On the crest of the season, we find more questions- and terrifying, heartbreaking answers.
The episode opens with Joyce doing her best to reach Hopper, who doesn’t answer the phone- presumably because he’s still down in the dungeon like cave system that he’d discovered before. Of course, they’ve taped the map of caves up around the house and Will is seemingly more and more affected by what’s happening. The Shadow Monster seems to be getting strong inside of him, and despite Mike’s encouragements that they can use Will as a spy, it doesn’t look like it’s going to go well.
We cut back to Hopper who is still investigating the tunnels, though he makes a shocking- and sickening- discovery that renders him immobilized, if only for now. We hear shrieks in the darkness that sound much like the sounds Dart, Dustin’s pollywog had made. The vines covering the walls of the tunnel system seem to be sentient; because they insure Hopper isn’t going to leave.
Nancy and Jonathan find themselves at a seedy motel after intro where they seem to try to discuss their past, and the reasons for it’s failing. Both still bare scars they compare, and it leads them to wonder about what happened to them, though in typical trope fashion, the boy says something the girl finds offense.
Will is suddenly jarred from sleep, though the reason behind it is a deadly premonition- Hopper’s in trouble, with Will’s ‘now-memories’ playing a huge part in the whole affair. Seemingly, the memories become more and more clear as Will is being lost to the shadow monster. Despite his new power, it may not be enough to save the Sheriff.
Speaking of Hopper, his situation hasn’t improved- he wakes up to cough up something terrible looking, and then begins to try to find his way out of the underground. There is no hole at which to escape through now, either. Hopper comes up with a plan to ultimately lead help to him- when or if it ever comes.
Lucas comes to the fore, asking his father over breakfast how his father gets his mother to stop being angry. The advice he gets he tries to apply to Max, who doesn’t seem to want to be persuaded to listen. Of course, with a cunning plan on Lucas’ part, he manages to get Max alone to tell her the story of what truly happened to Will. She doesn’t believe him, and when he tries to elaborate she endangers them all; only stopping when she realizes how afraid Lucas is.
Billy intervenes between the two, showing up with perfect cliff-hanger timing. He speaks to Max about Lucas; again emphasizing that she shouldn’t lie to him, and that there would be a problem if she did. Max is obviously concerned, and the mystery of their relationship deepens.
Meanwhile, Dustin’s mother is distraught at the loss of their cat. She comes into the house only to be distracted by Dustin and a cunning plan to get her out of the house. He then dawns Hockey gear and hatches a plan to deal with Dart- it almost goes wrong at the last minute, but Dustin saves the day. He spends the rest of the time trying to find his friends who ignore him (save for Lucas’ little sister who is rude, and Will’s father who is useless.) in favor of their own problems. Fortunately for Dustin, Steve shows up at the Wheeler house and is ripe for being dragged into Dustin’s mess.
Meanwhile, Eleven has found her way to Terry Ives home. Despite a rough start with aunt Becky, and the connection Eleven and her mother had shared before, Terry Ives only repeats a slew of words. “Breathe. Sunflower. Rainbow. Three to the right. Four to the left. 450.” Eleven is confused, and Becky offers her what she wants, though doesn’t know what to call it; a home. She agrees to stay though Becky has a condition for her to follow. Only after this does Eleven realize her mother is trying to reach out to her. Using her psionic abilities, she delves into the memories of Terry Ives’ tragic past, and realizes the horrifying meaning behind her words.
Jonathan and Nancy have left the hotel, finding themselves at a building with a number 3833. They are buzzed in by the conspiracy theorist Murray Bauman, and despite his attempts to impress, Nancy corrects him and tells him the truth, and hands over proof of the lab and it’s treacheries. Through unconventional ideas they manage to find a hatch a plan that involves shutting down the Hawkins Lab for good.
Meanwhile, Joyce struggles to find Hopper with Will’s help; it’s only when Bob the Brain shows up with good natured desire to help that Joyce realizes he could help her. Joyce must make a choice to let him in or drive him away. Despite her secrecy, Bob helps her to the best of his ability. He worries for Will, and for Joyce, who doesn’t seem to deserve him at this point.
Back at Hawkins lab, the test results are in on the soil samples. Where nothing can be seen as abnormal, until a common theme is introduced- fire. Suddenly Owens realizes the gravity of the situation as the soil samples react in a strange, tandem way.
With Will’s help, Bob manages to earn his title of Bob the Brain, finding the approximate location of Hopper and Joyce takes off with Bob, Will and Mike. They are in the approximate area when Will suddenly tells them to turn right; and they nearly rear end Hopper’s car. The adults leave the children as they rush to Hopper’s rescue.
Upon being found, Hopper is saved only in the nick of time. They are suddenly surprised by a man in a Hazmat suit, above ground having exploded with Hawkins Lab presence just minutes before. Hopper, Joyce and Bob make their way back to the entry point of the tunnel and the Hawkins Lab employee begins to burn the vines of the infestation, which results in shocking and tragic results for Will, and a cliff hanger for us.
So much happened in the episode; and we are left with a hand full of answers and two handfuls of questions! Eleven now has a backstory, but what does it mean for her future? Will she be safe with her mother and Becky? She can’t know that Hopper is in trouble, and how will she react?
Bob is getting the short end of the stick, and with obvious chemistry between Hopper and Joyce, it’s just a matter of time before good natured Bob is exchanged for gritty, baggage carrying Hopper. To be honest, I hope Bob finds someone great who will love him more than Joyce seems to!
Nancy and Jonathan are getting into full throttle trouble. Will they survive? At what cost have they come to Murray?
Will Max become part of the group, and will she forgive and believe Lucas?
What is going to happen to Dart? How will Dustin deal with his once-pet, and the burden of his lies to his friends?
Hopefully we’ll get more information in episode six, “The Spy.”