Netflix’s Stranger Things
Season 2: “Chapter Two – Trick or Treat, Freak”
Directed & Written
by The Duffer Brothers
* For a recap & review of Chapter One, “MADMAX” – click here
* For a recap & review of Chapter Three, “The Pollywog” – click here
After the events of last season’s finale, Eleven (Millie Bobby Brown) was left in the Upside Down, damaged and alone. She called out for Mike (Finn Wolfhard), getting no response. She walked the subverted halls of the Department of Energy. In one hallway, she saw a glowing hole at the opposite end. She went to it and peered inside. On the other side were law enforcement officers searching the real building. She pushed her hand through to the other side, then used her abilities to open the hole wider so she could walk through again. Almost like being birthed between the two worlds, poking through the amniotic sac.
Out into the dark, Eleven went by herself hoping to find her friends. She saw police everywhere in Mike’s neighbourhood. “We‘re all patriots in this house,” Mr. Wheeler told the government officials. People tried convincing Mike his friend Eleven was actually dangerous. He knew different. He just had to play along with everybody else— nobody believed the kids. This left Eleven out there with nobody. Well, for a little while, until whenever Chief Jim Hopper (David Harbour) found her.
Nowadays, Jim and Eleven live like a version of The Odd Couple. It’s Halloween time, and Eleven’s thinking about “trick or treating.” The chief won’t have it, he can’t risk her being found. He advises against stupid risks. It’s not an easy sell to a young girl like her. Despite being a powerful entity, she’s still barely a teenager. Jim’s got to teach her about compromise. He calls it being “halfway happy.”
At the Byers house, Joyce (Winona Ryder) freaks out when she can’t find Will (Noah Schnapp) for a minute. He’s only in the bathroom, but after what they’ve been through it’s probably extremely difficult for her to adjust. Jonathan (Charlie Heaton) is a great son, always there to try helping. Mom worries when she finds a creepy drawing. Her youngest has envisioned the terrifying monster from the Upside Down sky, though passes it off as art class doodles. It doesn’t satisfy mom. She calls up Hopper. He says it’s “about trauma” explaining it away with symptoms of PTSD.
The boys are all dressing for Halloween together as the Ghostbusters squad. Mike, Dustin (Gaten Matarazzo), Lucas (Caleb McLaughlin), and Will are all going to school in costume, singing the theme song, too. Mike and Lucas are at odds when they’ve both chosen Venkman. Worse, they see nobody’s dressed up inside, only them: “Who you gonna call? The Nerds!” It makes things harder for Lucas and Dustin who’ve made it their mission to talk to Max (Sadie Sink).
The Upside Down’s continually being monitored by the DoE. The latest alarm that went off was due to a fried generator inside its limits. Dr. Sam Owens (Paul Reiser) supervises the maintenance, then everything’s back online. He also goes over the tape of his latest conversation with Will, about what he saw in the sky.
At school, Nancy (Natalia Dyer) continues to have trouble reconciling the death of her friend Barb. She doesn’t enjoy “pretending like everything‘s okay,” as if her friend never existed. She feels terrible for Barb’s parents. Steve (Joe Keery) advises against telling them the truth, especially considering the government’s involved.
Finally, Dustin and Lucas talk to Max in the hallway at school. They make out like they’re concerned for the new girl. She questions their “proton packs.” Dustin shows off some Ghostbusters gear, then he asks if she’d like to go trick or treating with them but gets no actual answer.
We see a fantastic, brief clip of The Terminator on television as Eleven flips through channels. She takes in some old movies before looking out into the woods and remembering when she’d escaped the Upside Down on her own. It was a rough time, eating squirrels and surviving off almost nothing. A hunter found her. Unlucky for him, after she knocked him out and stole his warm jacket.
Hopper has the other farmer at the station claiming the first farmer was the one who poisoned his pumpkins. Just rotten pumpkins everywhere. These two farmers clearly aren’t doing this to each other, though they believe one or the other is responsible. Turns out, it’s a bunch more farmers with dead crops.
We get more insight into Max and her brother Billy (Dacre Montgomery). He hates Hawkins, whereas she’s starting to enjoy the place. He blames her for them living there, not being able to leave. Then on the road, he speeds past the boys, nearly hitting them. Billy listens to Ted Nugent, so that’s all you needed to know!
In through the woods, Hopper goes with the farmer to see the damage to the crops. He finds a sticky substance on the trees nearby. All the nearby fields are dead or dying. The place reeks. The chief orders everything be marked off, so they can do things by the book. If that’s even possible in Hawkins.
It’s trick or treat night. Will’s not enjoying himself considering mom sends Jonathan with him. He doesn’t like being treated different. So, big brother allows him to go on his own with his “spazzy friends.” On the street, Max meets up with them all and uses a Michael Myers mask to scare the boys. Mike doesn’t like having the girl around. Too painful a reminder of the previous girl in their group.
Joyce and Bob (Sean Astin) hang together at home listening to tunes. She’s always worried about Will when they’re not together. Bob suggests maybe moving in together, leaving Hawkins and all those memories. She can’t do it, though. Not yet.
Eleven waits for Hopper to come home. She remembers being alone after the Upside Down and stumbling onto the Eggo waffles left by Hopper. Today, she’s beginning to resent him, like a real child does with a parent.
When Will gets scared by older kids, he’s whisked to the Upside Down. Noises emanate from the darkness and a massive shadow reaches up towards the sky— it’s the tentacled monster unfolding. Will runs away to hide. He comes to back in reality, where Mike consoles him and volunteers to take him home. Will later explaining what he saw for Mike.
Nancy’s getting pretty drunk and Steve’s trying to stop her from drinking any more resulting in a drink all over her in front of everyone. Alone, Nancy and Steve fight. She suggests she doesn’t love him. It leaves Jonathan to get her home safely in her intoxicated state.
At the cabin, Hopper arrives very late. He gives the secret knock but gets no answer. Eleven eventually lets him in. She doesn’t want to talk, she’d rather be alone a while. She blindfolds herself in front of the TV, practising those powers of hers. Eleven goes into the recesses of her mind, travelling to see Mike under the table talking into the walkie. He asks for “a sign,” so she speaks through the static trying to reach him. He doesn’t hear much. So close yet so far.
When Dustin gets home from trick or treating he hears a weird noise in the garbage can outside. He moves closer, opening the lid, to reveal something we can’t see: “Holy shit,” he murmurs to himself. Has another experiment or a creature from the Upside Down gotten loose?
A solid follow-up for the second episode of Season 2! So emotional and so much genre love at the one time. I love the direction the characters and the plot are headed. New stuff combined with old stuff, which is always a perfect mix for a show moving ahead.
“Chapter Three: The Pollywog” is next.