‘STRANGER’ RECAPS #11 – ‘The Pollywog’

Things finally begin to pick up in the third episode of 'Stranger Things 2'!

Cover Design by Courtney Pugh

Review by J.T. Johnson

The introduction of a new little monster and Will’s next close encounter make this the episode where the story truly begins. The first two episodes were slow burns, but this one definitely picks up the pace! Enough talk, though. It’s time to dive in!

QUOTE OF THE EPISODE:
“I need my paddles!” – Dustin

Mike observes the mysterious new creature that Dustin found.

THE RECAP

THE KIDS

We pick back up where the last episode left off. Dustin has captured the creature in his fake Ghostbusters trap and sneaks him into the house. It turns out that what Dustin caught was a tadpole looking creature. He soon names the little monster D’Artagnan, or Dart for short, and finds that the little guy loves 3 Musketeers. Soon, though, he makes a sound that suggests that he’s not exactly from around here and the opening credits begin!

Dustin has a funny moment in the library where he has to steal some books so he can research and see if he can find out where Dart is from. Apparently, Dustin is going on the theory that he’s discovered a new species at the moment.

Lucas lets Max in on the fact that they all thought that Will had died in the previous year. However, he holds back from telling her about what happened exactly. She finds it hard to believe that Will went through all of that, but she eventually excepts the story Lucas tells her.

Dustin tells the other kids to meet him in the AV Club in order to tell them about Dart. Mike notices that it appears that something is growing inside it and Will remembers coughing up something in the last season’s finale. Will eventually lets Mike in on this and Mike stops Dustin from revealing Dart to their science teacher.

Mike mentions that Dart may be from the Upside Down. He tells the group that he thinks that Will’s visions are real and that Will can see into the Upside Down. Eventually, they see that Dart is growing and Mike attempts to kill him but not before Dart escapes somewhere into the school.

They then begin to search for Dart and Eleven shows up after leaving the cabin but before she can talk to Mike, she seems to come to her senses and leaves before being noticed. Mike, in the meantime, tells Max that she’s not part of the group even though Max is trying to get along with Mike.

THE TEENAGERS

During a basketball practice session, Billy antagonizes Steve about not being the king of Hawkins High anymore. After this, Nancy finds out what she said to Steve at the party about not loving him. While Nancy says it was the booze talking, Steve pretty much dumps her because she can’t correct herself when he wants her to say that she loves him.

Nancy and Jonathan have a talk later on and Nancy is able to admit that she doesn’t love Steve and that she’s been carrying the weight of Barb’s death around with her. Jonathan admits that while he got Will back, his brother hasn’t been the same since. They eventually come up with a plan to get back at the lab and maybe expose the truth.

They call Barb’s mother saying that they have something to tell her about Barb. They do this knowing that the lab is monitoring their phones.

THE ADULTS

Bob ends up driving Will to school. When Bob confronts him about what Bob thinks are simple nightmares, he gives Will some advice to stand and face the monster. Yeah, I’m sure that’ll work out just fine.

Hopper, on the other hand, has figured out that the rot that they’ve been checking out seems to be spreading from the Hawkins Lab. He then confronts Sam at the lab, but Sam pretty much blows him off. However, Sam decides that he will look into it for Hopper after Hopper presses him more on the subject and they do get samples in order to run some tests.

Bob has lunch with Joyce and mentions that on a videotape, it appeared that Will was being picked on by bullies. Joyce decides to take a look at the tape for herself. This is when she notices a shape in the image that looks not unlike the thing that Will drew, telling her that Will’s visions might be real after all.

Joyce tries to get in touch with Will at the school, but after she can’t get through, she immediately gets in her car and heads that way.

THE CABIN

Another flashback reveals how Hopper and Eleven set up their current living situation. Somehow, either Hopper knew she was alive or just paid tribute to her when he left the food, only to discover that she was indeed alive. When we return to the present, Eleven lashes out when Hopper can’t tell her when she’ll be able to leave, once again showing how frayed their relationship is becoming.

Eleven, having been frustrated enough by her living condition, breaks the rules that were set by her and Hopper when he found her. In contrast to their currently strained relationship, a flashback shows how Hopper and Eleven set up shop at the cabin. After the flashback, she leaves the cabin in order to go see Mike.

After she gets out of the cabin and comes across a mother with her child, she has another flashback. Hopper is reading her a story and Eleven inquires as to what happened to her own mother. Hopper lies and tells Eleven that her mother died.

CONCLUSION

Will finds Dart in the restroom and after Dart scares him, Will runs out into the hallway. Dustin retrieves Darth while Will rushes out of the school when he reenters the Upside Down where the shadow monster is still chasing him. Will remembers Bob’s unknowingly unwise advice and stares the monster down. Unfortunately, the monster starts to enter his body before the episode cuts to black.

Hopper shows Eleven how to live in order to protect her from those at the lab who want to find her.

THE REVIEW

In any television series where there is an ongoing storyline, there is the episode that finally kicks everything off and for “Stranger Things 2”, it was most definitely this episode. We learn more about the little monster Dart, Will finally has a fateful confrontation with this season’s new menace and Joyce finally realizes that her son’s visions is not just in his head. Many people decried Eleven’s lack of involvement in the main story, but I come to the defense of the writers.

Since they knew going into this season that there would already be a third season, they allow Eleven to go on a path of self-discovery. She begins that path here by stepping out of the cabin, but she’s not quite ready to rejoin the group just yet. Soon, though, a revelation will change all of that.

This season is Eleven’s quest to find out why she is the way she is and where she comes from, so her story kind of has to be separate from the others. It’s similar to how Luke Skywalker had to go to Dagobah while Han and Leia had to deal with the Empire in “The Empire Strikes Back”.

Beyond that, though, Hopper and Sam from Hawkins Lab is trying to figure out what the mystery is behind the decaying crops. Hopper already knows that it probably has something to do with the Upside Down, but he needs Sam’s help because he’s trying to build up a trust so that he can eventually help Eleven get out of her exile.

I really enjoyed the first two episodes, but it was good to finally see some healthy progression with the story starting with this episode. It doesn’t really slow down from here, so for now, I’ll leave it be and be back tomorrow when we take a look at the fourth episode of “Stranger Things 2”!

Join me tomorrow as we take a look at ‘Chapter 4: Will the Wise’!

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