Review by J.T. Johnson
We’ve reached the penultimate episode of the first season of “Stranger Things”! Our heroes finally team up in this episode, so I’ve actually had to combine the stories in this particular episode as they all get together to plan their next course of action. Let us begin!
QUOTE OF THE EPISODE:
“They know about Eleven! The bad men are coming! All of them! Do you hear me? The bad men are coming!” – Lucas
The episode opens on a softer note with Mike glad that Eleven is back with them. We also see how close they’ve become in their short time. Their reunion is cut short, though, when Lucas informs them that the bad men are coming. A bicycle chase that rivals and pays tribute to the climactic chase in “E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial” ensues and Eleven shows off her powers for an unfortunate soul in one of the vans from Hawkins Lab.
After this, Lucas apologizes to Eleven and she apologizes to Lucas and they are officially friends now. Mike also apologizes and he formally shakes hands with Lucas, ending their fued. Cue the opening credits.
THE ADULTS/THE TEENAGERS/THE KIDS
Hopper and Joyce arrive at the police station where they learn of Jonathan and Nancy’s plans to go after the monster. Meanwhile, Dr. Brenner and his henchmen investigate Mike’s house, looking for any signs as to where Mike and Eleven ran off to. Dr. Brenner explains to Mike’s parents that Mike is in danger and that they need to find him.
After one of the bullies comes in to report the attack on him by Eleven, this gives Hopper the clue to go and try to find Mike and the others. Meanwhile, Steve is feeling sorry for what he and his friends did to Nancy. After getting rid of his two deadbeat friends, Steve leaves to make amends for his mistake.
Hopper inquires as to how to find Mike and Jonathan suggests that they use the walkie talkies to get in touch with Mike. This eventually works and soon enough, all of our heroes are assembled. They then try to figure out how to find Will and what they need to do to recover him.
At first, they try to use Eleven’s powers, but she is still drained from the earlier chase scene. She recommends that they create a salt water bath so that she can focus more and have a better chance of finding both Will and Barb. They eventually creat the bath using a kiddie pool and lots of deicing salt at the school.
When Eleven goes under, she discovers one horrible truth. Barb didn’t make it and was indeed killed by the Demogorgon. Thankfully, though, she does discover that Will is still alive. Unfortunately, she soon loses contact.
After confirming that Will is alive and where he is, Joyce and Hopper decide to go to the lab in order go through the gate and rescue Will. Unfortunately, they are caught soon after getting through the lab’s fence. Jonathan and Nancy then decide to get their traps back in order to lure the Demogorgon away from Joyce and Hopper. Finally, Will is in Castle Byers trying to hide when the Demogorgon suddenly attacks out of nowhere. Credits.
The cold open for this episode is without a doubt the best in the series as the kids escape from the lab’s soldiers. Seeing Eleven flip the van with her mind is one of the coolest moments in the show. Being the penultimate episode of the first season, it was also good to start seeing our heroes come together against their common foes including not only the scientists from the lab but also the Demogorgon.
After being apart for almost the entire season, it was great to see scenes such as one where Nancy and Mike bond. Also, it was good to see that Joyce was also concerned for Eleven as much as she is her own son. Seeing her comfort Eleven while she is in the bath was a truly heartwarming moment.
Beyond that, though, there’s not much more to say. This episode is meant to primarily set up the season’s big finale and it does that perfectly. It may be noted that I’ve not said too many negative things about this season so far, but that’s because it’s a pretty damn solid season. There are not too many rocks left unturned and since the show only has eight episodes, it’s able to keep your attention because the writers don’t have to fill the episode up with a bunch of filler storylines.
The ending does a great job of setting up the season finale and it leaves you on the edge of your seat, not wanting to wait for the next episode. Thankfully, this is Netflix, so if you want to binge the show, then binge away! In the meantime, I’ll be back tomorrow to talk about the season finale of the first season of “Stranger Things”!
Join me tomorrow as we take a look at ‘Chapter 8: The Upside Down’!