Stranger Things Season 2 Chapter Nine: The Gate Recap

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We’ve finally reached the end of season 2. This episode is the pay off for the Duffers’ series and season long promises, like #Justice for Barb, Mike and El at the Snow Ball, the reason Billy exists (haha, just kidding), closing the gate to the Upside Down, and ending Will’s demon Mind Flayer possession. Let’s see how it all goes down.

We pick up at the moment we left off, probably because there would have been a fan riot if they hadn’t. Fans are mad enough that El was kept separate from the rest of the cast for 8 out of 9 episodes.

El and Mike throw themselves into each other’s arms, just like you’d expect, and hold on for dear life. After a minute, Mike pulls back to tell El that he never gave up on her. He called her every night. Every night for… El finishes his sentence, “353 days. I heard.”

Mike asks why she didn’t respond and let him know that she was there and okay. Hopper jumps in to tell Mike that he was the one who wouldn’t let El answer. El and Hopper hug hello and ask each other where they’ve been. Neither answers. There will be some long catch up conversations, eventually.

Mike hits Hopper and is furious with him for hiding El away from everyone for a year. Hopper drags Mike to a bedroom for a semblance of privacy to argue in. Pretty sure everyone in the house is going to hear it anyway, accidentally or accidentally on purpose.

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Stranger Things Season 2 Chapter Eight: The Mind Flayer Recap

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Today, we say a tearful goodbye to Bob the Brain, founder of the Hawkins AV Club, mentor to my husband Mr Clark, electronics wizard, puzzle solver, surrogate dad, supportive boyfriend, and superhero. You will be missed, Bob. Your heroic nerd legacy lives on. Samwise would be proud.

But we have other things to do before the Demodogs have Bob for dinner.

The dogs have waited patiently at the top of the elevator shaft since the end of episode 6, but they’re done waiting. Owens assures Hopper that the glass is polycarbonate and won’t break, so of course the dogs break though in less than a minute. Owens really didn’t read the lab files closely, or talk to the survivors from last season, when he took this job.

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Stranger Things Season 2 Chapter Six: The Spy Recap

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This episode begins with a Silkwood shower for Hopper, and emergency treatment for burns that aren’t externally visible for Will. At Hawkins Lab. Things are definitely different under Dr. Owens, as he moves from definitely willing to kill people/evil into a morally ambiguous gray area this episode. Brenner and his henchwoman Agent Frazier would have shot everyone at the Pumpkin Patch and left their bodies in the tunnels, without a second thought.

Dustin and Steve are still on the road to Dustin’s house, which moves around according to plot needs. Sometimes it’s a couple of doors down from Mike and Lucas, sometimes it’s a couple of miles.

Once it’s fully dark for maximum scary movie effect, they’re allowed to find Dustin’s driveway. Steve gets out his nail-studded bat, which feels like it needs a name. ANYTHING BUT LUCILLE, PLEASE. Dustin sends Steve and his pal, the bat, into the basement. Steve doesn’t find anything unusual down there except the skin that Dart shed with this growth cycle. Dustin follows him down to look around more closely. Oops, Dart’s gotten a little stronger and has busted out through the cement basement wall.

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Stranger Things Season 2 Chapter Five: Dig Dug Recap

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Well, that’s an image out of a horror movie, isn’t it. We get more clarity on El’s origin story this episode, as she finds her mother and aunt. She’s welcomed once they discover who she is, no monstrous acts required.

Back in Hawkins, Dr Owen’s quote from Sarton echoes through the episode, as decisions are made that will undoubtedly set us up for the eventual finale. Dustin finally understands that Dart is dangerous and seeks out help. Hopper is rescued from the tunnels, but the rescue exposes more problems than it solves. Bob the Brain helps Joyce, Lucas talks to Max, while Jonathan and Nancy talk to Murray Bauman, bringing the secret further into the world in different ways that may or may not be wise.

Joyce continues to work on the puzzle map, while Will explains his current experiences of the monster to Mike. Will sees what the monster sees and feels what he feels as the monster spreads further into Hawkins. The monster’s consciousness has gone from feeling like a barely remembered dream to an overwhelming presence in the front of his mind at all times.

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Stranger Things Season 2 Chapter Four: Will the Wise Recap

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Yikes! Things are heating up! Or cooling off, in Will’s very eerie case. Everyone is slipping back into warrior/investigative mode.

It’s especially nice to see in Nancy and El’s cases, since they’d both been relegated to the sidelines in their own lives by well-meaning but clueless men. Being safe starts to become meaningless if you’re a prisoner or expected to be a bystander while decisions are made for you.

Joyce races into the school parking lot and jumps out of her car. She and the kids quickly find Will in one of the ball fields, still stuck in the Upside Down and engulfed by the Shadow Monster. To the outside world, he appears to be having a seizure. Joyce tries to snap him out of it, but he doesn’t respond. Finally, the monster releases him and he snaps awake.

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Stranger Things Season 2 Chapter Three: The Pollywog

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In this episode, things take a distinct turn for the worse, though, following in the tradition of horror shows, the characters don’t necessarily realize it yet. Dustin thinks he’s found a cute, cool new pet. It’s like he’s never seen a movie before. Bob thinks he’s helped Will face his fears. He’s clearly never read a Stephen King novel. Max thinks she’s made some quirky new friends with no complications. Mike thinks he feels El nearby, and hopes to find her soon. Everything in Hawkins is always more complicated than that, and soon is a very relative term.

We pick up moments after we left off in episode 2. Dustin is stealthily sneaking whatever was in the garbage can into his room. His mom is asking way too personal questions. The family cat doesn’t like what he’s carrying. And Yertle the Turtle is being kicked out of her home.

Dustin pulls out a handful-sized unidentifiable amphibian and puts it in Yertle’s aquarium. I start fearing for Yertle’s life. This is surely connected to the Upside Down. Possibly it’s the larva that Will coughed up last season. Dustin’s curiosity is engaged, so he’s blinded by science and love. He can’t see the danger. He looks at the three musketeers bar that he and the pollywog are sharing (Dustin’s favorite), and names it D’artagnan, after the most noble of the musketeers. Dart for short. THIS WON’T END WELL. It’s not okay to break Dustin’s heart, show.  Or Metamaiden’s.

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Stranger Things Season 2 Chapter Two: Trick or Treat, Freak Recap

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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.

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Stranger Things Season 2 Chapter One: MADMAX Recap

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They’re back! Something wicked this way comes, into the town of Hawkins, and it’s come to stay. This first episode serves as a check in with all of the residents that we got to know last year, and an introduction to a few new arrivals.

10/28/1984 Pittsburgh, PA

The season 2 cold open takes us to a nighttime robbery in Pittsburgh. A gang of robbers made up of men and women of diverse races spills out of a city building, and into their getaway van. After a chaotic chase with several police cars pursuing them, they go through a tunnel. A woman named Kali appears to use her mind to collapse the tunnel entrance before the police can go through, causing the police cars to pile up in a multi-car accident.

It turns out that the collapse was an illusion that could only be seen by the driver of the first car. As Kali wipes away the trickle of blood dripping from her nose, we see the number 008 tattooed onto her wrist. We’ve just met one of El’s fellow test subjects.

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A Vagina for a Face: The Monsters, Men and Women of Stranger Things Season 1

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Ridiculous, Epic Amounts of Analysis, Commentary and Questions, Just in Time for Season 2

I have a lot of thoughts on Eleven, the Upside Down monster, and the other female characters from Stranger Things, going in several different directions. I want to explore as many of them as possible, so this is going to be another rambley post that goes all over the place. (Like I ever write anything else.) I’ll throw in some character analysis of the boys as well, since not all of them fall into the monster category. 😘

 

Who Is El?

Before we get to El, let’s look at her nemesis, the Upside Down monster for a moment. The Upside Down monster turns out to have a lot in common with the Alien monster and the Thing. All are female and using human bodies to incubate their young. All three are unusual in that they have monstrous appearances, unlike most female monsters. All are relentless in their drive to kill humans, which is really a combination of survival instinct and the drive to reproduce that all species feel. The narrative never points this out with any of these monsters, even though you’d think a breeding mother would elicit some understanding.

El, the powerful counterpart to the Upside Down monster, is a prepubescent girl on the brink of womanhood/menstruation, discovering her power as a woman, feeling the hormones rise in her body. She bleeds every time she uses her powers to symbolize this, and because women are kept shackled in our society, so that they can’t turn on men or become too powerful.

Female superheroes are rarely intelligent, attractive, powerful, and emotionally well-adjusted all at once. There will always be at least one area in which they need men to guide and support them. Superman, Ironman, Captain America, and Batman all function fine without a woman, even though they each have flaws. But Buffy, Black Widow, the Scarlet Witch, Wonder Woman and Cat Woman are emotional messes, children or childlike, who need lovers, brothers and father figures to show them how to function in the world.

So El is weakened by the use of her powers, and kept ignorant of the world, leaving her easier to control and less likely to escape. In our culture, most men can’t handle watching women who are better than them and don’t need them. Since these shows are made by men, this says some interesting things about male psychology. A truly strong, confident man wouldn’t need to hold women, and even little girls like El, back, to make himself feel strong and necessary. Yet in show after show, we find women who are overtly powerful, but held back by excuses their male creators have made up to keep them tied to men long after a man would have become independent.

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Stranger Things Season 1 Chapter 8: The Upside Down Recap and Analysis/Speculation

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The persecuted warrior queen of Stranger Things.

This episode’s title, The Upside Down, is an accurate description of the episode. We do spend more time in the Upside Down, and learn more about it, but some of our assumptions are also turned upside down. Characters do things we don’t expect, and outcomes aren’t necessarily what they seem. And El has a few issues she’d like to discuss with The Duffers.

After the required pan down from the starry night sky that starts every episode, we join Joyce and Brenner in the lab’s interrogation room. He tries to get her to reveal what she knows by using logic and sympathy, the way he did with Karen and Ted, but she’s just buried a fake body provided by Hawkins National Lab. She’s not going to buy into his BS so easily. She tells him right where he can go.

Agent Frazier and the Hawkins Head of Security don’t bother with the nice approach with Hopper, they go straight to mild torture using tasers. He keeps his cool and lets them know that he’s gotten very deep into their wrong doings with his investigation, and has left the information with a reporter. They threaten to kill him, but he suggests a blackmail deal instead. He and Joyce and the others will keep their mouths shut about the lab’s wrong doings, and he’ll tell them where to find El, if they will let him and Joyce go through the portal to find Will and if they’ll leave the other kids alone.

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