Netflix’s Stranger Things
Season 2: “Chapter Eight – The Mind Flayer”
Directed & Written
by The Duffer Brothers
* For a recap & review of Chapter Seven, “The Lost Sister” – click here
* For a recap & review of Chapter Nine, “The Gate” – click here
In Hawkins at the Department of Energy, Chief Jim Hopper (David Harbour) and the others witness one of the baby Demogorgons crawl from the hole. Dr. Sam Owens (Paul Reiser) assures they’ll be safe behind the glass. That is, before several of the creatures appear, and all bets are off. Further inside, Mike (Finn Wolfhard) tells Joyce (Winona Ryder) and Bob (Sean Astin): “We‘re under attack.” Everyone in the facility runs for cover when the creatures form a pack and bust through the glass. Mike’s got to convince Joyce they need to put Will (Noah Schnapp) asleep so “the spy” can’t see them. Mom knows it’s got to be done when she sees her boy doesn’t remember her immediately.
Hopper and Owens rush to Joyce, then they all move to the security room where the carnage around the DoE is visible on a wall of monitors like a live broadcast horrorshow. Soon, the lights go out, and the power to the building shuts down entirely leaving everyone in total darkness.
Elsewhere in town, Billy Hargrove (Dacre Montgomery) catches shit from his parents because Max (Sadie Sink) sneaked out without him knowing to run off with Lucas (Caleb McLaughlin), Dustin (Gaten Matarazzo), and Steve (Joe Keery). We do get a look at why Billy’s such an asshole, seeing as how his father Neil (Will Chase) is a psychopath who roughs him up, calling him a “faggot” while his wife Susan (Jennifer Marshall) has to watch it occur.
Out in the woods, Dustin and the crew keep on looking for D’Artagnan. Lucas obviously finds out Dustin kept the creature in secret. Things are breaking down between the good buddies, including their fighting over Max. They’re soon able to hear Demogorgon sounds in the distance. Lucas sees the lab and knows the creatures were “going back home” when they retreated. After another while, Steve and the crew run into Nancy (Natalia Dyer) and Jonathan (Charlie Heaton) outside of the DoE facility.
Dr. Owens tells his survivors they’ve got to get to the breakers in order to reset the locks. That way they can get out of the building, hopefully. This requires computer nerd Bob to go reboot the system. He gets his big “superhero” moment, whether he likes it or not. He also tells Hopper to get everyone out as soon as he finishes the job. Oh, man. At the breaker, Bob starts rebooting the electrical systems, then he gets to work on the computers. He opens the doors and spritzes the Demogorgons with water from the sprinklers. But on the way out he forgets his gun.
Up top, Hopper leads Joyce and Mike out, carrying Will. They rush for the front doors where Joyce waits, hoping Bob’s not far behind. The doc tries to help Mr. Computer on his way out, guiding him down the halls. However, halfway down a Demogorgon appears close by, and it forces Bob into a closet to hide. The creature eventually moves on, allowing him to keep moving. When he exits the closet he knocks over a mop. This proves to be the end of Bob. He almost makes it to the front door, but he’s tackled by the Demogorgon. It bites into him and others arrive before Hopper can start firing. The rest get away, just as Jonathan swings by to pick them up, and then they loop around for the kids on their way back.
What a horrific end for Bob. I didn’t want to see him go. So nasty, too.
At the Byers house, Hopper calls for military help, and Will remains knocked out. The kids are freaked out, naturally. There’s nothing anybody can do at the moment with wild “Demodogs” roaming Hawkins looking to feast on human meat. In the meantime, Joyce is left to mourn Bob while Jim consoles her in his own quiet way. Again, these people have been beaten down and broken by the forces of the Upside Down.
Mike’s the one to rally his friends to stop things themselves. This brings out more Dungeons and Dragons terminology: “The Mind Flayer,” an ancient, rare, evil creature found in subterranean places. Hopper believes the whole thing is kid’s stuff, whereas the lads know different. And Joyce is ready to kill that shadow monster motherfucker. They’ve just got to figure out how to kill it via Will. They’ve got to confuse Will/the monster, by putting him in a place he doesn’t recognise. This has the crew fitting out a shed for their purposes.
They tie Will to a chair with lights shined on him and Hopper wakes the boy up. Mike, Jonathan, and Joyce stand near. Will’s confused and scared. He starts freaking out, as the electricity flickers. Jim hugs the boy tight relaxing him. Joyce starts asking her son a few things to draw out the real Will, speaking of her fond memories about him. Jonathan joins in reminding him about “Castle Byers,” which they built together after their father left. Then Mike talks about their first day of kindergarten. They hope the memories are reaching Will in there. To no avail.
Then Hopper notices the kid tapping his hand, reaching out through “Morse Code.” He confirms Will’s message. This prompts Jonathan to put on The Clash, dragging up more memories and getting his little brother to communicate further. They do this more and more, getting other Morse messages to build whole words. His message? “Close gate.” Is this the gate to the Upside Down? They don’t have much time to think about it. Demogorgons scream in the background, as the shadow monster’s found them. The group grab weapons and wait for the creatures to attack. Out of nowhere, a dead Demogorgon flies through the window. What could’ve killed it?
You guessed it— our girl, Eleven (Millie Bobby Brown). She’s returned to Hawkins! What a kick ass and emotional reunion at once. The look on her and Mike’s faces is pure gold for the heart.
Another intense episode leading towards the end of Season 2. Plenty of great stuff. We’re gearing up for one hell of a finale!
“Chapter Nine – The Gate” is next and last.