Summary: Joyce and Hopper find a secret underground Russian base that they investigate. The man whoa attacked Hopper at Hawkins lab returns to kill them. Joyce and Hopper escape with a hostage, Alexei. Hopper takes them to Murray's place. Dustin, Steve, Robin and Erica find themselves in a secret Russian facility. They quietly sneak around and discover a massive machine. Nancy tells Jonathan about Mrs. Driscoll and she speaks with the kids about it. They all figure out that the Mind Flayer has possessed tons of people and is doing it at a specific location. Nancy plans to follow Mrs. Driscoll back to this location so they all go to the hospital. At the hospital, Jonathan and Nancy find that Mrs. Driscoll is gone an dBruce and Tom are waiting for them. They fight and kill Tom and Bruce who melt into goo and transform into a monster.
The Good: The best thing about this episode is that it was very entertaining. There is loads of action, the comedy is fantastic, and the pacing is rapid. A lot happens here, and it is fun to watch.
Joyce and Hopper's story starts with a bang with an exciting action sequence that sets up the story for the rest of the episode. They go on an episode-long journey with new character Alexei, who is a fun addition with entertaining mannerisms, but the episode is still pretty serious as they are chased by a Terminator-like villain who is right behind them. The story is fun and there are several funny moments like the commandeering of the convertible car, Joyce accidentally throwing the gun to the bad guy, and Hopper screaming at Joyce to drive over and over again.
The Mrs. Driscoll plot is really strong as well. Like the Hopper/Joyce story, this is filled with comedy and some pretty important plot details which are given out early in the episode. The story reaches its climax with a really fun action/horror sequence as Nancy and Jonathan battle Tom and Bruce, though they do so differently than they may have expected. This leads into a shocking final scene as a monster is born out of Tom and Bruce's remains, leaving us on a pretty good cliffhanger. We also get a nice moment of Jonathan and Nancy making up, which was a solid scene that nicely addressed the tension between them.
The Dustin/Steve story is also really fun. There are a number of fun setpieces, exciting moments, and big reveals. It's good for all of the same reasons that the other 2 stories are good. As a whole, all three storylines are moving the story forwards in the same way and at the same pace.
As a side note, I really liked the transition from Hopper, Joyce and Alexei in the woods to El watching them. This show has gotten a little more creative with its cinematography.
The Bad: The biggest issue with this episode is how little character work there is. The episode is far too busy with too many plot movements, and as a result there are fewer character beats infused into the action than usual. I enjoy some action and plot development as much as anyone else, but I certainly prefer there to be a character story told throughout.
The result of a lack of character means that this episode doesn't have much under the surface of the suspense. The mystery of early in the season is nearly gone, so all the tension comes from the action setpieces which is too simple of a story to carry an episode. The characters are given very basic things to do and there isn't very much conflict for any of them to deal with throughout the episode.
I had a few problems with this. Robin seems to have somehow picked up on the Russian language immediately which is too quick for my liking. I still don't understand why the elevator decided to go down at the beginning of the episode, and it seems that there is no explanation. That's pretty stupid. Lastly, the terminator villain is a little too ridiculous for me.
The Unknown: What does Alexei know? Will he tell Hopper and Joyce anything?
What is with that goo at the end? Are the possessed people actually just goo and not the actual people? Have they somehow been replaced by monsters? How does this work? What is that monster at the end? How did it form like that? How many of these monsters are there? What is going to happen to Nancy and Jonathan?
Best Moment: Nancy and Jonathan getting back together was the only scene of the episode thta actually made me feel something.
Character of the Episode: Hopper.
Conclusion: This was entertaining, but it was lacking in character. I had fun watching this episode, but there is nothing more than ordinary TV drama here.
Just a university student who loves to watch TV. And criticize it like hell.