This episode catches us up with what happened to El after she destroyed the Demogorgon and disappeared from the classroom.
El pops awake in the Upside Down version of the classroom where she fought the Demogorgon. It’s moments after she vanquished the monster and season 1 ended. She’s terrified, and wanders the school halls calling for Mike. No one hears her, and no one is looking for her. She’s completely alone.
She finds a small gate to our world and listens to what’s on the other side for a moment. When she decides it’s clear, she tries sticking her hand through the sticky, slimy membrane to find out if the other side seems safe. She agrees with the rest of us that the membrane is gross, then uses her powers to knock down part of the wall and enlarge the opening.
Hopefully there aren’t any other dangerous creatures in the Upside Down who are about to follow her through. She tumbles through the gate, into the school hall in our world.
El goes directly to Mike’s house, where the Hawkin’s Lab FBI agents are still swarming. The Wheelers’ phones are being tapped, and each family member is being told, again, that El is a dangerous Russian spy. The agents insist to Mike that everything she ever told him was a lie, and that he turn El in if he ever sees her again.
Mike turns to the glass doors to the yard, and sees her watching him. He doesn’t say anything, but the agents see the look on his face, and turn to check what he’s looking at. El runs, and the agents give chase. She successfully hides from them in the woods, but doesn’t dare go back to Mike’s.
In the present time, El has made herself a ghost costume out of a sheet and wants to go trick or treating. She argues that it’s the perfect disguise to keep her from being discovered. Hopper refuses, because the risk of the Hawkins Lab goons finding her would still be too great.
He offers a compromise, saying he’ll come home early with candy and scary movies. Though her language is much improved, she doesn’t know the word compromise. Hopper explains that it means that each of them will be half happy. El agrees to be half happy if he will come home at 5:15.
Joyce looks for Will in bed in the morning and he’s not there. In a repeat of the scene from season 1, Jonathan is at the stove making breakfast when Joyce asks him where Will is. He doesn’t know either.
Joyce begins to panic, but finds Will in the bathroom, where he seems to be spending a lot of time since he came back from the Upside Down. He thinks she’s totally weird for panicking. She’s actually suffering from her own post traumatic stress.
They go into Will’s bedroom to put on his Ghostbusters Halloween costume. Joyce notices Will’s detailed drawing of the Shadow Monster as he saw it the night before. Will lies and tells her that it’s a sketch for a story he’s writing.
The four musketeers meet at school, all dressed as ghostbusters. Mike and Lucas nearly come to blows over which one was supposed to be Winston, the black, least cool ghostbuster. It’s the first time we’ve seen race get in the way of the gang’s friendships.
Dustin turns around and realizes that the unthinkable has happened…no one else has worn a costume to school. And none of the gang has brought a change of clothes.
Could be worse. They could be wearing face paint and wigs.
Joyce shows Hopper Will’s latest drawing. They talk about how much worse Will’s getting, and that both of them are on edge as well. Hopper tells her that Will isn’t reliving memories, they’re flashbacks. It’s like Will’s really there again. But it should get better once they pass the anniversary.
They share a cigarette and remember their high school days together. There’s a moment when they look into each other’s eyes, both clearly thinking romantic thoughts, but then they snap out of it and go back to worrying about Will. Definitely the eventual OTP, after poor, doomed Bob gets eaten or used as breeding material.
Dr Owens sends another tech into the Upside Down, this time with a tool box. The lab has set up an array of meteorological, and probably other, instruments in a nearby field, which were fried during the storm Will experienced. The tech repairs the electrical panel on the instruments and the control board. Dr Owens goes back to rewatch his interview with Will, studying the similarities between Will’s story and the lab’s findings.
Nancy continues to be consumed by her guilt over Barb’s death. Steve tries to talk her down, reminding her that their families will be destroyed if they say anything. They agree to go to the Halloween Bash that one of the other students is holding that night, and try to just have fun.
After an earlier aborted attempt, Lucas and Dustin manage to ask Max to go trick or treating with them. She’s not terribly impressed, and doesn’t give them a clear answer. Dustin misses her sarcasm.
El channel surfs and practices accents. She hears a squirrel at their feeder, which causes her to remember her early days of fending for herself in the woods. She could kill squirrels with her mind, start a fire with her mind, and roast them on a stick over the fire. Better than most of us modern urban and suburban people could do.
One day, a hunter found her. She got scared, and hit him in the face with a burning squirrel. Then she stole his warm hat and winter coat. She continued to forage until she came across Hopper’s box of Eggos and food for her.
Hopper gets back to the station to find a truck full of gross, blackened and rotting pumpkins. Farmer Eugene’s pumpkins have been poisoned the same way Farmer Merrill’s were. Eugene blames Merrill, and says that the farms all around his were hit at the same time. This makes Hopper suspicious.
Max’s stepbrother Billy b*tches at her for being late to get a ride home. He becomes angrier and angrier as they drive, until he pretends he’s going to run over the Scooby Gang on their bikes. They get out of the way, and he veers into the other lane, just in time.
So far, Billy’s only purpose in the narrative is to be the worst human monster of the season. He’s a violent sociopath. His conversation with Max hinted that they moved to Hawkins because of him, probably because he had to be gotten out of their previous town.
Hopper and his sidekicks, Powell and Callahan, go out to the affected farms to investigate more closely. It’s not just the pumpkins that are affected. All plant life is affected. The trees and plants are rotting, discolored, and covered in slime.
Bob and Joyce get Will ready for trick or treating. Bob explains how to use his fancy video camera, and sends Will off with it. Jonathan is supposed to go trick or treating with Will, but Will feels so coddled by being chaperoned all of the time that Jonathan gives him a break.
Instead, Jonathan decides to go to the Halloween Bash, since Nancy wanted him to go. At the party, Billy is proving that he can drink more than anyone else. Steve’s ex-friend Tommy, the vicious bully, has glommed onto Billy, and they both are targeting Steve.
Nancy decides to get very drunk.
Bob and Joyce slow dance and talk. He asks her to move to Maine with him, where they could get away from all of the bad memories in Hawkins. Joyce is apologetic, and tells him that she and the boys aren’t a normal family. He tells her that they could be. He apologizes for bringing it up, saying that wine makes him crazy.
The ghostbusters establish that Dustin has terrible taste in candy. Then Max proves that she’s a worthy temporary substitute for El when she jumps out of nowhere dressed like a slasher with a mask and giant knife. The token girl on the team has to be scary and potentially murderous, yes?
Hopper’s about to find out just how scary and potentially murderous El is, since he not only forgot to go home early, he’s now late. He sends a morse code message to tell her that he’s running late, and buys some candy off of a trick or treater.
El is watching the 1931 version of Frankenstein when she gets the message, specifically the scene with the farmer’s daughter, Maria, who the monster accidentally kills. I’m hard pressed to decide who’s the monster in this situation, Hopper or El. The narrative likely wants me to think it’s El, but Hopper’s the one with all of the control, who toys with her emotions over and over, after he convinced El to trust him.
El remembers wandering in the woods and discovering the wooden box with the Eggos that Hopper had left. The first time, she took the goods and ran.
Mike is not okay with Max joining the gang for trick or treating. Dustin and Lucas are only paying attention to her, the way he was wrapped up in El the year before. Mike asks Will if he agreed to asking Max to join them. Will says that the other two were so excited he couldn’t say no. Mike says that Max is ruining the best night of the year. He walks ahead of Will, leaving him alone on the street.
Suddenly, bigger kids come running up, right in Will’s face, calling him names. It shocks him into the Upside Down. He falls down and drops Bob’s camera. He hears odd little creature noises, then a giant roaring. The Shadow Monster rises in the distance, larger and more terrifying than ever. Will runs and hides behind a brick wall.
Mike finds Will and calls him out of the Upside Down. Dustin, Lucas and Max also come running, but Mike waves them off, saying he’ll take Will home.
Nancy and Steve have both gotten very drunk. Steve tries to stop Nancy from having more to drink, and in the scuffle she ends up with red punch all down the front of her white outfit. Steve follows her to the bathroom, where, like Lady MacBeth, she tries to wipe the fake blood out of her conscience and off of her dress.
Nancy rants at Steve that everything about their relationship is bullsh*t. He’s bullsh*t, them pretending they’re in love is bullsh*t, trying to have fun at this party is bullsh*t, when they both know that they killed Barb. Steve realizes after a moment that she just implied that she doesn’t love him. He double checks with Nancy to make sure that he heard her right, then walks out of the bathroom and the party.
Jonathan has arrived at the party and talked with a girl in KISS make up. He sees Steve leave, and goes to rescue Nancy. He drives her home, and tucks her in bed. She’s passed out by the time they get to her house, but wakes up for a moment as he tucks her in.
Will and Mike sort their candy and talk. Will says that he feels like a Viewmaster slide, caught between two pictures. He’s not quite in this world or the Upside Down. He describes what he sees and hears in the Upside Down, but swears Mike to secrecy, because the others wouldn’t understand.
Mike tells Will that Eleven would understand. She always understood that kind of thing. Sometimes he still feels like she’s nearby or he can almost see her, but she’s never there. He feels like he’s going crazy. He and Mike agree to go crazy together.
Hopper gets home with the candy. El lets him in, but won’t come out of her room, where she’s holed up with the TV. She sets the channel to static, and puts on a blindfold. Then she uses the TV transmission to extend her psychic range so that she can see Mike.
He’s in the blanket fort, on the walkie-talkie, talking to her. She goes to him and says his name. He seems to sense her presence for a few moments, but then walks away. She watches him leave, then removes the blindfold. Her nose is bleeding and she is devastated.
Dustin arrives home from trick or treating and hears something making noise in the garbage can. He prepares himself and rips off the cover.We don’t know what he finds inside, but it’s something fascinating.
Going to guess that it’s not a kitten making those strange noises.
This episode is bringing back my anger at Hopper for betraying El to Brenner and the Lab in S1 Ep8.
We see Lucas’ mom and sister for the first time in this episode, taking photos of him in his Halloween costume. Dustin’s mom and cat were introduced in episode 1. At this point, both moms seem to have been introduced for the sake of filling out the boys’ back story a bit, rather than for any plot purpose.
There are many references to tunnels, tubes, cylinder shapes, water, fire, traps and the adults’ high school days in the first two episodes.
Is it the bathroom that’s triggered Will’s episodes twice, or is it the water that’s there? He was also triggered at the arcade, presumably by the emotional upset, but possibly by something about the lights. Flashes? Colors? Neon? Are his episodes triggered the way a migraine is triggered? Storms also trigger migraines. Will’s episodes and the storms are connected, but it’s not clear which is setting off the other.
Will’s first bathroom episode occurred after he coughed up the slug-like Demogorgon larva at the end of season 1, and it slithered down the sink drain. Are there any more larvae inside him? Are there any other larvae in our world? Did the Demogorgon want some of her children to infiltrate this world?
The trick or treating episode definitely seemed triggered by the emotional shock of the bullying.
Bob is definitely not coming out of this season unscathed. He’s too nice to live.
I actively want Billy to die. Someone should arrange an accident or a ghost murder.
The loss of all of those pumpkins the day before Halloween is a major tragedy that the entire town would be gossiping about. The farmers’ wives wouldn’t speak to each other for years. Or they’d band together to find out what really happened.
Natalia Dyer did a fantastic “out, out damn spot” drunken rant about Barb and Steve and her guilt. I found it hard to believe that she wasn’t really drunk in that bathroom. Joe Keery was no slouch either, as he drunkenly tried to take in what she was saying, tried to take care of her, and slowly had his heart shattered.