Summary: El meets with everyone and makes up with Hopper. The 2 of them go to the lab to close the gate. Will is taken to a cabin by Joyce, Jonathan and Nancy who use heat to free him from the Mind Flayer. Steve and the kids go into the vines and set a huge fire to distract the demodogs from Hopper and El. El closes the gate to trap the Mind Flayer in the Upside Down. Dr. Owens legitimizes El as Hopper's daughter. Lucas dances with Max at the ball. Mike dances with El. Dustin still can't get a girl despite Steve's advice.
The Good: This was a solid finale. It was paced well and had a lot of exciting climactic moments.
The El storyline was very well done. Her scenes with Hopper were excellent and there was a lot of emotion present as they both make up with each other, solidifying their father/daughter relationship. That was the most emotional moment of the episode for sure, and it made their subsequent mission a lot more gripping since we care about these 2 characters' relationship more than most others.
Steve was a real standout. I have really come around to his character over this last season due to some excellent development throughout. His pairing with Dustin really helped and they have developed a fantastic relationship over just a few episodes. It really helped me come along more to his character. His interactions with the kids were very fun throughout and Steve came across as a real unsung hero throughout the episode. There was also a really powerful final moment with Steve as he gives a final look at Nancy, knowing she doesn't love him and accepting it even if he still loves her. It showed growth in the character and continued to make him very likeable and relatable. I would be happy to get a lot more of Steve next season.
The final scenes were very good too. It brought some nice closure to the relationships we have seen throughout the season and also gave us a positive note to end off the season. Dustin in particular was great and he did a good job of taking most of the focus during the dance. I really liked that he followed Steve's advice and even went with the hair; it was the funniest thing for sure in this episode.
I enjoyed seeing multiple storylines advanced throughout the episode. It provided a sense of urgency and gave the episode a sense of purpose and tension. It was also fun to see 3 different plans simultaneously get accomplished.
The Bad: This episode had several issues though.
There was a large issue with things we didn't get to see. El and Mike was an important part from season 1 and they got a solid 2 scenes together. More time was given to Mike being angry at Hopper which is a crime. The scene was good, but we desperately needed more from El and Mike. El ignoring Max was bad and it was a terrible idea to not revisit that conflict later in the episode. We also still haven't seen El meet Will which seems like a missed opportunity. Speaking of Will, his entire storyline was a miss here. Nobody in that storyline got any closure and there was no time given to anything happening there. It feels like a poor decision because Will has been an absolute highlight this season and we deserved to get an emotional closing scene with him.
Billy remains a really weak part of the series. His arrival at the Byers' residence had absolutely no tension and he wasn't given enough of a role throughout the season to be a big deal. It just felt like filler to pass the time until the more exciting stuff happened. Also, the plan to talk to Billy was idiotic. Just don't answer the door and hide. And why would Max actually watch from the window, it is literally asking for Billy to see her.
I was annoyed by some continuity too. How did El just kill all of the demodogs? How many were there, considering we only saw one? If there was only one, why not send more? Shouldn't recovering Will be a priority? And what is stopping the Mind Flayer from sending more anyways. We saw tons of demodogs in the gate closing scene, so why not send some to Will's house after the first wave died? Also, how did Dr. Owens live? It seems like one of them just conveniently stopped eating him which is just dumb.
Dustin taming Dart was ridiculous and shouldn't be possible. The show introduced a hive mind concept, meaning everything is controlled by a single brain. So how did Dustin tame a part of the hive mind, not all of it? It's ridiculous and was entirely unnecessary. How would Dustin recognize Dart anyways? They all look alike and Dustin looks like an idiot for trying to just talk down one of the demodogs.
The biggest flaw with this for me though was the same as last season: it was too predictable. Nothing surprising happened, this was just everything you would have expected it to be. That really damages the episode if there is little emotional engagement and I already know what will happen by the end of the episode. This took away from most tense scenes, since I knew that everyone would survive and that we were just heading to a happy ending 2.0. I wish this show would get a little more bold sometimes so that the predictability flaw can be overcome.
The Unknown: How will the Mind Flayer come into play into the future? It knows of El's existence now, so will it go after her? How will it get back into the human world? And how will it be defeated for good?
How will Dustin and Hopper be effected by the goop? Is it going to be how the Mind Flayer returns? They would not have included Dustin being sprayed if it led nowhere. Dustin got it in his mouth too, so surely something will happen there.
What happened to the demodog in the fridge? There was a timeskip so I assume it was taken out. But the scene where it was put in the fridge was hilarious, and I would have loved to see a character open the fridge only to find a dead monster inside. It would have been hilarious continuity.
Best Moment: I'll pick Hopper and El talking in the car. Such a powerful scene, and one that felt like it belonged in the finale from a storytelling perspective.
Character of the Episode: Steve for his overall character arc. He's gotten more and more likeable and is now my favourite character (sorry Dustin).
Conclusion: This was a decent finale. Not great but not terrible either. I can't say this episode felt special in any way, but it was easy to watch despite many flaws it had to overcome.
As for the season as a whole, I enjoyed it. I think this season did a great job of starting storylines, but a poor job of concluding them. I enjoyed the show much more as it was building up to the climax, and the climax itself was rather disappointing and predictable, whereas the build-up was exciting, fresh and unpredictable a lot of the time. Compared to season , I will say that the buildup was much better, though the climax wasn't as enjoyable as season 1. The really poor El episode also took away from the season quite a bit. As a whole, I would say season 2 was slightly better without the El episode, bit slightly worse with it. If you liked season 1, this is more of the same and will be fun. But for someone looking for something new, it provides a little bit in the early episodes, but goes back to being ordinary around episode 6 or so.
Just a university student who loves to watch TV. And criticize it like hell.