Summary: The kids remain at the house where they fight the Mind Flayer. El is injured badly but they escape. As El recovers at a store, Dustin calls Mike on the walkie. Dustin and Erica get Steve and Robin out but they are trapped in the mall with the Russians closing in. Steve confesses his love for Robin but Robin reveals that she is lesbian. The Russians find their location and the team is trapped, but the other kids return and El kills the Russians. El then collapses in pain from her wound which has started to convulse. Hopper and Joyce go searching through the Independence Day festival to find the kids. They are unsuccessful and Kline notices them. The terminator arrives and kills Alexei. Hopper, Joyce and Murray eventually escape and head to the mall.
The Good: Steve and Robin were once again this episode's saving grace. Their scenes were extremely well done. At first, it seemed like their interactions existed solely for comedy as they were high as a kite and were just saying a bunch of stupid, funny stuff. But then their interactions took a surprisingly poignant turn with Steve confessing his feelings for Robin and Robin then having the tough task of refusing him. The moment was impressively emotional and I felt really bad for Steve who had to suffer losing the girl he loves yet again. But what was most striking to me was how quickly Steve and Robin were able to move on and keep their friendship intact, showing their maturity and demonstrating the closeness of their bond which has developed in such a short amount of time. It was a beautiful scene and it paid off of their season-long story in a beautiful way.
The Hopper/Joyce story had a few good moments. The action sequence at the fair was pretty creative and it had its fair share of tense moments. I got a laugh out of Murray doing his thing where he predicts people's lives with striking accuracy once again. It was stupid (see: The Bad), yet it was still funny.
The Bad: "Stranger Things" still hasn't figured out how to handle a season's climax. This show has been consistently good at heating up storylines with intriguing mystery and some surprising twists, but when it comes to providing an action-packed climax, the show has been consistently disappointing. That trend continues here as this episode completely failed in all of its big action scenes, and without the allure of mystery keeping me engaged, that gave this episode very little content that actually interested me.
The Mind Flayer action sequence for example was absolutely atrocious. I never felt any tension because I knew that everyone would escape okay (this clearly wasn't the big climactic confrontation), and as a result, I found myself screaming in frustration at all of the absurd, convenient moments during this action sequence. For one, it makes no sense that everyone would not immediate;y leave the house when they learned that the Mind Flayer knew their location. Instead they perplexingly barred the doors and chose to make a final stand, which ended in them all running away anyways. Why didn't they just run away before? Why didn't anybody bring this up as an idea? I have no clue.
Worse yet is the mechanics of the battle itself. The Mind Flayer doesn't immediately go for the kill for whatever reason and everything is set up purely to create the most drama, rather than making any sense. The Mind Flayer can send in multiple tendrils, yet it only starts with one. Then, it doesn't attack El right away, which makes little sense considering that El is its prime target. Another stupidity is that El takes forever to start using her powers. It's like she decided to give everyone else a chance to fight beforehand which is very stupid. And why didn't the Mind Flayer just send in a third tendril to kill El? After all she only has two hands to fight with. Then we have the Mind Flayer pointlessly just poking its head in and roaring until El could explode it, which is a perfect case of the villain becoming suddenly incapable so that the heroes could escape. Also, El was wounded pretty deeply, I find it highly unlikely that she didn't bleed out before they group arrived at the store.
Murray's accurate estimation on Joyce and Hopper's relationship still feels too cartoony. It's also not as funny as the first time it happened in the last season. Thankfully, his intervention did stop the endless bickering between Joyce and Hopper which had gotten old 2 or 3 episodes ago.
The scenes at the fair had their dumb moments. Joyce going back to punch Kline was a dumb action hero trope. Alexei's death didn't really work for me. His character hadn't been developed enough to make losing him feel sad. Furthermore, I can't believe that he died without anybody in the fair noticing. News flash, even if a gun has a silencer on it, you can still hear the gunshot if your close to it! Furthermore, did nobody stumble upon the dead body which was just around the corner from everything? That should be enough to send everybody into a huge panic.
The Unknown: What is happening to El's leg? Will she lose her leg in the next episode? Or is the Mind Flayer starting to take over her mind?
The story seems to be setting up for a big final confrontation at Starcourt Mall with all the major players heading there. What is going to happen? Will the gate be closed? Will the Mind Flayer attack the Russians too?
What happens to Kline in the next episode? What is his character's resolution?
If the Mind Flayer is killed, will all of the Flayed be returned to their normal lives? Or do they die too?
Best Moment: Steve's confession to Robin.
Character of the Episode: I gave it to Steve last episode, so I'll give it to Robin this time.
Conclusion: "Stranger Things" still hasn't quite figured out how to do big climaxes and it shows with this episode. Outside of the one brilliant Steve and Robin scene, this was a major disappointment and it feels like this season is going to end on a real low point.
Just a university student who loves to watch TV. And criticize it like hell.