Review by J.T. Johnson
Welcome to another addition to my ‘Stranger’ Recaps series! In the last episode, we were successfully reintroduced to our characters and to the new mysteries that will play out through the season. Without further ado, let’s just go ahead and dive back in with ‘Chapter Two: Trick or Treat, Freak’!
QUOTE OF THE EPISODE
“Presumptuous… That’s a good thing, right?” – Dustin
The episode opens by revealing what happened to Eleven. Sure enough, after she destroyed the Demogorgon, she got stuck in the Upside Down. She wakes up and after not being able to find anyone, she finds the hole in the wall where the Demogorgon came through in the season finale. After everyone leaves the school, she quickly leaves the Upside Down.
She then proceeds to go to Mikes, but she can’t stay there because of all the authorities at the house. Once she leaves his house, she runs off into the woods, evading those who are still looking for her. Opening credits!
Back in the “present” of 1984, the gang dresses up as Ghostbusters for school. Joyce is concerned for Will when she sees one of his drawing, but he plays it off as something he’s writing for a story. After this, we have a montage of everyone dressing up in their costumes and heading to school, only to discover that none of the other students are in costumes.
Even in their costumes, Lucas and Dustin approach Max and awkwardly ask about her joining their group for trick or treating. Unfortunately, Max’s brother Billy isn’t just an idiot older brother. He’s a complete asshole who is just pissed that he’s stuck in Hawkins and even threatens to run over Mike, Dustin and Lucas when he comes across them on the road. Billy is one bonafide psycho.
When taking Will to join his friends for trick or treating, Jonathan lets Will go with his friends alone. This is so that Will can go hand with his friends and not feel different, but it’s also so that Jonathan can go to the party that Nancy invited him to. The kids are having a good time and they’re eventually joined by Max.
While Lucas and Dustin are having fun with Max, Mike shows that he doesn’t want her around. Afterwards, Will gets separated from the others due to other kids making fun of him. Will has another vision and the big monster that’s been heading his way seems to now be in the Upside Down’s version of Hawkins.
Will is thankfully found by his friends in our world. Mike decides to take Will home since he wasn’t having such a good time anyway. Later on, Will confides in Mike about his visions and how they feel so real. Mike then confides in Will about how he’s still dealing with Eleven’s disappearance. They both admit that they feel that they’re going crazy, but if they are, then they might as well go crazy together.
Back at the cabin in the woods, Hopper is making breakfast for him and Eleven. She wants to go trick or treating, but Hopper thinks its too dangerous. We see that Eleven is getting irritated with having to stay at the cabin. Hopper promises to get some candy and head back to the cabin in order for them to pig out on later.
We then join Eleven where she sees a squirrel and she remembers trying to survive in the woods before Hopper found her. During another flashback, she eventually finds the box where Hopper left her food at the end of last season.
Hopper ends up being late due to investigating the strange phenomenon going on with the decaying crops. Eleven won’t answer him and he’s stuck outside her bedroom.
Nancy is still reeling from Barb’s death and even thinks she sees her friend at one point, but it turns out to be someone that just looks like her. When she suggests that her and Steve should tell Barb’s parents the truth, Steve tells her that if they do, they’ll probably be thrown in jail… or worse. He seems to calm her down, but you can tell that she is still upset.
At the Halloween party, friction is set up between Steve and Billy who is apparently the new king of Hawkins High School. Nancy doesn’t really care about that and decides to get drunk to drown out her feelings over Barb. Eventually, Jonathan does show up, but Nancy and Steve have a fight in the bathroom where a very drunk Nancy reveals that she is not in love with Steve in addition to her feelings about Barb’s death.
Jonathan ends up taking Nancy back home after Steve leaves the party. It’s definitely apparent that these two crazy kids love each other.
Joyce points out her concerns to Hopper and he helps her calm down. They also remember some good times when they were younger, suggesting that they might have feelings for one another. Hopper tells her that he thinks that Will is just suffering from the anniversary of the previous events coming up.
Hopper heads back to the station where he learns that another farmer has also lost his crop of pumpkins. He then learns that everyone else’s crops are dying off under mysterious circumstances as well. Hopper heads out to investigate and sure enough, he’s starting to get worried about what he’s seeing and whether or not it’s connected to the Upside Down.
While everyone is out of the house, Joyce and Bob are having a nice evening alone. Bob suggests that they move out of Hawkins in order to get away from the place that has so many bad memories. Joyce turns him down, but the bad thing is that she can’t explain why they have to stay.
Sam has sent someone through the gate to replace a piece of faulty equipment. This is apparently what caused all of the instruments to go nuts and after the equipment is replaced, everything seems to return to normal. Sam is then shown watching his interview with Will, suggesting that he’s more concerned than he let on in the previous episode.
As it turns out, Eleven has honed her abilities quite a bit since we last saw her. She only needs a blindfold now in order to concentrate and make contact with others. It’s revealed that she regularly checks in with Mike and she misses him as much as he misses her.
When Dustin gets back home from trick or treating, he hears something in the trash can again, but this time it makes itself known to him. Dustin eventually lifts the lid and sees something weird and… credits!
Things are starting to finally heat up in this season. Dustin finds something that will definitely play a big role in the episodes to come while the menace that has been appearing in Will’s visions has finally arrived in Hawkins. It never hit me until this viewing that the monster was far off in the distance when Will first saw it and it has been getting closer ever since.
As I mentioned last season, there is always a weak storyline that usually pops up for me in anything that I watch. In the first season, it was the completely useless Lonnie storyline and here, it’s the storyline featuring Billy. It’s not so much that he doesn’t serve a purpose as he is our human villain this go around. It’s simply the fact that he’s such a over-the-top villain that I have a hard time believing him from time to time.
Still, that’s only a minor gripe at this point. This episode also makes me feel more for Bob since all he wants to do is give Joyce and her kids a happy home and a normal life. Oh, poor, naive Bob just doesn’t know what they’ve all been through.
It was good to see that Hopper has been helping Eleven, but I also understand her frustrations with Hopper. He hasn’t given her any indications about what will happen with her and even we are left wondering what Hopper’s ultimate goal is by keeping her at the cabin. Even so, you can tell that Hopper wants to do nothing more than protect her even though he doesn’t quite know what that means at this point.
This is another slow burner when compared to other episodes, though it is still enjoyable and at least we’re starting to get somewhere. Now that Dustin has found the mysterious creature in the trash can, things will definitely go from 0 to 60 pretty fast. I can’t wait to get to the next episode!
Join me tomorrow as we take a look at ‘Chapter 3: The Pollywog’!