Summary: The group with Will are stuck in the lab as the monsters invade and kill everyone. Bob helps the group escape with his knowledge of computers, but he is killed by a demodog before he can leave. The others have to leave without him. Dr. Owens stays at the lab. The group goes to Joyce's house and Will is hidden in the shed to be questioned in an attempt to learn more about the monster, dubbed the Mind Flayer. Will learns where he is and the demodogs arrived, but El arrives and kills them.
The Good: This was a very exciting episode to watch. There was tension all the way through this episode and a lot of important information was given out. This episode was a big one and it sure felt like it. Because of that, it was easy to enjoy the episode despite its flaws, and there were quite a few (see: The Bad).
I like the Mind Flayer analogy to help us understand what is really going on with the mysterious shadow monster. It was an easy way to feed us exposition, and the timing was good to give us all of the answers. Now that we know everything about the Mind Flayer, the tension is higher than ever and there should be some real excitement in the finale where it seems like everything will be on the table.
Dustin's character change in this episode was impressive and very well done. I was surprised to see a child actor conveying a character's inner turmoil and conflict so brilliantly throughout the episode. Everything is subtle but Dustin is presented as different after everything that happened around him, letting him be even more human and lovable. Dustin remains one of the series' greatest accomplishments.
The scenes with everyone sharing their memories with Will were very touching. They had an excellent emotional edge and felt real. The desperation and stakes of the situation with Will almost being lost were presented brilliantly, making it very enjoyable television to watch.
El's return at the end was a nice moment and a pleasant way to end the demodog attack. It's going to be great to see all the reunions which will hopefully start out the finale.
The Bad: There was a fair share of flaws in this episode however, which prevents it from being truly great.
Billy remains the antithesis of enjoyable. He is bland, generic and downright annoying, not to mention hat he's accomplished absolutely nothing in 8 episodes of screen time. He bores me to death and I have no reason to care about anything he's doing.
The kids arguing was also dumb. There is a LOT of threat in the area, so why waste so much time just arguing about things that don't matter? I understand that they are kids, but even kids aren't that dumb.
Bob's death was an emotional moment and there was a very tense sequence leading up to it. I enjoyed that part, but a lot of his story felt a little lame. The main problem was that his death didn't surprise me. I had him marked for death or something bad the moment I saw him, and when I heard him say he was going to do something, I instantly knew he would not make it out alive. Though I will credit the show with making his death scene exciting and making it seem a little more surprising than I expected, I have to point out a lot of flaws with his storyline. First, how does Bob know how to use a super computer so easily? No man who works at RadioShack should be able to work a top secret government computer, whereas the qualified scientist is clueless. Next, what happened to all the demodogs? One minute they had occupied every hall in the lab, but the next they were just all gone, which felt convenient and dumb. And then one of the dogs is apparently a stealth ninja and it enters the room and blindsides Bob to kill him. That scene would have been more emotional if I wasn't completely taken out of my immersion when I called the convenient stealth attack which then bothered me during Bob's death.
I also didn't like a lot of the Will story, though I did enjoy everyone talking with him. First of all, how is Will able to use Morse Code without the Mind Flayer's knowledge? The Mind Flayer should have total understanding of everything Will does so how does this Morse Code get through? And how come he can do that but not anything else? Furthermore, the location selected sucked. Wouldn't Will's house literally be the first place the Mind Flayer would check to look for Will's group??? And it seems ridiculous that Will was held in his own shed as if he wouldn't recognize it. I mean come on it's his own shed which we saw him enter in the first episode of the show. And to have Will hear the phone in the shed is stupid. The phone is so far away and inside of the house, how on earth would the sound carry so clearly to the shed?
The Unknown: El's back! What will be her reaction to seeing everybody, and what will everyone else say?
So the gate has to be closed to defeat the Mind Flayer. How will that happen? Will El have to do it? Will the Mind Flayer survive somehow? How is it going to get out of Will?
Best Moment: I really enjoyed everyone talking with Will. It was excellent.
Character of the Episode: Bob. Even though his death left a lot to be desired, I thought Sean Astin brought a lot of charisma to the role, making Bob a really likeable guy.
Conclusion: This was a really exciting episode, but it was just as flawed as any other episode of Stranger Things. This show is well put together and easy to enjoy, but flaws always seem to make it through the cracks which is unfortunate. I see serious potential in this show, but it needs to stop with these consistent flaws.
Just a university student who loves to watch TV. And criticize it like hell.