Previously: Will went missing and Eleven was found.
Chapter Two: The Weirdo on Maple Street
Marines: We pick back up on the same rainy night. Eleven is on the couch in the Wheeler basement. The boys are all attacking her with questions until Mike tells them to knock it off and hands Eleven dry clothes. She nuzzles them, and it’s sad.
Eleven stands and starts to undress, but the boys all freak out. Mike stops her and points her to the bathroom for privacy. She sheepishly grabs her clothes and heads towards the bathroom, Mike following after her. He tries to close the door for her, but she stops him with a “no.” Mike gets that she doesn’t want the door closed and suggests leaving it ajar. “Yes,” she says and Mike leaves her to it.
Samantha: Feeeeeeeels for Eleven. Also, I’m suddenly wondering what happened to the first 10?
Dani: OMG, I never thought about that! And does the fact that she was gonna just take her clothes off mean she always has to undress in front of stranger?
Mari: Count on us to really explore all the layers of trauma.
The other boys think Eleven is crazy.
Dustin and Lucas want to tell Mike’s mom what’s going on, but Mike tells them they are crazy. That would involve confessing that they were out in the storm tonight, which means all the moms finding out, which means groundings and definitely no chance of finding Will. Mike suggests letting the girl sleep there, and in the morning, she can sneak around the front of the house and ring the doorbell. Mrs. Wheeler will know what to do and the boys will be in the clear. Lucas and Dustin leave.
Dani: I love how Mike has absolute confidence that his parents won’t go downstairs and discover Eleven. It’s like the Basement of Don’t Go In There: Parents of a Boy Edition.
Mari: Very convenient!
Mike sets Eleven up with a fort bed. He asks for her name and she pulls up her sleeve to reveal the numbers and points at herself. Mike is shocked to see a kid with a tattoo, but offers to call her El, short for Eleven. She nods her consent. He wishes her goodnight and leaves. Eleven shivers and cries in her fort bed.
Byers House. Jonathan has made breakfast again, and Joyce is frantic. She’s babbling about posters and copies, and Jonathan has to shake her a bit to snap her out of it. There’s a knock on the door. After six hours, Hopper is back, though he’s not got very good news: no sign of Will. He did hear from Flo that Joyce got a phone call. She motions to her phone, which has scorch marks on the receiver. Hopper says the storm fried it good, and Joyce incredulously repeats back “the STORM?” Hopper doesn’t know what else it could be, but he does admit that it is weird. Flo also mentioned that Joyce only heard some breathing. Joyce insists that it was Will, she knows it. She asks for a little trust from Hopper, who instead points out that this is an emotional time for her. Joyce asks if he thinks she wouldn’t know her own son’s breathing. Wouldn’t he know his own daughter’s?
Mari: Joyce seems to regret the words once they are out of her mouth. Hopper walks away from them a bit, allowing them both a few seconds to calm down. He asks if Joyce has heard from Lonnie yet. She admits that she hasn’t, so Hopper says it’s been long enough and he’s heading there next. Joyce yells that he’s wasting his time.
Outside, Jonathan runs out after Hopper and offers to go to Lonnie’s himself. If Will is there, then he ran away. If he sees cops, it’ll worry him, and he’ll hide. He’s good at hiding. Hopper says that cops are good at finding. He tells Jonathan to stay with his mom and gives him a shoulder punch, in an aggressive not aw-shucks way.
Samantha: So, I know Hopper is at a disadvantage because we know things that he does not, but omg he is infuriating. I just wish he would take Joyce a little more seriously and a little less “there, there, emotional woman mom.”
Dani: So true. It really makes the viewer feel all of Joyce’s frustration and hopelessness, so I guess it’s a good decision from a story standpoint even if I hate it.
Mari: Morning, Wheeler house. Mike makes three Eggo waffles (D: !!!!!!!!!!!!) and pockets one. At the breakfast table, he scarfs down his own waffle. Nancy calls him disgusting, so he pointedly asks if she got a lot of studying done last night and was her test in Human Anatomy? Nancy kicks his chair and he kicks it back. Karen asks what’s going on, but both kids respond that it’s nothing.
In the basement, Mike brings Eleven her waffle. He explains the plan of having her sneak out, go to the front door and ring the bell so that Karen can call for help. Eleven says no, and Mike understands that Eleven doesn’t want anyone calling for help. He asks who wants to hurt her, and Eleven answers “bad” and then mimics a gun to her heard. (D: Benny feels!!!!)
Search Party. Hopper arrives and checks in with the deputies, who have nothing to report. Hopper says all he found was a dead phone and Joyce about to fall off the edge. One of the deputies she’s been a few steps over for a while, and Hopper scolds him. Her child is missing, so he should show some class. Hopper walks away and the other officer (Callahan?) asks if Hopper and Joyce have slept together. His buddy just walks away. (S: These guys better watch it or they’ll be joining the lolPD.)
Hawkins High School. Barbara and Nancy are walking and reviewing flashcards when Steve walks up and swipes the cards. He’s got a Cool Girl and Cool Guy with him. Steve tells Nancy that his parents are out of town so is she in? Nancy is a little slow on the “party” uptake and then hesitates because… it’s a Tuesday? Oh, Nancy. I love you. You’re going to make a great 30-something.
Cool Girl and Cool Guy kind of make fun of Nancy, but turn their attention to Jonathan, who is nearby putting up a missing poster. Nancy wonders if they should say something to him. Cool Girl and Cool Guy choose instead to make fun of him. Nancy decides to talk to him anyway.
Nancy tells Jonathan that it sucks that Will is missing and everyone is thinking of him. Jonathan thanks her, but is otherwise not very chatty. He seems confused by the attention and the sentiments. The bell rings so Nancy takes off for class. Jonathan leaves the school just as an announcement plays for an assembly in support of the Byers family being held that night.
Hawkins Middle. Lucas and Dustin take their seats, but Mike’s is empty. Lucas says he knew the stupid plan would fail. Dustin freaks out about the possibility of Eleven sleeping naked (D: dang, he really was scarred!) or Karen ratting them out to their own moms. Lucas says Mike wouldn’t rat them out. And all that matters is that after school, Eleven will be back in the “loony bin” and they can focus on finding Will.
Mike circles back to his house after his mom leaves. He shows Eleven around upstairs. She checks out his TV, family pictures, and the La-Z-Boy. Eleven is part freaked out and part delighted.
Jonathan is in his car when The Clash starts playing. This throws him into a memory of playing Should I Stay or Should I Go for Will.
Mari: Outside, they hear Joyce yelling at Lonnie on the phone. Jonathan stands and closes the door, but Will looks bummed. It seems Lonnie isn’t coming, again. Jonathan asks if Will even likes baseball. He doesn’t, but he still thinks it’s kind fun to go with Lonnie. Jonathan asks if Lonnie ever does things Will actually likes? He doesn’t, because he’s trying to get Will to like “normal” things. Jonathan says that Will shouldn’t like things just because other people do. But… The Clash? He really likes them? Will says definitely.
Dani: I was definitely Team Jonathan after this scene. I’m a sucker for the older-brother-as-surrogate-father thing.
Mari: 3/3 Snark Ladies have sibling feels.
The memory fades out into Jonathan leaving Hawkins City limits.
Joyce near stumbles into a convenience store. An older man says he wasn’t expecting to see her at work today, but she explains that she isn’t here to work. She needs a new phone. Her boss rings her up, but uh, she doesn’t have money. She’s going to need an advance. Boss kind of reluctantly says yes and opens up his ledger. Joyce says she’s going to need a two-week advance. Boss starts to say no, but Joyce says she’s been working for 10 years and has never missed a shift. She works Christmas Eve and Thanksgiving. Her son is missing, and she doesn’t know if she’ll ever see him again. (D: Damn, dude, give this poor woman whatever she wants!!) She needs the phone and a two-week advance. Her boss gives in. Seeing that it went so well, Joyce adds a pack of Camels to her list of demands.
A man knocks on the Byers’ door. When no one answers, he gives the all clear. Dr. Brenner and some other men in white hazmat suits get out of a van. They start investigating the premises with some (EMF?) meters, which lead Dr. Brenner to the shed. On the wall, Dr. Brenner finds some alien gunk.
Wheeler House. Mike is showing off some of his figurines to Eleven, including one of Yoda. Eleven looks bored. She stands and starts looking at Mike’s trophies and pictures, including one with Will. She is stunned when she sees Will, and points at him. Mike asks if she saw Will out on the road, or something, but before she can answer, they hear Karen arrive. Mike grabs Eleven and they run, but they don’t make it downstairs before Karen enters the house with Holly. Karen hears something and calls out. Mike answers and says he’ll be down in a minute. Mike tries to get Eleven into a closet to hide, but she hesitates. Mike promises to hide her, and after he explains what a promise is, she finally gets in. Mike slams the door in her face, and Eleven starts having a panic attack. (S: Oooooooof.)
We flash back to two men holding Eleven by the arms and carrying her down a hospital hallway. She’s squirming and yelling for her papa. Dr. Brenner is standing behind her, watching. Eleven gets thrown into a cell. She bangs on the door and keeps crying for her papa. (D: Heart = broken)
In the present, Mike tells his mom that he’s very totally sick, and he didn’t tell her so she wouldn’t make him go to school anyway. Karen says she isn’t mad at Mike. She knows a lot has been going on with this Will thing. She just wants Mike to know that he can talk to her and doesn’t have to hide anything. Their touching moment is interrupted by a thud. Karen asks if anyone else is in the house and Mike lies. (D: Poorly, lol)
Upstairs, Mike runs to check up on Eleven. She’s crying in the closet but she says she’s okay.
Samantha: I’m just going to be over here maybe crying.
Dani: This makes all the other childhood trauma we cover really pale in comparison.
Mari: Joyce sets up her new phone and takes a seat with it in her lap, to wait.
Still out in the woods somewhere, the search for Will continues. Hopper and Callahan are up on a cliff, talking about whether or not you could survive a fall from this height. There is a lingering shot that makes me feel like this cliff is ~*significant*~, but if it is, it isn’t today. Flo calls in a situation at Benny’s.
The police all head there and they find Benny, dead, and staged so that it looks like a suicide. Callahan says that between the missing kid and the suicide, Hopper must feel like a big city cop again. Hopper says that back then, he was dealing with strangers. Benny was his friend.
DO RIGHT BY BENNY, HOPPER. INVESTIGATE.
Jonathan makes it to his father’s house. He knocks and a woman answers. He pushes past her and starts checking out the house until Lonnie enters and pushes him up against a wall. Jonathan pushes back and Lonnie says he’s gotten stronger. Ew. Lonnie introduces his son to his girlfriend, and tries to go in for a fatherly hug, but Jonathan pushes him off again. (S: This show is just going to me having LOTS! OF! Emotions!, huh?)
Lucas and Dustin ride to the Wheeler house. Lucas is very upset that Eleven is still there. Mike tries to explain that Eleven knows something about Will, but this just makes Lucas angrier. He tries to shake and yell answers out of Eleven, and when that doesn’t work, threatens to go tell Karen what’s happening. (D: Lucas is really starting to piss me off.) (M: He’s definitely the straight-man, non-believer and my least favorite.) Lucas opens the bedroom door, but it slams shut right out of his hand. He tries again, but the door slams and the lock clicks into place. The boys all look back at Eleven. She’s standing and her nose is bleeding and she firmly tells them “no.”
Mari: At Lonnie’s, Jonathan is still in search mode, while Lonnie is in deadbeat dad mode, though he does try to say that it’s Joyce who is the bad parent. One kid missing and now Jonathan is out here without her knowing. Jonathan slaps a missing poster on Lonnie’s chest, in case he forgot what his own kid looked like. (D: BURN!) Cynthia slinks in to call Jonathan kind of cute and jokes that she might change Lonnie for the younger model. Real winning stuff.
Police station. Hopper is asking a friend of Benny’s some questions. The last time Friend saw Benny was yesterday for lunch. It was just him and the boys, until the kid showed up. This gets Hopper’s attention. Of course, Friend thinks the kid was a boy trying to steal food out of the kitchen. Callahan shows Friend a picture and asks if that was the kid. Friend says no. The boy had a buzzcut. Hopper says to forget the haircut. If Joyce’s kid had a buzzcut, could it be the same kid? Friend says that he didn’t get a good look at the boy, but it’s possible.
Wheeler House. The Wheelers are having dinner with Lucas and Dustin. All the boys have no appetite and are moving food around their plate. Nancy sucks up by saying the meatloaf is delicious and then asks if she can go to the assembly for Will, because it would be very weird if she weren’t there. Karen sighs and tells her to be home by 10. She suggests taking the boys with her, but they all shout no! because children have no chill. Then, Eleven shows up behind Karen, just casually walking down the stairs and Mike chokes on his milk. Dustin slams his fists on the table as a distraction and blames it on a spasm. Holly starts crying because everyone is being the strangest, I’m sure. (D: This scene cracked me up, but then I felt bad laughing because Holly is adorable.)
The search party has moved to around Benny’s restaurant. Callahan doubts that Friend really saw Will, because why would he have a shaved head? Hopper says when they find Will, they’ll ask him but the other officer says you can’t ask a corpse questions. Just then, a volunteer starts blowing his whistle. Hopper finds him– it’s Mr. Clarke. Clarke found a scarp of Eleven’s hospital gown in a pipe. The officers follow the pipe back to the edge of Hawkins National Laboratory. So, we found Eleven’s escape route. (D: *side-eyes Mr. Clarke and his untrustworthy mustache for being the one who happens to find this clue*)
Eleven is back in the basement and the boys bring her meatloaf. Mike says Lucas and Dustin won’t tell on her. They were just scared earlier. Lucas says they also really want to find their friend. Eleven asks what a friend is.
Mari: Friendship to the max!
Lucas explains spit swearing and Dustin steals the rest of the scene by rubbing his spitted-on hand against his clothes. The point is that friends keep your secrets. Eleven looks pensive.
Nancy makes Barb park her car on the side of the road three blocks from Steve’s house so the neighbors won’t see them. Barb thinks this is really stupid and wants to go home, especially because she thinks this is all a Steve plot to get in Nancy’s pants. Nancy insists that it’s not and tells Barb to come with to be her guardian. Nancy changes in the car and Barb calls her out on the new bra. The girls get to Steve’s house, ring the bell, and he greets them enthusiastically.
We cut to a bunch of clothes strewn on the floor and pan up to Hopper in bed with a woman. Hopper climbs out and goes outside for a smoke. The woman, identified as Sandra by CC, asks what he’s doing outside in the cold. He asks if she ever feels cursed. The last missing child in Hawkins happened in ’23 and the last suicide in ’61. Sandra laughs it off and tells him to come back inside and warm her up. He tells her to just give him a minute outside.
Wheeler Basement. Eleven sits at the D&D board and closes her eyes. She picks up a piece and calls it Will. Mike asks her if she saw Will on Mirkwood or if she knows where he is. Eleven swipe the rest of the pieces off the board and turns it over. She slams Will’s piece down and says he’s hiding. Mike asks if he’s hiding from the bad men, and Eleven shakes her head. She grabs the Gorgon and slams it down. The boys rightfully freak out.
Jonathan parks near where Will lost his bike. He heads into the woods and starts taking pictures of the crime scene, right up until he hears a woman screaming. Jonathan runs off in that direction, only to find that it’s Steve’s house. They were screams of kids just having fun! (S: It’s weird how in TV screams of terror and fun always sound the same until they don’t!)
Steve shotguns a beer and Nancy asks if she’s supposed to be impressed? He’s such a cliche. Steve says she’s a cliche what with her grades and band practice. Nancy says she’s not even in band, so Steve asks her to show them all how it’s done. Barb rolls her eyes in the background and, agreed girl. Nancy expertly shotguns her beer, and when she sees Barb looking less than happy, pressures Barb to try. Barb gives in but ends up cutting her hand instead of the can. She rushes off to the bathroom to clean up. Jonathan has been watching all of this from the trees and he starts taking pictures, which is kind of creepy, Jonathan.
Dani: It hurts my heart to watch Nancy caught between the popular crowd and square but loyal Barb and making all the wrong choices. I get it … but it’s soooo painful to watch.
Cool Guy pushes Cool Girl in the pool and then Steve pushes Nancy and they are all swimming in the pool now, having a ball.
Joyce has fallen asleep on her chair, the phone still right next to her. The phone rings and wakes her. We hear breathing again. Joyce calls out for Will and this time, we hear his distorted voice call, “mom?” Shortly thereafter, the phone is fried. Joyce throws it in frustration and cries on the floor. At first she doesn’t notice that her lights start flickering, but it keeps happening. The flickering lights move down the hall and the radio starts playing Should I Stay or Should I Go. Joyce opens the door to Will’s room and starts calling for him. The lamp glows super bright and she stares at it in shock and then suddenly the radio stops and the lights turn off. (S: I am so scared.</span) (D: I got goosebumps just reading this part of the recap!)
Something starts pressing up against the wall, like say an Unidentified Creature with Alien Sound Effects. ((D: nope nope nope nope nope) Joyce screams and runs out of her house to her car. She’s ready to hightail it until the music comes on in Will’s room. She seems to take this to mean that Will is there, stuck with the UCASE. She heads back into the house, LIKE A HERO.
Samantha: Okay, but right? This is honestly what stuck with me the most from when I first tried to watch (I made it 5 minutes into episode 3). SHE GOES BACK IN. It’s like when Catelyn Stark gripped that knife to protect her and Bran. HELL YES. (D: +1)
Marines: At Steve’s house, everyone is out of the pool now. Cool Girl and Guy go off upstairs to Steve’s parent’s room. Ew. Steve offers to get Nancy some dry clothes and she starts to follow him upstairs. Barb asks WTF, and tells her she isn’t acting like herself. Nancy insists that she’s fine and tells Barb to go home. Barb Deserves Better. She didn’t even want to be here. (S: This is sooooo not cool. Nancy wanted a security blanket, not a friend.)
We cut outside for a second to establish that Jonathan is still taking creepy pics.
Upstairs, Steve gives Nancy dry clothes, and she asks him for some privacy to change. But then she just takes her shirt off in front of him. They kiss.
Outside, Barb is still hanging around, probably because she’s a good friend. Jonathan watches her, but then his shutter jams, so he looks down to deal with it. Barb’s got her feet in the pool, holding her bandaged hand. A drop of her blood falls in and the SFX guy tells me this is NOT GOOD. BARB. RUN! SAVE YOURSELF!
Alas, growling starts over her head and she’s snatched. There’s a brief shriek, but when Jonathan looks up, nothing is there and Barb is gone.
Steve and Nancy keep kissing.
The lights outside flicker back on and the episode ends.
I think the scenes at the beginning and end with Eleven wet and requiring a change of clothes and Nancy wet and requiring a change of clothes bookened the episode nicely. Eleven is scared, distraught, doesn’t know who she is, and has no concept of privacy. Nancy is wet, has a small argument with Barb about who she is and asks for a privacy she later decides she doesn’t want. I like Nancy fine, but her parts of the story naturally feel the most disconnect as she’s the only character still living a normal life (though I’m assuming the Barb thing will change that).
Some of the bits with Eleven and the boys were the best and worst parts of the episode. I thought they were charming and cute, but there seemed to be a gap of storytelling as far as why Mike just assumed he had to explain things like a La-Z-Boy and a promise to this girl and just rolled with it. Her show of powers doesn’t happen until much later. A reveal a little earlier could’ve meant more of an explicit reason as to why this made such easy sense to Mike.
I’ve been calling the creature, or whatever, the UCASE because of the sound-effects but this episode gives the feeling that whatever we’re dealing with, it’s dimensional. The thing pressing against the walls and the way Eleven flips the board around to the other, black side, saying Will is hiding give us the feeling that there is some other place tied to whatever is going on here.
Dani: I think Eleven casually preparing to strip in front of them is what convinced Mike that they were dealing with someone who has no idea what all the things are. I agree with everything else, though, and I never drew the correlation between Eleven and Nancy with the wet clothes. You’re so good at TV. I just really liked the way this episode cemented both Jonathan’s and Joyce’s characters for me: Jonathan’s with his Will/The Clash flashback, and Joyce with running back into the house. The monster pushing at/through the wall was creepy af, too.
Next time on Stranger Things: Joyce thinks Will is trying to talk to her in S01 E03 – Chapter Three: Holly Jolly.