Warning: This recap of the “Chapter Eight: The Mind Flayer” episode of Stranger Things contains spoilers.
The grim reaper is trash in a cloak and it needs to go home and sit down. Except the grim reaper has no home and will not sit down, so instead we have to deal with all the stupid and hateful choices it makes. Good people die all the time, and in fact I’d wager that truly undeserving people get it worse than anybody. This will always be the most annoying part of being alive: Even if you are a decent person, there is no guarantee the grim reaper won’t show up early to slap your face with a bony hand and drag you into the void. OR, if you are a decent person and manage to live a long and fruitful life, that just means you get to watch other good people get boned big time by the grim reaper. It’s all pretty frustrating. Which is a long way of saying, DAMN. That was a surprising death on Stranger Things 2! Hate you, grim reaper.
Let’s talk about “Chapter Eight: The Mind Flayer”!
We began at the world’s worst government facility, which is saying something.
baby teenage demogorgons had arrived! And despite Dr. Paul Reiser (as himself)’s promises that the plexiglass would keep all the scientists safe, eventually a dozen demogorgons were hurling themselves against it, shattering it to bits! Then suddenly Stranger Things 2 became that famous sequence in Cabin in the Woods! You know the one.
Demogorgons were everywhere, just chasing everyone around and eating anyone in a lab coat! Human Resources was definitely going to hear about this.
Meanwhile, Mike, Winona Ryder (as herself) and Sean Astin (as himself) realized that as long as Will was conscious, he’d be the eyes and ears of a malevolent force bent on destroying them all. But one syringe of sleepytime juice later and he was out like a light. Now it was time to escape from this terrible place.
Well, it turns out I was really wrong about perfect Billy’s home life. I assumed he and Max were somehow living on their own, but nope. They had parents. And their parents were not great!
As you probably guessed (especially if you saw It) Billy’s abusive ways were directly related to his abusive father! Billy’s dad was the kind of guy who casually tosses off homophobic slurs and puts his teenage son in a chokehold. Just a heartwarming family drama all around. Anyway, he shouted at Billy to go find Max and bring her home dead or alive basically. And Billy was ON it.
At this point our two teams of teens (teans) met up by happenstance out in front of the Department of Energy. And right then, the power in the entire building went out, leaving nothing but crickets and the occasional otherworldly shriek of a demogorgon. These were not the kinds of kids to avoid danger, so you better believe they marched right up to that front gate. Why? They weren’t sure! But they were there and that’s all that mattered.
Since the power was out in the building, Dr. Reiser suggested that someone go reboot the mainframe or whatever, and of course Sean Astin volunteered. He was the only one fluent in BASIC, and that meant, hilariously, the safety of our heroes came down to this computer:
To be fair, Sean Astin did a great job of resetting things and getting the power back and running. But he was bad at not-leaving-his-gun-behind. And also he was bad at avoiding demogorgons.
Dr. Reiser did his best to talk Sean Astin toward safety (via the surveillance monitors), but sometimes you can’t escape literal (?) hell hounds. Y’know?
Poor Sean Astin! Sheriff Hopper attempted to shoot the thing off of him, but unfortunately it wasn’t just the one monster. His friends had arrived up to help out.
Aw, look at this circle of friends. All closely bonded in their adolescence. In another universe, they’re a parallel Stranger Things team, just rascals getting up to no good and trying to help their friends and geeking out over nostalgic intellectual properties. Anyway, they ate Sean Astin.
Farewell, sweet prince. You contributed a lot to the film world over the years, so you’ll definitely be missed.
After the entire gang escaped and reconvened at the Byers hovel, Dustin theorized that the main baddie they’d been squaring off against was a sort of real-life version of the Dungeons & Dragons villain THE MIND FLAYER. Equal parts ancient and petty, this thing was known to infiltrate and enslave entire races!
But seeing as this was an unrelated hypothetical, it was hard to tell how this would help anybody. The main thing they needed to do was wake Will up from his anesthesia and attempt to ascertain the monster’s weakness, however they couldn’t let Will know WHERE he was, lest the monster send emissaries to take them out.
Next thing we knew, they cleared out the back shed, hung up some tarps and tied Will to a chair. He’d NEVER know where he was now. Except, the monster was still pretty much in control of Will’s consciousness, so the team attempted to appeal to Will’s emotional side, hoping it would overpower the monster.
Winona Ryder, Jonathan, and Mike all told tearful (and genuinely moving) stories of fond memories they had of Will. And it seemed like it was working for a second! But then the monster just kind of rolled its eyes and laughed in their faces. Nice try!
But Sheriff Hopper noticed that while the “monster” was speaking, Will’s hand was tapping the chair. That’s right, secret morse code! And the gang combined their brainpower to decode the desperate message Will was trying to communicate to them.
Just kidding, it was actually “close gate,” which meant if they closed the rift underneath the Department of Energy, then the monster would be defeated and its hive mind shut down. But that’s when the kitchen phone rang and Will/Mind Flayer realized where they all were. And now a demogorgon was on its way!
The gang huddled up in the living room, weapons raised. (Loved that Lucas wielded a slingshot next to two people with FIREARMS.) And after hearing the distinctive, slimy growls in the yard, suddenly they heard a frightened whimper and then a dead demogorgon flew through the window, mussing the parquet!
What had done this?!
Oh, just some chic-as-F, telekinetic hero, that’s what.
And before Eleven and Mike could so much as say a word, we cut to credits. OH MY GOD.
Yeah, this here “penultimate” episode (industry term) was extremely good. Suspenseful, frightening, plus all that amazing teamwork… And it culminated in the reunion we’d been waiting over A YEAR for. Eleven had returned just in time. But there was still A LOT more world-saving to be done. Let’s see how that’s gonna go!
Stranger Things is streaming now on Netflix
Read more from Yahoo Entertainment:
• ‘Stranger Things’ Season 2 Chapter One recap: Return that frown to the upside down
• ‘Stranger Things’ Season 2 Chapter Two recap: Going crazy together
• ‘Stranger Things’ Season 2 Chapter Three recap: Reunited and it feels so slimy
• ‘Stranger Things’ Season 2 Chapter Four recap: What happened to Baby Jane?
• ‘Stranger Things’ Season 2 Chapter Five recap: Tangled and Strangled
• ‘Stranger Things’ Season 2 Chapter Six recap: They’re heeeere
• ‘Stranger Things’ Season 2 Chapter Seven recap: Baby’s day out
• ‘Stranger Things’ Season 2 Chapter Eight recap: Blackout forever
• ‘Stranger Things’ Season 2 Chapter Nine recap: Ward and savior