Previously: Eleven saved Mike from falling off a cliff.
Marines: Mike cleans Eleven’s face and tells her that’s much better. She looks at her reflection in the mirror and tentatively touches her hair. Mike tells her she doesn’t need the wig. “Still pretty?” she asks. Mike overly enthusiastically says yeah! Very pretty!
Samantha: Why do I feel slightly weird about them kissing?
Mari: Because they are both pretty young and she is stunted in her development to boot. I think it’s always gonna have that weirdness to it.
Dustin grabs the walkie and we can hear some kind of broken up message from Lucas. We cut to him furiously pedaling while yelling into the walkie talkie that the bad men are coming and they know about Eleven. The message finally get through clear enough. Mike tells Eleven to wait downstairs. He and Dustin rush up and from the window they can see the Sketchy Technician with the Skeevy White Van out front.
In the kitchen, Karen is on the phone, presumably with Steve’s parents, trying to figure out where Nancy is. Mike runs in and interrupts, frantically asking if she’s scheduled any repairs. Dustin is still at the window, so he sees when a whole line of Sketchy Vans roll up. He pulls the curtains closed and runs for Mike, telling him that they need to go right. now. Mike tells his mom that if anyone asks for him, he’s left the country. Karen calls after him, but that apparently is the reach of her parenting for today.
Samantha: Like….???????? Mike must have critted on a Deception check cause????
Mari: About as good as any explanatioin.
Dr. Brennar and his child abusing crew see the kids as they hop on their bikes. There’s a bit of a stare-off, but the kids start peddling away. Dr. Brennar and Child Abusing Crew run back to their Sketchy Vans and start the pursuit.
Dustin’s got a headset on and uses it to get Lucas’s location. They agree to meet up and pedal for their lives, cutting across houses to try and lose the vans. At one point, they are cornered, with one van coming straight for them, but Eleven uses her telekinesis to straight flip that van in the air. We see it land upside down, heading off the other Sketchy Vans.
The kids make it back to the junk yard where Eleven accidentally tossed Lucas. They get off their bikes and rest and Lucas takes the opportunity to apologize to Eleven. He was wrong when he called her a traitor. Eleven says that friends don’t lie, so she’s also sorry. Lucas places a hand on her. Mike says he’s also sorry and extends his hand. Lucas shakes it.
Joyce and Hooper return to the station. Joyce yells at Callahan to take Jonathan’s handcuffs off, and Hopper agrees, but Powell says there is something he needs to see first. Powell takes Hopper out to Jonathan’s car. Back inside the station, Hopper asks Jonathan what’s up with all the weapons and stuff. Jonathan doesn’t think Hopper will believe him, but Hopper says to try him. (S: Please believe each other.)
Karen makes it downstairs to the basement, only like 7 episodes late. It’s empty, but she sees the destroyed fort and a few locks of blonde wig hair. Upstairs, Ted answers the door and it’s Dr. Brennar, with a bunch of his Child Abusing Crew, including the woman we saw speaking to Mr. Clarke and murdering Benny. She lifts up a badge.
We cut to Child Abusing Crew collecting boxes of evidence from the Wheeler house. Karen, Ted and Holly wait and worry in the kitchen. In the basement, Dr. Brennar looks at a t-shirt suspiciously. Back upstairs, Suspicious AF is questioning Karen, but won’t tell her who Eleven is or why her hair is short or what kind of supposed danger Mike is in. Karen loses her shit, especially when Suspicious AF tells her to stay calm. Suspicious AF stands and Dr. Brennar sits at the table and says he understands how upsetting this all is. He wishes they could tell them more, but he can only say that Michael is in real danger. Dr. Brennar can help Michael, and will help him, but first Karen has to trust him. He asks if Karen trusts him. The correct answer is NO, WEIRD MAN AND WHERE IS YOUR WARRANT? Karen goes with a small head nod. Dr. Brennar asks if she has any idea where her son might be.
Karen, seriously, remember your panicked son saying he’s left the country. REMEMBER.
Samantha: Literally what reason do you have to trust him, Karen?? Please pull through.
Mari: In the junk yard, Lucas is explaining what he saw at the lab– the soldiers, the gate, the Department of Energy sign, and basically how they are screwed. Mike tells them that Department of Energy means military and weapons, and they all look to Eleven, connecting those dots. Whatever happens now, they can’t go home. They are fugitives. On cue, they hear a helicopter approaching. They hide their bikes under a junked school bus, run inside the bus and duck.
At the station, Jonathan shows Hopper and Joyce the picture he took of the UCASE. Hopper asks if that thing is really drawn by blood, but Jonathan says they don’t know. Nancy adds that it’s just a theory.
Outside Hopper’s office, Jonathan apologizes to his mom, but Joyce says that isn’t enough. What would’ve happened if she’d lost Jonathan too? And he put Nancy in danger. Jonathan knows, but he thought he could save Will, and he still thinks he can. Joyce tells him this is not his to do on his own. He always acts like he’s out there alone, but he’s not. Jonathan says he knows. Joyce gives him a little shove in frustration, but then pulls him into a hug. I catch many feelings.
Samantha: OMG, I didn’t even know it but I’ve been waiting for this lovely little scene.
Mari: We’ve seen so much of Joyce’s love toward Will, shown in her fierce belief and protection of him. We’ve always gotten a sense that things are different with Jonathan, but I thought this was a nice way to confirm that it’s a little bit because Jonathan pulls away. And it was nice to see that fierce affection here, directed toward Jonathan.
Hopper comes out of his office when he hears yelling. Out in the front of the station, Troy the Pee Bully’s mom is complaining that Callahan is making fun of his boy while he’s trying to complain about a girl breaking his arm. (A very little girl, Callahan clarifies, because he is kind of making fun of Pee Bully.) Hopper tells the deputies to hurry up and take the statement because he doesn’t have time for this. On his way out, though, Hopper overhears the Pee Bully say that the girl who broke his arm had no hair. Hopper turns around and asks for more details. Pee Bully reluctantly says that the girl could also do things like make you pee yourself or make you fly. Hopper asks if she was alone, but Pee Bully says no. She hangs out with the losers.
Segue Magic to the real loser, Steve. (S: Insta-rage.) He’s sitting in front of a grocery, face still bloody. Tommy comes out with some aspirin for him, and then him and Carol talk more shit and are generally awful. Steve snaps and tells then to shut up, because they are assholes. Steve also tells Tommy that he shouldn’t have done that, I guess insinuating that it was Tommy who spray-painted everything, and he’s innocent? IDK. I don’t buy it. (I’ve been all over the place with Steve. I hope you non-Snows are enjoying the show.)
Samantha: Yo, even if he didn’t actually wield the paint, he didn’t stop him. And got all aggressive and douchey in Nancy’s face. And so on. I’m still Team Fuck Steve.
Mari: Steve and Tommy almost start fighting, but Tommy reminds Steve that he just lost a fight to Jonathan Byers. Steve hops in his car and drives away. If it took 37 punches to the face to realize your friends are the worst, Steve, well…
Child Abusing Crew is still taking stuff from the Wheeler house. Hopper is watching them do it from a bit away, through his binoculars. Nancy wants to go home because her parents are down there, but Hopper says they’ll be fine. And the last thing she wants is for these people to know she’s involved. Nancy says Mike is down there too, but Hopper points out the helicopter, which means the haven’t found him yet. Hopper asks Nancy to think of where Mike would’ve gone, but she doesn’t know. She doesn’t know her brother that way. Jonathan, who did know his brother that way, has an idea.
Hopper and crew drive to the Byers house. There, they go to Will’s room and locate his walkie. Nancy uses it to call Mike. On the junked bus, Mike listens to first Nancy’s message, and then Hopper’s assurances that they can help the kids if they answer, but they wonder if it’s a trap. Eventually, though, they answer the call.
Samantha: Are we entering Epic Team-Up Mode???
Mari: I think it’s happening!
Out in front of the theater, a worker is cleaning up the graffiti. Steve comes by on his redemption tour, I guess, and offers to help clean it up. WHATEVER, STEVE. KEEP TOURING.
Karen and Ted watch as Child Abusing Crew leave. Ted tells Karen to trust the government, but she finds Dr. Brennar creepy. She wonder if Nancy is involved in any of this, but Ted laughs it off, because Mike and Nancy together lol.
Dustin is pacing on the bus, because he says it’s been too long. He thinks it’s definitely a trap and keeps referencing Lando Calrissian. The screaming match between them all gets broken up when they hear vehicles approaching– three of them, full of bad men. The kids all hide back in the bus and we wait, tensely, as we se that these Child Abusers have guns. One of them spies the stashed bikes and opens the bus door, but just as he does, SHERIFF PUNCHY TO THE RESCUE. I LOVE HIM SO MUCH NOW. He punches them all and then grabs the kids off the bus.
Samantha: HIS IS A TOUR I WOULD PRE-SALE FOR.
Mari: Joyce, Jonathan and Nancy all worriedly wait at the Byers house. They hear Hopper’s car approach and run outside. Nancy gives Mike a big hug and says she was so worried about him. He’s like, “uh, yeah. Me too.” It’s hilarious and such a little sibling thing. Nancy notices Eleven and wonders if that’s her dress.
Inside, Mike is explaining the flea and the acrobat to all of them and all they’ve learned about the gate to the Upside Down. Hopper asks if the gate is underground and Eleven says yes. Near a tank of water? Eleven says yes. Mike realizes that Hopper has seen the gate. Joyce asks if there is anyway that Eleven can talk to Will in the Upside Down. Nancy wants to talk to Barbara too.
Everyone stands around a table while Eleven concentrates on the walkie talkie. The lights flicker, but she opens her eyes and apologizes. She can’t find them.
In the bathroom, Eleven washes her face and considers her reflection again. Every time she does this, looks at herself this way, like a broken thing, it hurts my heart. Eleven looks back at the bathtub. In the kitchen, the boys are explaining that using her powers makes Eleven weak and they just have to wait until she’s gained some strength back after flipping a Sketchy Van. Eleven comes in, though, and says she can do it with the bathtub.
Mr. Clarke’s house. He’s watching The Thing with a super cute date, get it Mr. Clarke, with your weird mustache and love of science. The phone rings and he answers, and is surprised to find that it’s Dustin, wanting to know how to build a sensory deprivation tank. Mr. Clarke’s like, “um, weird, let’s talk about this on Monday.” Dustin, doing his best to ad-lib this, says that Mr. Clarke always says they should open any curiosity doors and why is he keeping this curiosity door locked? It works like a charm, because Mr. Clarke is a neat guy, and Dustin has his sensory deprivation instructions. (S: What a swell teacher.) Problem now is that they need 1500 pounds of salt. Hopper has an idea.
They all head to the school. Hopper and Jonathan grab bags of deicing salt. Jonathan asks how they are going to kill the UCASE, and Hopper tells him that he’s to stay away from any and all monsters. Hopper promises, however, that he will be the one to find Will.
Samantha: It’s interesting cause everyone, except Nancy, has a thematically appropriate backstory/connection to being the one to find Will, Hopper’s being to save Will like he couldn’t save his daughter.
Mari: In the gym, Dustin and Lucas try to set up a kiddie pool.
Outside, Nancy uses a rock to break into a tool shed. Mike and I are impressed. They grab hoses. Nancy asks what Eleven even eats. Mike tells her about the Eggo thing. Nancy knew that Mike was acting weird, but she thought it was because of Will. Mike knew that Nancy was acting weird, but he thought it was because of Steve. Nancy says that from now on, they should have no more secrets from each other. Mike says fine and immediately asks if she likes Jonathan now. Nancy unconvincingly says that it’s not like that. Nancy asks if Mike likes Eleven. Mike protests too much.
In the lab, Joyce grabs goggles to black out for Eleven. She thanks her sincerely for being so brave and for helping her family. And in a complete foil to Dr. Brennar, Joyce the Hero tells Eleven that if it gets too scary in that place, to just let her know. (S: Sobs. Can we give Joyce the Hero some Sandy Cohen Eyebrows?) Eleven takes an unsteady breath and says she’s ready.
She walks around in the darkness and stillness for a bit before calling out for Barb. Nancy hears her. Eleven sees something and gets closer to it, realizing that what she sees are Barb’s remains, alien goo oozing out of her mouth. She freaks out and so do I. I have to look away for MY SAFETY. (S: I’ve got caramel popcorn in the blanket fort, FOR REVITALIZING.) In the gym, Nancy hears Eleven screaming, “gone! gone!” and starts to cry. Joyce grabs Eleven and holds her, telling her that it’s okay. She’s safe. She’s okay. In the black place, Eleven hears Joyce’s voice echoing and calms down. Was I crying before? I’m definitely crying now.
Eleven sits up in the pool. Joyce grabs her and comforts her.
Later, Eleven is wrapped in a blanket, leaning on Mike’s shoulder, and surrounded by the other boys. Hopper asks Joyce where this fort is (the woods behind their house) and grabs his things to leave. Joyce and Jonathan follow him. Hopper yells for both of them to get back inside, but Joyce will not have it. “He’s my son, Hop,” she yells and Hopper gives in. Joyce gives Jonathan a big hug and tells him to stay here and watch the kids. Jonathan watches Hopper and Joyce drive off.
Inside, Jonathan finds Nancy. She tells him that they have to go back to station. Hopper and Joyce are just going over there, like bait. Nancy wants to finish what they started and kill the UCASE. You can see the determination and revenge in her eyes. (S: YOU GO GIRL.)
Hopper brings Joyce back to the Hawkins National Laboratory. Joyce is like, “um, this is your plan?” Hopper says it worked once, but Joyce is still skeptical. Me too, Joyce. You can punch your way into a top secret lab once AT MAX.
Jonathan and Nancy sneak into the police station and steal back their monster hunting supplies. Nancy grabs a fire extinguisher for good measure.
Joyce and Hopper get caught, obviously, and are quickly surrounded by like 15 soldiers.
In the Upside Down, Will is hiding in his fort, shivering and singing Should I Stay or Should I Go. He hears the monster approaching, circling his fort. Things go quiet for just a second, enough time so that when the bang, crash, roar comes, it’s awful.
End of episode.
Samantha: *whispering with my eyes covered* hang on, Will. Hang on.
Mari: I usually end each episode with a lot of thought about themes, but I truly, honestly left this one thinking, “okay just press play on the next one.”
See you guys there!
Next time on Stranger Things: Nancy and Jonathan prepare for battle in S01 E08 – The Upside Down.