kevin believes it and that she believes it. This show has never been about providing concrete answers, but always about what the characters believe in and I'm thrilled that this final episode continued the trend and brought it up to a new level. I'm so happy that Nora's story led to such a brilliant story being told.
The ending scene was also spectacular and ended on a perfect visual with the birds returning. I wouldn't pick any other way to conclude this series.
The Bad: Nothing.
The Unknown: Was Nora lying or not?
I'm sure the goat and the necklaces made for some kind of symbolism but it went over my head. What did it mean?
Best Moment: It's a toss up between Matt, Kevin and Nora's stories. In the end I will lean towards Nora's.
Character of the Episode: Nora.
Conclusion: What a spectacular finale. This finale totally captured the essence of the show and delivered something really special to send it off.
As for the season overall, it was incredible. There were a few small problems, but overall the emotions and storytelling reached a new level this season. Every episode regularly delivered huge emotional impact and each episode felt memorable in its own way. This is absolutely one of the best seasons of television I have ever seen if not the best, capped off with what I think is the best series finale of all time.
Summary: Kevin returns to the afterlife world and contacts Evie and one of Grace's kids quickly. However, he is two people, the president and his identical twin brother, an assassin. He has to call Christopher Sunday but is constantly road blocked as he is the president and expected to agree to a plan to blow up the entire world on the day of the anniversary. He is able to contact Christopher Sunday as the assassin but is told there will be no flood. Kevin follows through with blowing up the afterlife and returns to the real world where the flood never happened.
The Good: This was another outstanding episode, my favourite of the season so far which is saying quite a lot.
It was wonderful to go back to the afterlife. The last 2 episodes that the afterlife was featured were spectacular and this episode continued to explore what made the afterlife so fascinating earlier. Though of course it couldn't meet the sheer splendour of "International Assassin", it still featured all of the uniqueness that made that episode so wonderful while also adding some unique twists to make it its own thing. The greatest of these twists I think was the idea to have 2 different Kevins in the world which allowed for wonderful storytelling in addition to a uniquely engaging plot line.
Speaking of the plot line, I really enjoyed following it as much, if not more, than in "International Assassin". It was gripping to see Kevin trying to desperately contact Christopher Sunday and it was very fun to see him constantly switching between 2 different versions of himself. Additionally, the mystery of what the Deathcon plan was and why assassin Kevin was needed was intriguing and added another layer of interest to the episode. It also gave us a memorable final visual when the afterlife world was destroyed by the missile assault.
I also really liked the storytelling and thematic exploration behind Patti's plot to destroy the afterlife world. It's very true that this entire season has been about waiting for something to happen when nothing does happen, and I'm happy to see that this episode played a pivotal role in continuing that theme. It's an interesting take to see somebody making something happen just because people want something - anything - to happen.
The ending also did a good job of continuing that theory when Kevin Sr. has to face the fact that the flood didn't happen. It was a good examination of what happens when your entire purpose in life is stripped away. All Kevin Sr. can afford to say is "now what", since his entire purpose is gone and he has nothing left. Now he will need to find something else to help him move on, as his faith hasn't led him anywhere in the end.
The best part of the episode was definitely when Kevin met Kevin though (see: Best Moment). It was great to see Justin Theroux steal the show playing 2 different versions of himself and their interactions were great as we could see how they were the same and yet slightly different; 2 versions of the same man. Patti's presence also added to the scene and Ann Dowd was spectacular as always and I was overjoyed to see her return for an episode. It was also great to see Dean, Meg and Evie again in their brief roles.
The penis scanner was hilarious. There were always a lot of allusions to Justin Theroux's largeness and it was toyed in a brilliant way in this episode.
The Bad: The only thing would be that this wasn't as good as "International Assassin". That doesn't take away anything from the genius of this episode though.
The Unknown: So was David Burton a fake then? He does appear again but he says that God was a pick-up line so maybe he really wasn't God. I loved the titular reference to the scene where David told Matt that Jesus had an identical twin brother.
Evie didn't seem to be aware that she was dead unlike Christopher Sunday. How does that work? Is it because she is in denial that she died? So she projected the idea that her family was killed in a drone strike instead of her?
Best Moment: Kevin reading the storybook was incredible. It reminded me of the scene from "The Prodigal Son Returns" when Kevin had to read the bible verse to eulogize Patti. It was a great scene that let Kevin learn more about himself and how he needs to fix his ways and to reconcile with Nora. But is it too late now? Who knows, but Kevin must realize he needs to find her again t repair his screw-up. The scene highlighted this wel and the acting by both Kevins was something really special.
Character of the Episode: Kevin of course. Justin Theroux absolutely killed it in this episode.
Conclusion: What a brilliant episode. It wasn't quite on the same level as "International Assassin" but that's a really high standard and this came damn close. This created its own unique story, gave it an emotional connection, explored the season's themes in a new way and provided a spectacular bang for the series' penultimate episode. It really doesn't get much better than this.
Summary: A day before the anniversary, Laurie goes to see Nora in Australia with Matt. She is still looking into the people of the machine and decides to go into it herself. Matt stays with her as Laurie goes to meet Kevin and the others. She agrees to let John and Kevin Sr. do what they want with Kevin and says goodbye. She goes scuba diving and possibly commits suicide.
The Good: This was more outstanding stuff from the show with several emotional moments as expected.
The opening scene was very good at getting us into Laurie's mindset for the episode. It's been a while since she has been a primary focal point so it was very important to get us to understand her character and sympathize with her. The opening scene accomplishes this by showing us how the Departure affected her and nearly drove her to suicide. Additionally, we also got some closure to a storyline which has been going since the first minute of this show. It was really great to see Sam's mom return and I'm glad that we got to see another heartfelt scene, this time from her. I also enjoyed how the scene ties in with Laurie's arc as it shows how broken and lost she was after the Departure. And hearing all these stories about other people's problems couldn't have possibly helped in any way.
The rest of the episode held up more than well too. Laurie's overall story was very powerful and just as enjoyable as any of the other character stories this season. The whole topic of this episode was suicide, and we got a magnificent story about Laurie and how she was ultimately driven to a possible suicide once she realizes she has no purpose left in the world. But of course the most satisfying aspect of this was how Laurie was resigned to giving her life away but she still has some possible reasons to keep fighting in John and her kids. That's why I say possible suicide because her final conversation with her kids could very well have changed her mind. We may find out what Laurie's fate is in the next episode, or we may never find out. Either way it's still a beautiful storyline, which is the most important part of this, though there is still a significant flaw (see: The Bad).
I appreciated the format of this episode too. With just 3 episodes left, it would be expected that the show picks up the pace and delivers more excitement. But The Leftovers has shown tremendous restraint and instead of going overboard, it has delivered an episode just filled with conversations and is honestly the better for it. Each of these conversations though slow, delivered a purpose and made for compelling storylines and several emotional scenes. Laurie's scenes with Nora helped build up the suicide themes, brought some early closure to Matt and Nora's storylines and also gave Laurie a proper reason to start saying her goodbyes. And that's what all the other conversations equated to: heartfelt goodbyes, with the highlight being the excellent scene between Laurie and Kevin (see: Best Moment).
But the Kevin/Laurie scene wasn't the only great thing in this episode. Another highlight was the amazing beach ball speech from Nora. It was powerful and also helped show Nora's grief and displeasure with what she has been doing as her job, and of course tied in beautifully with Laurie too. And it also was a lovely visual seeing Matt staying with Nora afterwards, having given up his faith for his family at last. The previous scenes between these three characters were good as well. We got some quality interactions revealing lots about the characters and there was some nice foreshadowing with the scuba diving and also some good comedy. Other impactful scenes include: Laurie and John talking about what they are doing, Kevin Sr. explaining his goals, the Bible scene where everyone picks an apostle, and of course the beautiful ending phone call between Laurie and her kids.
There were a few small things I liked too. We got an answer for what submarine guy was doing: saving the world from Godzilla coming from an underwater volcano. Honestly with this show being what it is, nothing would seem more fitting with the show's themes. I also got a good laugh from Kevin Sr. taking care of the cop by knocking him out with a shovel. I wonder what his future will be if he survives past the anniversary.
The Bad: There was one critical flaw in this though preventing this from being next level excellent. And that problem is that either way we go, Laurie's fate isn't satisfying. If she is truly dead, then she won't have that perfect suicide because she talked to her kids before going underwater. And also Laurie has been a character who is the most hopeful in the series. She has always come back from the brink, but if she ultimately ends up dying, there is a certain depressing quality of her fate. But of course if she's alive it would feel like a cop-out and this episode would feel kind of pointless and not as satisfying. It's a lose-lose situation.
The Unknown: Is Laurie dead? We may never know.
Is Nora going to go into the machine? Will she die too? Will we even see her again?
Is Kevin going to die again? All these questions seem to be about characters dying now. Will he make contact with Grace's kids and Evie in the afterlife?
Is Kevin Sr.'s flood on the way? A storm was rolling in when Laurie went scuba diving.
Best Moment: Kevin and Laurie's scene was very poignant. John and Laurie haven't seen the same development as Kevin and Laurie so I'm happy that the latter was given the primary focus. The scene was very emotional and it was great to see the 2 of them reminiscing and laughing and sharing truths about things they never told each other. The most powerful of which being Laurie talking about her unborn baby. But the real tearjerker was the ending when Laurie gives Kevin the "Don't forget me" lighter which she has treasured so much. Now it's Kevin who wouldn't want to forget her. Very good and emotional storytelling.
Character of the Episode: Laurie for her wonderful arc. Though Nora was a show-stealer too as always.
Conclusion: A wonderful episode which is one of the most powerful so far. This could have been something special, but unfortunately the one flaw is keeping it from ascending too high. But other than that, this was superb as expected from this brilliant show.
Summary: A man blows up a nuke in a submarine somewhere. Matt is going to Australia with John and Michael to bring Kevin back to Miracle for the seventh anniversary. Laurie joins in and doesn't see eye to eye with Matt's faith. On the plane there, the group is forced to land in Tasmania and have to take a boat with a lion worshipping orgy in it. Matt runs into a guy who calls himself God and also throws another man overboard. Matt confronts him and after a conversation, is freed from his faith. God is eaten by a lion.
The Good: Well The Leftovers continued its hot streak in a big way with this episode. This entire episode took the weirdness of this show and took it to a whole other level and yet it still works remarkably well. If anything, the story is better with the weirdness than it is without. It's impressive that such a weird episode was able to be so brilliant, exciting and beautiful.
The episode even opens on a completely weird note. We see a man strip down naked in a submarine, steal a key from a man and then blow up a nuke. It's such a strange moment and instantly gets you into the tone of the episode with a stupid amount of weirdness. But since the scene is in "The Good" it obviously worked for me and I can't even explain why. I'm not sure why the man did it (see: The Unknown) but I am definitely interested to find out more.
Matt's overall story is what carried this episode. It starts off like one of the classic Matt episodes, where he clings to his faith while everything starts going wrong. But ten the episode takes a turn for the better as some interesting developments, including an orgy and a man who calls himself God, occurred, increasing my interest in the episode. In the en this was very different from the other Matt episodes, since it wasn't about Matt sticking to his faith, but rather him letting go of it. He has given so much and now after an incredible scene where he talks to God (see: Best Moment), he finally realizes that everything h has done could very well have been for nothing and then he lets go of it all. This all culminates in that fantastic ending scene where God is devoured by a lion an Matt just turns o the camera and says "that's the guy I was telling you about", which could be taken as him talking about David Burton himself, or about God as he has preached about him for years. Overall this was a pleasing storyline chronicling a major change in an important character and giving him some much needed closure.
The Matt vs Laurie conflict was very good too. It was a good look at faith vs nihilism which was the main driving point of this episode. And surprisingly nihilism won over this time, which is rare in television and this new look at the conflict feels very original and enjoyable. I loved the arguments regarding Kevin too because it's easy to understand where both characters are coming from judging by their past experiences with him.
And now, the major elephant in the room: God. Most of this will be in The Unknown, but I was very happy with this storyline overall. David Burton has been a presence in the past and it's good to get a little bit more about him even though e are unlikely to get any proper closure about who he was and what happened to him. I enjoyed his vagueness and his stories about the Bible and Jesus were not only hilarious, but also served to properly start breaking Matt's faith in that amazing conversation scene.
The lion orgy was also hilariously weird. It also served to show that different people believe different thins and that while this whole Frasier thing sounds ridiculous to us and the characters, who's to say that it's less believable than Matt's mission.
The Bad: Nothing.
The Unknown: Was David Burton really God or was he just spewing garbage? Did he really cause the Sudden Departure? Did he really "save" Matt? Or was it just another hoax? How did he become God if he is God? What powers did he have?
Will Matt still go after Kevin? It does sound like he's just given up on that though.
Why did the man blow up the nuke? Was it over some stupid belief just like everything else this season?
Best Moment: Matt speaks to God. That scene was just beautifully done overall. Matt came in believing that David Burton wasn't God, but here was his opportunity to finally get some answers for what he had put all his faith into. And the answers, as it seems to be the trend this season, were disappointing. Burton says "I did it because I could" regarding the Departure and totally exposes that Matt has done everything for himself an it is powerful and also correct stuff. And Matt knows it so we see him snap and completely lose his spirit as he begins to realize that everything he has done was for nothing. But it's not enough as Matt frees Burton hoping for one final chance to get some satisfaction and confirmation of the greatness of the almighty. And yet with the snap of a finger it all comes crashing down as Matt realizes with that excellent look on his face that everything he has invested in has been a disappointment. It's great storytelling that is not only engaging but also tense. For a minute I was genuinely unsure about what Burton would do and the snap of his fingers was a wonderful "climax".
Character of the Episode: Matt obviously because his character took such a drastic turn in this episode.
Conclusion: Another amazing episode for this show. This was so unique and original and told a really great story that properly closed out Matt's character arc. I'm really enjoying this season so far as every episode seems to have at least a few emotional scenes and this was no exception.
Summary: Ross goes with Rachel to help her do laundry for the first time. Joey recruits Monica to help split up a couple because he wants to be with the girl in the relationship. Chandler and Phoebe accompany each other as they both have to break up their relationships.
The Good: This was another spectacular episode. Each of the three plot lines were set up expertly and believably which added to my immersion to the episode, but also all three of them delivered tons of laughs and had me engaged and consistently chuckling whilst watching. Chandler's energy was hilarious, Ross and Rachel's awkward "date" was clever and worked on almost every level, and Joey and Monica breaking apart the couple was unique and even more impressively, believable for both characters to ultimately decide to do it. And not only was the story good, but the laughs were awesome and each storyline built up the big laughs so wonderfully with several small comic moments which built up to absolutely hilarious jokes.
The Bad: I suppose the aggressive laundry woman was quite over-the-top and not as funny as she was intended to be. I also can't really buy Rachel kissing Ross yet as the moment didn't feel earned.
Best Moment: Ross walking into the laundry machine door after standing with that dopey look on his face following Rachel's kiss was hilarious and was the perfect example of a scene getting funnier as it went on.
Character of the Episode: Chandler and Ross have been the MVPs for this show so far, but I'll edge this one out to Chandler who was uniquely hilarious in his overly energetic role.
Conclusion: Another awesome episode, which is the best, and funniest, yet. The show's writing and sense of humour has only gotten better and more impressive as its went on.
Summary: The Hawkins Lab people go to Mike's house and the kids flee with El before reuniting with Lucas. They go into hiding and are contacted by Hopper, Joyce, Nancy and Jonathan who are working together now. The group goes to the school to make a "bathtub" for El to contact those in the upside down. Barb is dead but Willis alive. Hopper and Joyce go to the gate but are caught by guards. Will is attacked by the monster.
The Good: This was a very strong episode, which is probably the best episode of the show so far.
The most impressive thing was definitely the fast pace and overall tension. The opening sequence for one was absolutely thrilling and fun, even though it was pretty obvious that the group would escape in the end. I assumed that the tension would drop a bit, but with the rapid plot developments and everybody finally working together, the tension continued to persist through several scenes including the wonderful scene where El goes into the bathtub.
Speaking of that scene, I really enjoyed that storyline. It made sense and had good continuity from the previous scenes that we have scene with El in the lab. I was happy to get some confirmation on the standings of both Will and Barb before the expected rescue mission in the finale. There were also some nice moments between El and Joyce as the former panicked at returning to the upside down and the latter used her motherly instincts to comfort El.
I enjoyed seeing the full cast coming together at last. Though I have some reservations (see: The Bad), I'm happy to see everybody finally working together before the final endgame because it gives us some fresh and interesting character interactions before everything goes down, including some excellent scenes between Joyce/El and Nancy/Mike.
Steve's redemption arc continues and I'm happy about that. I thought it would have stopped in the last episode, but I'm glad they are continuing even if it does feel a bit out of place in this episode where so much is happening in other scenes.
Dustin remains the greatest thing about this show. He was good in the first few episodes but he has really stood out in he past couple episodes, showing great intelligence and being genuinely funny. His late night conversation with Mr. Clark was very well done and hilarious, and it continues to make me believe that Mr. Clark will be doing something important in the finale.
I was pleasantly surprised to see the bullies story actually have some consequences and it felt like a very natural step to bring Hopper and Joyce to El. So I retract that complaint about the story from last episode having no consequences.
I'll reluctantly put the make up between Mike, El and Lucas in the good. It was a sweet moment but it really didn't quite feel satisfying because all characters didn't really do much in particular to make it feel like they should have logically made up. But then I remember that these are just kids so I suppose it's logical that they would make up so easily, even though it wasn't exactly satisfying on an emotional level.
The Bad: The usual complaints still stand. Even though this was exciting, it didn't have me quite on the edge of my seat because I always felt like I knew what was going to come next. And since most of this episode was impactful due to its energy and tension, it doesn't succeed as well as it would on paper because of the show's predictability.
The cliffhangers did nothing for me. It's obvious Will isn't dead and Joyce and Hopper will obviously still go through the gate in some way. It felt like 2 cliffhangers for the sake of cliffhangers going into the finale.
Nancy and Jonathan haven't really accomplished anything so far. Hopper and Joyce practically have the same pieces they do only the adults are actually going to do something. Hopefully Jonathan and Nancy will do something, but so far their storyline feels pretty much pointless.
The Unknown: Is Will dead? Probably not. But I wonder how he will escape alive from the monster.
Are Hopper and Joyce captured now? How will they escape? Or will they end up working with the lab people by volunteering to go through the gate? We had that one scene a couple episodes ago where the one man went into the gate which means it wouldn't feel implausible.
What are Jonathan and Nancy going to do? It feels like they don't have much of a role here. Same with Steve, so surely they will do something.
Best Moment: Probably Nancy and Mike's short talk. It was nice to get a proper relationship scene that feels real. It was also hilarious hearing Mike attempt to say he didn't like El, but Nancy clearly wasn't buying it.
Character of the Episode: Dustin, who remains the real MVP of this show.
Conclusion: This was a very good and enjoyable episode to set up the finale. It succeeded because I was enjoying it all the way through and I am looking forward to see the story wrap up.
Summary: Rachel freaks out about not making money and brings down Phoebe and Monica. Ross, Chandler and Joey go to see a hockey game, but Ross is out of it because it's the anniversary of his first time having sex.
The Good: This was an excellent episode of comedy with loads of laughs. All 6 friends had hilarious moments throughout the episode and I was engaged throughout as 2 very simple and enjoyable plotlines were on display. All 6 of the characters are now well defined and factored into their respective stories in a funny and organic way. Rachel's panic, Monica's uptightness, Phoebe's weirdness, Ross' awkwardness, Chandler's sarcasm and Joey's slow mind each added to the story and there were tons of moments where I almost fell apart while laughing. The hockey game story was excellently edited for its time and the hospital lady led to some really good moments. I also loved Ross' continued sadness which made Chandler and Joey's lines that much funnier. The other story wasn't quite as funny but it was still enjoyable and the three girls had very good lines. Rachel's character arc also progressed in her attempt to be more independent and it was a nice development for her as she realizes that she is in th same boat with her friends despite them being more experienced with life.
The Bad: There were still a couple poorly written lines and jokes, but other than that this was superb.
Best Moment: Probably any scene with the hospital lady. It's tough to choose in this episode.
Character of the Episode: I'll go with Chandler but all three of the guys were show stealers in this episode.
Conclusion: A very strong and enjoyable episode of television. If Friends can keep this quality, the show can be something really special.
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.
Summary: The kids figure out that Will is in another dimension and try to figure out how to get into it. They attempt to locate a portal, but their attempts are subverted by El. Lucas gets in a fight with Dustin and Mike and leaves and El runs away. Nancy and Jonathan go hunting for the monster and Nancy finds a portal to the other dimension where she sees the monster. Lonnie returns to see Joyce only for the money and tries to shut down her efforts to contact Will. Hopper continues to investigate Hawkins Lab but they are aware of him and attempt to monitor his movements.
The Good: This was a much stronger effort and it is my favourite episode since the pilot.
Hopper's investigation was very fun as usual but I think this was the best episode of it. The opening sequence was very tense and while it was cliché at times like with Hopper taking care of the guards, I did enjoy it a lot more because there was a lot of suspense and we weren't sure how much Hopper would uncover about the lab. I also loved the scene with Hopper hunting for the wiretap, it was the smartest that show has been with this investigation and it was nice to see some thought put into the show and the characters.
The kid storyline was superb in this episode with some real conflict and plot progression. I really love their interactions which remain as fun and special as ever. The conflict and fight at the end also felt earned since we have seen some hostilities forming between the trio ever since Eleven was introduced and the writers did an excellent job of staging this scene to feel like the big breaking point between all of the friends.
The best thing about that scene was how everyone's motivations felt real. Lucas wants to find Will and is angry at El's betrayal, Mike is upset that Lucas has been so hostile towards El and Dustin is just trying to keep everything calm. But better than this is El's motivation to prevent them from finding the portal. She knows it will take them to Hawkins Lab and she is afraid of going back there. After seeing so many flashbacks of her former life it's completely believable that she has been traumatized by her past and her tears and panic at the end feel very real and felt like an organic next step in the story. I will applaud the writers for doing a great job with the kids storyline which has been the most consistently well written so far.
The Nancy/Jonathan story was very good in this episode too. It makes sense that they wouldn't be too fond of each other considering who they are, and I'm very glad to see that they didn't just split up after their argument. Though they may not be friends, they only have each other in the hunt for Barb and Will, which makes it realistic for them to stick together. The final scene was also very tense and exciting and it's good to see the monster for the first time. I'm also surprised to see that Nancy has entered the other dimension and I wonder if she is gone now too (see: The Unknown).
I liked the scene between Steve and Nancy too. It's nice to see that Steve isn't being painted as just some stupid and selfish teenager but actually a somewhat decent guy.
The Bad: The usual of course. The show is too clichéd still despite a few surprising developments which make it less predictable.
Lonnie's return was tedious and felt mostly pointless. It didn't further any storylines, wasn't interesting and was overall just a pointless roadblock which would prevent Jonathan from talking to Joyce about the monster before the plot wants it to happen.
The final scene was tense and exciting but had some major issues. The monster just taking the dead prey and ignoring both Nancy and Jonathan was really dumb and didn't seem to make any sense. We need a better idea of why the monster attacks people soon. I didn't like that Nancy just stupidly went into the mysterious hole without getting Jonathan. Surely she would want to tell him where she is going in case something bad happens. And it was beyond ridiculous that Jonathan didn't hear Nancy calling him over but heard her getting attacked.
The Unknown: A couple questions.
Why does the monster kill? How does it enter the regular world at will? Why was it not interested in Nancy and Jonathan at first?
Why did the Hawkins Lab leave Hopper alive and on his own? Are they watching him? Do they have a special plan for him? What else will Hopper tell Joyce and will they work together now?
Will Lonnie come back later in the story?
Best Moment: The big scene between the kids where they fought at the end was tense and wonderful. A perfect culmination for tons of build up.
Character of the Episode: Tough to choose in this episode. In the end I will pick Eleven over Hopper by a hair because I thought the story had built so well to that climax and El was the standout in that scene. Hopper wasn't quite as impressive.
Conclusion: This was much better. The writing and storytelling improved quite a bit and made for a really enjoyable episode. This is a much brighter sign for the final 3 episodes which can hopefully live up to expectations.
Just a university student who loves to watch TV. And criticize it like hell.