Stranger Things: Chapter Seven: The Lost Sister
October 28, 2017 7:16 PM - Season 2, Episode 7 - Subscribe

Psychic visions draw Eleven to a band of violent outcasts and an angry girl with a shadowy past.

*Eleven thinks Terry is showing her the loop because she wants her to find the other girl from the rainbow room. Becky shows her Terry's files on missing children, and she finds a photo of the girl, Kali. Eleven searches for her in blindfolded static with no luck, but later at night has a vision of her by a barrel fire.
*Eleven comes downstairs to tell Becky, but overhears her on the phone telling someone about her, mentioning Hooper and Joyce's visit from last year. Eleven raids Becky's purse and runs away. On a bus to Chicago(?), she continues to get flashes of Kali, and tracks her down to a warehouse. They compare their 011 and 008 tattoos, and Kali demonstrates her power by showing El a vision of a butterfly.
*Kali tells her crew that if Eleven could track her down with only a photo, she can do the same for others, and that they are doing a job tomorrow.
*El sleeps, and in the room of darkness sees Hopper sending her the radio message apology.
*Kali introduces Eleven to her crew: Axel, Dottie, Mick, and Funshine. She shows her the IDs of the bad men they are hunting, and El recognizes one of them (Ray) as the man who administered the electroshock on Mama, and agrees to join the hunt. Cue makeover montage.
*The crew robs a gas station (Eggos for El), then enter Ray's house. He begs for mercy, tells the girls he can help them find Dr. Brenner, who he says is not dead. El can't bring herself to kill Ray when she realizes he has two daughters; she prevents Kali from shooting him, and they all flee before the cops arrive.
*Back at the hideout, Kali tries to convince El that they need to stick together, and gives her a vision of Brennan. El has some S1 flashbacks of the boys, then sees Hopper and Mike in the room of darkness in the moments before the soldiers walked into the Demagorgon slaughter room.
*The police storm the hideout - Kali has everyone hold still to disappear them from sight, then when they run outside and have a shootout by the van, erects an illusion of a giant wall, and urges El to run away with her, but El decides to take the bus back to Hawkins instead.

Kali: There's nothing for you back there. They cannot save you, Jane
Eleven: No. But I can save them.
posted by oh yeah! (82 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
So all I could think during that one scene is that Pruitt Taylor Vince is the obvious casting for Harvey Weinstein in the hopefully not-ever-happening movie. Poor guy (Vince, not Weinstein).

This is the setup episode for S3, right?
posted by axiom at 7:30 PM on October 28 [5 favorites]

This was my least favorite episode. I hope this wasn't the set up for S3.
posted by fluffy battle kitten at 7:55 PM on October 28 [9 favorites]

It was pretty meta to have a conceptual episode where they opened a portal to a different dimension where Stranger Things is a shitty CBS X-Men ripoff. I don't think it quite landed, though.
posted by codacorolla at 8:12 PM on October 28 [10 favorites]

Eleven really got short-changed this season and this episode is what sealed it for me. Not short-changed in screen time but in focus and while I'm sure this is a set up for Stranger Things 3 (because of course a trilogy, it's too 80s to not do that!!).

I feel like her being pulled away from the rest of the group is a disservice, both to her and the rest. Maybe she was never truly a part of that D&D band of heroes from S1 but I loved that dynamic so much. And it feels so fragmented, this story-line while important, I feel like we could have cut all of Eleven's scenes and made a sidequel or -prequel of some kind.

I don't know. Lots of thoughts.
posted by Fizz at 9:44 PM on October 28 [2 favorites]

I like that Eleven was able to actually connect with someone during this season. But it still feels so removed and separate. It'll be interesting to see how this ties in to the rest of the story.
posted by Fizz at 9:55 PM on October 28 [1 favorite]

Also, this episode felt like it was directed by Michael Mann. This is not a complaint.
posted by Fizz at 10:11 PM on October 28 [4 favorites]

Ok, after having finished the entire season. I only believe half of what I said about Eleven. Still didn't like what was done with her for the majority of this season.
posted by Fizz at 11:47 PM on October 28 [1 favorite]

Actually, the Duffers have confirmed that they're setting up to conclude with four seasons.

I generally dislike stand-alone episodes and this one was no exception. It was like Eleven meets the Rowdy Three.
posted by elsietheeel at 8:41 AM on October 29 [2 favorites]

I hope this wasn't the set up for S3.

Unfortunately I can't imagine that it's not. So much was invested. There were certain interesting and neccessary components: 11 getting validation of her experiences and learning about who did them; we learned that there is at least one other child (and probably at least 9 other, given the numbering of at least up to 11). We learned that the children don't necessarily all have the same "gifts," but that there may be a variety of gifts. And we learned how tapping into her anger and feeling her trauma is quite important to the concentration of her powers and learning how to master them. Recall that in S1 when she was failing to be effective with her power it was because she wasn't angry enough (she had nothing against that cat). She needs a reason but she discovered that her own trauma can be the reason, not only an immediate threat. So that was all important exposition.

At the same time, in my house we reacted very badly to the awful rendering of the classic "band of misfits" trope. First of all, we already had a band of misfits, the original crew. Second, these were very pale and sad and hamfisted character renditions of an 80s band of misfits. I mean really, I'm sad for that posse of posers, who would have been cast out of any real 80s band of misfits (the stupid, fake punk, the stupid, fake goth, the of course black "warrior" and body man. The dialogue among them was as wooden as that in a 1940s "band of misfits" WWII squadron movie, and that's embarrassing. It just really, really didn't work. It was badly written, badly costumed, and badly acted, except for Kali who I thought was pretty cool.

I suppose in the best case scenario, if that army returns, they're basically monster fodder, since I can't imagine caring about them and their acting likely wouldn't make that happen. But I fully expect that in S3/S4 we will absolutely have to be hearing more about the other programmed children in the quasi-mkultra experiments and they will sort of have to band together somehow to eradicate the source(s) of the evil with their gifts. Not making that a "shitty X-men ripoff" (that comment made me laugh so loud btw) will be a serious challenge for the show's creative talents. Watching regular human normals battle evil with a little supernatural help is much more interesting than watching a whole bunch of supernaturally gifted ones do it.
posted by Miko at 9:41 AM on October 29 [6 favorites]

Also, this show is mean to cats.
posted by Miko at 9:41 AM on October 29 [12 favorites]

I took a couple other cues to be the set up for S3. This episode - I'm hoping they spin that horrible shit into its own series away from Hawkins. Did Eleven learn valuable lessons? Yes. Chief amongst them appears to have been not to become hateful like 8.
posted by fluffy battle kitten at 9:46 AM on October 29 [2 favorites]

. Not making that a "shitty X-men ripoff" (that comment made me laugh so loud btw) will be a serious challenge for the show's creative talents

you have got to have faith that these people will make it an incredibly shitty Escape to Witch Mountain rip-off instead. in the true 80s spirit.

did not every human heart not explode (with happiness) at seeing El get away from being some man or boy's exotic pet for just one damn episode and a half? psychic runaway teen girls >whiny suburban boys forever. forever. the reason this show kills me is because it has all the elements of a great show and just flashes them at you for a second before firmly erasing them to make room for more boy antics. 11 and 8 meeting and remembering is all the cheap sentiment I ever wanted.

season 3 with psychic tween escapees would be a genuinely great season of trash tv like this show always promised to be, as long as they were all or mostly girls. so I predict they will not be. no boys but Steve! is my doomed plea
posted by queenofbithynia at 10:19 AM on October 29 [22 favorites]

Yeah it was nice when Eleven and Kali hung out and she could just be Jane. The time they called each other sister was the only time I've felt even the tiniest tug on a heart string this whole season.

The gang is really bad of course, but Kali was good, and there was a nice undertone of how, beneath the genuine kinship, Kali is not trustworthy, and Jane is naïve.
posted by fleacircus at 11:32 AM on October 29 [4 favorites]

The idea of Eleven moving beyond Hawkins and growing up is great. Characters that aren't the main boys are great. But the stuff in episode 7 was a terrible execution of both.
posted by codacorolla at 12:01 PM on October 29 [2 favorites]

My favorite part of this episode was that, based on the skyline, the Kali's warehouse is floating in Lake Michigan.
posted by great_radio at 8:49 PM on October 29 [15 favorites]

Not just floating in Lake Michigan, but floating there in 2017.
posted by Navelgazer at 9:58 PM on October 29 [12 favorites]

there was a nice undertone of how, beneath the genuine kinship, Kali is not trustworthy, and Jane is naïve.

it was nicely done but I hated it because I like Kali a lot and the ONLY reason she's tragically flawed is so that Jane can't be allowed to bond and stay, she has to be forced back into the arms of the boys. for their sake, because the show decided to be about them and not her. if it was a show about her it would be all about her bildungsroman (bildungstelevison?) journey from the lab to Mike's hiding place to the wild to Hopper's cabin to her aunt's house to the psychic tween hideout to wherever else, and the boys would incur whatever trauma and implausible betrayals were necessary to bring them into play to be appropriate plot points for her story, instead of vice versa. or just be dropped out of the story when she didn't need them anymore, instead of vice versa.

but they are not the accessories to the main event, she is. which is such a goddamn waste. all the kids are nice endearing kids in their own ways, but she's an actual actress.
posted by queenofbithynia at 9:59 PM on October 29 [14 favorites]

Like, they forgot that Chicago doesn't have a Brooklyn from which to view the skyline on a rooftop.
posted by Navelgazer at 9:59 PM on October 29 [3 favorites]

& I enjoy Will's existence as a character defined by nothing but suffering but every time Bob shows up and fails to call him Mister Frodo I get a little confused. he is just Elijah Wood's distilled tragic essence at this point.

and maybe it is my face-blindness for innocent suburban boys talking, but he and Mike are identical twins wearing different wigs, right? it seems odd that nobody notices this in-show.
posted by queenofbithynia at 10:05 PM on October 29 [18 favorites]

I see them as the opposite; two boys wearing the same wig. Mike has more prominent features than Will.
posted by elsietheeel at 10:31 PM on October 29 [2 favorites]

I enjoyed seeing Kai Greene standing there with a Care Bear mask.
posted by P.o.B. at 11:02 PM on October 29 [2 favorites]

>Like, they forgot that Chicago doesn't have a Brooklyn from which to view the skyline on a rooftop.

I wasn't there long, but I remembered parts of Chicago where you could do this.
posted by asteria at 12:12 AM on October 30

I had issues with this episode. Mostly just that Kali and her band of merry misfits were horrible fucking people and I feel like El has had enough exposure to traumatic shit because of horrible people. So yay to Kali for telling El to channel her anger but El was in the process of making that connection anyhow. Kali was also super manipulative and predatory. Not a fan.
posted by fluffy battle kitten at 2:18 AM on October 30 [7 favorites]

Yes, my biggest issue with Kali is that she was totally manipulating El's desperate need for family.
posted by cooker girl at 6:10 AM on October 30 [10 favorites]

They dressed El/Jane up as half Ali Sheedy from Breakfast Club and half Darryl Hannah from Blade Runner.
posted by P.o.B. at 8:41 AM on October 30 [14 favorites]

I saw you, anachonistic Invisibles references. I saw you. (Barbelith, Tom O'Bedlam, King Mob all in the spray paint at the Misfit lair.)
posted by rewil at 9:31 AM on October 30 [17 favorites]

Mike has more prominent features than Will.

Mike is the Kaneda to Will's Tetsuo.
posted by P.o.B. at 9:59 AM on October 30 [10 favorites]

It's like if El is doing a crossover with a crappier tie in...
posted by monocultured at 11:44 AM on October 30 [1 favorite]

I'm glad I'm not the only one who saw this episode as basically being a set up for s3 with El/Jane as Xavier and Kali as Magneto.
posted by miss-lapin at 3:07 PM on October 30 [2 favorites]

I like Kali a lot and the ONLY reason she's tragically flawed is so that Jane can't be allowed to bond and stay, she has to be forced back into the arms of the boys.

Jane doesn't make her decision to leave when she figures out she is not on the same moral page as Kali. She doesn't make her decision to leave even when Kali messes with her head via faux-Brenner, which would honestly be enough, and would likely be the reason Jane gives if this is how the writers were casting about for a motivation to send her back to Hawkins and came up with this version of Kali.

But the reason she gives is that she's decided her compass is about how she can help the people she places inside the circle of her concern -- and she knows they're in trouble. That's the decision point. Kali doesn't have to be flawed in order for the plot to turn on this. Jane just has to know they're in trouble and decide she cares.

I *do* think the writing is giving us a flawed Kali for another reason: to show us a contrasting compass, one pointed along avenging resentment she may feel (and arguably has a *right* to). Or to ask the question of what a person who could literally (and metaphorically) show others any picture she chooses of the world would be like.

If that feels like artifice, I suppose it's certainly possible Kali could have been different. Perhaps a different story would have emerged. But only if we're imagining a Jane who could have seen Hopper, Mike, and oh yeah most of Hawkins and who knows what else threatened and just didn't care.

for their sake, because the show decided to be about them and not her

The show is about them and her. And her relationship to them and vice versa. And one of the reasons she's a hero is that she's willing to risk and fight and even sacrifice for them -- and lest this be seen as reinforcing a particular lens (e.g., women expected to put others feelings and needs ahead of theirs), every protagonist on the show does this in some way large or small (possibly excepting Will MacGuffin Byers), and it's part of why we like them so much.

(Many of them are also *terrible* at this at some point, either because they're hide-bound or not over something or whatever, and that's also kindof nice because they still feel like actual people.)
posted by wildblueyonder at 3:48 PM on October 30 [10 favorites]

Fad Gadget!
posted by Burhanistan at 9:47 PM on October 30 [2 favorites]

There is no way that van is stopping any of those bullets. As El ran away, that whole crew was getting James Caan-ed inside that thing.
posted by The Man from Lardfork at 8:16 AM on October 31 [6 favorites]

Why is it that so often when we finally get a nonwhite character it's only as Mean Normie-Hating Foil To White Protagonist? What, generally speaking, is up with filmmakers' and TV producers' with the Mean Violent Normie-Hater vs. Good Protagonist dichotomy?
posted by inconstant at 8:23 AM on October 31 [3 favorites]

I kind of liked Kali even while mentally screaming at El not to trust her. The Magneto comparison is spot on.

El's new look is very much like someone I know, and is frankly kind of awesome.

The rest of the gang, ugh.

I was distracted and a little jarred by the Invisibles references (and trying to spot anything else I could recognize). The comics weren't around until 1994, and it seems a lot more tenuously relevant than comparisons to Goonies, Aliens, etc. The nasties from the Upside Down are more beastlike than the secret tyrants of our world (at least so far... maybe there are much more subtle shadow monsters at work?), and Kali's gang is a revenge operation rather than a counter-conspiracy of telepaths and magicians.
posted by Foosnark at 1:28 PM on October 31

I kind of enjoyed the Invisibles references. The show’s universe is obviously weird enough where the psionic rebel children aren’t necessarily constrained by the conventional time flow, and having the characters themselves graffiti’ing their [fictional?] influences explicitly on their environment was a rather cheeky and meta way to acknowledge Morrison’s influence.
posted by a box and a stick and a string and a bear at 6:01 PM on October 31 [2 favorites]

well, is it kind of like the show went into the sideways dimension and slipped into the Buffy/tank Girl/ Robocop 3 nineties?
posted by eustatic at 7:27 PM on October 31 [3 favorites]

Well now I've got the notion in my head of the Duffer Brothers doing an Invisibles show for Netflix and I waaaant it.
posted by jason_steakums at 9:15 PM on October 31 [4 favorites]

Also, to me the episode didn't land as a shitty X-Men ripoff but an extremely faithful Claremontian X-Men pastiche. The problem is you can't go Full Claremont without a layer of added polish in modern TV without it seeming hokey, just like the other pastiche stuff in this show would be without the polish the Duffer Brothers put on it. This episode was just missing that little extra something.
posted by jason_steakums at 9:21 PM on October 31 [3 favorites]



008/011 thing worked for me.

My actual sister asked me "did that stuff actually happen" recently and I'm, yeah, pretty much. The context... though.

Eleven/Eight - I'm down with, but expect terrible betrayal or something. El's playing along for her own purposes.

Erasing tobacco use in the historic 1980's... ? nvmd. Cigs!
posted by porpoise at 10:01 PM on October 31

Why is it that so often when we finally get a nonwhite character it's only as Mean Normie-Hating Foil To White Protagonist?

hey, she's also the wise mentor to and waystation for the white protagonist, teaching her what she needs to know for when she goes back to her real friends! two tropes in one. they can, if they like, call it another bit of charming '80s nostalgia, because there's no racism like oblivious 80s teen movie racism.

however, I am in such strong support of violent domination of one's oppressors that I can't take Kali seriously as a bad example. go ahead, rob some banks, shoot some kidnappers! everybody important in the show is outside the law all the time, the law is some weepy drunk likes to shout at his ward and clean to Jim Croce records, outlaw teens should always get the benefit of the doubt over non-outlaw non-teens. she was super likeable.

the season did teach me to feel like a complete idiot for getting excited when it opened with Kali and the other teen whose name I don't remember (Mick! just looked it up) as the two main Van Teens in Control -- two teen girls! pro-active and doing very interesting things! then of course it's a tease and a bait-and-switch and my faithful devotion was not rewarded.

on a related note, it was amazing when they had that conversation among the boys where Lucas asks why he's supposed to be Winston instead of Venkman, when Winston is boring and pointless and they only expect Lucas to be Winston because he's black. not amazing because of the tension-less moment in itself, that was nothing. but because it was transparent code allowing Lucas to ask why he was cast as Lucas. and the question answered itself.

following that scene he suddenly got to have character development and a plotline, one of the few improvements over last season. and I like him the best of the boys because he was only a little bossy and high-handed with Max in the beginning, and never contemptuous of her like the rest of them. but they took their sweet time getting around to letting him have his own priorities and stuff going on.
posted by queenofbithynia at 10:51 PM on October 31 [7 favorites]

& you guys are all unspeakably kind with your fancy highbrow ideas about what nerd inspiration the Gang of Hairstyles is full of allusions to. they are clearly a loving tribute to Zed's gang from Police Academy II. if they could have cast a very slightly de-aged Bobcat Goldthwaite as the superannuated spider-fearing punk, you know they would have. and probably should have. the tone of it all is much less disappointing with that in mind.
posted by queenofbithynia at 11:02 PM on October 31 [5 favorites]

Kali doesn't have to be flawed in order for the plot to turn on this. Jane just has to know they're in trouble and decide she cares.

This!! That despite having enough in her anger well to draw from to psychic-pull a giant freight car 100 feet, she still can't kill a father of 2 girls... she still can't NOT help those she cares for.... despite all that pain, it was not enough to push her over the edge. She has not become one of them, she has not chosen the revenge-driven, self-driven path.
posted by I_Love_Bananas at 3:21 AM on November 1 [2 favorites]

I loved the way she takes to "Jane" pretty much as soon as she finds out about it.

I was a little skeptical of whether Kali was actually feeling about Jane the way she said she was, or if she was manipulating her for her potential usefulness in finding their targets. The resolution of the episode didn't really tell me whether those skepticisms were correct or not.
posted by vibratory manner of working at 1:02 PM on November 1 [1 favorite]

Inevitably, Jane and El will have to battle.
posted by Miko at 1:59 PM on November 1 [2 favorites]

I just rewatched this episode, what I see on Kali's face at the end looks like genuine sadness, maybe even grief at the parting.

So right now I don't think an either/or proposition when it comes to manipulation and genuine feelings.

I honestly like Kali. I think she's wrong, and stretching her justifiable resentment past overdrawn -- which shows maybe more in feeling entitled to walk off with anything she chooses from a convenience store than it does in feeling entitled to pronounce death sentences on those involved with the lab that kidnapped her and raised her a captive. But she is not casually wrong and she has a case. Her belief that she will not be given a chance to live an ordinary life with a reasonable amount of autonomy and human dignity is backed up by her life experience. She has reason to believe she will be interfered with and treated as an object if a weapon, an asset. Choosing to live at the margins using her talents and to strike from there at a group of men who seem to believe that treating her in that manner is either their imperative or their privilege is a defensible choice. It's not like she fired the first shot in that war.

It's also a choice that is problematic and hits its limits in practice quickly, as the show takes pains to confront us with. It's one thing to kill on the field, but reigniting the war in the living room of a grunt who appears to be retired from battle? One who may have been acting with limited information or may have been outright deceived by Brenner? Do you kill him with his daughters in the next room -- if the cost of revenge includes inflicting a trauma not dissimilar from your own (at least as far as forcibly separating a child from their parents goes) onto other innocents, is it worthwhile?

Jane got it right here, IMO, and the cues of the show give us reason to believe that last bit probably was the feeling or intuitive calculation that stopped her from taking Mr. Zappybrain's life.

You know what else I like about Kali? The exchange that follows later where she says OK, you had a right not to do that, but you didn't have a right to interfere with me on this. And you can argue with that, but that's not the point, the point is that Kali made it a point of conversation rather than force except for force of argument. Kali is also manifestly manipulative but I don't know if she's much more manipulative than most people and so far I don't see her being disingenuously manipulative -- if there's anybody she's deceiving in the process of trying to persuade people to see what she sees, it's herself first and foremost.

And I think she might not be wrong about one thing. People like Jane -- maybe all people -- don't find peace by running and hiding or being harmless or otherwise avoiding conflict. If you're wounded at one level or another (and who isn't?) and if you just ignore it that can spread. You have to figure out how to address it, even if it isn't revenge. That "spiritual advisor" sign isn't in the background for nothing.

Kali still might be dangerously wrong and she still might ultimately end up being a force for bad rather than good but right now I think she's just wrong, and you can be wrong without being bad.
posted by wildblueyonder at 9:11 PM on November 1 [6 favorites]

This was honestly one of the worst episodes of television I've ever seen, and I watched most of AHS:Cult this year.

It pissed me off the most because El, up until this point, had completely destroyed the "young mage and mentor" trope that dominates almost all of sci fi and fantasy. El has always been the hero, and she got there on her own. She had no one to give her advice, because she was unique. Now, all of a sudden in one single episode, they cram in a story about a sister we've never heard about, make El super attached, El gets 5 minutes of mentoring and tada! she's more powerful now, then comes the switchup of mentor-vs-hero where the mentor manipulates their prodigy, and the hero struggles with the mentor's confilcting moral code , which in turn leads to a scene thats supposed to be really heartbreaking but actually is just so trite and stupid.

It honestly felt like it wa a dick and jane book. "See El run. El is Jane. Jane has a sister. Kali is her sister. Hello, Kali!"
posted by FirstMateKate at 9:28 AM on November 2 [7 favorites]

This was El's Empire Strikes Back episode; she found a mentor, learned some things about how her powers work (not that I think she didn't know that her anger amplifies her power, but she learned how to tap that anger in a deliberate way), was tempted by the dark side - to give into that anger and desire for revenge - and chose not to; she chose to try to save her friends.

It's a flat episode, though, because the stakes are never really that high; the relationship with Kali doesn't have time to breathe and be its own thing, and the rest of the crew is nothing but sketches of stereotypes because of that time pressure, and there is no doubt that El will leave the crew and come back to Hawkins. I need to see what the rest of El's arc this season is, to see if this episode really meant anything important or not, but I don't know yet. I feel like perhaps the most valuable lesson El learned was when Kali turned to her and said that she could follow her own moral code, but she should never make that choice for Kali. Taking away choice & agency is part of the fundamental trauma that both are dealing with; and that's the important thing for both of them to resolve going forward because they both have the ability to take away agency from other people because of their powers.

Part of me wants the show to try to move beyond Hawkins; to show us what else is going on, and I feel like the show has taken a few steps in that direction this year - the Upside Down is tunneling it's way out; Nancy and Steve went outside the town to share their story; and El has left and is now coming back. But it's pulling things out of focus; what works well is the focus on the small group - the party - fighting to overcome stranger things. It is those relationships that are the key - Will and Mike; Lucas and Dustin; Nancy and Steve/Johnathan; Hopper and Joyce; Hopper and El; Mike and El; etc. If the show is going to move into the larger world, the group - or a substantial part of it - needs to go, not one or two people.
posted by nubs at 11:21 AM on November 2 [3 favorites]

I agree that Kali’s band of misfits was one of the weaker things about this season. But mainly for me they just represented the idea that the Hawkins group wasn’t the only one and these kids are dispersed and each had their own caper and resultant loyal band.
posted by Burhanistan at 11:26 AM on November 2

I spotted "So long and thanks" in the graffiti in the hideout.
posted by adept256 at 7:36 PM on November 4 [2 favorites]

Ugh. I hated this episode. It just seemed grafted in from a totally different series and I know that the conceit of the show is that it's 100 different 80's movies duct-taped together but this one just didn't work at all for me.
posted by octothorpe at 7:49 PM on November 4 [4 favorites]

I am not sure that I really wanted to see Jim Henson's Invisible Babies (and I have the entire comic run in single issues), but it was worth it for the scene between Kali and Jane calling each other sister.

I wish they'd spent the episode swapping stories and eating deep dish pizza, would have been a better use of time.
posted by fifteen schnitzengruben is my limit at 10:26 PM on November 4 [3 favorites]

I don't care. Three seconds of El headbanging is all I need for life.
posted by harriet vane at 6:12 AM on November 5 [1 favorite]

(I'm partway into the episode.) Oh, El, I hope you aren't trusting big "sister" any further than you trusted the last few people to tell you that you were "home"...
posted by mbrubeck at 5:51 PM on November 5

El's punk makeover scene was a nice echo of the makeover/disguise scene from Season 1.

And as much as I liked Kali, it was a relief that El never Kali let her control her. I think the mentor trope was subverted somewhat, since El never really trusted or looked up to Kali, even though she was happy to call her "sister."
posted by mbrubeck at 6:52 PM on November 5

Like, when Kali convinces El to move the train by focusing on her anger, then asks "How do you feel?" El answers "Good" in her usual quiet voice. It doesn't look like she means it. It looks like she knows what Kali wants to hear.
posted by mbrubeck at 7:04 PM on November 5

I love Eleven but I hated this episode. If an episode can be totally skipped without any impact to your understanding of the main plot then just get rid of it.

we learned that there is at least one other child (and probably at least 9 other, given the numbering of at least up to 11)

But there are three digits in the numbering scheme (008, 011) - there's no reason to do that unless there are more than 99 items.
posted by AFABulous at 10:25 AM on November 6 [1 favorite]

Also what if it's not an X-Men reboot but Heroes? *shudders*
posted by AFABulous at 10:26 AM on November 6

For me, it answered the question: is Eleven's tattoo binary or decimal? For part of Season 1, I was wondering if she were the *third* test subject, not the eleventh.
posted by Mogur at 11:49 AM on November 6 [3 favorites]

there's no reason to do that unless there are more than 99 items.

Or the project anticipates there being more than 99 items. But it doesn't mean there were, just that someone had the idea that there might be.
posted by Miko at 6:08 PM on November 6 [2 favorites]

I am 1000% with queenofbityhnia about this episode. Kali is a fucking boss, and all the haters can end up demogorgon chow for all I care.

The only thing I didn't like about this episode is that the end reminded me that I'm not watching a show all about Kali's roaring rampage of revenge.
posted by tobascodagama at 7:28 PM on November 6 [1 favorite]

As a standalone not-so-bottle episode I enjoyed the shit out of this episode. It makes the show less of a self-contained story, gets El away from the boy brigade, and is a generally light throwback to neon-lot, dorky punk misfit 80s movies. Tonally it's way different from the rest, I can understand why that bothers some. And it was way too tightly compressed, making a lot of the relationships not so believable. But fun and different nonetheless.
posted by Existential Dread at 10:02 PM on November 6 [1 favorite]

Notably, this episode didn't start with a panning shot away from the starlit sky, like many (most?) of the others.
posted by Existential Dread at 10:08 PM on November 6 [1 favorite]

But there are three digits in the numbering scheme (008, 011) - there's no reason to do that unless there are more than 99 items.

Also, both tattooed numbers still work as numbers upside down: 800 and 110. I freely admit this idea makes no sense, as the lab called her Eleven, and Eight is older than Eleven. But it's still available if the writers wanted to screw with us.
posted by fings at 7:49 AM on November 7

El’s tattoo has serifs on the ones, so they don’t work upside-down.
posted by mbrubeck at 9:44 AM on November 7 [2 favorites]

I really don't understand the dislike for this episode. Sure, it introduced some new characters and the backstory doesn't have much consequence besides El affirming or realizing that part of her purpose and belonging is back with the boys in Hawkins.
posted by fizzix at 11:16 AM on November 7 [1 favorite]

The cops would've aimed for the tires on the van, not the body. That was a dollop of extra stupid on top of an episode that I already did not like.

Ugh, I hated this.
posted by minsies at 5:21 AM on November 9 [1 favorite]

I hate the trope where a character has killed tons of faceless extras, but then is faced with killing one lightly humanized bad-guy and "just can't"

Hollywood seems super duper fascinated with this idea, and I give no shits about it. Like when a character we like is mad and in the heat of the moment we have no problem with them killing dozens of people, but killing someone in a quiet moment is supposed to be super dramatic.

Also the anti-hero or villain backseat driving a murder is an associated trope that is equally lame. Who backseat drives a murder?
posted by French Fry at 6:01 AM on November 9 [2 favorites]

So, for real, that was the one thing that didn't work for me in this episode. The dude literally drops the whole "I was following orders" Nuremberg excuse, and we're supposed to agree that this absolves him of responsibility?

posted by tobascodagama at 6:19 AM on November 9

I hate the trope where a character has killed tons of faceless extras, but then is faced with killing one lightly humanized bad-guy and "just can't"

So, for real, that was the one thing that didn't work for me in this episode. The dude literally drops the whole "I was following orders" Nuremberg excuse, and we're supposed to agree that this absolves him of responsibility?

I haven't gone back to rewatch S1 yet so maybe I'm not remembering something, but I think there's a careful distinction here to be made. Every other time we've seen El kill it's been someone who is abusing/threatening either her or someone else. The point of the moment where El makes her decision is not to absolve the dude; it's not to make what he did right or what Kali is doing wrong - the moment is all about what it means to El. Yes, he's lightly humanized in the moment, but that's kind of the point: he never saw the humanity in El's mother, but El can see the humanity in him.

She's not the victim; she's the person at the controls. And she makes a different choice than the dude did, and she exerts her agency on the situation. What's important in that scene is two things from where I'm sitting, and neither have anything to do with the shitbag on the ground - it is El making a choice about how she is going to use her powers and herself, and it is in how Kali reacts to that choice. She doesn't go off on El about anything other than the fact that El used her powers to take away her (Kali's) choice about what to do in that moment. That's the sin to both of these young women - having their agency removed, not necessarily what you choose to do with that agency. They are both making wildly different choices about how to use their agency - Kali has no compunction about killing or of using her powers to enforce her will on her own group when needed; El is learning something different as a result of being around the boys and Hopper and Joyce. Notice that even when she fights with Hopper her use of power is never directed at him, but at other things.

I mean, it's tempting to make this a light side/dark side kind of moment because the episode feels like it is pulling on Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi to certain degrees, but I think that's a disservice to what they did try to do with Kali. She's driven for revenge, and she's not wrong, When they part, it's with a sense of regret that their choices are different - but Kali doesn't try to stop her, doesn't give her the "join us or die" ultimatum which is Luke's fate.

Anyways, that's me maybe over-reading into that moment. I think if they hadn't tried to rush all of this crap in the one real character episode that they gave El this season, it might have been better executed without having to rely on the usual tropes/signals/whatever. But for me, the guy on the ground had little to do with the scene; it was all about the two young women and their choices. I really didn't give a shit about him, and learning he had a family didn't change anything.
posted by nubs at 3:46 PM on November 9 [6 favorites]

I was excited about the Chicago / Rainbo Room stuff, but yeah, bad episode. Booo.
posted by mwhybark at 10:48 PM on November 9 [1 favorite]

The cops would've aimed for the tires on the van, not the body.

This show is set in America, and this episode was specifically in Chicago. I think it got that part right.
posted by Pater Aletheias at 4:42 AM on November 10

This show is set in America, and this episode was specifically in Chicago. I think it got that part right.

I'm not sure what you mean by this?
posted by minsies at 5:02 AM on November 10 [1 favorite]

Meaning that the police shoot to kill.
posted by octothorpe at 5:03 AM on November 10

Oh, right.
posted by minsies at 5:43 AM on November 10

I'm not saying the cold blood v worm blood distinction in killing (or use of violence) doesn't exist, just I find that trope really boring and on some occasions trying to make a moral statement that doesn't make great sense.

She's not always in serious danger when she kills in season one or two. She kills two guards trying to put her back in her room in season 1, even though that doesn't free her and she stays in the room anyway. She's just mad after refusing to kill a cat. She doesn't kill the people making her do that, or the man in charge, just these two unfortunate orderlies. She Maybe kills (or strikes hard enough to render unconscious? which same difference) that hunter in the woods in the flashback of this season.

Anyway it's a trope that irks me, I don't think it's a problem with the character, she can make good and bad and confusing choices; she's a super fucked up 13yo. But the convention bothers me.
posted by French Fry at 8:05 AM on November 10 [1 favorite]

Agreed French Fry - it is a trope that is sometimes overused, and I think the use here is more a reflection of them trying to cram everything in for El in one episode rather than giving her a strong arc this season.
posted by nubs at 9:20 AM on November 10 [1 favorite]

I didn't dislike the premise of the episode so much as the weird timing of it; let's cut away from the escalating situation in Hawkins to have Jane meet Kali and her wacky vigilante gang. (I have more to say about this, but I'll put it at the end of the last episode thread.)
posted by Halloween Jack at 11:28 PM on November 10 [2 favorites]

did not every human heart not explode (with happiness) at seeing El get away from being some man or boy's exotic pet for just one damn episode and a half?

Not exactly happiness in my case, but maybe something more like relief. It's possibly a generous reading on my part, but I feel like the women Jane interacted with in this episode were trying to take care of her as best they could. That's a dynamic that hasn't been present since the couple episodes last season where she was briefly with Joyce, and I really appreciated it.
posted by EvaDestruction at 9:35 AM on November 14 [2 favorites]

Yeah, for all of Kali's Well-Intentioned Extremist tropey-ness, she was allowed to show genuine care for Jane's emotional state the whole time, all the way down to allowing Jane to leave at the end and being more sad than angry about it. (Her and Jane's abilities are powered by anger. The moment she realises that Jane is on a different path, her ability immediately fades away.)

Even the ill-fated mission to Roy's was motivated by concern for Jane's emotions. "She needs this."

It makes me wonder if Kali has a secondary empathic ability, the same way that Jane has both psychokinesis and remote viewing.
posted by tobascodagama at 10:20 AM on November 14 [2 favorites]

Interesting thought, tabascodagama. It would fit with her main ability, making it easier to show people things that make them respond in ways that benefit her, and likely would have facilitated her development from an isolated and abused child to someone capable of inspiring seemingly genuine affection and attachment in a group of peers.
posted by EvaDestruction at 10:51 AM on November 14 [1 favorite]

I’ve been doling out one episode of Stranger Things a night and man, this was just such a damn disappointment. I’ve got nothing against Kali but I just don’t care about their merry band of rejects. That’s not the show I signed up for.

I love Eleven/Jane but this was just clunky, like they were going through the motions of character development because they felt they had to. Let her interact with the rest of the goddamn cast and the character development will happen by itself.
posted by lydhre at 6:31 PM on November 14

Man, Kali's band of extras would have fit perfectly in Suicide Squad. I really wonder what this episode would have looked like if Punk Guy and Babydoll had toned it the fuck down about twelve thousand notches.
posted by showbiz_liz at 8:22 PM on November 14 [1 favorite]

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