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.
Just a university student who loves to watch TV. And criticize it like hell.