Friday, March 9, 2018

Stranger Things, Season 2, Episode 8: The Mind Flayer

Ominous lab is now under attack by waves and waves of what I’m going to call demigogs because that’s what Dustin is calling them. And, no matter what Grandfather scientist claims, the polycarbonate glass is not going to keep them out

The facility is in utter chaos, people are dying left right and centre. Bob, Jim, Will, Mike, Joyce and Grandfather Scientist whose name I should really look up - Dr. Owens - make it to the security room. They have to drug Will as he fights them so he can’t psychically transmit their location or plans to the big shadowy monster.

The rest of the facility is an utter horror show - and kudos for the writers and director for truly creating a scary horrifying setting.

To get out they need to reactivate the power and use a computer. Which is very very Jurassic Park, I’m going to give homage points. And while Jim is quick to step up to help, he knows nothing about computers. None of them do, except Bob.

Bob, the genuinely good, normal guy, doing his best and being nicer than nice. Of course Bob is willing to do it, despite the huge risk and despite knowing nothing about guns.

He makes his way to the basement with massively horrible levels of tension, and rests the computers and the locks, giving everyone else a chance to make it to the exit - which they do

Except Dr. Owens - he stays in the security room so he can guide the others using the CCTV to help them avoid the demigogs. Yes it seems like a genuine moment of self-sacrifice from a the head of Hawkings Laboratory, showing again how well this show has taken an ominous lab and utterly humanised the leader (which adds to the complexity as well of Kali’s revenge plot).

Dr. Owens guides Bob to the exit - and it’s unbearably tense. Again, massive points to the horror movie directing of this. It’s awful to watch, there’s a near moment and almost almost almost I think Bob is going to make it. Despite already being sure he’s going to die to clear the way for Joyce and Jim, I thought he was going to make it

Of course a demigog catches him just as he reaches the exit

Raise a glass everyone for Bob, genuinely nice guy. You were too good for this world.

While they were escaping, Dustin, Lucas, Steve, Max met up with a returning Jonathan and Nancy at the lab where they notice shenanigans afoot

Dustin and Lucas also have a lot of arguments about Lucas telling Max everything (which seems to be part of his Steve-led advice to shun Max into liking him) while Lucas is supremely pissed (for better reason) at Dustin keeping Dart secret.

They’re outside the lab when those inside make a run for it and they provide getaway cars to go to Joyce’s house

Time for some brainstorming: using a DnD monster manual and lots of theorising to Jim’s endless frustration, they dub the big shadowy thing the Mind Flayer, speculate that it wants to conquer the world and that it’s connected to all of its minions in the same way that it is connected to Will. They theorise from there that if they kill the Mind Flayer they kill the Demigogs. The only other plan they have is Jim calling in police and military help which is pretty hard considering a) no-one believes him and b) the Demigogs seems to be immune to bullets anyway

Since Will is connected to the Mind Flayer they decide to try and get through to him -but firstly they redecorate to hide

Also redecorating in a slightly unhinged fashion is kind of Joyce’s solution for everything.

When they wake Will up, tied up, he screams about being let go - and Joyce holds him until he exhausts himself (and it is tragic to watch them - so much pain from Joyce to see her child like this). They try to connect with Will but he just demands they let him go - but he taps his hand: it’s morse code. Will is in there, hearing them and trying to communicate with them

They all try to connect with him by sharing heartbreaking memory after heartbreaking memory: Joyce, Jonathan, Mike, all sharing powerful, emotional memories with Will.

While this is happening we have a moment of sadness commemorating the awesomeness of Bob and we have a few character moments: Nancy and Steve, Dustin and Lucas making peace, Mike still hates Max even as she acknowledges El (Jane) and Dustin acknowledging Lucas and Max are together

After connecting to many memories he sends the message “Closegate”. Which… isn’t exactly hard to figure out? It’s more how than if.

But they’re interrupted by the phone ringing - and this is enough for the Mindflayer to see where they are. They hurriedly drug Will but it’s too late… The demigogs are coming

Jim arms himself and Nancy (of course Nancy. You didn’t think anyone else there would get a gun before Nancy, right?). They prepare to stand their ground and die fighting…

But they hear conflict outside. Lots of bangs and crashing and splats and whimpering demigogs. And one is thrown into the room, dead.

What can kill a pack of bullet proof demigogs?

Yes, Jane is home

For reasons completely unknown and completely failing to add anything to the episode we also catch up with Billy the worst to see that his dad is a homophobic abuser and generally awful.

Which… ok? And? I mean, why is this here? Why is Billy even here? There’s only one episode left in the season and I have yet to see a point to this distraction.

Especially this episode where we have the death of Bob, the tragic, and horror-filled death of this excellent character. And the emotional scenes with Will and the people who care for him - all excellently done, all perfectly done and focused. We don’t need his weird tangent.