In The Lost Sister, El continues her journey of self discovery with a trip to Chicago to find her psychic sister, 008/Kali. The sisters lost each other when Brenner separated them after Terry’s aborted rescue attempt. The episode is a stand alone featuring El’s storyline by itself.
We watch El learn about herself and face decisions about what kind of person she wants to be. She’s been physically lost since she left the lab, and a lost soul for her entire life. Kali is the same. They help each other begin to be found in ways that could only happen with each other.
As the episode begins, El is still wearing the blindfold and psychically communicating with her mother. She’s been there since the end of episode 5, so you would think she’d have gotten more than the repeating story of how Terry lost her mind, but she hasn’t.
El describes the visions to Becky over lunch, focussing on the other little girl behind the door with the rainbow. Becky suggests that El look through Terry’s files of missing children that she thought might be like El. El finds an article about Kali with a photo. El puts the blindfold back on and sits in front of the staticky TV, but she can’t find Kali.
Later that night, as she’s lying on a cot in her bedroom, she looks at the article, then thinks back to the image from Terry’s memory. That does the trick. She’s suddenly in the negative psychic space, observing Kali standing in front of a fire in a metal barrel.
She pops out of psychic space and rushes to tell Becky what she’s just seen. When she gets downstairs, El overhears Becky on the phone. She’s called the number on Hopper’s card from a year ago and is leaving a message with Florence.
El steals the cash from Terry’s purse and hops on a bus to Chicago. I appreciate that the writers and producers listened to my complaint from a couple of episodes ago and changed the story to put El on a bus, instead of hitchhiking again. Good to know that I have that kind of influence. 😘😘😜😜
El’s getting her mojo back, as evidenced by the choice of one of Bon Jovi’s best songs as her theme song for this section, Runaway, and bringing back the insult “mouthbreather” when an insensitive stranger bumps into her and keeps going.
She walks for a long time, into the worst part of town, worse even that the part of town where the pawn shops are. She finds the modern shantytown where the homeless drug addicts and mentally ill hang out, but keeps going. Finally, she reaches the abandoned building where Kali’s gang is hiding out.
They aren’t happy to see her, one pulling a knife and another mocking her overalls. (F*ck them, the overalls are cute, in style for the period, and a million times better than that horrible dress.) They become truly threatening when El shows them Kali’s picture, wanting to know how El found her, since Kali is in hiding.
Suddenly the guy who’s holding the switchblade knife in El’s face appears to have dozens of spiders running up his arm. He becomes frantic. Kali descends the nearby staircase like the queen that she is and tells him to stop torturing little girls.
The gang members give Kali the article and tell her that El knows about her. Kali asks how she knows about her and El says, “Mama, in her dream circle.” Then El pulls the knife to herself and away from Mohawk guy with her mind. Smug, she hands it to Kali.
Now she’s got Kali’s attention. Kali asks her name. El tells her it’s Jane. Kali looks for the number on El’s wrist, and El does the same with Kali. 008 and 011 are revealed. They call each other sister and embrace.
El tells Kali her story. Kali feels that Hopper is being naive. They will always be monsters to the scientists in the lab. The lab will never willingly set them free.
She also thinks it’s wrong for Hopper to stop El from using her powers. Her powers make her special. El asks about Kali’s power. Kali can make anyone see, or not see, whatever she wants. She creates a butterfly in her hand to illustrate. El asks if Kali is real and she says that she is. El touches her face to be sure.
Kali gets El settled into bed and tells El how happy she is that El found her. She feels like an empty hole in her life has been filled. She thinks that Terry somehow knew that they belonged together, and that this is El’s true home.
Once EL’s asleep Kali talks to the gang, and tells them how powerful El is. She wants to “do one” the next day, using El’s finding skills. The others worry that it’s too soon after the Pittsburgh job, but Kali overrules them.
El “visits” Hopper and hears the first part of the apology message that he left her. She’s startled awake by Kali before the end.
Kali introduces El to the gang: Axel, the spider hater, Dottie, the newest member, Mick, the eyes and protector, and Funshine, the warrior. They don’t have numbers or powers, but they are all freaks and outcasts. Kali saved them from hard times. Now they fight back against the people who hurt them.
El questions what the gang is doing, if the people they’re hunting really deserve death. The gang implies that she’s too sensitive to handle killing people. She tells them that she’s killed people before, when they were hurting her. Kali tells her that these are all bad people, too. Her group is just making the first move this time.
Kali takes El outside to work on her powers. She explains that she used to be like El, holding everything inside until her pain festered and spread. It wasn’t until she let it out that she began to heal.
They get to an old railyard. Kali tells El to draw one of the abandoned cars to them. El tries, but can’t. Kali counsels her to draw on her anger for strength. To remember all of the things that have been done to her, all of the things that have been taken from her, and use that energy. She brings the train car flying toward them.
Kali shows El their Most Wanted board and asks if El recognizes any of them. She sees the man who administered the ECT to Terry. Kali says that he hurt more than Terry, and remembers him using a cattle prod on her.
The gang has a hard time finding people like Ray because they know they’re being hunted. But with El, maybe tracking won’t be an issue any more.
It isn’t. She finds Ray quickly. They plan the trip for later that day, even though they will have to use the van that police are looking for in relation to their last job in Pittsburgh. They switch the plates and hope it’s enough.
Before they go, El gets a bitchin’ make over to match the rest of the punker, urban warrior gang.
As they leave the hideout, a cop notices the van.
They stop at a convenience store to stock up on money and supplies. Kali supplies an illusion distraction for the cashier in the form of a flooded bathroom. The cashier comes back before expected and pulls a gun on the gang. Kali tries to talk him out of violence, but El steps in and throws him against a wall. They make a run for it.
Ray is at home watching Punky Brewster. The gang sneaks in wearing creepy masks. Dottie and Axel rob the place while Funshine stands guard. Kali and El confront Ray.
He quickly cracks, and uses Brenner as a bargaining chip.
Ray: I just did what he told me to do. He told me she was sick.
Kali: You had a choice, Ray, and you chose to follow a man who was evil.
Ray: Wait, wait. I can help. I can help you find him.
Kali: Find who?
Ray: Brenner. I can take you to him.
El: Papa is gone.
Ray: No. he’s alive.
Kali: Do not lie to us Ray.
Ray: I’m not lying. He trusts me. I’ll take you to him.
Kali: If he is alive, Jane will find him, just as she found you.
El begins to slowly strangle Ray, using her powers. She notices a photo of him with his two young daughters just as Dottie and Axel find them on the phone with the police in their bedroom.
Kali orders El to keep going, but El stops. She doesn’t want to take a parent away from another child. Kali reminds El that Ray didn’t show any mercy to Terry. Kali pulls out a gun and prepares to shoot Ray, but El uses her powers to take the gun away.
The police arrive outside. The gang races for the van and takes off just in time. Kali is angry with El for taking the gun away. She tells El that she can show mercy if she chooses, but she’s never to take Kali’s choice away. A reminder that Kali may seem to have it together, but she’s just as traumatized and abused as El.
Back at the hideout, Kali sits down for a private chat with El. She used to be like El. She’s hard on El because she doesn’t want El to make the same mistakes that she did. El replies that there were kids in the house.
Kali: Does that excuse that man’s sins? Were we not also children? I remember the day I came to the rainbow room and you were gone. So when my gifts were strong enough, I used them to escape. I ran. I ran away as far as I could and it was there, far away, that I found a place to hide. A family, a home. Just like you and your policeman. But, they couldn’t help me. So eventually I lost them too. So I decided to be smart. To stop hiding. To use my gifts against those who hurt us. You are now faced with the same choice, Jane. Go back into hiding and hope they don’t find you, or fight. And face him again.
El: Face who?
Kali: The man who calls himself our father.
Jane: Papa. Is. Dead.
BrennerIllusion: That man tonight disagreed.
El: You’re not real.
BrennerIllusion: All this time, you haven’t looked for me. Why? Because you thought I was dead, or because you were afraid of what you might find?
El: Go away.
BrennerIllusion: You have to confront your pain. You have a wound, Eleven. A terrible wound. And it’s festering. Do you remember what that means? Festering. It means a rot. And it will grow. Spread.
El: Get out of my head.
BrennerIllusion: And eventually, it will kill you.
El: (yelling) Get out of my head! (Bursts into tears.)
The lights flicker and the Brenner illusion disappears.
Kali: This isn’t prison, Jane. You are always free to return to your policeman or stay and avenge your mother. Let us heal our wounds, together.
Meanwhile, the SWAT teams are assembling outside for an assault on the hideout.
El clutches the shirt she borrowed from Mike, and thinks back to her favorite memories of Mike and Hopper. She enters psychic space, and sees Hopper in the lab realizing that the firemen are in the boneyard. Then she sees Mike run up and try to warn the Owens and Hopper that the firemen are walking into a trap. She runs to her image of Mike, but he dissolves when she touches him, as people in psychic space always do. I’m waiting for her to meet her psychic match and see what happens when they interact.
El is drawn back into this reality by police breaking down the hideout door. Kali gathers up the gang and makes them invisible while the police search the hideout. As soon as the police are past them, they run for the van, getting stuck in a barrage of bullets outside until Kali raises an illusionary metal wall between the police and the van.
El hesitates while everyone else gets into the van. She remembers seeing both Mike and Hopper in the lab and in danger. (Can’t leave the idiots alone for a minute.) She knows that she has to go back.
Axel yells that they have to hurry, the illusion is going to wear off. Kali begs El to stay, saying that Terry sent El to her for a reason. They belong together. Her friends can’t save her. Jane says she knows, but she can save them. She turns and runs down an alley as the wall illusion disappears and the police start firing at the van.
Kali calls for El/Jane as she runs away. The van gets away safely, but Kali is devastated at the loss of more family. We get a gorgeous reflection effect of Kali sitting back in the van, and tearfully looking at her own reflection in the van window in the dark, as El’s reflection comes into focus next to it. Kali’s reflection fades, and we gradually see that El is once again on a bus.
A woman sitting across from El decides that she needs some company and moves next to her. She asks where El is going. El replies that she’s going to see friends. She’s going home. She’s made her choice about who she is and where she belongs.
We are sung out by Icicle Works’ Birds Fly (Whisper to a Scream).
This time on her own is an important step for El’s character, but it’s still curious that it’s not interwoven with another story thread. The decision to give this subplot this much time and attention means one of three things: 1-It’s a backdoor pilot for a spinoff starring Kali and her gang, possibly also including El after Stranger Things ends in two seasons; 2- the Duffers went on a rambling side track with limited immediate relevance to the main story just for the heck of it, which seems unlikely; 3- there are elements to this episode that are important to the story now and/or in the future, even if we can’t currently see what they are.
My policy with episodes like this is to treat everything as a potential clue for the future. The Duffers put too much care into their writing to suddenly go off on a narrative lark that won’t have more ramifications further down the line, even if it takes 2 seasons to pan out.
Kali was indeed a dark mother, as her name implies. She was the first person in El/Jane’s life, with the possible exception of Mike, to see her true self, to see all of her, and to accept everything that she sees. She’s the only one to tell El the truth about their lives and force El to accept it, both the good and the bad. Mike didn’t have enough experience of the world to understand the whole truth. Hopper wouldn’t accept that she could take care of herself, or that she might have to be underground, and on the run, for the rest of her life. Kali brings the final push that El needs to grow into her true self, to accept that she’s a good person with the power to potentially be a monster or to potentially help people. The decision is El’s.
But, like all dark mothers, she doesn’t make the growth easy. She is a warrior, and El is needs to be a warrior too. El needs to face and pass the tests that will prove her growth and worthiness.
There is a neon hamsa, an open hand with an eye in the middle, in El’s bedroom in the hideout. The hamsa is a Middle Eastern symbol of protection and good luck. The words Spiritual Advisor are written in neon on the hamsa sign. Kali is an important person in El’s journey, teaching her to take care of herself as well as others, and to think of herself as special and wanted rather than as a monster and a science experiment.
El’s psychic powers are getting stronger. When we met her, she needed the sensory deprivation tank or a radio to enter psychic space. Now she’s able to find random strangers over long distances with nothing but a photo and a blind fold. If she feels a close connection to someone, as with Hopper and Mike, she doesn’t even need that. She just needs to trigger deep thoughts and memories of them.
I don’t remember seeing El use her finding/tracking ability in the real world at all last season. I believe we only saw her use it to find people so that she could spy on them, and to find Will and Barb in the Upside Down. Or did she also locate people so that the FBI could send goons to arrest them?
Kali states one of the major themes of the season. Healing isn’t possible with repression and lies. The truth and the pain have to be faced and dealt with for healing to be possible. Otherwise the system/organism will fester, becoming worse over time, whether it’s Hopper becoming an alcoholic and pill addict to numb the pain of the loss of his daughter; the town rotting from underneath like a festering wound that’s scabbed over, because for decades it’s avoided facing the cancer that is Hawkins Lab; or Barb’s parents giving up everything they own to find her, rather than admit that she’s likely dead.
El has faced some of her pain, but not all of it. She’s realized that Hopper, Mike, and her friends in Hawkins are her family, even when they disappoint her. She knows that family means a give and take relationship, with each person giving what they are good at and capable of, and taking what they need in return. She knows that mistakes will be made.
But, Kali is right. She hasn’t faced the abusive bond that she had with her papa. Kali was old enough when she was taken to remember her birth family and original life. She was never prey to Brenner’s twisted love the way that El was. Before she escaped, El had never known any other life or parent but the lab and Papa.
Brenner was the first person to hold El when she was born. He continued to be the one to hold her when she needed someone. Even very abusive parents and their kids still love each other. The two aren’t mutually exclusive, and we saw that bond constantly between El and Brenner in season 1.
El’s not going to be whole until she deals with her feelings toward him, the loss of the safety and home that the lab provided, and all of the other feelings that she wishes she didn’t have. Plus, of course, the anger about what was taken from her and done to her.
El hasn’t checked to see if Brenner is alive, or looked for his body (she found Barb’s body, so that’s possible), because she’s afraid of what she’d find. She’d have to directly confront things she’s not ready to face, possibly even Brenner himself. She’s not ready for that. She may even be able to feel his consciousness somewhere in the back of her head.
Becky is still one of the sheeple after all. Did she believe anything El said, or was she just humoring El until she could get El out of the room long enough to call someone? Becky told El that El could stay with her, with the condition that El tell Becky her story sometime soon, but it didn’t have to be now. Turning around and calling the authorities on the first night is tantamount to a betrayal, and Becky would understand that if she believed any of Terry’s story, never mind what she knows of El’s. Maybe she doesn’t believe that El is really Jane.
El is probably remembering when Benny called the authorities, and ended up dead. Leaving Becky and Terry is as much for their protection as it is for her own. Maybe they won’t think that the girl in question was El if she’s not there.
After El leaves, Terry switches her TV to Action News 8, with the 8 filling up the screen. This was her plan all along. She’s more lucid than she appears, as I’ve theorized all along, but she’s like an oracle who speaks in riddle and prophecy. Until now, she hasn’t had anyone who could interpret her properly.
How did Terry find the stories of all of the kids in the files? You couldn’t do an internet search back then. Did El inherit her finding ability from Terry? If so, Terry’s seems more well-developed, since she can hunt for types of people, while El can only hunt for specific people.
Or was Terry looking up the backstories on children she’d seen with her own eyes? There were a lot of doors in that hall. Were children behind all of them? Where are those children now? Why did Brenner take those particular children? Did they already have powers, or did he know something about their genetics? Are they all the children of his former test subjects?
With Kali in the world, there will now always be the question of Real/Not Real? They had El/Jane ask Kali if she was real for a reason, then show us NotRealBrenner later for a reason. A powerful illusionist can start a war based on illusions, or stage a bloodless coup. She would have been able to walk right out of the lab by making herself invisible, perhaps with the help of a distraction off to the side. She and El may have been separated because they were learning to combine their powers, which would make them a formidable team.
At least there is a time limit on her illusions of 1 1/2 minutes. Enough to accomplish something, but not enough to use illusion to make someone a hostage in their own fake life.
I believe that Ray is telling the truth and Brenner is alive. The scene at the end of season 1 in the junior high hall happened fast, the demogorgon died soon after, and we never saw his body. No Body=No Death. Did the demogorgon even have time to eat him or take him to the Upside Down and make him an incubator? It’s believable that he was hurt but got himself to safety somehow, unnoticed in the chaos of that night. Especially if he has psychic powers of his own and could psychically call for help.
If you examine the articles that are readable from Terry’s file, it’s clear that Terry was collecting stories of strange child disappearances. Stories strange enough that there was probably a
mutant inhuman psychic involved, unless Brenner himself has powers that strong.
These are the headlines from the file that I could catch-
Cleveland Teen Girl Missing in Indiana
Part of the article is readable as El flips through. The girl was a 16 year old honors student and basketball team captain, in Indiana for a basketball conference championship game. “After leading her team to victory, the girl disappeared somewhere between the Indiana junior high gymnasium and the bus waiting to take her and the rest of the team [back to] Ohio…
That sounds like Brenner either used Kali to help take this girl, he has a similar ability himself, or he has another
mutant psychic who he’s manipulated into cooperating.
Another Girl Lost
From County Hospital (Photo of Toddler age boy)
end of word Schoolyard
Pawtucket Mother and Daughter Missing
Baby Boy Missing from County Hospital- Frank Williams, Memphis
A baby boy went missing during a nursing staff shift change. The nurse who took him had been out sick for the week before, and was found dead in her home, with no signs of the baby, when police went to investigate.
San Diego, State Police
Vanished! Indian Girl Missing in London (Kali is at least 6 in the photo)
Couldn’t tell how she went missing in London, but neighbors insist that she’s a stubborn girl who’ll surely be seen again.
Brenner was somehow taking children from very public places. It seems unlikely that he’d be able to convince all of those people that he’d have the right to take the children, or that he’d be able to buy off all of the witnesses. Psychic abilities have to be involved in the abductions.
Here are the clearest screen caps Metamaiden could get of the readable pages in the files. No doubt someone out there will have better images, but these are a start.
I’ll write more about El’s journey and growth across the entire season in my end of season post. For now, let’s look at El, Kali and their relationship to each other. Kali is a mirror of what could have happened to El if she hadn’t found the particular boys that she did, when she did in season 1. El started out with the same kind of troubles that Kali did: She had no knowledge of the world or how to survive in it, and had to rely on her power and the kindness of strangers. The first person El found was Benny, but he couldn’t protect her, and she was quickly on the run again.
Kali’s escape, as far as we know, was an individual event that didn’t make the news or stir up the town at all, unlike El’s, which was related to a major event at the lab that couldn’t be completely hidden, and that involved one of the boys. So Kali would be seen as a runaway, while El was able to be believed as part of a larger conspiracy that her rescuers had a stake in.
Even though it was covered up, Kali’s escape wasn’t actually without conflict, as she herself tells us. There was the body that was mentioned on the news the night Will’s fake body was found in S1 Ep4. The reporter said another body had been found drowned in the quarry 7 years ago. It’s never been mentioned again, and Hopper didn’t know about it, since he didn’t think there had been any unusual deaths in the town in decades. That would have been while he was still in the big city. Was that death due to Kali’s escape? Did the lab successfully cover it up, or was it Kali who dumped the body?
The lab and the Upside Down conspired to make El’s second situation temporary as well. She ended up wandering in the woods, with the lab under reorganization. Kali ended up on the city streets far away, with the lab still run by Brenner. Hawkins was too dangerous to stay in or near for very long.
At the end of season 1, El had another patron waiting for her, a father figure who’d lost his own daughter and needed a reason to pull himself out of his crippling grief, depression and addiction. Hopper also had the guilt of betraying El to Brenner to work off, though it doesn’t seem like anyone alive but him knows about it.
So EL had a safe, warm home with a parent, but she was a prisoner. Kali was on the streets, but she was free. Both were still angry and lost inside, not knowing who they were, without purpose in their lives, without biological family or roots to fall back on. The Lost Sister has layers of meaning for both sisters.
Kali assembled a gang of angry outcasts like herself, and they began to work through their anger by feeding on it, making revenge and street justice their careers. It’s a dangerous game, and she can’t get too close to anyone in her gang, because the truth of her past is still too dangerous to share. Her life is still empty in many ways.
El, on the other hand, spent a year clinging to hope and the word “soon’, trying to believe Hopper when he told her that she’d be able to live openly in the world before long. When she reached her limit, he was still caught up in his own emotional issues. He couldn’t see that her issues are real and serious. She can’t just decide to be okay with sitting alone in the cabin with her trauma, and anger, and the need to live her own life, all day, every day. She needs more or she will go crazy, for reals.
It’s scary to me how often I need to write this ⬆️ ⬆️ in recaps. Stop holding women hostage, guys, even when you think it’s for our own good..
So El leaves the cabin and visits Terry. She learns about Kali, and goes to find her. They discover each other and finally they each have someone with shared experiences. It’s like coming home. El and Kali feel an immediate bond.
But, while they share some profound things in common, they are also different people, possibly with different goals and priorities. Kali is a good person, who’s been doing the best she can with her lot in life. But she’s ruled by her hurt and anger. El doesn’t know what she wants yet, but she’s hesitant about killing that isn’t done in the heat of the moment, or to defend a friend in need.
Kali gives El choices every step of the way, unlike everyone else in her entire life. Everyone else has told her what to do, what to think, what to wear, where to go, and what she should see as right and wrong. Even Mike. Many judged her by things that were outside of her control: her past in the lab, her powers, her looks.
El loves being with Kali, but she has reservations about Kali’s lifestyle. Seeing Kali’s choices and being in her world clarifies things for El. She realizes what’s important to her. What she’s willing to sacrifice, and who she’s willing to sacrifice it for. Seeing the images of Brenner trying to manipulate her, combined with images Hopper and Mike in trouble, solidifies her resolution.
El has a family. She has ways of her own to save them. They need her and she needs them. That’s where she belongs. She’ll work things out with Hopper. Get him to understand that she can’t be a prisoner anymore. He can’t physically contain her if she doesn’t let him, anyway. It’s time to go home.
Kali watches El run away and feels like she’s losing one of the few true bright spots in her life. She misses El, and the human connection that El brought her, already. She wonders what El could have in Hawkins that would make her willing to risk sacrificing her freedom for these people.
Kali’s still angry, and doesn’t know if she could get to the point of living the almost normal life that El hopes to have waiting for her. She wonders whether it would be worth following El to Hawkins and trying it out, or whether she should follow and take out her anger on the original source of her pain, the lab itself.
For tonight she needs to focus on escaping the police and finding someplace safe to sleep.
Whisper to a Scream lyrics. That faithless daughter line is interesting.
Some things take forever
But with building bricks of trust and love
Mountains can be moved
Love come, down upon us ’til you flow like water
Burning, with the hope of insight
Feathered, look they’re covered with a bright elation
Stolen, in the sight of love
We are, we are, we are but your children
Finding our way around indecision
We are, we are, we are ever helpless
Take us forever, a whisper to a scream
Birds fly, in the eye of the faithless daughter
Broken, at the bitter end
Wasted, sacrifice for a new nirvana
Night time, sends us on our way
We are, we are, we are but your children
Finding our way around indecision
We are, we are, we are ever helpless
Take us forever, a whisper to a scream
We are, we are, we are but your children
Finding our way around indecision
We are, we are, we are ever helpless
Take us forever, a whisper to a scream
3 thoughts on “Stranger Things Season 2 Chapter Seven: The Lost Sister Recap”
this episode felt like it was made so they can do a spin-off series. I hated this episode and almost made me hate the entire season. But I think this second season came out too soon and they should have waited a but longer.
The writing on this season overall isn’t as good as season 1. They should have gone through the entire story and individual arcs a couple more times, at least, and been more ruthless with their “darlings” that ended up not working, like Billy. I’d say they cut that storyline back a lot to begin with, since you wouldn’t normally hire Will Chase to do 1 scene.
I ended up loving this episode after writing about it, but it shouldn’t have been left as a stand alone. It should have been intercut with episodes 6 &8, so that El’s story wasn’t left for so long and the other stories didn’t have weird time issues, like demodogs left hanging. But this whole season is a little fuzzy with time and distances. There’s at least one earlier episode where one storyline that’s taking place over a short time is edited as if it’s happening at the same time as the other storyline, which is taking hours or all day.
The fact that this is a 9 episode season instead of 8, and you could almost skip episode 7 if you wanted, says to me that it was commissioned as a potential pilot. Netflix is changing the direction of its programming, so they may have decided not to pick it up before it was even released, and that’s why they won’t admit that it’s a pilot.
I felt the episode was out of character for the rest of the season. It seemed just like an avenue to take El out of the action for a while.
Here’s my take : https://crazydiscostu.wordpress.com/2017/11/09/lets-talk-about-that-episode-of-stranger-things-2/
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