Stranger Things: Chapter Eight: The Mind Flayer
October 28, 2017 8:45 PM - Season 2, Episode 8 - Subscribe

An unlikely hero steps forward when a deadly development puts the Hawkins Lab on lockdown, trapping Will and several others inside.

*Back at the Hawkins Lab burn room, the Dema-dogs crawl up from the cavern, and proceed to slam through the unbreakable windows. Mike convinces Joyce that Will is an unwitting spy and will lead the monsters to them, so she knocks him out with an injection. All the power in the lab goes out, as the creatures rampage through killing soldiers and scientists.
*Max's mother (Susan) and Billy's father (Neil) arrive home from wherever they've been all season, to find Max's window open and Billy home alone prepping for his date. Abusive Dad Neil drops the f-slur, and tells Billy to go find his sister.
*Steve, Max, Dustin, and Lucas walk the traintracks back from the junkyard, and Lucas finds out that Dustin lied about not keeping Dart (after Steve mentions it having eaten Dustin's cat). They hear the dema-dogs screeching in the distance, and see that they're heading to Hawkins Lab.
*At the Lab, Sam explains where the power can be turned back on, but when Bob sees that (a la Jurassic Park) step 2 of the process requires BASIC programming knowledge, he volunteers to do the job instead of Hopper.
*Nancy and Jonathan arrive at the Lab gate to find it powered down, and Steve et al come out of the woods.
*Bob gets the power back on, and makes his retreat, forgetting to take his gun with him. Sam volunteers to stay behind in the security monitor room to help Hopper+Joyce+Mike+Will, and Bob get out safely. Hopper & co make it outside; Bob nearly makes it, but gets tackled by a demo-dog at the last minute, and then swarmed by too many for Hooper to shoot.
*Everyone makes it back to the Byers' house. Hopper tries to call for backup, but doesn't seem to have any luck.
*Dustin thinks the shadow monster is akin to the D&D Mind Flayer. Mike thinks that if they can destroy the shadow monster, all the rest of the hive-mind-connected creatures will die, and that Will must hold the secret to how, if they can keep him from seeing where he is so he can't pass it on to the shadow monster.
*Hopper empties out the shed, and they all tape up tarps/sheets/paper and put up bright lights to disguise it, tie Will to a chair, and revive him.
*Will freaks out and starts making the house lights flicker. Joyce calms him down by telling him a happy memory, and Hopper notices Will is tapping his hand in Morse code that spells out HERE. Everyone continues telling Will stories of love and friendship, while Hopper translates the tapping via his walkie-talkie to the group inside, spelling out CLOSEGATE. But then the house phone rings, breaking the spell and alerting the shadow monster to their location, and they sedate Will and retreat to the house.
*They hear the creatures nearing the house, then a lifeless demo-dog is flung through the window, as Eleven makes her dramatic entrance.
posted by oh yeah! (43 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
 
The second half of this season really quickly turned into an amazing long-form Aliens film. I love it.
posted by Fizz at 10:34 PM on October 28 [12 favorites]


When I realized that was Eleven was getting ready to appear I started full on ugly crying.

The kids in this are so fucking talented.
posted by fluffy battle kitten at 12:43 AM on October 29 [8 favorites]


I would like to apologize to Bob for thinking he was a plant from the lab; I done you wrong, Bob. I spent the whole episode (and a couple prior) watching Bob just be the nice guy he appeared to be and then he got curb-stomped by Dart's family. Aaaauuuughghghgh. Nooooo Bobbbbb :(

And on the same note, was pleasantly surprised by Dr. Paul Reiser not being completely evil. I didn't really see that coming.
posted by sldownard at 1:44 AM on October 29 [20 favorites]


Pouring one out for Rudy Gamgee.

Also, I kept getting distracted during the mind flayer scene because OH MY GOD STOP SLAMMING THAT SECOND EDITION MONSTER MANUAL AROUND YOU PHILISTINE IT IS AN ANTIQUE.
posted by Mr. Bad Example at 5:13 AM on October 29 [26 favorites]


I'm wondering to what extent Reiser was intentionally cast to evoke our Burke memories and then subvert our expectations with his redemption. I quite enjoyed that.
posted by Cogito at 8:15 AM on October 29 [14 favorites]


So the whole 'Billy is actually a layered character' thing ended up being the standard 'bully bullies because abused' trope. Gee.

I confess I chortled when Bob died. Which is horrible because Bob was truly a nice guy, but someone had to die and he was kind of the only person I was willing to let go of (since Mike and Nancy are too "important" to the show, if not to me). Also I kinda ship Hop and Winona.

Also I don't like Sean Astin, so that was fun too.
posted by elsietheeel at 8:45 AM on October 29 [1 favorite]


was pleasantly surprised by Dr. Paul Reiser not being completely evil

I am still super suspicious about this. The 180-degree turn between everyone at Hawkins being super evil, and this benevolent, ethical concerned man of science sincerely trying to solve the mystery and help people escape - it doesn't seem right. I hope there's more to the story. He's not okay, I don't think.

I can't remember which episode it was, but at some point there was a kinda-big reveal that was sort of buried in the action - where Hopper says to Sam something to the effect of "we had a deal, I keep things nice and quiet in this town and you do your work without making it obvious." So there's been some collusion in the past around activities at Hawkins Lab and Sam knows he has stuff to cover up. He's just lost control of the LEO at this point and that's a problem for him. Also, his discussion with Nancy and Jonathan about "our mistake" - seems to indicate that even he is outmatched by the forces he's unleashed through his work at Hawkins, and/or, the forces have nothing to do with Hawkins directly but have chosen it as a vector.

In any case, Sam, I am watching you.

Hopper tries to call for backup, but doesn't seem to have any luck.

Cue me the whole time on this show going "where are the state troopers?" This is interesting and makes me think about the larger story. One of the influences for Hawkins Lab, according to the Stranger Things Wikia,is the real-life US federal experimental labs and MKUltra. Which, thinking it all through, would mean that the federal government/NSA/CIA/whoever would likely have given instructions to state law enforcement to back off because they're not authorized to deal with anything Hawkins-related. Meaning Hopper's screwed because there will be no backup, not now, and not as long as that lab has the charter it has.

But then the house phone rings, breaking the spell and alerting the shadow monster to their location

Skeptic moment here. In my town we all had the same default Bell Slimline wall-mounted phone (ours in the same shade of avocado) and they all sounded exactly the same. You had to pay extra to get any other model phone. Working-class people did not pay extra for a fancy phone. It's not like you'd say "that's MY home phone!"
posted by Miko at 9:54 AM on October 29 [11 favorites]


It's not like you'd say "that's MY home phone!"

I don't think it was that, it was more 'this place looks like they've taken me to a shack in the woods, but if someone is calling, it's a house in town and there's only so many of those they could use.'
posted by mordax at 11:18 AM on October 29 [3 favorites]


Noooooooo Bob!!
posted by cooker girl at 2:06 PM on October 29 [2 favorites]


Ugh, on the one hand, Bob ended up being a standup guy after all. On the other hand, Bob fell into one of the fundamental traps of the horror genre: ALWAYS KEEP RUNNING UNTIL YOU'RE ACTUALLY CLEAR OF THE DOORS.

I feel like someone as geeky as Bob should have definitely known this. As soon as he pulled up short in the lobby, my friend and I knew it was all over for Bob.
posted by TwoStride at 2:47 PM on October 29 [20 favorites]


Just started watching and wanted to complain into the void before I forgot:

That window was glass, not polycarbonate.
posted by FallowKing at 2:48 PM on October 29 [6 favorites]


As soon as he pulled up short in the lobby, my friend and I knew it was all over for Bob.

Yeah, I knew the second he turned his back on the doors that he was going to buy it. Poor Bob.
posted by Mr. Bad Example at 2:51 PM on October 29 [2 favorites]


I don't think it was that, it was more 'this place looks like they've taken me to a shack in the woods, but if someone is calling, it's a house in town and there's only so many of those they could use.'

My thought was that sheds have distinctive smells and if you grew up with one you'd already know it based on that. They might have done enough disorienting stuff to cover that but as soon as Will heard the phone it all clicked.
posted by Navelgazer at 6:31 PM on October 29 [1 favorite]


"where are the state troopers?"

you mean the stooges that planted the fake Will corpse in season 1?
posted by eustatic at 9:56 PM on October 29 [6 favorites]


I was waiting for “Smoke up, Johnny!”

I’m guessing Steve will have to save Lucas from Racist Faux Lowe to wrap up the Karate Kid storyline.

Dustin is being kind of a dick this season. I’m going to chalk that up as puberty.

It was obvious when Bob volunteered what was going to happen, and then the ol’ turn around and smile because it’s safe bit. You were liked Bob.
posted by P.o.B. at 6:26 AM on October 30


Yeah, we had to take a break when Bob bought it - that was just stupid and didn't fill any purpose. Never smile in slow motion when chased by monsters!
posted by monocultured at 2:09 PM on October 30 [2 favorites]


As soon as he pulled up short in the lobby, my friend and I knew it was all over for Bob.

This is something I see in horror films all the time and I can not understand why ANYONE would stop running if they know the building is infested with demodogs. Smart enough to get them out of the building but not smart enough TO KEEP RUNNING until actually safe? It made me especially sad when it was revealed he was the original founder of the AV Club.
posted by miss-lapin at 3:14 PM on October 30 [4 favorites]


Do you know BASIC? (and indented all to hell BASIC at that...)
posted by zengargoyle at 5:23 PM on October 30 [4 favorites]


dustin. that boy is done. treating Max like shit whenever he feels guilty for being a cat-murderer or a liar or jealous of Lucas is the least of his crimes but fuck that anyhow.

Max being fooled by youthful arrogance into worrying about being an abusive asshole like her stepdad/stepbrother instead of noticing how she seeks out "friends" who put her in the same second-class position is tragic. and the intense realism of the dynamic does not make it good to watch. Dustin being so incredibly awful precisely because he knows he is awful is also acutely realistic. but likewise very unpleasant to watch. his belated apology is not realistic at all and would not be good if it were and I hate it. Max, you cannot earn your way into their stupid party, make them earn your friendship. and then don't let them have it.

after the shadow monster leaves, I guess
posted by queenofbithynia at 8:31 PM on October 30 [7 favorites]


I'm kind of hoping Max sets Dustin on fire. With her mind.

And Bob, poor Bob. This party is hard on its henchmen. Mullet boy will be a poor replacement.
posted by happyroach at 6:28 AM on October 31 [3 favorites]


> Do you know BASIC?

Dude, it's UNIX system. I know this.
posted by EXISTENZ IS PAUSED at 6:11 PM on October 31 [12 favorites]


☹️☹️☹️😭😭😭😣😣😣
Oh Bob
posted by numaner at 8:44 PM on October 31 [2 favorites]


In a building littered with corpses, why were 10 demo-dogs feasting on Bob like he was the only dessert at the potluck? Why weren't all the other poor schmucks getting the same treatment?
posted by I_Love_Bananas at 3:24 AM on November 1 [3 favorites]


Because Bob is 1. A delicious treat and 2. Bob was the live meat in the process of trying to get away from the demodogs and out of the building.
posted by fluffy battle kitten at 3:41 AM on November 1 [3 favorites]


Wildlife biology nerd answer: because a guaranteed meal in front of you is always preferable to maybe a meal running away from you.
posted by Miko at 6:11 AM on November 1 [1 favorite]


Dude, it's UNIX system. I know this.

I'm glad I'm not the only one. The demodogs made plausible velociraptors.

Hopper shouldn't have needed to go write down the morse code, since we see him tapping out morse code to Jane without any aids in an earlier scene

But I loved the beat of Steve, the only non-nerd in attendance, asking "What's that" and being answered by everyone else in unison
posted by vibratory manner of working at 1:09 PM on November 1 [11 favorites]


Everything about the Mind Flayer scene was the funniest bit all season. The constant pedantry. Hopper's reactions.
posted by kokaku at 3:23 PM on November 1 [5 favorites]


Hopper shouldn't have needed to go write down the morse code, since we see him tapping out morse code to Jane without any aids in an earlier scene

Hopper wasn't writing the morse code, he was signalling from the shack to the house whatever Will was tapping out. They couldn't afford anything that would let the shadow monster figure out where they are.
posted by numaner at 4:50 PM on November 1 [2 favorites]


Ah you meant the first scene of where he wrote HERE. I took it as a proof from him to the others of how Will was trying to communicate.
posted by numaner at 5:02 PM on November 1 [1 favorite]


This is something I see in horror films all the time and I can not understand why ANYONE would stop running if they know the building is infested with demodogs. Smart enough to get them out of the building but not smart enough TO KEEP RUNNING until actually safe? It made me especially sad when it was revealed he was the original founder of the AV Club.

Absolutely the worst part of Halloween 2 is Laurie escaping the hospital... only to immediately climb into a car in the parking lot and pass out. You can see the road! It's right there!
posted by Pope Guilty at 9:41 PM on November 1


I can't remember which episode it was, but at some point there was a kinda-big reveal that was sort of buried in the action - where Hopper says to Sam something to the effect of "we had a deal, I keep things nice and quiet in this town and you do your work without making it obvious." So there's been some collusion in the past around activities at Hawkins Lab

That deal is established in S1; Hopper agrees to help the lab cover things up in the town so that he and Joyce can have a shot at getting into the Upside Down to rescue Will.
posted by nubs at 9:59 PM on November 2


At least I don't have to worry about Bob any more.
posted by Grangousier at 4:01 PM on November 3 [6 favorites]


Max deserves so much better than these dudes. I felt okay with their stonewalling until last episode where she was in the thick of the action and was still treated like a complete stranger.
posted by toomanycurls at 10:18 PM on November 3 [9 favorites]


I keep hoping Max is a refugee from Steven King's Firestarter and she sets Mike on fire with her mind. What a complete dick he's been all season.

I would also settle for her being a graduate from Scanners, same result.

We never saw what happened to Dr Burke, did we? They at least tackled Modine with a CGI creature last season. Heck, for all we know he's still hiding in that room with all the monitors.
posted by fifteen schnitzengruben is my limit at 11:28 PM on November 4


Stranger Things illustrates the first rule of D&D: you don't need to run faster than the monster, just faster than Bob.
posted by happyroach at 9:35 AM on November 6 [2 favorites]


Not many surprises in this episode, but that's not a complaint. Sometimes it's fun just to watch all the setup and foreshadowing pay off. Various reactions:
  • Ugh, I don't care about Billy or his stupid parents.
  • So glad we finally got the gang all together again.
  • Showing the action in the lab through the wall of security monitors was highly effective.
  • Poor Bob. :(
  • Poor Will. Yet again he spends most of the season incapacitated while his friends do all the cool stuff.
  • I loved when the D&D analogy fell apart. "...because it likes... brains... it's just a game. It's just a game."
  • Yay, more crafting!
  • Dustin has a rare introspective moment while apologizing to Lucas. And Lucas continues to be a great character.
  • Lots of nice character moments for Joyce and Jonathan as they try to connect with Will, and the others who are waiting in the house.
  • Nancy with a rifle! Return of the wrist rocket! Off-screen monster fight! Dramatic entrance! This is exactly what I needed from this episode.

posted by mbrubeck at 9:13 PM on November 8 [3 favorites]


The kids should also be better at Morse code than they appear to be. During season 1, they're excited about Mr. Clarke's new ham radio rig. At least one of them has to have spent some time practicing code for a ham license.
posted by mbrubeck at 9:18 PM on November 8 [2 favorites]


I first thought Bob was going to die several episodes ago, in the tunnels. When he survived, it made me suspicious, until this episode. When he switched on the lights, saving everyone, he was doomed. I said "he's definitely going to die" for the next few minutes. And when he stopped in the lobby just short of the front door, I knew it was over. Someone was going to die in that building and it was obviously going to be Bob.
posted by easternblot at 2:33 AM on November 9 [1 favorite]


This episode gave me a real Resident Evil vibe to me, especially 2 and 3. Does that mean that Hawkins will be destroyed by missile strike?
posted by fiercekitten at 5:59 PM on November 10 [1 favorite]



This episode gave me a real Resident Evil vibe to me, especially 2 and 3. Does that mean that Hawkins will be destroyed by missile strike


Or Doom. YMMV.
posted by DrAstroZoom at 8:39 PM on November 10


Both Eleven and the Doomslayer are powered by rage...
posted by tobascodagama at 8:44 PM on November 10


Yeah, Bob was doomed when he gave Will the advice to turn and face the nightmare that got him mindflayed. I did spend his last few minutes thinking that not-Burke was maybe going to feed him to the demodogs, but there wasn't much doubt he was going to get ett...
posted by rhamphorhynchus at 6:32 PM on November 11 [1 favorite]


Also, I kept getting distracted during the mind flayer scene because OH MY GOD STOP SLAMMING THAT SECOND EDITION MONSTER MANUAL AROUND YOU PHILISTINE IT IS AN ANTIQUE.
THAT'S A FIRST EDITION MONSTER MANUAL
Everything about the Mind Flayer scene was the funniest bit all season. The constant pedantry.
YOU'RE WELCOME
posted by dfan at 6:54 PM on November 17 [2 favorites]


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