Summary: El leaves Terry's to look for her sister 008, a girl named Kali. She finds her in Illinois as a criminal getting revenge on the people who did bad things to her. Kali and El instantly bond and Kali helps El learn to use her anger as her power. El wants to help Kali but after seeing Hopper and Mike in trouble she decides to leave her group and head back to Hawkins.
The Good: This was a good episode for El. She had a nice character arc and went through a lot before making her final decision. Presumably she has more control of her powers now, which is an interesting development. Her bond with Kali was nice and I hope to see them meet again.
It was good to get some continuation of the surprise season-opener with the introduction of Kali. She had a cool power and will likely play a role in the series later on. Perhaps in the season finale.
The Bad: Unfortunately I really didn't like this episode. Now I'm fine if a show wants to do a bottle episode, but there are a few things that must happen for it to work. None of those things happened here.
First, is the timing of the episode. For a bottle episode focused on a single storyline to work, it must come at a time where all other storylines have died down and become less interesting. Take the infamous episode "Fly" from Breaking Bad. This is an example of a great bottle episode and I will likely mention it several times. "Fly" came at a time where there wasn't a whole lot of exciting things going on in the show as it was transitioning from a huge midseason climax to the finale. Because of that there were no pressing matters and no major plotlines, thus making it the ideal time for a bottle episode. Now for this episode. El's storyline was NOT missed in the last episode as there was a load of excitement going on. The last episode ended with a wonderful cliffhanger that promised action and tension right from the get go in the next episode. What happens then? We are treated to an hour with a character we didn't miss while the important storyline gets absolutely no screen time. This episode was not at all timed well, and rather it killed any momentum the show had going off of the previous cliffhanger. This is the opposite of the masterful timing in "Fly". Breaking Bad fans will understand this comparison, but the jarring nature of this episode would be like if we got a bottle episode focusing on Hank in between "Half Measures" and "Full Measure" in season three. It simply doesn't work.
The next factor is El's character arc. I know her real name is Jane, but I'm not going to start using it unless it is confirmed that it will be used in the show by all characters instead of El. Anyways, regarding E's character, it didn't go anywhere interesting that warranted an entire episode dedicated to it. Had El been forced to choose between seeing her sister and saving Mike, obviously she would go to Mike based on who she is. It's not like she changed at all in this episode, but rather the show put so much nothing into this episode to make it seem like El has changed and gone through a transformation. But she didn't. She teased sticking with her sister, but she never made up her mind about it. There was no change, just a short conflict which would have had the same impact had it been given just 5 minutes of build up. Too much time was wasted on this "character arc" that El had, which honestly should have been so much shorter.
But I can already here the counter-argument saying that this episode was an episode exploring El's character. But it really isn't. What do we know about El now that we didn't know beforehand? Nothing. She behaved as we expected and did what we expected. This was just a whole lot of nothing for her. Just a single choice she made. To compare to "Fly" again, that episode showed a proper character examination that revealed things we didn't know. Walter White was too busy posing as a threatening kingpin for us to know exactly what was going on in his head, but "Fly" let us know how he is doing mentally, while also showing us where his relationship with Jesse currently stands. That episode had purpose despite being a bottle episode, whereas this one accomplished very little.
This episode only accomplished one thing: establish a bunch of characters who are annoying and easily hateable. Kali was decent enough but the actress has done a terrible job and I struggle to truly care for the character. Everyone else was just annoying and didn't leave any impact. Even if these characters are used later on, I won't be glad to see them since they are really annoying. I'm displeased that the season opening scene built to this. Worse yet though, is if these characters don't return. Then the ENTIRE episode is given no purpose whatsoever and ends up becoming a total waste of space.
The Unknown: While Kali's group return? What will their role be?
Is Dr. Brenner still alive somehow? If he is, it better have a good explanation.
Best Moment: Tough to pick since not much was enjoyable. Probably El saying that she is going home at the end of the episode. It was something of a catharsis for what was a pretty nothing plot line.
Character of the Episode: El.
Conclusion: The Duffer Brothers have impressed me in a lot of aspects, but bottle episodes is not one of them. This felt like a waste of time, which should have been spent elsewhere. This episode won't have a negative effect on the story overall thankfully, but it does feel like a real waste of my time and definitely hurts the narrative flow of the season. This needed to have more purpose to be justified, but since it didn't, I'm left wondering why this episode even happened.
Summary: Nancy and Jonathan finally get together. Dustin and Steve team up to take out Dart. Lucas gets Max to believe him and they go to help Dustin and Steve. They are confronted by Dart, but he has brought other monster friends. The group is spared when the monsters leave. Will's condition worsens but he finds a way to defeat the shadow monster. The lab people send the soldiers into the vines, but it's a trap and the small monsters kill them.
The Good: This was another strong and fun episode.
I really enjoyed Dustin and Steve together. They had funny interactions and seeing them talk about girls felt pretty fun and real. I care more about their relationship through these short funny scenes, and I think that's a big success for the show. Lucas and Max were good too, though not quite on the same level. I was happy to finally get some backstory on Max and more insight on her character. Her chemistry with Lucas is nothing special, but it's fine for what it is. The four characters interacting together was fun since we haven't seen much from these 4 together at all.
The actual monster attack scene was very tense and there was a real threat with Steve being out in the open with monsters closing in. The scene was shot very well and the feeling of dread was conveyed extremely well with use of atmosphere, music and setting.
Hopper apologizing to El was another strong emotional scene. It's good to see him feeling regretful about what happened between them and wanting for her to stay safe. There were some major flaws with this though, which took away from what should have been a beautiful scene (see: The Bad).
Nancy and Jonathan had a decent enough storyline. It was filmed well as always and Murray was excellent as a comedic shrink-esque personality that pushed them to be together. He made some good comedy and helped push the plot forward in rather organic fashion.
Will's story was very tense too as we get to see his deteriorating condition. It was easy to root for the lab people to come up with a cure to stop Will from becoming lost. The ending twist was awesome and I'm glad to say that it caught me by surprise. I thought the show had just pulled a Deus Ex Machina out of nowhere and I was prepared to rant about it, but when the real story became clear, I was impressed and gripped with tension to see what happens. The arrival of the dog monsters was a fantastic cliff-hanger and really leaves me reeling for the next episode. I'm very excited to see what comes to play in the last 3 episodes.
The Bad: There were a few glaring issues with the episode though. Where did the many slug monsters come from? It was awfully convenient to see so many show up without any explanation from where they came from. Will only ever coughed up one of them so why are the others? It seems like a silly plot error.
I wasn't happy with Steve putting himself in danger either. he was quick to jump to conclusions that the monster was tired of beef. What kind of reason is that? It's stupid, and if Steve can think of that so quickly, why wouldn't he have taken pre-emptive measures to ensure that there were other ways to prevent the plan from going wrong? The writing was very illogical here in order to put Steve in danger.
I wasn't happy with Dustin's motivation for keeping Dart either. Apparently the whole time he was doing it to impress Max. WHAT??? That doesn't fit anything we have seen from this character at all. He obviously has an attraction towards her but it was never hinted to be at this extreme level that he would endanger everyone by keeping Dart just for a girl. And she was scared by it too, so he shouldn't have motivation to keep Dart after that. It was just a whole lot of stupid. It would have been much better to keep the reasoning that Dustin found him and as such felt responsible for him.
Speaking of Max, there is set-up for a love triangle now after this episode. Ugh, love triangles are rarely a good thing in TV shows and a love triangle between 3 kids seems like a recipe for disaster. I am not looking forward to seeing more of that storyline. It also doesn't help that I really don't care about Max all that much, so I can't buy 2 kids being so in love with her.
Hopper's apology to El had some problems. It implied that he really cared about her, but we needed to see more kindness from Hopper to know that he really does care. Also, the apology felt meaningless since he then proceeded to forget about El for the rest of the episode and go on with his life. The character accomplished nothing by apologizing. If the writers wanted to go for a heartfelt scene like that, they needed to have Hopper decide to leave Will to go see El. But he didn't, so in my eyes this apology essentially accomplished nothing to redeem Hopper.
The Unknown: What is going to happen to Will when he is lost? Will the dog monsters take over the lab? Will they spread into Hawkins too and become public knowledge?
Best Moment: Take your pick of any scene between Steve and Dustin, barring Dustin's ridiculous reasoning of why he kept Dart.
Character of the Episode: Steve this time for being consistently funny and likeable.
Conclusion: This was another strong episode that provided a lot of climactic scenes. However the usual writing errors took away from the overall impact of the episode.
Summary: Dustin captures Dart and puts him in the cellar. Mike goes to Will's place and joins in with the plan. Hopper gets trapped in the vines and Will sees him. He goes with Joyce, Bob and Mike to save Hopper. The lab people arrive and burn the vines, which has a very big effect on Will. Nancy and Jonathan meet with Murray with a plan to shut down Hawkins lab. El goes to meet Jane and discovers what happened to her in the past.
The Good: This had more decent story continuity.
Dustin was a highlight once more as he worked to keep Dart under control. The scene when he drew out Dart was extremely tense and had a very exciting and funny ending when Dustin smashes Dart into the cellar with a hockey stick. It was a fun little scene to watch and was easy to enjoy on the surface, despite its flaws (see: The Bad). This is mostly due to Dustin's charm which kept him likeable. His team up with Steve was also a welcome surprise and I'm interested to see where it goes.
Will and Mike continue to work well together. Will has been spectacular this season and his scenes with Mike have been really enjoyable to watch. I like the scenes with him trying to piece thins together while under pressure, and the Bob storyline was also a good inclusion on the basic level, though it had issues (see: The Bad).
Nancy and Jonathan working with Murray was nice too. I had almost forgotten about him, but I'm glad to see him again. I am excited to see where the story goes as it is the biggest unknown for me in the show right now.
Lucas and Max's story was fine for what it was. Max has been extremely bland so far which takes away from it, but Lucas was at least likeable so I was somewhat into the storyline. I won't call it bad, but it wasn't particularly good either.
El meeting Terry again was nice. It was sweet to some level and it felt like a long time coming. El learning the truth about what happened to Terry was very sad and a very good reveal too. It was great to get some meaning to the words she always repeats. The flashback sequence was a brilliant little short story showing the tragic fate of a character.
The Bad: This episode had a few major issues plaguing it.
Hopper was completely idiotic at the start of the episode. I had assumed that he would go back out and tell somebody what he found while coming back with some protection because the vines were obviously some foreign substance. But he didn't do that and stupidly poked his face around. He deserved to get what was coming to him. Why he didn't tell Joyce about what he realized in the last episode is utterly beyond me.
That storyline had other problems too. How is Will able to make a perfectly to scale map inside of his house and how can they measure the distance properly, especially with some drawings on the wall. It's pretty convenient and Bob realizing it was a map was even more convenient. Nobody is that smart. I also didn't like that Bob just dropped his serious conversation with Joyce upon making connections with the map. It was pretty stupidly written honesty. And why on earth would all of them go into the vines without protection like Hopper? They had time to get something to protect themselves at least.
The Nancy and Jonathan as a couple conflict felt forced and inorganic. It did nothing for me.
The Unknown: Will people believe Nancy's story? Who will it be told to?
Why did the lab people conveniently show up? Did they detect Hopper or something? Or did they follow Joyce's car, which would make little sense since Hopper went there before them. Why did they burn the vines? Surely they would have tried to get the people out first. And why would Will and Mike just stand there and let them do it? What is their motive for doing this? Were they aware of the vines or did they just notice them and blast them with fire? Why did that effect Will? What is his connection to the vines exactly? So many questions, I really hope they are answered in the next episode.
Best Moment: The Terry flashback was wonderful and told a brilliant story in a short amount of time.
Character of the Episode: I'll pick Dustin again for being so damn charming.
Conclusion: This was a weaker episode of Stranger Things. There were writing flaws, and the story wasn't as exciting as the last episode. Hopefully things pick up again next episode.
Summary: Hopper and El have a fight when El returns home. Hopper leaves when Joyce calls him leaving El alone. El discovers the identity of her mother in some old files. Will is still in the real world but has been infected by the shadow monster. Joyce and Hopper try to find out what's wrong. Hopper discovers that vines are growing underground, spreading from Hawkins lab, which are killing the plants. Nancy tricks the lab people into revealing their mistakes on audiotape in an attempt to shut them down. Dart has begun growing into a Demogorgon.
The Good: This was a very good episode of Stranger Things. Last episode may have just been a minor hiccup as the storylines felt fresh in this episode, having diverged from season 1 as I had hoped. I'm happy to see that the writers understand that the show needs to change and they are doing a decent job of telling a different story even if it does borrow some elements from season 1.
The standout this episode was the Will and Joyce storyline. I loved seeing Will open up and let out his emotions. Season 2 has given us more scenes like this and I think that is the reason it has felt much more powerful than season 1. But on top of that the storyline has a lot of tension because we have no idea what is happening to Will and what is going to happen to him. Every new detail we learn has massive implications and ratchets up the excitement and tension. I'm very happy that we have gone with this approach, as it has proven to be extremely exciting and much more original than simply having Will be taken again. I thought for sure that we had seen Will's kidnapping last episode, so I was expecting him to have vanished again, but when he was found in the field, I was overjoyed and glad that the story is changing things up.
The El and Hopper story was a standout. I'm glad that the emotional scene between them was a fight because their relationship has been set up as an extremely strained one. The fight was very tense and felt like a very logical place for that story to go, and because of that I liked it. This was also followed up with a fantastic scene where El gets to see her mother for the first time, which was another one of those great emotional scenes. Hopper on the other hand, joined with Joyce again which was very good and got some key details revolving his dead crop storyline. That storyline always felt like a background detail, so I'm glad that it was brought into the main plot the way it was.
Nancy and Jonathan's storyline was enjoyable too. There was a lot of tension and it was great to learn more about the lab people and what they are doing, even if we can't trust their word (see: The Unknown). It was a good plot and the reveal that Nancy has played them was good and has my curiosity piqued for what happens next. For a show that is almost always predictable, that was a rare twist that has me genuinely intrigued to find out where the story goes next.
The Bad: Of course Nancy's trick doesn't feel real. She relies too much on luck. I don't buy that she can figure out that the lab people have her phones wiretapped because she hasn't been established as such a clever person. Her plan also goes to hell if the lab people would search her bag, which they really should have done. If they are careful enough to listen in on her calls, surely they should be careful enough to make sure she isn't carrying anything bad.
Max and Billy haven't been good. They were interesting at first, but their minimal screen time has made me lose that interest and they just seem to be taking up space and forcing conflicts for Lucas and Steve who are otherwise doing absolutely nothing. I don't like their characters either, so it feels annoying. Max's conflict with the party will obviously end with her learning the truth about Will so there is no tension there either.
Are we just supposed to assume that Dustin's mom can't hear the loud screeching from Dart in his room? Or the glass breaking? That feels like very sloppy writing.
The Unknown: What has happened to Will? What will happen to him in time? Will he still have episodes? What was going on with his eyes?
The vines are every interesting. How are they being formed? Does it tie in with the lab's experiments? Or is it the monster? Could the monster have been created or at least summoned by the lab?
Is Dr. Owens telling the truth? Is he actually a good person trying to fix things? That could mean that Nancy's actions may actually do way more damage than they do good. Or are they just bad guys trying to cover their tracks? I believe that would be much less interesting, but it is still likely.
So Dart is a baby Demogorgon which is very interesting. Will he have an attachment to Dustin? Will Dustin be able to let him go? Surely he would because the thing is a monster. How will the others react to Dustin preserving Dart? How will Dustin explain it? There are so many questions regarding that cliffhanger.
Best Moment: Will opening up to Joyce was great. This season has done a superb job of demonstrating PTSD in a child, and it has produced a lot of emotional scenes like this one.
Character of the Episode: Will for being excellent in showing the change in the character.
Conclusion: A very good episode which is my favourite thus far. There was emotion and tension with less flaws than there usually are. This was a great follow up to restore my faith in the story.
Summary: Ross goes on his first date in 10 years but messes it up when Carol arrives and he spends more time talking to her than his actual date. Chandler goes on a double date with Joey only to find that his date is Janice. They both get drunk and have sex to Chandler's dismay and Chandler is forced to dump her again. Rachel, Phoebe and Monica have a boyfriend bonfire in an attempt to get better guys in their life, but it goes wrong and starts a fire.
The Good: I thought this was a fantastic episode of Friends. This is the kind of episode that may get forgotten in the shuffle, but it is funny, memorable, emotional and superbly written. This is comedy at its absolute best. The thing that I love is how all 3 storylines make sense and have a really great story to them. Chandler and Ross in particular go through some excellent arcs in this episode that really add on some emotion o the episode. And yet the episode is also able to be one of the show's funniest on top of these stories which is no mean feat. It made me feel something while making me laugh hard throughout the whole episode. Now to be more specific, I enjoyed Chandler's story the most. Janice's return was capitalized on much more here than in "The One with the Monkey" and led to a myriad of funny jokes while also letting Chandler get a good story arc revolving around his relationship with Janice. The best thing about this is that they had a lot of serious scenes which were also infused with comedy, making them both funny and also emotional at the same time. Ross' scenes were similarly good, though not quite as successful. His storyline was the most satisfying storywise but it wasn't as funny as the others. The girls also had a fun little background story, providing the odd laugh as they attempt to improve their love lives in ridiculous fashion.
The Bad: Nothing.
Best Moment: I'll pick Chandler breaking up with Janice. Janice was given a good character arc and Chandler's insecurity was highlighted brilliantly while the scene kept up with a lot of laughs all the way through.
Character of the Episode: Chandler.
Conclusion: A spectacular episode, which is the best the show has offered so far. This season is mostly remembered for "The One with the Blackout", but I honestly think this was better and more enjoyable. This is how you do a comedy episode.
Summary: Dustin finds a mysterious tadpole-creature and grows attached to it. He shows it to the others and Will recognizes it as the slug he coughed up. Will gets in another episode and confronts the monster but it doesn't go well. Nancy calls Barb's parents and wants to tell them the truth but the lab people listen in to her conversation. Hopper suspects the lab people are responsible for the dead crops. El escapes and goes to school to find Mike but leaves after she sees him with Max. Joyce sees the monster in a video and goes to look for Will.
The Good: This was another solid episode, though some problems are popping up (see: The Bad).
I enjoyed Dustin's pollywog storyline a lot. That is currently the biggest mystery of the show and I was surprised by it. Dustin was very fun as always and he had some very funny moments and his love for the pollywog felt very real. He's a nerdy kid who just made a big discovery by himself, so of course he doesn't want to see anything done to it. The other kids' fears were also realistic though and I'm happy that Will recognized it right away and quickly got afraid that he had produced the pollywog. This storyline had all the chances to be conveniently written with characters behaving in forced ways, but the writing was top-notch and everything felt real. This is probably my favourite storyline in the entire series thus far.
I also really liked how Will's story went. It had some good writing in getting Bob to give some advice, which he thinks is the right thing to do. But of course we know better and that advice may have just done something terrible to Will. We will have to see what consequences will come to Bob in future episodes. The last scene itself was very tense and gave us a great cliff-hanger going into episode 4.
These 2 storylines also provided some brilliant tension to keep me on the edge of my seat as I never knew what to expect would happen next in most cases. The use of tension is refreshing and a lot of scenes had me really clamouring to see more. This show is regarded to be extremely bingeable, and this episode helped prove that it is still a true fact despite the slower pacing of the first 2 episodes.
El's flashbacks with Hopper were enjoyable too. It was good to see the story go full circle so we can understand everything about El and Hopper. If there is some kind of emotional payoff that will be attempted down the road, the seeds have been sown here for it to have at least a little bit of impact. Though I do feel we still need to get a bit more from Hopper and El's relationship.
There were some other developments that I really enjoyed. I'm glad that Joyce discovered the monster was real and I'm happy to see her being continuously worried for Will as expected. Hopper suspecting the lab people was nice too. I enjoyed Nancy and Jonathan working together again and their joint decision to call Barb's parents felt like a logical decision which will undoubtedly have some major consequences. El leaving was also handled well and I enjoyed her finding her way to the school. I'm not sure what to make of her being jealous of Max, but it's something different so I won't call it bad. The character writing on this show is good so I have faith that it should go somewhere rewarding.
I was happy to see more explanation as to what happened to Will. We needed to get that earlier but better late than never.
The Bad: There were some small things I didn't like. Though Dustin's story was fun, there were some problems. A lot of the jokes felt familiar (especially the curiosity one) and him just stealing the library books did not feel at all real. I wasn't a fan of El clearly using her powers in front of other people as she should know better than that by now.
This was my least favourite episode of the season for sure. Why? Because it undid everything the last 2 episodes did at being unpredictable. I felt confident that we would go a different route this season, but what happened in this episode? So many familiar plot lines that we have already seen before. There was the aforementioned curiosity joke being used twice but that was the least of the repetition problems. Will seems to have been kidnapped again by the monster and needs to be saved, Joyce is back to her panicked mom act, Hopper is suspicious of the lab people, Nancy and Jonathan team up after Nancy has issues with Steve, and somebody with a relationship to Joyce (in this case Bob) messes something up. This is all very familiar stuff an it is deeply unsatisfying to see the same story being told for a second time. I hope that things will diverge next episode but my hopes are dwindling. Max, Billy and the pollywog aside, this entire episode was nothing new whatsoever.
And once more the series falls into problems with being clichéd and predictable. After Bob told Will his story, I knew that next time Will went to the Upside Down it would backfire on him. The lab people are obviously responsible for the dead crops, the kids will likely get into some conflict over a new member of the party (this time Max) and there will be some drama. There are many other small example of predictable storytelling and it is once more plaguing this show.
The Unknown: A couple odd questions this time.
What is the pollywog and how will it impact the story?
What happened to Will at the end? Has he been taken again or will he still be fine, just traumatized?
What is Billy and Max's relationship if they aren't siblings? Why are they together?
Best Moment: Probably Dustin talking with his mom at the start of the episode. It was funny, charming, tense and unpredictable like most of the rest of the episode wasn't.
Character of the Episode: Dustin again for being so damn awesome.
Conclusion: Another solid episode, but this one has been plagued by some of the problems I was expecting to see in this season. It was still easy to enjoy, but by seeing so many familiar stories, it takes me out of the show a little. Hopefully we will get more of a divergence next episode.
Summary: Dustin and Lucas finally work up the courage to talk to Max and they become friends. She is invited to join them for trick or treating. Nancy and Steve go to a party to help Nancy get over Barb. Nancy gets drunk and tells Steve she doesn't love him. Jonathan is supposed to take Will trick or treating but goes to the party instead, leaving Will with his friends. Jonathan takes Nancy back home. Will ahs another episode while trick or treating and talks to Mike about it. Hopper discovers that crops are mysteriously dying. El is upset when Hopper doesn't keep a promise and tries to contact Will. Dustin sees something in his trash can.
The Good: This was very good. Stranger Things is definitely improving this season.
I liked that there were several emotional scenes this episode. Last season was fairly devoid of much emotion, but this season is giving a lot of attention to emotion. Several different story arcs for the characters culminated with emotional scenes in this episode, and it was really good. This level of storytelling is much more satisfying than what we have gotten before.
I'll address each storyline individually. First of all, the Dustin/Lucas/Max plot. This was just as hilariously fun as it was last episode and the 2 idiots were hilarious as they struggled to interact with Max. It was nice to see the three become friends by the end though. Max has also become a lot more interesting after this episode (see: The Unknown).
Next I'll take on Nancy's story this season, and it is a HUGE step up from the crappy teen drama stuff we got last season. The writing is vastly improved and it makes it easy to relate with both Steve and Nancy in their situation and by the end of the episode both come off as extremely likeable and it's sad to see what happened to them. Steve came off really well here and felt like a genuinely good person. Nancy on the other hand is traumatized by what happened to Barb, and rightfully so. It's emotional to see her suffering and gives her a much more gripping storyline to work with. And I think that the final break up scene worked very well because of this. Both characters' mindsets make sense and both are likeable and logical, so it's very saddening to see them finally give in to their problems and leave each other. The scene was written well and it worked on pretty much every level, showcasing the improved writing of this show.
The Will storyline was excellent too. I loved the continuity when Jonathan let Will go on his own. It was simple storytelling for Jonathan to leave Will on his own since he doesn't want to treat Will like a freak. It was simple, it worked but it also set up for something to happen when Will is alone. The set up is obvious and it gave the episode some good tension to make us fear for Will. So when he finally zaps back into The Upside Down, it's expected that something will happen and the scene was very tense. But it's not the tension we close out on, rather we close out on a brilliant scene between Mike and Will where both of them get to open up to each other and talk about what happened. It didn't feel forced and surprisingly felt very real and emotional, so kudos to the writer for pulling that off.
Lastly, I also enjoyed the El storyline. Her flashback at the beginning was good as it gave us some confirmation on what happened to her after she vanished. While I do have some problems with the story (see: The Bad), I enjoyed it overall. El comes off really well as somebody who is upset to be so alone all the time and her reaction to Hopper screwing up was understandable. It's also very interesting to see her trying to go back to Mike. Her seeing Mike was a pretty sweet scene to end off with too.
The Ghostbusters sequence at the beginning was also great fun. Well done director.
The Bad: I had some major reservations on El and Hopper's story to prevent it from reaching greatness. On Hopper's side, his story feels too similar to last season's which is a little annoying. I would hope for some change but it doesn't seem like I'll get it. From El's side, my main confusion comes from her travelling the world without the bathtub. How did she know to do that and why not just do that instead of the whole set up last season? It felt really convenient. The show also felt a bit too cliché with this storyline. It was obvious that Hopper would forget about El, so I wasn't surprised when he panicked since he forgot. I did get a laugh out of him getting candy from the kid though.
I had some other problems too. I don't like the familiarity of another secret lab storyline. We have seen enough of that last season, I don't want any more. The man in charge also feels like a Dr. Brenner 2.0 on every level so I really don't care to see more of that.
Joyce and Hopper reminiscing felt like a scene from season 1. We needed something like that a while back, not now.
It also feels a little stupid that nobody else wore a costume on Halloween. That would never happen in real life.
My biggest problem for sure though was Billy. He is obviously a villainous asshole, but I was really annoyed when he tried to MURDER INNOCENT CHILDREN. I don't care what situation he is in, how does murdering random kids help anything??? It would get him in serious trouble and felt like a completely childish and downright idiotic move. Nobody would actually do that, so it felt like a serious breach in my immersion.
The Unknown: Is the lab getting power from the Upside Down? Does that have some connection with the new monster? Or the crops?
Why are the crops destroyed? What caused it?
What is the Monster and why does it make such a weird sound? What is its goal? Why is it in Hawkins?
What did Dustin see at the end of the episode?
What happened to Billy and Max? Who are they and what have they done? Why does Billy seem to blame Max for whatever happened? Why does she think he is responsible? And of course, what happened?
Best Moment: I really liked Mike and will's conversation, so that takes it for me.
Character of the Episode: I'll say Steve this time for being such a good dude throughout.
Conclusion: The writing and storytelling has definitely improved this season, but that doesn't mean there aren't flaws. If these flaws can get ironed out, this show absolutely has the capability to reach new heights. This season is looking promising so far.
Summary: The kids discover a mysterious girl named Max who just moved in and has taken the high score on the game Dig Dug at the arcade. Will has visions of a massive monster in a storm coming to Hawkins in the Upside Down. Joyce has a new boyfriend named Bob and he is liked by the family. Barb's parents have hired a crazy PI named Murray to help them find Barb. El has been living with Hopper to nobody's knowledge.
The Good: I thought this was a very strong premiere. I was skeptical that there wouldn't be more story to tell in this world, but the writers have introduced new characters, concepts and storylines that give me some optimism for this season. I was very glad to see that the story doesn't seem to be repeating itself again this season as I feared it might. This premiere has accomplished what a lot of shows don't think is important: change. Without change we wouldn't want to keep watching, but impressively that was understood here and this episode has brought some notable changes to the characters and storytelling.
The 80s charm was introduced better here than I think it was in season 1 honestly. There were lots of references to 80s people, lots of 80s movie-esque scenes and of course the addition of the arcade also helped.
But the best thing the show is doing, that it has been wildly successful with since the start, is it's doing a superb job of portraying kids. They remain so intensely likeable and foolish in a way that doesn't make them feel like stupid adults, but rather kids just goofing around. Nothing shows this better than their plan to figure out who Madmax is, and their scenes when they stalked Maxine were hilarious and yet felt very real at the same time. They were very well done.
Another good thing about this episode is the follow up on what happened last season, though not everything was followed up on well (see: The Bad). Barb's death being so inconsequential was one of my biggest gripes last season so I'm glad we got to see her parents reacting to what happened and also it was nice to see Nancy struggling to get past her best friend's death. It was emotionally powerful stuff, of the kind that the show rarely touched upon last season. I also like the change in Will as he seems awkwardly quiet now and very to himself. It has created good dynamics between him and his family and I really enjoyed seeing that. His scene with Jonathan in particular was sweet and helped me warm up more to both characters.
The comedy was top notch this episode too. There were a lot of funny moments throughout. Things that stood out where Dustin and his new teeth, Mike robbing Nancy and Murray accusing the Russians for everything that happened to El. The latter particularly amused me because it was a US creation, but naturally everyone just blames the Russians.
The Bad: This episode still suffers from Stranger Things' biggest problem though: it's clichéd nature and predictability. However I am pleased to say that things were toned down in this episode, but still there. Of course we got a few twists but they were predictable. El and Hopper wasn't a surprise for me and I got the sense we were heading to that reveal at the end of the episode. Will being back in the Upside Down was a nice development (more on that in The Unknown), but it was obviously going to happen.
At least there were few clichéd moments this time around. Bob seems to be a clichéd happy guy, but I do hope there is more to him than there seems to be. Will visiting the doctor was as clichéd of a "doctor tries to help but can't" scene as possible. I also wasn't very happy with Will talking about the Upside Down in such a clichéd way.
There was some poor follow up on certain things last season. There needed to be more regarding Will returning to life in a miracle. How was that explained and why does nobody treat him any differently at school because of that? Also the zombie boy taunts just feel stupid. There also needed to be some follow up on the school killings by the monster. How were they explained and who was impacted by it? How did everyone just go back to being normal again? We needed to see that.
The only worrying thing for me is that the characters' may not have anything different or new to do. Hopper's act of investigating is already starting to wear thin and the season only just started. I also hope we can see more from Joyce other than "worried mom" but it doesn't seem to be happening so far.
The Unknown: Lots to put here.
Who is 008? What is her history and how did she get to where she is? How will she factor into the overall story? I was very happy with the opening scene as it proved to me that there is more to this world that needs to be explored. But the question is what is it? Are there other experiments? How were they made? How did they get away? What are their individual powers? 008 clearly has different powers from El.
Speaking of El, what happened to her after she vanished? How did she end up living with Hopper?
Why does Will keep flashing back into the Upside Down? What is the storm he saw? Is it just another monster or something more?
What is Max's story? Will she become part of the kids crew?
How long have Joyce and Bob been together?
What was the significance of the raven in the pumpkin field? What destroyed the pumpkins because it couldn't be Eugene. That would just be anticlimactic.
What was in Dustin's trash can?
Best Moment: The kids stalking Max was brilliant and felt pretty realistic for kids their age.
Character of the Episode: Dustin for still being awesome.
Conclusion: This was a really good premiere, despite the follow up issues it had. I had my doubts, but this season has the potential to be better than the first. If we get more quality like this than I would be happy with the decision to continue the series after season 1.
Summary: Jimmy officially settles into Davis and Main and continues to do his job. Chuck still doesn't approve of Jimmy and there is some tension when he joins in on a Sandpiper meeting. Mike runs into Daniel and realizes the situation he got himself into. Mike makes a deal with Nacho to return the baseball cards in exchange for Daniel's Hummer and he agrees to the terms. Mike hires Jimmy to help exonerate Daniel from the police's eyes. Jimmy does this by making a fake video of Daniel performing "squat cobbler", but Kim doesn't approve of this as it's falsifying evidence.
The Good: This was another great episode of Better Call Saul which closes out one storyline and does a lot of set up for future episodes.
There are a lot of conflicts and storylines to address in this episode, so I'll start with the big one that reached its conclusion in this episode: the Daniel story. In just 3 episodes of screentime, Daniel's character was clearly identified and he got a complete storyline that fit in with other major characters, offered tons of humour and set up for more storytelling down the road. It's very impressive and I'm beyond impressed that the writers pulled it off without the story ever feeling rushed or cramped for time. Every step was organic and the final scenes of this storyline closed it out very nicely and satisfyingly. I think Daniel's love for his baseball cards was hilarious and his idiocy brought loads of laughs, especially when he's dealing with somebody like Mike, who makes hilarious faces when dealing with Daniel's amateur nature. I also do like that Daniel's love for baseball cards got a little bit of backstory when he says some cards were his fathers; it's a brilliant little touch that makes the storyline feel a little more realistic.
The actual conclusion as played out excellently throughout the episode. There was some tension when Mike was talking to Daniel since we don't know if Daniel will screw this up, but there was also tons of humour to ensure scenes stay lighthearted. This show isn't Breaking Bad and so far it has carefully avoided using tension so frequently to keep itself from being compared with Breaking Bad, the show which I believe has the greatest tension-based scenes of all time. Mike's plan came together nicely in his scene with Nacho too, a scene which I think was beautifully written and executed. The dialogue, situations and character behaviour felt so organic and the scene was pure joy to behold from a writing perspective. And then of course there was the amazing "squat cobbler" scene, but more on that later (see: Best Moment). I thought Daniel's final scene of giving up the Hummer was brilliant and Nacho calling it "a school bus for 60 year old pimps" had me laughing almost as much as the squat cobbler.
So first I have examined a storyline that concluded, but it also brilliantly set up some other conflicts. The obvious one is a storyline of some kind between Mike and Nacho. I'm not sure when or how it will happen, but I'm positive that we can chalk in these two crossing paths again as Nacho is a series regular along with Mike. The other more interesting storyline that benefitted from this is Kim and Jimmy. We have seen how these 2 are officially a couple now, and we have a good understanding of these characters' morals. Jimmy's final conversation with Kim could potentially be hinting at how these 2 may ultimately end up tragically splitting: Jimmy will likely do something questionable and will pay the price for it, but Kim will get roped into it too, causing her to leave Jimmy. The seed has been planted in that last scene as we see the first of what will likely be many arguments between Jimmy and Kim about Jimmy's real nature.
Another conflict that ties into that one is Jimmy at Davis and Main. To put it simply, Jimmy is evidently not as happy as he would like at Davis and Main. We can see him trying, because he wants Kim to be happy, but Bob Odenkirk has done a terrific job emoting Jimmy's displeasure at working there in several scenes with Kim and one great scene with Clifford Main. And we were brilliantly told that Kim vouched for Jimmy to get the job, so if he blows it like we all know he will, Kim would be in the heat too. By connecting the dots, it's possible that this will be the event that causes the break between Kim and Jimmy. And as a side note, I really enjoyed the metaphor of Jimmy not quite fitting in at Davis and Main when he can't get his lawyer mug to fit in the new office car, yet it fits in his junk yellow car (which will be sorely missed, I got quite attached to that piece of junk, much like with the RV in Breaking Bad).
The final conflict that was examined was Chuck and Jimmy's. This was a bit of a surprise for me as Chuck hadn't appeared at all in the last episode, so I had assumed that he would be a background player. But after seeing that tense and brilliant meeting scene when Chuck walked in, it seems clear to me that there will be much more story to tell with the feelings shared between these 2 brothers. The opening scene was nice too as it reintroduced Chuck in a good way, showing us more of how Jimmy bothers him.
The Bad: Nothing much really. Like last season, these episodes suffer from being slow and mostly set up. Though I really enjoy episodes like this, it's practically impossible to give episodes like these scores of 70 or higher since they are essentially just moving story arcs along for more memorable scenes later on.
The Unknown: Could Jimmy assisting Mike by doing the squat cobbler story come back to haunt him later on? With this show, anything could return later on. Maybe we will see Daniel again too at a later point.
Have we seen the starting hints of the Kim/Jimmy split in this episode. How long will it be until it happens? It seems possible that the end of this season could see the destruction of that relationship.
Will Mike and Nacho cross paths again in the future?
Best Moment: The squat cobbler scene. This is humour at its absolute finest as it gives us such an absurdly hilarious, yet still plausibly realistic story to explain Daniel's secret cubby. The cops reactions to Jimmy's claims was brilliant and felt realistic, which is the best part of the whole scene. Also, I loved how every detail just slowly added to the intense laughter I was giving off. A brilliantly executed comedy scene.
Character of the Episode: Jimmy.
Conclusion: This is another set up episode, but the comedy was on a whole other level which made his better than it should have been. This episode is proof that brilliant writing an storytelling can make any storyline in a TV show easily enjoyable. Season 2 is off to a strong start.
Summary: Chandler accidentally sees Rachel's boobs and she plots to see him naked as revenge. Joey's dad comes to stay at Joey's place, but Joey finds out he's been cheating on his mother. Joey tells him to stop, but finds that it causes more problems than it solves. Phoebe has a new boyfriend, a psychologist named Roger but all of her friends totally hate him.
The Good: This was one of the best episodes yet. Hilarious from start to finish. The boobies storyline was great and made for consistent laughs throughout the episode as all characters were hilariously petty on trying to see each other naked. Every scene where one of the friends see the wrong person naked is hilarious with the final one with Joey's dad being the best off them all. The other storylines were very funny too. I loved Joey's story as he had to "parent the parent" in hilarious fashion. He had some great jokes with Chandler too as always and his general stupidity kept the plot funny. But more than that, it was a meaningful plot that let us learn more about Joey and feel something for him in the end. And through all that it was funny, which is perfect structure for a comedy episode. Phoebe's story was also well done and I loved seeing Roger slowly turn all of the friends against him by exposing their flaws. His interactions with everyone were very funny and felt very realistic since most people don't like looking at something true about themselves like that. The last scene was good too and helps us buy into the idea that Phoebe loves her friends since she dumps Roger as soon as he starts dumping all over them.
The Bad: I suppose Roger's rage at the end was a bit unrealistic which took me out of the moment. It was still funny though, but flawed.
Best Moment: Monica seeing Joey's dad naked and him just saying "hello dear" was hilarious and ended the episode on a perfect note.
Character of the Episode: Joey for this one.
Conclusion: A great episode that was structured very well and consisted of three very strong and funny storyline which never overshadowed each other. This is a comedy TV show at its best.
Just a university student who loves to watch TV. And criticize it like hell.