Review by J.T. Johnson
Will has a close encounter with the shadow monster. Meanwhile, things are not looking too good for Hopper and Eleven as she gets increasingly more irritated with her living situation. Finally, Nancy and Jonathan decide that it’s time to finally do something about Hawkins National Laboratory.
QUOTE OF THE EPISODE:
“Let’s burn that lab to the ground.” – Nancy
Joyce gets to the school looking for Will. It doesn’t take them long to find him outside having his current episode. The monster is still infecting Will while Joyce is trying to make him wake up. Eventually, he snaps back to live in the real world and the shortest cold open in the series comes to an end.
Joyce then takes Will out of the school and Max wonders why no one else is freaking out. Mike is obviously concerned for his friend. Joyce then confronts Will about this new monster and Will finally reveals that he thinks this new threat is real and not just a vision. Will also tells his mom that it got him, but he doesn’t know what it did to him.
Eleven returns home to find Hopper waiting for her. They proceed to have a massive fight that leads to Eleven unleashing her powers. Hopper, not quite knowing how to deal with the situation, lashes out himself and grounds her.
Hopper finally has to head out back to work and it looks like he wants to make amends for the previous night, but gives her an order to clean the cabin up instead. He finally gets the message that Joyce is frantically looking for him.
Eleven does start to clean up the cabin when she discovers a box containing information about Terry Ives, her mother. Now knowing that her mother is alive, Eleven leaves the cabin to go visit her.
THE TEENAGERS/THE LAB
Meanwhile, the feud between Steve and Billy is further established after Billy once again embarrasses him during basketball practice. He then learns that Jonathan and Nancy didn’t show up to school. Jonathan and Nancy head out to meet Barb’s mother at a park, but they are eventually captured by people from Hawkins Lab.
Nancy and Jonathan are taken to Hawkins Lab where Dr. Owens tells them that they are trying to make things better, but they can’t have the information about the Upside Down getting out to the public. Sam shows the teenagers the gate and says that while they can’t seem to get rid of their mistake, they also don’t want foreign powers (such as the Soviets) to learn and try to replicate the mistake for their own purposes.
This seems to calm them down from saying anything to anyone. However, Nancy reveals that she had actually recorded everything that Dr. Owens said to them. They’ve decided that they want to bring the lab down and finally expose the truth before revealing that they are leaving Hawkins.
Joyces is still looking after Will and he’s running cold after having his temperature is taken. He says that he constantly feels like he can’t fully wake up. Joyce runs him a hot bath, but when he heads in, something stops him and he seems scared of the hot water. He also seems to have visions of tunnels and Joyce is concerned when Will doesn’t want the water to be hot even though his body temp is real low.
Hopper eventually arrives and they confront Will about how he’s feeling. They realize that Will now has a connection to the monster that attacked him earlier. Since Will can’t verbally express what he’s experiencing, Joyce comes up with an idea to draw what he’s seeing.
He then begins to draw several pictures that don’t seem to mean anything. However, Joyce and Hopper quickly discover that the drawings connect and they begin to cover the floor with Jonathan’s drawings. Hopper makes the connection that they are like vines and that they are connected to the crops that have been dying before leaving the house.
Hopper then heads out to one of the decaying fields and begins digging into the ground. Mike eventually shows up at the house and while Joyce initially wants Mike to leave, she allows him to stay when he brings up the shadow monster.
Dustin has retrieved Dart and safely puts him back in the aquarium tank. Dustin then heads back to school where he finds the others searching the dumpster for Dart. After not being able to get in touch with Will, Mike summons Dustin and Lucas to the AV Club room and tells them about Will’s visions in more detail.
They wonder whether or not the shadow monster can actually hurt Will. Since they’re not sure what’s going on with Will, Mike decides to go and check in on Will after school. Meanwhile, Lucas tries to talk to Max but she’s mad because they keep excluding her from things yet they seem to want to be her friend.
Billy, in the meantime, doesn’t like that Max is talking to Lucas and warns her to stay away from him. He even threatens her with physical violence to make his point.
Dustin returns home from school to check on Dart. When he goes to check on him in the tank, he sees that Dart has busted out. He then notices a bloody trail leading to the back of his chair in the corner. There, it is revealed that dart has grown and he is eating Dustin’s cat… oh, and he’s a Demogorgon as well.
Back in the decaying crop field, Hopper is still digging when he reaches a hole. He jumps down into the hole and realizes that the vines he was looking for were not vines at all. It’s a tunnel and it looks like it comes straight out of the Upside Down. Credits.
So, it looks like the Upside Down is literally growing underneath Hawkins, Eleven discovers that her mother is still alive and Dustin realizes that his new pet is a Demogorgon. On top of that, Nancy and Jonathan are planning on exposing the lab to their past crimes. Yep, things are certainly ramping up now.
It starts off on a strong note by quickly getting all of our characters involved in the main story in one way or the other. Joyce is trying to help Will with his weird connection to the shadow monster from the Upside Down. Hopper is also trying to figure out the mystery of the decaying crops and gets his biggest clue yet thanks to Will.
Meanwhile, Mike and the others are trying to figure out what is wrong with Will as well and to solve the mystery of Dart, though that answers itself in a pretty big way by the end. It also looks like Lucas has to deal with clueing Max in on the situation but how he’ll do that is not revealed in this episode.
The only weak link so far is still Billy. I don’t mind that they had a human villain in this season, but the problem is that Billy never has anything to do with the main storyline. Therefore, the subplot involving him feels unnecessary to the main plot line beyond showing that Max has an abusive situation in her home.
Finally, I like that Eleven has to go in search of her mother. Before she can help anyone else, she must discover her own origins and it’s the true hero’s journey. Finding her mother was inevitable after Hopper lied to her about being gone and so that discovery was always going to happen.
This is yet another good episode in a pretty solid season. Next week, even more discoveries are to come as our characters finally try to deal with the shadow monster, the newly discovered tunnels and the lab’s cover-up of previous events.
Join me tomorrow as we take a look at ‘Chapter 5: Dig Dug’