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