I recapped both series out of order, so if you’re looking for an episode other than the current one, scroll through the tag until it shows up. For The Handmaid’s Tale, S2 & S4 are complete. I haven’t started S1 yet and have done about half of S3.
The nightmare truly begins for Billy in episode 2. He shares his horror with a friend by the end of the episode. Dustin visits his buddy Steve at the Scoop shop to enlist some help with the Russian transmission he accidentally intercepted. Robin is drawn into their codebreaking scheme before long. Max and El go on a shopping spree/day of self-discovery at the mall. They run into Mike, who started the day avoiding El based on Hopper’s orders, but ends up trying to win her forgiveness via Lucas’ tried and true methods. Nancy and Jonathan investigate the case of the rabid rats, while Joyce notices the magnets around town are acting strangely.
This episode begins where episode 1 left off, with Billy having a very bad night at the old steel works after his car was hit by a slime monster. He’s dragged inside, but escapes and drives away. Then he stops again almost immediately to call the police from a pay phone. The 911 operator asks him to detail his emergency.
The light in the phone booth flashes, his car’s headlights seem to watch him like eyes and the characteristic flakes of the Upside Down float through the air. Billy flashes back to what happened at the steel works. The exploding rats who were drawn to the steel works in episode 1 were reconstituted and then they attacked him, crawling all over his face and body. (Shades of the movies Willard and Ben.)
It’s been kind of intense around here lately, so let’s take a trip back in the wayback machine to July 4, 2019 and Stranger Things 3. Season 3 got lost in the shuffle as I was working on season 3 of Dark for that entire summer, so it seems like a good time to catch up, before season 4 comes out, likely in early 2022.
They are all there, even though they aren’t in order. I’m a chaotic, that’s just the way it goes. 🤷🏽♀️
It’s now the summer of 1985 in Hawkins and things are changing. A new mall has opened in town which has become the center of the town’s social life. The kids are pairing off into couples and discovering the joys of kissing. In fact, everyone has more free time (and hormones), so Stranger Things is struggling with a series of epic romances this season. Steve, Nancy and Jonathan have graduated from high school and gotten jobs. Will is still searching for a sense of normalcy after the events of the first two seasons.
Hazel and Byron meet in a remote diner to discuss their relationship. They show each other how much they’ve changed since they’ve been separated and what they want for the future. Judiff and Herb attempt to listen in from the parking lot, with mixed results.
Hazel takes a bus to meet Byron at a diner in an undisclosed location in the desert where the press won’t be able to find them.
Hazel takes a bus to meet Byron at a diner in an undisclosed location in the desert where the press won’t be able to find them. As voice over, we hear the phone conversation where they negotiate the terms of the meeting. Hazel refuses to go to the Hub and wants to meet in public, but Byron wants to avoid being recognized, so they settle on the Sunrise Diner, which Hazel suggests.
Byron is already seated in a booth waiting for her when she arrives with the divorce papers held out in front of her like a shield. He said on the phone that he’d give her a divorce if that’s what she really wants, but in exchange he wants to have a face to face, candid conversation.
I doubt that he’s ever fully opened himself up to her in a conversation.
In episode 7, Hazel starts a job at the bowling alley, but Byron is still on her mind. Herb asks Hazel to give him and Diane some privacy for their anniversary, but remembering the way Byron forced isolation on her in the Hub, Hazel pushes Herb to take Diane out to dinner. Feeling forgotten, Byron searches for a way to get Hazel to notice him again.
Hazel’s new job as a maintenance worker gives her joy as she imagines how grossed out Byron must be by what he sees as she dusts and scrubs her way through Shangri-Lanes. She stops to speak directly to him to rub in how disgusting the urinals in the men’s room are. She’s caught by her coworker Jay, who can’t figure out who she’s talking to, since she appears to be alone. He brought her some extra cleaning fluid, just in case she needs it and apologizes for their boss, Jerry, assigning the worst jobs to her.
Jay might be interested in her, but Hazel doesn’t notice. She’s too preoccupied by the idea of what Byron is seeing. Instead of looking at Jay, she looks straight into the mirror and tells Byron that she’s happy to do the gross jobs, “all day, everyday.” As Jay leaves, confused about what just happened, princessy harp trills play in the background. Cinderella has figured out where she can put in the required hours of physical suffering and oppression so that her mental and emotional suffering will finally be taken seriously.
In episode 6, the word of the day is authenticity, as Byron tries to figure what will satisfy his craving for connection with Hazel. Hazel tries to bring meaning and purpose back into her life after ten years stuck in the Hub serving as Byron’s muse. Herb hires an old flame who is also a professional investigator to help free Hazel from Byron’s surveillance. After her encounter with Hazel, Fiffany reassesses her priorities.
We begin with Byron and Hazel on beach date, as seen through Byron’s eyes. Hazel wakes up from a nap and tells Byron how great the real sun feels. He offers her a donut hole, which she eats with perfect calm and grace, the way that Hazel only acts when she’s putting on her perfect hostess act.
While she eats, Byron tells her that he’s changed. Now he just wants to connect with her, not control her. The real her. Hazel gives him a side eye and tells him that donut holes aren’t enough to make her forgive him for ten years of imprisonment in a luxury prison. Then she blips out of existence.
The “real” Hazel that Byron is trying to connect with is a simulation. So is the “real” sun they were enjoying. Byron can’t even keep his simulated Hazel happy when he controls all of the parameters of the encounter.
Fake Tardis dates just aren’t doing it anymore, even for Fake Hazel, Byron’s version of Diane.
In episode 5, Byron continues his attempts to burrow deeper into Hazel’s head, while Hazel meets with the lawyer Bangles recommended. We learn more about Fiffany’s work and background as she plots behind Byron’s back to save Zelda and the chip technology from his plan to merge with Hazel.
It’s the morning after episode 4 and when Herb wakes up, Diane isn’t in bed with him. He goes looking for her, since it’s not like her to get up without telling him. He finds her passed out in the living room with Hazel and Bangles, who invited her to join their party once Herb was asleep. No doubt she was happy to take advantage of a rare opportunity to party with the girls, away from her man’s judgmental eyes.
Sure enough, as soon as he finds them, he wakes all 3 women up and tells them they’re all too old to party like they’re in high school, then smells Diane’s breath to see if she’s been drinking and judges her for letting Bangles kiss her.
Byron and Hazel try out the girl/boy friend experience in episode 4, as each has a hang out with a same sex friend. Well, actually, Hazel spends the day getting drunk with her childhood bestie, Bangles, so Byron decides to mimic the experience in order to understand her better. Bennett bravely steps in as his best friend substitute. The episode also flashes back to the first time Byron and Hazel met, followed by their first date, followed by Byron’s proposal of marriage, all in the same evening. Byron mimics the way he thinks a human being would act in those scenarios, as well.
I continue to believe that Byron is either a robot or he was raised at the bottom of the ocean. Possibly he is a complete amnesiac or a hallucination who was accidentally brought to life. More on that later. He doesn’t even know what a donut hole is, for heaven’s sake, and he’s supposed to be an American! I bet even Diane knows what a donut hole is.
The episode opens on a flashback to ten years ago, on the Desert Rock Community College campus, where Hazel is a student and scam artist. Byron, billed as “The Man Who Knows the Future”, is scheduled to give a lecture later that day. Hazel is selling $20 raffle tickets to win an unreleased Gogol phone 5 at the lecture, which is a super cool phone because it holds a charge for 48 hours and will survive a trip underwater. Everyone wants the G-phone 5, so her tickets sell fast.
In episode 3, the adults and kids work on their trust issues while Terri tries to help Clara find her place at The Meadows, Marissa and Hanna track a drug shipment and Leo guides Sandy through using her new religion to help work through her issues with Clara. Carmichael supervises Sonia’s investigation of Hanna’s mayhem at the Passway facility.
Carmichael watches the trainees out in the exercise yard while listening to a news report about the incident that Hanna caused at Passway Pharmaceuticals in Belgium. Two people are dead, but Passway is denying all responsibility. Police assume the real Monica Gastner, the young woman whose identity Hanna stole to get into the trial, was the woman actually at the facility, so they’ve taken her into custody.
Carmichael calls Louis Dumont, the Director of Passway Pharmaceuticals, who’s sent him Monica’s file. Monica has a history of anxiety and depression, but no previous record of violence. The police have been at Passway all night questioning people. Dumont says that he’s kept them away from the area where Carmichael’s drug shipment for the The Meadows is stored, so it’s not in jeopardy. Carmichael doesn’t want to take any chances, telling Dumont to move up the shipment and take care of it personally.
In episode 8, the season finale, Diana and Matthew’s enemies pose a greater threat than they ever have before. Friends, loved ones and new allies rally around them to find ways to thwart the species-separatist side of the Congregation. Diana’s magic and the Book of Life remain the key to a long-term solution, so they need to find a safe place for her to learn how to solve both puzzles.
We pick up where we left off, with Juliette confronting Diana and Matthew in the Bishop barn in Upstate NY. Juliette grabs Diana by the throat as Matthew belatedly realizes an enemy threatens Diana’s life and speeds to the barn to assess the situation. He asks if Gerbert is there too.
Juliette, breaking down in angry tears: “I’ve left him. You abandoned me! And now, you’re mating with her.”