Netflix’s Stranger Things
Season 3: “Chapter Five – The Flayed”
Directed by Uta Briesewitz
Written by Paul Dichter
* For a recap & review of Chapter Four, “The Sauna Test” – click here
* For a recap & review of Chapter Six, “E Pluribus Unum” – click here
Dustin (Gaten Matarazzo), Steve (Joe Keery), Robin (Maya Hawke), and Erica (Priah Ferguson) are plunging down below the Starcourt Mall in that elevator. Out of nowhere, the thing comes to a halt. They’re stuck inside. The only way out? Up. They get up onto the top of the elevator. But they see how far down they’ve gone.
Not climbing out of there anytime soon.
At one of the properties bought by Starcourt, Joyce (Winona Ryder) and Chief Jim (David Harbour) hear a strange noise, like groaning metal beneath the floorboards. The electricity flickers, too. They discover a hidden staircase behind a foldout bed. Again, a passageway leading down— always down. They hear men speaking Russian and find a couple scientists working. They also hear heavy footsteps. That big Soviet bastard is back, toting a Kalashnikov. Hopper gets the drop on him. They end up in a fight, almost pumping everybody full of bullets in the process. Jim’s getting another ass kicking, but he and Joyce slip away. Not until after she accidentally gives a gun back to the Russian. Still, they make it back to the truck— with one of the scientists in tow— barely getting away from more gunfire.
Jim ends up blowing the engine in his truck. This puts him, Joyce, and the scientist on foot through the woods. They don’t have much of a plan other than keep moving. Eleven (Millie Bobbie Brown) is searching for Jim, she sees him out there. She hears him talking about Illinois. Mike (Finn Wolfhard) is discussing things with Lucas (Caleb McLaughlin) and Will (Noah Schnapp), wondering what they’re going to do next. They have to “stop the Mind Flayer.” This means they’ll need the help of El, and Max (Sadie Sink)— that is, if they’re able to navigate adolescence. Eventually they’re joined by Nancy (Natalia Dyer) and Jonathan (Charlie Heaton), who’ve been seeing their own brand of madness in Hawkins the past few days. This is when the connection between Heather and Tom is made, giving the group more to go off. Also, have to note, the dialogue in this episode is KILLER! The exchange when El mentions “bad screams” and doesn’t get to elaborate on what Max told her “good screams” were is hilarious, so quick.
In the elevator, Steve and the others hide while a couple Russians grab boxes. This gives them a chance to block the door and get out. They get a brief look at the corrosive acid-like liquid inside those tubes. And they face a long walk through an endless tunnel. They discuss what the green acid may be— Dustin wonders if it’s “promethium,” which Robin knows in her infinite coolness, and Steve, in another dummy blunder, mistakes it for the mythological figure Prometheus (in all fairness, promethium obviously derives from the name of the Greek Titan).
Another transmission comes over the radio. The gang know the source is close.
In the woods, the big Russian keeps hunting his targets like the Terminator. Further on, Jim, Joyce, and the scientist keep walking. They stumble onto a nearby 7-Eleven and enjoy a nice cold soda after their journey. Chief Jim grabs himself a Slim Jim, noticing a fancy car pull up at the pumps outside. Maybe a ride to Illinois? Magnum Hopper commandeers the vehicle for supposed legal purposes.
Jim goes to see Murray Bauman (Brett Gelman). The paranoid journalist isn’t happy to have an “Enemy of the State” around, so he uses one of his gadgets to scan the Soviet scientist while there’s music that sounds like it’s from Fallout playing in the background. Joyce doesn’t dig any of this, no matter if the guy speaks Russian.
At the underground base, Steve tries to fight a Russian soldier. This time, it works. He doesn’t get beat up for once. They all go through a door to see a lab like the one from 1984 in the Soviet Union. Another machine’s being worked on. The Soviets are attempting to open that void into the Upside Down.
Nancy, Jonathan, and the kids go to Tom’s place. It’s freezing cold inside. They see there’s been an altercation. They’re trying to figure out the source of where everything’s starting to spread in Hawkins. Will thinks they should let Mrs. Driscoll go back to wherever it is she wants to go. That’ll lead them to the steelworks.
At the hospital, Nancy and Jonathan visit the old lady but run into Flayed Tom. It’s looking like the whole staff at the Hawkins Post could be Flayed already, maybe the hospital, as well. Jonathan is almost murdered by Bruce (Jake Busey) and Nancy saves his ass. She gets chased through the halls— after a Jack Torrance-esque “Here’s Johnny!” moment— leaving Jonathan to be beaten brutally by Tom. We see more of that connection between certain Flayed after Nancy whacks Bruce, giving Jonathan a chance to stab their former boss. When the Flayed die, they melt like the rats. The guts creep away, joining together in a mass becoming a terrifying creature.
Another spectacular episode. The intensity ramps up so well in the back half of every season, and this year is NO DIFFERENT! Great, eerie, and fun stuff. So many great characters, including some of the newer ones (looking at you, Erica). Going to get even more nuts, somehow, before the end.“Chapter Six: E Pluribus Unum” is next.